New York Ranks As Most Influential State for Rap History
Debate has long raged throughout the music world over the question of the greatest rappers of all time. EmpireStakes.com, your home to everything NY sportsbooks, decided to put a spin on this topic by looking at which states have influenced the genre the most by producing the largest number of top rappers.
EmpireStakes.com utilized Billboard’s 2023 list of the “50 Greatest Rappers of All Time” that was developed in honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and took into account an artist’s body of work, achievements, cultural impact, longevity, lyrics and flow. We then found the origin state of each member of the list to determine the most significant states for rap.
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States With the Most Top 50 Rappers
New York More Than Well-Represented
As New York City is the birthplace of hip-hop, it is no wonder New York rappers dominate this list. MCs with connections to the Empire State make up exactly half of the top 50. However, Tupac Shakur (no. 4) and Pusha T (no. 29) moved away long before the start of their careers and were respectively considered California and Virginia rappers for the purposes of this exercise, hence the official count of 23.
Every New York-based artist on the list grew up within the NYC metropolitan area, the vast majority in the city itself. Chuck D (no. 34), Method Man (no. 25), LL Cool J (no. 14) and Rakim (no. 13) all hail from Long Island. Jadakiss (no. 46) and DMX (no. 21) are from Westchester County, but the other 17 come from one of the five boroughs.
Brooklyn leads the way with nine top 50 rappers born in the city’s largest borough, though Nas (no. 3) spent most of his youth in Queens. The Bedford-Stuyvesant/Clinton Hill area alone produced Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) (no. 36), Lil Kim (no. 31), Big Daddy Kane (no. 20), The Notorious B.I.G. (no. 6) and Jay-Z (no. 1), while MC Lyte (no. 47) and Busta Rhymes (no. 33) are originally from East Flatbush and KRS-One (no. 24) was born in Park Slope but moved between boroughs.
The rest of the New York rappers on the list lived spread among the remainder of the city, with no other borough home to more than three of them. Melle Mel (no. 48) and Big Pun (no. 26) are Bronx natives, while Nicki Minaj (no. 10) moved there from Trinidad and Tobago when she was five.
The only other NYC neighborhood to place multiple artists in the rankings, Harlem housed both Q-Tip (no. 27) and Kurtis Blow (no. 23), the sole Manhattan residents to make the cut.
Rev. Run (no. 49) and 50 Cent (no. 17) both hail from Queens, with Rev Run growing up in Hollis and 50 Cent in South Jamaica. The second member of the seminal hardcore hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan to make the list, Ghostface Killah (no. 22) is the lone Staten Islander in the top 50.
Together these rappers recorded 18 albums that appear in the most recent version of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, including eight of the top twelve hip-hop albums on the list. Public Enemy’s 1988 release It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (featuring Chuck D) sits as the highest ranked New York hip-hop album, coming in at number 15, with the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as the only rap record rated ahead of it.
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Jay-Z Earns Top Billing
Additionally, the 23 New York artists are responsible for over 50 platinum albums, the highest selling of which is Biggie’s second album Life After Death. However, when it comes to the total number of platinum albums recorded, Jay-Z far outpaces everyone else.
The richest musician in the world, Jay-Z owns five more platinum albums than the next closest rapper (Eminem), with all 13 of his studio albums certified platinum, along with four of his collaboration albums.
With that kind of output, it is easy to see why Billboard ranked him as the top rapper of all time, though hip-hop talent flows in abundance throughout New York, as evidenced by three other New York MCs finishing in the top ten and eleven others in the top 25.
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