30. Ras Kass
That Ras Kass is one of the most intellectual MCs to have emerged in the mid-1990s is no longer news. Like the African king he adopted his name from, Ras holds the throne...as the Left Coast's best living lyricist.
Best Album: Soul on Ice
29. Talib Kweli
This Afrocentric MC uses hip-hop as a means to educate and elevate his community.
Best Album: Quality
28. Ghostface Killah
Deep-rooted in the Wu-Tang lyrical philosophies, Ghost is by far one of the most imaginative storytellers of our time.
Best Album: Supreme Clientele
AZ, who debuted on Nas' 1994 hit song "Life's a B***h," is arguably the most underrated lyricist ever. That's probably because he's no innovator--and is way too grimy to sell out--but his "intelligent thug" persona sets him aside from his peers.
Best Album: Doe or Die
26. MC Lyte
This Brooklyn wordsmith is the complete package. She made her entrance by helping Sinnead O'Connor to a dance hit, throwing flames at a cheating boyfriend, and railing against copycat femcees, all at the same time.
Best Album: Lyte As a Rock