The future of music

30 Best Philly Rappers (Philadelphia Rappers) of All Time

May 12, 2023
philly rappers

Philadelphia, also known as “Philly,” is a city that has a rich history in music, especially in the hip-hop genre.

From the roots of Schoolly D to the modern-day sounds of Lil Uzi Vert, Philly has produced some of the most influential rappers in the game.

With their unique styles, gritty lyrics, and undeniable talent, these Philly rappers have paved the way for the current generation of hip-hop artists.

This article explores the 30 best Philly rappers of all time, highlighting their contributions to the culture and their impact on the industry.

From underground legends to mainstream superstars, these artists have left their mark on hip-hop and will forever be remembered as some of the greatest to do it.

1. Black Thought

Black Thought, born Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, is a Philadelphia-based rapper and the lead MC of the legendary hip-hop group The Roots.

He was known for his exceptional lyricism, intricate wordplay, and socially conscious themes.

He has collaborated with many artists, including Jay-Z, Common, and J Dilla, and has been featured on several popular tracks such as “You Got Me” and “The Next Movement.”

In addition to his work with The Roots, Black Thought has released several solo projects, including his highly acclaimed EP, Streams of Thought, which showcases his ability to tell compelling stories and deliver thought-provoking messages through his rhymes.

He is a true wordsmith and an influential figure in hip-hop, inspiring many artists with his timeless music and unmatched skills on the mic.

2. Beanie Sigel

Dwight E. Grant, better known by his stage name Beanie Sigel first gained fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a member of the Roc-A-Fella Records label, founded by Jay-Z.

Sigel’s music often reflects the harsh realities of street life, including drug use, violence, and poverty.

Some of his most famous songs include “Feel It in the Air,” “What a Thug About,” and “Roc the Mic.”

Despite his success in the music industry, Beanie Sigel had a tumultuous personal life, including multiple arrests and a near-fatal shooting in 2014.

However, his contributions to the Philly hip-hop scene are undeniable, and his legacy as one of the city’s greatest rappers will continue to endure.

3. Will Smith

Will Smith began his career as a rapper in the late 1980s as part of the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince with his childhood friend Jeff Townes (DJ Jazzy Jeff).

The duo’s debut album, Rock the House, was released in 1987 and achieved moderate success.

Their second album, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, was released in 1988 and became a commercial success, reaching triple platinum status and winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance.

In 1990, Smith began his acting career by starring in the television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which aired for six seasons until 1996.

4. Meek Mill

Meek Mill began his music career as a battle rapper and gained recognition in the Philadelphia underground hip-hop scene.

In 2011, Meek Mill signed with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group and released his debut album, Dreams, and Nightmares, in 2012.

The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 and was later certified gold by the RIAA.

Meek Mill has released several other successful albums and mixtapes, including Wins & Losses (2017), Championships (2018), and Expensive Pain (2021).

He is also known for his social activism and advocacy work, particularly around criminal justice reform.

5. Lil Uzi Vert

Lil Uzi Vert gained popularity with his mixtapes, including “Luv Is Rage” and “Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World,” released in 2015 and 2016.

Some of Lil Uzi Vert’s most popular songs include “XO TOUR Llif3,” “Money Longer,” and “The Way Life Goes.”

He has collaborated with notable artists, such as Migos, Travis Scott, and Nicki Minaj.

Lil Uzi Vert is known for his unique style, blending hip-hop and emo music elements.

His lyrics often incorporate love, heartbreak, and drug use themes.

He has been nominated for several awards, including the Grammy Awards, and has won several awards, including the MTV Video Music Award for Best Song of the Summer for “XO TOUR Llif3” in 2017.

6. Doap Nixon

Doap Nixon is a member of the underground hip-hop collective Army of the Pharaohs.

He is known for his aggressive flow and intense lyrics, often addressing social injustice, politics, and personal struggles.

Doap Nixon released his debut album, Sour Diesel, in 2008, which featured collaborations with other Army of the Pharaohs members, such as Vinnie Paz and Apathy.

He has also released several solo albums and mixtapes, including Gray Poupon and Screwdriver Dynasty.

He is known for his gritty, raw lyrics and ability to paint a vivid picture of life on the streets.

Doap Nixon’s music often addresses social issues like poverty and racism, and his distinctive gravelly voice marks his delivery.

7. Planetary

Planetary began his career in the late 1990s as part of the underground hip-hop scene in Philadelphia.

