If you were to categorize the best rappers of all time, chances are Tupac Shakur's in your top-3; he's in mine as well. Eminem has taken himself out of contention because his most recent material doesn't match the quality of his previous output - say, anything until the 8 Mile soundtrack; it seems he's been trying to re-do Lose Yourself all the time since then, except perhaps for Berzerk. Ice Cube, the king of squared, 4/4 rap, also makes my cut, and the third spot is a toss-up between Busta Rhymes, Mos Def and a few members of the Wu-Tang Clan, particularly Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.
In terms of rap lyricists, my #1 pick would be Public Enemy's Chuck D, who's always stayed on point regardless of how long he's been in the game, his words always current, carrying the political weight of truth. I'd probably go with Everlast (House Of Pain, Warpon Industries) in second place and, again, Ice Cube in third. KRS-One misses by just a bit, as does Tupac.
My favourite current-day rapper just might be Donald Glover, though - a.k.a. Childish Gambino: smart, incisive, good flow, diverse subject mater, equally at ease rapping about toys from the 1980s as he is politics.
Which makes Cube the rapper I find to be most important. And, as I've mentioned here before, he's kept his output quality at a high level throughout the decades - ok, maybe his records aren't all killer and there are fillers, but his records' high points are always consistent.
For Good Cop Bad Cop, which will appear on the 25th Anniversary Edition of his seminal Death Certificate album, he tackles the subject of racism and police brutality in a post-Black Lives Mater world, and his conclusion is fairly simple: we are no better off today than in 1988 when his group N.W.A. sang "Fuck The Police".
Good Cop Bad Cop (Official Video, Explicit) by Ice Cube on VEVO.
The video was directed by Gabriel Hart.