When you think of Canada, many are more likely to think of hockey and maple syrup rather than world class rappers. That said, the Great White North has produced many super talented rappers!
Here’s our list of some of the best Canadian Rappers ever.
Of course, no list of best Canadian rappers would be complete without Drake on the list. Drake is not just the biggest artist in Canada, but one of the most famous musicians in the world.
Drake’s records have sold millions of copies, and his streaming numbers dwarf his biggest competitors.
Drake began his career acting before launching into the music industry. He first made waves with his initial three albums, Thank Me Later, Take Care, and Nothing Was the Same.
Critics raved about the melancholic rap stylings Drake brought. As of now, Drake has veered into new styles and genres to push his brand and music to new heights.
Drake is the most famous Toronto rapper, and he is an official ambassador of his local basketball team, the Raptors. He also purchased partial ownership of the football club A.C. Milan in 2022.
2. Tory Lanez
Tory Lanez was a star in Canadian hip-hop during the 2010s. He first made a name for himself with the mixtape, Conflicts of My Soul: The 416 Story. Lanez steadily climbed the charts with each passing year, he even nodded a Grammy Award nomination for his song “Luv” in 2016.
Sadly, his career took an unexpected turn in 2020 when Lanez admitted to shooting Megan Thee Stallion, another famous, although not Canadian, rapper.
The revelation shocked the music scene, and Lanez soon found himself in legal trouble. The court found him guilty of three charges related to the attack, and he faces decades of jail time.
Choclair never topped the commercial charts, but Canadian rap fans know he is one of the best artists in the scene. The rapper of Jamaican descent has been making music since the 1990s and has captivated audiences who made him a hit in the underground music scene.
Choclair initially broke out in 1997 with his EP, What It Takes. The success of the record and accompanying music videos earned Choclair a Juno Award and helped introduce his music to a wider audience.
Since then, Choclair has put out several albums and contributed with many artists. Choclair released his latest album in 2006, but he continues to tour and occasionally writes music.
Nav is a rapper from Ontario who began his career as a producer. Fortunately for the young producer, he got the shot of a lifetime when Drake asked him to co-produce the song “Back to Back” in 2015. The international success the song experienced allowed him more freedom to explore making music by himself.
The next year, Nav established himself as an elite rapper with his single “Myself.” The song went viral and introduced the young artist from Rexdale, Ontario to a wider audience.
He has since signed with fellow Canadian The Weeknd’s record label. In 2020, Nav released the song “Turks” which became his highest-charting single and helped him gain even more popularity with American fans.
5. Kris Wu
Fans associate Kris Wu with his work in Asia, but the rapper spent many of his formative years in the Great White North.
Wu got his start with the band Exo, a South Korean-Chinese boy band. Wu quickly established himself as one of the breakout members of the group, and fans considered his rapping a highlight of Exo’s music.
After his years with Exo, Kris launched a successful solo career a few years into his group endeavor. The Canadian artist found plenty of success on his own both in singing and acting.
Kris Wu’s career had to stop after victims pressed criminal charges of sexual abuse against him. His career is on hold as he serves 13 years in prison in China.
PartyNextDoor was destined for success in 2013 when he became the first artist Drake signed to his OVO Sound label.
With the Canadian legend backing him up, and the exposure he gained from the association with Drake, PartyNextDoor set out to create new and exciting music. He released his self-titled debut EP in 2013, in which he wrote and rapped on several high-profile songs.
PartyNextDoor had his biggest success in 2017 with two Grammy Award nominations. The first nomination was for Best R&B Song for his song “Come and See Me.”
The other nomination was a shared Album of the Year nod, as a featured artist on Drake’s album Views. PartyNextDoor also wrote the hit song “Work” for Rihanna.
7. Roy Woods
Woods, born Denzel Spencer, took the name Roy from another boy who lived in the same area as him. He chose his stage name thanks to a poll he took from his high school class.
Woods has had the backing of Drake since the beginning of his career, with the Toronto rapper promoting Woods’ debut EP, Exis.
Since then, Woods has carved out a successful career in the rap game, most notably with his debut album Say Less. The album peaked at 26 in Canada and even charted in the United States.
Although the success of Roy Woods cannot be only attributed to his partnership with OVO Sound, it was a major uplifter for the artist from Brampton, Ontario.
88GLAM is a hip-hop duo from Toronto consisting of Shakqueel “88Camino” Burthwright and Derek “Wise” Bissue. Derek Wise and 88Camino had previously rapped together in a different group before forming 88GLAM and signing with the XO record label.
The group hit the ground running with its debut single “12” which featured The Weeknd.
The group has produced two albums, two mixtapes, and one extended play. The Juno Awards nominated the duo four times for awards, including Breakthrough Group of the Year and Rap Recording of the Year.