He and his childhood friend, Crypt the Warchild, formed Outerspace and signed with Jedi Mind Tricks’ label, Babygrande Records, in 2001.

Outerspace released their debut album, Blood and Ashes, in 2004, followed by Blood Brothers in 2006 and God’s Fury in 2011.

Planetary has also released solo material, including his 2018 album Guiding Light.

He is known for his gritty, streetwise lyrics and his powerful delivery.

He has collaborated with other hip-hop artists such as Vinnie Paz, Reef the Lost Cauze, and Army of the Pharaohs.

8. Dice Raw

Dice Raw is best known for associating with the legendary hip-hop group The Roots, with whom he has been a frequent collaborator and contributing member since the early 1990s.

Dice Raw began his career as a member of the hip-hop collective called the Basement Boys, which included future Roots members Black Thought and Questlove.

He later joined The Roots as a full-time member and contributed to several of their albums, including Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995), Illadelph Halflife (1996), and Things Fall Apart (1999).

In addition to his work with The Roots, Dice Raw has released several solo albums, including Reclaiming the Dead (2000), Black Male (2013).

9. PnB Rock

PnB Rock, whose real name is Rakim Hasheem Allen, is a Philadelphia rapper, singer, and songwriter.

PnB Rock gained popularity with his mixtapes such as “Real Ngga Bangaz” and “RNB (Real Ngga Blues).”

He later signed with Atlantic Records in 2015 and released his debut album, GTTM: Goin Thru the Motions, in 2017.

The album debuted at number 28 on the Billboard 200 chart, featuring the hit single “Selfish.”

PnB Rock’s music is known for its emotional honesty and vulnerability, often addressing relationships, mental health, and street life.

10. Phanatik

Phanatik is a rapper from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known for his contributions to Christian hip-hop music.

He was a member of the influential Christian rap group The Cross Movement, based in Philadelphia and active from 1997 to 2007.

The group released several albums, including Heaven’s Mentality and Holy Culture, which helped to establish Christian rap as a significant subgenre of hip-hop.

As a solo artist, Phanatik has released several albums, including The Incredible Walk and Crime & Consequences.

His music often addresses spiritual and social themes and is characterized by his skillful wordplay and creative use of metaphors.

11. Lil Dicky

Lil Dicky first gained popularity for his satirical and comedic rap songs, which he began posting on YouTube in 2013.

His debut single, “Ex-Boyfriend,” went viral, and he quickly gained a following.

In 2015, Lil Dicky released his debut album, Professional Rapper, which featured collaborations with notable artists such as Snoop Dogg and Fetty Wap.

The album debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified Gold by the RIAA.

Lil Dicky’s music is known for its comedic and self-deprecating lyrics, often poking fun at his lack of traditional “rapper” qualities.

12. Eve

Eve began her music career in the late 1990s, releasing her debut album, Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady in 1999.

The album was a commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 chart and earning her a Grammy Award for the hit single “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” a collaboration with Gwen Stefani.

Throughout her career, Eve has released four studio albums, including Scorpion and Eve-Olution, and has collaborated with numerous other artists, such as Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, and DMX.

She is known for her unique flow, clever wordplay, and socially conscious lyrics.

13. Army of the Pharaohs

Army of the Pharaohs is a hip-hop collective formed in Philadelphia in 1998.

Rapper Vinnie Paz founded the group, featuring a rotating cast of members over the years, including Apathy, Celph Titled, Esoteric, Planetary, Crypt the Warchild, and more.

The group is known for its aggressive, hard-hitting style, heavy use of samples, and dramatic instrumentation.

Many of the group’s lyrics deal with themes of violence, warfare, and mythology, and their music has been compared to that of groups like Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep.

Army of the Pharaohs has released several albums over the years, including The Torture Papers (2006), Ritual of Battle (2007), and In Death Reborn (2014).

14. Freeway

Freeway is a rapper from Philadelphia who first gained fame in the early 2000s as a member of Roc-A-Fella Records.

He is often cited as one of the best Philly rappers, and his unique style and flow have earned him a loyal following.

Freeway’s music is characterized by his raspy, high-pitched voice and his use of intricate rhyme schemes.

He is known for his storytelling abilities, and his lyrics often touch on themes of struggle, perseverance, and triumph over adversity.

One of Freeway’s most popular songs is “What We Do,” a collaboration with Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel that appeared on the soundtrack to the 2002 film “State Property.”

15. Cassidy

Cassidy is one of the most well-known and respected rappers in Philadelphia.

