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Billboard's Top 20 Hip Hop Groups of All Time: Examined...

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Billboard is the major company behind tracking the charting and metric successes of recorded music. Recently they put out a Top 20 (50) Hip Hop Groups of All Time list that I felt was wildly inaccurate, or at the very least; left off culturally relevant and incredibly impactful hip hop acts that affected the lexicon more than what they recognized.

Let’s start with the list they put out, and then we’ll look at the most important groups they overlooked.

1) OutKast

2) Wu-Tang Clan

3) NWA

4) A Tribe Called Quest

5) Run-D.M.C.

6) Public Enemy

7) Eric B. & Rakim

8) Salt-N-Pepa

9) De La Soul

10) The Roots


11) Migos

12) Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five

13) Mobb Deep

14) Fugees

15) Naughty By Nature

16) Beastie Boys

17) Cypress Hill

18) Three 6 Mafia

19) G-Unit

20) UGK

Now the 3 groups that stand out to me are Bone Thugs N Harmony, Dipset, and The LOX. To be fair, Billboard placed Bone and Lox respectively at places 21 & 22 but I still feel as if the 3 of these are way too big to not make the top 20 list.

I think duo’s should have their own category personally [Eric B & Rakim], but I understand duos being included, to extrapolate this, any recording artist that isn’t a solo artist I guess qualifies as a group. So to have Outkast as #1 when they’re a duo is a bit odd but I understand they made some of the most universally appealing hip hop music of all time. Same goes for Salt N Pepa (was a trio with DJ included) and Mobb Deep, I really think there’s enough duos in hip hop that they deserve another category.

Now back to the list and why I think it’s inaccurate. I don’t know the standards they’re judging these groups by but I can imagine it's a combination of records sales vs cultural influence. I would use those two things as metrics as well in my speculation although personally I lean more towards cultural influence as well as the musicality, composition, and catalog of an artist. However they’re judging them it doesn’t matter, they’re bound to get it wrong, these lists are by no means easy nor widely accepted, these usually come fraught with iniquities.

4 through 10 on the list are debatable due to the fact I don’t believe casual listeners of hip hop or even heads could recite more than 1 hit a piece from those groups and that's even difficult. Do you know The Roots' number one hit from raw memory? What about De La Soul? I believe these got placed where they did for the sheer brilliance of their music and their influence on other artists and musicians.

Then they have Migos at the 11 spot, which has to be sales driven as well as using stylistically pioneered flows originally from Bone Thugs and Three 6 Mafia. Cypress Hill and Naughty by Nature getting higher spots than Bone or Dipset is also quite debatable on which groups are the bigger or more impactful ones.

Overall I don’t discount any of the groups placed in the top 20, they’re all accoladed and timeless. The order desires much to be examined, and why they left certain megalithic rap acts off of the list deserves to be questioned.

Comment your thoughts and what your top 20 hip hop list would look like!

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