Biggie vs Jay-Z – Who’s the Best Rapper?

In a battle between Biggie vs Jay-Z, who would you crown as the best rapper?

In the realm of rap music, two names stand out as legends: Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie) and Jay-Z. These two artists have left an indelible mark on the hip-hop landscape, shaping the genre with their lyrical prowess, storytelling ability, and commercial success.

But in this battle of the Titans, who emerges as the ultimate rap heavyweight? In this article, we will delve into the rapping ability, album sales, #1 singles, and awards of Biggie and Jay-Z to determine who reigns supreme in the rap arena.

Biggie vs Jay-Z (TLDR)

It is important to note that both Biggie and Jay-Z have made invaluable contributions to hip-hop culture and have left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire generations of artists. However, while Biggie’s impact cannot be denied and his raw talent and unique storytelling abilities continue to resonate, his untimely death limited his overall body of work and potential for further accolades.

Longevity is the name of the game for HOV, as he enters his fourth decade of rap. He is one of the best selling and most influential rappers of all time, making him the clear winner here.

Biggie vs Jay-Z – Rapping Ability

Regarding pure rapping ability, both Biggie and Jay-Z have established themselves as masters of their craft. Biggie, known for his distinct flow, impeccable delivery, and lyrical dexterity, captivated listeners with his vivid storytelling. His rhymes were packed with intricate wordplay, metaphors, and a raw authenticity that showcased his street-smart persona.

Jay-Z, on the other hand, is celebrated for his razor-sharp lyricism, impeccable cadence, and ability to seamlessly ride a beat. His unique ability to effortlessly switch flows, his clever wordplay, and his thought-provoking storytelling have solidified his status as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

While both artists have different styles, it is difficult to determine a clear winner in terms of rapping ability. Biggie’s flow and lyrical prowess showcased his undeniable talent, while Jay-Z’s versatility and lyrical depth have made him an iconic figure in the rap game.

Winner: Tie

Biggie vs Jay-Z – Album Sales

Biggie vs Jay-Z album sales

When it comes to commercial success, Jay-Z has the upper hand in terms of album sales. Throughout his illustrious career, he has released numerous multi-platinum albums that have resonated with audiences worldwide. Jay-Z’s discography includes classics like Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, The Black Album, and 4:44. His ability to consistently deliver chart-topping albums has resulted in over 75 million records sold globally.

Biggie, while tragically cut short in his prime, made a significant impact with his two studio albums, Ready to Die and Life After Death. These albums are considered seminal works in hip-hop, showcasing Biggie’s lyrical genius and storytelling prowess. Life After Death became one of the few rap albums to achieve diamond certification, selling over 10 million copies in the United States alone.

Though Jay-Z has a more extensive catalog and greater overall album sales, it is important to note that Biggie’s impact and influence cannot be understated, even with a smaller body of work.

Winner: Jay-Z

Biggie vs Jay-Z – #1 Singles

Who had the higher number of #1 singles: Jay-Z or Biggie Smalls?

This is a surprisingly close race. In terms of #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, both Biggie and Jay-Z have achieved notable success. Biggie scored two #1 hits with “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” showcasing his ability to create catchy and commercially successful tracks. Once again, we can only imagine the continued success of his singles were it not for his passing.

Jay-Z, on the other hand, surprisingly has had just four (4) #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, “Umbrella”, Empire State of Mind”, “Crazy in Love”, and “Heartbreaker”. This is an interesting statistic because all four of these songs are collaborations with other artists and only one of the songs actually appeared on a Jay-Z album (“Empire State of Mind”). 

This comes as a surprise given his 14 number one albums. This showcases how he is an artist that released true bodies of work, that are best enjoyed complete. It also highlights his ability to cross over into mainstream success while maintaining his credibility as a rapper has contributed to his dominance in the charts.

Winner: Biggie

BIG wins this round, as his two solo number one’s beat out Jay-Z’s single chart topping solo song (technically still a feature). 