Rumors came up in 2020 that 88GLAM was breaking up, but both members quashed those reports quickly. However, the group left their record label and has been on hiatus since 2020.
The Toronto rap scene is full of young artists with a whole career ahead of them ready to prove their worth. Killy is another example of that vibrant scene, and he began rapping in 2015.
Like many rappers of the era, Killy got his start through popularity on SoundCloud. He released a few tracks on the platform that helped him break into the underground rap scene in the city.
Killy had his biggest hit in 2017 with “Killamonjaro.” The song went platinum in his home country, and it allowed Killy to make new connections with other artists.
Since his viral single, Killy has released six albums and a slew of singles. The artist has four Juno Award nominations under his belt and several platinum and gold certifications.
Belly was born in Palestine but spent most of his life in Ottawa, Ontario. He began his rap career at 21 years old, significantly later than many of his contemporaries.
Belley released his first single in 2007 with the song “Pressure.” The cut was an early hit for the rapper, peaking at number 10 on the charts and opening up new avenues for Belly.
Belly created his most controversial song later in the year with “History of Violence,” an anthem detailing the War in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
Soon after, Belly won a Juno Award before taking a hiatus.
Today, Belly raps with XO and Roc Nation and has contributed production and vocals for several artists. Belly collaborated with both the Weeknd and Beyonce among other artists.
11. Jazz Cartier
Jazz Cartier is one of the hottest musicians in Canada today, and his music has earned him several awards and honors.
Fans best know Cartier for his debut album Fleurever along with his early mixtapes. His mixtape Hotel ParanoiaI won a Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year, and he has several other nominations under his belt.
Toronto is Cartier’s birthplace, though he bounced around many locations as a child, including Kuwait, the United States, and Barbados.
Jazz Cartier’s frequent travel and exposure to new cultures and music gave him an appreciation for variety and diversification. Thus, he makes music that draws from his multi-cultural experiences.
In 2021, Cartier returned from a brief hiatus and released his second album, The Fleur Print.
Though he spent several years growing up in South Korea, Tablo’s family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia; and now he has Canadian citizenship. Tablo studied at Stanford University and set out to find a career in music.
Though he struggled to find initial success in the ‘90s, few people could have expected the young man to explode the way he did when he joined the Korean hip-hop group Epik High in 2001.
Tablo works as the producer and leader of Epik High and remains one of the best rappers active in Korea. The artist has also taken on plenty of solo work and incorporates many different styles such as trip-hop or trance music.
Outside of music, Tablo wrote a fiction book and starred in the film How To Steal a Dog.
Merkules was interested in music from a young age and he got his start at making his career dreams come true when he was 15.
Merkules began his career by collaborating and making music together in 2011, giving the young artist a foot in the door. Merkules' life changed forever one year later when he was attacked and left scarred while walking home one night.
Though he had produced several songs before the accident, Merkules drew on the experience for his album Scars. Scars helped showcase Merkules’ talents to a new audience and he steadily gained a larger following.
Today, the rapper is signed with Death Row Records and continues to put out new music. One of Surrey, British Columbia’s most famous sons is its most famous rapper too.
14. The Weeknd
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, or as everybody knows him, The Weeknd, is the only artist who can challenge Drake as the most famous resident of Toronto. Since his career has taken off, the Weeknd has been at the forefront of popular music in Canada and America.
Despite his young age, Abel has already created several smash hit records and performed at the biggest stage of them all: the Super Bowl. The only reason he is not as high on this list is he often sings more than he raps.
The Weeknd began his career by releasing songs anonymously. Nobody knew who the artist was, and the mystique added to his mythos. The singer eventually revealed his identity and reached new heights by releasing albums with varied sounds and styles.
The Weeknd has explored many genres, including trap, dream pop, and dark wave. Always pushing boundaries, the Weeknd remains a popular artist, bolstered by several memes starring him.
Prime has gone by several names during his career, including P Reign, The King, and King of Da North. Of course, he also went by Raynford Avery Humphrey while growing up in Montreal, Quebec.
No matter what name you know him by, Preme is one of Canada’s best rappers and a close friend of Drake. The two rappers started a friendship when Preme moved to Toronto and became one of the best Toronto rappers overnight.
Preme got his start at the tail end of the 2000s, producing the mixtape The Canadian Dream in 2008 and When It Reigns It Pours in 2010. Despite his somewhat lengthy career, Preme only has one studio album, Light of Day from 2018. His most recent work is an extended play in 2020 titled Link Up.
K’naan grew up in Mogadishu and had a hard life growing up during the Somali Civil War.
He almost died when he accidentally picked up a grenade thinking it was food. K’naan left Somalia when he was 13, and his family briefly relocated to New York before making permanent residence in Toronto.
