At a time when gangsta rap was the order of the day, Posdnous and his De La cohorts crashed the party with a smile and some daisies.
Essential: Stakes Is High (w/ De La Soul)
Although the "chef" in Raekwon the Chef has more to do with white meat than soul food, Rae helped create the recipe for mafioso rap in the 90s. Apart from his obvious influence on many of today's emcees, this clansman is also the author of one of the best hip-hop albums of all time, Only Built for Cuban Linx.
Essential: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
33. Kool Moe Dee
With his deadly combination of wit and grit, Kool Moe Dee helped write the blueprint for what would eventually become known as battle rap.
Essential: How Ya Like Me Now
Military vet Canibus is known for his esoteric psych-rap transcendence. When he's not battling an unidentified foe, he's pondering UFO conspiracy theories and the nature of chicken parmesan. Ultimately, anyone who can battle LL Cool J and Eminem in the same lifetime and still stand is a man of valor.
Essential: Mic Club - The Curriculum
30. Royce da 5'9"
Anyone whoe's ever driven a standard one-gear car understands the mind of Royce da 5'9". Nickel Nine only knows one way to steer the mic and that's to subdue every beat he comes in contact with. A battle vet, Royce isn't afraid of competition. In fact, he thrives in it -- he's teamed up with Eminem as Bad Meets Evil and plies his trade as one-fourth of the supergroup Slaughterhouse, alongside Joe Budden, Crooked I and Joell Ortiz.
Essential: Death Is Certain