Only a handful MCs have managed to sustain their alignment with the streets regardless of success. 'Face is at the top of that list. His wistful ghetto tales and poetic raps are constant reminders that Brad Jordan is the voice of the hood.
Best Album: The Diary
9. Chuck D
Lyrical, with a militant message, and a take-no-prisoners mic persona, Chuck D remains an influential figure in the rap game today.
Best Album: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
8. Kool G Rap
The next time your favorite emcee commits a double-homicide on wax, blame it on the notorious Kool G Rap. Why? He's the grandfather of hardcore hip-hop, of course. Some of the grittiest street tales in rap have emerged from G Rap's rhyme book.
Best Album: wanted: Dead or Alive (w/ DJ Polo)
You wouldn't know it from the plethora of hustler-turned-trappers he's inspired, but Jay-Z is the paradigm of rags-to-riches street dreams. Forget his flawless flow and nerve-wracking humor, that marketing plan was him.
Best Album: Reasonable Doubt