J. Cole, Mos Def, Kendrick Lamar? The 10 Greatest Conscious Rappers Of All Time

J. Cole
(Photo : Getty Images/Paras Griffin) We've listed the 10 greatest conscious rappers of all time.

First off, whenever the term "conscious rapper" is used, it's often uttered by fans or the media. Very rarely will an MC who spits about the issues of the day call himself "conscious."

Without a doubt, these type of artists stand out from the rhyming masses, and even though they may not care for it, they're often put in a separate category, a sub-genre almost, when all along they probably just want to be considered rappers.

With acts like Kendrick Lamar and more recently Chance The Rapper establishing colossal-size followings, it only proves there's a vast market for those MCs who consider themselves conscious or ultra positive.

Below, we've listed 10 of the greatest conscious rappers throughout history. Those who've combined an important message with stellar lyricism and a potent delivery.

10. Brother J of X Clan

One of the best voices in all of rap, with the most innovative lyrics, Brother J and his group X-Clan certainly made a very impressive mark in hip-hop and music in general.

9. J. Cole

It's nice when it seems like a rapper's chief goal is to be an incredible lyricist and nothing else. These days that's rare for some reason.

Although Cole is still carving out his legacy, he certainly deserves to be on this list for his rhyming skills alone.

8. Dead Prez

Discovered by Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar, rappers Stic.Man and M-1 have made some of the most compelling protest music ever, and their debut album "Lets Get Free" could easily be considered a classic.

7. Kendrick Lamar

Whether it's his album "good kid, m.A.A.d city" or "To Pimp a Butterfly," K.Dot has always covered some pretty heavy topics, but he makes songs extremely palatable, which isn't an easy feat.

Plus, few can hang with him when it comes to bending words and creating all kinds of new flows.

6. Melle Mel

A pure innovator, Melle Mel constructed the first conscious rap song ever with "The Message," along with his group the Furious Five and Grandmaster Flash, and everything he spit in that song about life in the inner-city still applies today.

5. Talib Kweli

Rapper's like Kweli had it extremely difficult when they broke into the scene in the late 1990s because at that time, rap was smack dab in the middle of the glitzy Puff Daddy, Bad Boy era.

Kweli was still able to make his mark, however, despite the resistance he received from mainstream radio and video outlets.

4. Common

Take your pick: "Resurrection," "One Day It'll All Make Sense," "Like Water for Chocolate," "Be."

Over the last 20 years, Com has put in some wonderful work, and he'll probably go down as one of the most positive and important MCs ever.

3. Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def

Bey has many talents, but maybe his strongest is his ability to cover weighty topics and make songs sound fun and lighthearted.

In addition, when it comes to sheer wordplay, very few can do it like this Black Star member.

2. Chuck D

Almost single-handedly, Public Enemy changed rap music forever, and Chuck D could go down as the greatest front-man in hip-hop history.

1. KRS-One

Very few have put together the amount of impressive rhymes that KRS has, and whether he's done it with his group Boogie Down Productions or on his own, the Blast Master is clearly the best conscious rapper of all time.

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