He rose to prominence in the early 2000s with his hit single “Hotel” and peaked at #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Cassidy’s style is characterized by his clever wordplay and intricate rhymes, which have earned him a reputation as one of the best lyricists in the game.

He’s released several successful albums, including Split Personality and B.A.R.S. The Barry Adrian Reese Story, both of which received critical acclaim.

Additionally, Cassidy has been praised for his freestyle skills, having participated in numerous rap battles and freestyle competitions.

16. Kurupt

Kurupt first gained recognition in the early 1990s as a featured artist on tracks by artists such as Snoop Dogg and Warren G.

In 1995, Kurupt and fellow rapper Daz Dillinger formed Tha Dogg Pound and released their debut album, Dogg Food, the same year.

Kurupt has since released several solo albums, including Kuruption! and Space Boogie: Smoke Oddessey, and has continued collaborating with other artists in the rap industry.

He is known for his smooth flow, unique delivery style, and lyrical content, which often touches on themes of street life and gang culture.

17. Lisa Lopes

Lisa Lopes, also known as “Left Eye,” was a rapper, singer, and songwriter best known for being a member of the girl group TLC.

TLC quickly became one of the most successful and influential girl groups of all time, with hits like “Waterfalls,” “No Scrubs,” and “Creep.”

Lopes was known for her distinctive rapping style, energetic performances on stage, and outspoken and sometimes controversial personality off stage.

In addition to her work with TLC, Lopes pursued a solo career, releasing Supernova in 2001.

18. Tierra Whack

Whack began her music career in 2017 by releasing her debut single, “Toe Jam.”

Her breakthrough came in 2018 with the release of her debut studio album, Whack World, which consisted of 15 songs, each lasting only one minute.

Whack’s music is known for its unconventional style, combining hip-hop, pop, and experimental music elements.

She has been praised for her unique flow, creative lyricism, and bold visuals in her music videos.

19. Schoolly D

Schoolly D is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of gangsta rap and is considered one of the best rappers to come out of Philadelphia.

He rose to fame in the mid-1980s with his self-produced albums, including Schoolly D, Saturday Night, and Smoke Some Kill.

Schoolly D’s music was known for its raw and explicit content, which often touched on themes of violence, drug use, and sex.

He is also credited with coining the term “gangsta rap,” which would go on to define a genre of hip-hop music.

20. Lil Skies

Lil Skies gained popularity with his 2017 single “Red Roses,” certified platinum by the RIAA.

Lil Skies is known for his melodic style and often raps about his experiences with drugs, relationships, and personal struggles.

Lil Skies began his music career by releasing songs on SoundCloud, and his debut mixtape, “Alone,” was released in 2017.

Since then, he has released several more mixtapes and albums, including Life of a Dark Rose, Shelby, and Unbothered.

Lil Skies has collaborated with several notable artists, including Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, and Lil Durk.

He has also been recognized for impacting the rap scene, with features in publications such as Billboard and XXL Magazine.

21. Bahamadia

Bahamadia began her music career in the early 1990s, collaborating with other Philly rappers such as The Roots and DJ Premier.

Bahamadia’s music is characterized by her smooth flow and intelligent, introspective lyrics that touch on various topics, from social issues to personal experiences.

Her debut album, Kollage, released in 1996, is considered a classic of underground hip-hop and features collaborations with artists such as Guru and DJ Premier.

In addition to her music, Bahamadia has also been an essential figure in the Philly hip-hop scene as a mentor and supporter of other artists.

She has been a vocal advocate for women in hip-hop and has worked to create opportunities for other female artists in the industry.

22. Young Chris

Young Chris gained recognition in the early 2000s as a member of the rap duo Young Gunz alongside Neef Buck.

Together, they released their debut album Tough Luv in 2004, which featured the hit single “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.”

Following the success of Tough Luv, Young Chris embarked on a solo career, releasing several mixtapes and albums over the years.

One of Young Chris’s defining characteristics as a rapper is his distinctive flow and delivery, which have earned him a reputation as a skilled wordsmith.

He has also been recognized for his storytelling abilities and his dedication to representing his city of Philadelphia.

23. AR-Ab

AR-Ab’s music often focuses on street life and the struggles faced by those living in poverty, with raw and unapologetic lyrics.

He has been praised for his unique style and delivery, which incorporate elements of both singing and rapping.

AR-Ab has been involved in legal troubles.

In 2019, he was convicted on federal drug charges and sentenced to 45 years.

Despite his legal issues, AR-Ab remains a respected figure in the Philadelphia hip-hop scene, and his music inspires and resonates with fans worldwide.