K’naan was interested in music from a young age and listening to classic hip-hop assisted him in learning English after relocating to Canada. The rapper has attempted to bring elements of Somali music into his creations since he got his start in the rap game in 2000.
K’naan made his biggest splash in 2010 with the song “Wavin’ Flag.” Sports fans may remember this song as the anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Since his breakout, K’naan has been consistent in advocating for the Somali people and the situation in the country.
Dax spent many of his formative years on the move. Newfoundland and Labrador were the rapper’s birthplace, but he spent many of his childhood years in Ottawa, Wichita, and Detroit. Dax’s family moved to Los Angeles and he attended college in the city.
While living in LA, Dax hatched the idea to become a rapper thanks to his love of writing poetry. He impressed his basketball teammates with a poem and decided to try and create a mixtape.
Dax’s first mixtape came out in 2017, which he titled 2pac Reincarnation Vol 2: As Told By Dax. Plenty of plays on SoundCloud and a popular music video for the song “Cash Me Outside” assisted Dax on his way to stardom.
Since his debut, Dax has released two extended play records and one full-length studio album. Dax was involved with two high-profile feuds in his career, one with KSI and another with Tory Lanez.
Classified has been one of the best Canadian rappers since his debut in 1995, and he is one of the most prolific artists in the scene.
Classified did things the difficult way, instead of networking with established names the young rapper decided to create his record label and release his debut album Times Up, Kid. However, this was not an instant smash, and Classified began grinding out on the indie scene.
After eight of his studio albums failed to break him into the mainstream, Classified released Trial & Error, the album that changed everything for him. The prolific rapper finally got his big break and became a nationwide sensation.
Since then, Classified has continued to put out music at a breathtaking pace, releasing full-length albums every few years. As one of the longest-tenured rappers in Canada, Classified demands respect for his contributions to the scene.
Ramriddlz is another artist who owes much of his initial success to a promotion from Drake. Ramriddlz grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, and his career had a shot in the arm thanks to the promotion of his single “Sweeterman” from the most famous Toronto rapper.
Ramriddlz has not had an incredibly prolific career, with just a few records to his name. His debut EP was P2P which he released in 2015. He released another EP, Venis, the next year. Ramriddlz’s debut album was Sweeter Dreams in 2017.
20. Tommy Genesis
Tommy Genesis is one of the most rebellious and controversial underground rappers in Canada. The Vancouver rapper often addresses topics some may find taboo, especially sex.
Genesis proclaims herself a “fetish rapper” and has a more artsy bend to her music than many other artists. Genesis also participates in fashion shows and has showcased her talents as a visual artist in addition to being a rapper.
Genesis began her career in 2013 and released her debut mixtape in 2015, titled World Vision. Three years later, Genesis released her self-titled debut album to rave reviews from hip-hop heads in Canada. Her second album, Goldilocks X, followed three years later.
21. Jon Lajoie
Jon Lajoie is something of a renaissance man thanks to his multimedia work. Lajoie rose to fame thanks to his comedic YouTube videos where he rapped as different characters.
The videos were smashing hits in the early days of YouTube, and they helped Lajoie break into new avenues. He has acted on television and film, and he releases folk music under a pseudonym.
Lajoie’s music often takes a comedic bend about the typical life in Canada and the characters one might meet there. Lajoie showed his versatility by rapping several distinct characters over his career.
Madchild is another rapper from Surrey, British Columbia, though he spent most of his formative years in North Vancouver. Madchild had a brief stint living in San Francisco before returning to British Columbia on a more permanent basis.
Madchild first broke out as a member of Swollen Members, though he has several solo albums to his name.
Madchild’s first full-length album was Dope Sick in 2012, and it was a smash hit in Canada. The album peaked at number three on the charts and set up a long series of successful albums for the artist.
23. Cadence Weapon
Cadence Weapon has been active in the rap scene in Toronto since 2005. Weapon was interested in music from a young age, as his father was a renowned DJ for a local radio station.
At 19, Weapon released his debut mixtape Cadence Weapon Is the Black Hand and his debut album Breaking Kayfabe. The latter album title references the wrestling term for pulling back the curtain and revealing things are fake.
Breaking Kayfabe helped put Weapon on the map, and from there he released four more albums and two more mixtapes.
Top Canadian Rappers, Final Thoughts
Canada has some of the best rappers in the game today, if you don’t know all of the ones we listed, we encourage you to give them a listen and check for yourself the quality from the maple leaf rappers.
From famous artists like Drake to underground wizards like Tommy Genesis, there is no shortage of excellent Canadian rappers.
Who is your favorite artist? Let us know if we missed anyone!