24. Cool C

Cool C was a member of the influential Philly hip-hop group the Hilltop Hustlers in the 1980s and later gained widespread recognition as a solo artist.

Cool C’s music often focused on street life and urban struggles, with introspective and socially conscious lyrics.

He was known for his smooth flow and confident delivery, which made him a standout in the Philly rap scene.

Despite his success as a rapper, Cool C’s career was cut short when he was arrested and convicted for his involvement in the 1996 murder of a Philadelphia police officer during a bank robbery.

He was sentenced to death, but his sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

25. Steady B

Steady B, born Warren McGlone, is a Philadelphia-based rapper and producer influential in the early days of Philly hip-hop.

Along with fellow Philly rapper Cool C, Steady B was a member of the group C.E.B. (Countin’ Endless Bank).

Steady B was known for his smooth flow and conscious lyrics, which often touched on themes of social justice and the struggles of urban life.

He was also a skilled storyteller who weaved complex narratives through his music.

He released several albums during this time, including Bring the Beat Back (1986), Let the Hustlers Play (1988), and V (1991).

26. Vinnie Paz

Vinnie Paz is perhaps best known as the lead rapper of the hip-hop group Jedi Mind Tricks, which he formed in the mid-1990s with producer Stoupe, the Enemy of Mankind.

Known for his aggressive delivery and politically charged lyrics, Vinnie Paz has built a solid following among underground hip-hop fans.

He often raps about topics such as religion, politics, and social justice and is known for his use of intricate rhyme schemes and wordplay.

Throughout his career, Paz has collaborated with several other prominent hip-hop artists, including Immortal Technique, R.A. The Rugged Man, and Army of the Pharaohs.

Vinnie Paz has also released several solo albums, including Season of the Assassin (2010) and The Pain Collector (2018).

27. Lady B

Lady B, also known as Wendy Clark, is widely considered one of the first female DJs in the world and is credited with helping to popularize hip-hop music in Philadelphia and beyond.

Lady B began her career in hip-hop in the late 1970s when she started hosting a radio show on Philadelphia’s WHAT-FM.

Her show, “The Street Beat,” was one of the first hip-hop radio shows in the United States, and it helped to popularize the genre in the Philadelphia area.

Lady B also recorded several singles as a rapper, including “To the Beat Y’all” and “Ladies First.”

She is often credited with being one of the first female rappers to release a record and pioneered women in hip-hop.

She has been recognized for her contributions to hip-hop and was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame in 2016.

28. The Ambassador

The Ambassador began his music career as a member of The Cross Movement, one of the first Christian hip-hop groups to gain widespread recognition in the United States.

In 2005, The Ambassador released his debut solo album, The Thesis, which featured guest appearances from several members of The Cross Movement.

He has since released several other solo albums, including The Chop Chop: From Milk to Meat and When Sacred Meets Secular.

The Ambassador is also a pastor and has served as the lead pastor at Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He is known for his thought-provoking lyrics and ability to blend traditional hip-hop styles with Christian themes and messages.

29. Reef the Lost Cauze

Reef the Lost Cauze, born Sharif Lacey, is a member of the hip-hop group Army of the Pharaohs.

Reef the Lost Cauze began his career as a battle rapper, competing in various rap battles and winning several championships.

In 2001, he released his debut album, The High Life, and several critically acclaimed albums, including Feast or Famine and A Vicious Cycle.

Reef’s music often addresses social and political issues, including poverty, racism, and police brutality.

30. Jay Bezel

Jay Bezel began his music career as a member of Major Figgas, which released several albums in the early 2000s.

He later became a member of State Property, appearing on several of the group’s albums, including The Chain Gang, Vol. 2, and State Property 2.

Jay Bezel has also released several solo albums and mixtapes, including The Philadelphia Beast and Rudy Huxtable.

Jay Bezel is known for his gritty, street-oriented lyrics and distinctive flow.

He is considered a representative of the Philadelphia hip-hop scene and has collaborated with many other artists from the city, including Meek Mill and Gillie Da Kid.

Best Philly Rappers – Final Thoughts

Philly rap has always been about authenticity, resilience, and hard work; these artists embody those qualities.

They have overcome adversity and used their music to tell stories that resonate with their fans and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

While many talented rappers are out there, these 30 best Philly rappers stand out as the cream of the crop.

They have earned their place in hip-hop history and continue to influence and inspire new generations of rappers.

You may also like: Best Rappers of All Time

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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