Biggie vs Jay-Z – Awards

When it comes to awards, Jay-Z has accumulated an impressive array of accolades throughout his career. He has won 23 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists in Grammy history. His numerous wins include recognition in categories such as Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance.

Biggie, while his career was tragically cut short, still managed to make a significant impact and garner recognition. He posthumously won two Grammy Awards for his work on the album Life After Death, solidifying his influence on the genre.

Winner: Jay-Z

What If Biggie Never Died?

What if Biggie Smalls Didn't Die?

It has been a lopsided battle so far. Much in part due to the far too early passing of the Notorious B.I.G.  We were truly robbed of what could have been one of the greatest careers in music

For all we know, if it were not for his passing, Jay-Z would not have had the spotlight during the late 90s to early 00s. I don’t think people realize that if Biggie were alive today, he would be three years younger than Jay-Z. 

Let thank sink in for a minute.

All set?  Good.  Let’s continue.  

Art, Writing and Business

Biggie vs Jay-Z: Artistic Evolution

Both Biggie and Jay-Z showcased growth and evolution throughout their careers. Biggie’s debut album, Ready to Die, introduced his raw and gritty style, while his posthumous release, Life After Death, displayed a more polished and diverse sound.

Jay-Z also experienced artistic evolution, transitioning from his early street-centric rhymes to tackling more introspective and socially conscious themes in albums like The Blueprint and 4:44. Comparing their artistic growth allows us to examine their ability to adapt and experiment with their music.

Biggie vs Jay-Z: Songwriting and Production

In terms of songwriting, both Biggie and Jay-Z have demonstrated their prowess. Biggie was known for his vivid storytelling and ability to paint detailed pictures through his lyrics. Jay-Z, on the other hand, is renowned for his clever wordplay, intricate rhyme schemes, and ability to craft memorable hooks. 

We love rappers for their great songwriting ability. Oddly enough, Jay-Z has gone on record several times to inform the public that his process actually doesn’t include songwriting per se, but more memorization of words (which eventually caused Jay to develop a strong memory of his lyrics).

Additionally, Jay-Z has ventured into production, showcasing his skills in shaping the sonic landscape of his albums. Analyzing their songwriting and production contributions provides insight into their creative processes.

Biggie vs Jay-Z: Entrepreneurship

Beyond their music careers, both Biggie and Jay-Z have made significant strides as entrepreneurs. Jay-Z, in particular, has built a vast business empire that includes ventures in fashion, sports management, streaming services, and more.

Rocafella/Roc Nation, Tidal, Dusse and Ace of Spades, and his recent cannabis venture are just a few of the avenues he has staked claim in across various industries. His success as a businessman has elevated him to a prominent position in the industry. This one is obviously no comparison. The Billionaire, Jay-Z, walks away with another clear victory.

Biggie vs Jay-Z: Influence and Legacy

Examining the influence and legacy of Biggie and Jay-Z provides a broader perspective on their impact on the rap genre and subsequent generations of artists. Biggie’s short but impactful career left an indelible mark on hip-hop, influencing countless rappers with his storytelling ability and larger-than-life persona.

Jay-Z’s influence spans not only his musical contributions but also his cultural impact, philanthropy, and role as a mentor to emerging artists. Evaluating their influence and legacy helps us gauge the lasting imprint they have left on the rap industry.

Winner: Jay- Z

Overall Winner: Jay-Z

Jay-Z is the winner of this particular rap battle

In this battle between rap legends, Jay-Z emerges as the victor. His extensive catalog, commercial success, chart-topping singles, and an impressive array of awards showcase his dominance in the rap industry. Jay-Z’s ability to consistently reinvent himself, navigate the mainstream, and maintain his lyrical prowess cemented his status as one of the greatest rappers ever.

This outcome sparks a few questions about the past, present and future of rap music. Rap music is a competitive genre where top 5 and best rapper alive debates are commonplace. It is also a genre were trends tend drive what is popular whether for a just moment or a movement. A few of those questions are as follows:

  • If Jay-Z is better than Biggie, is Biggie still worthy of being on your top five rapper list?
  • Is Jay-Z the best New York rapper? 
  • Is Jay-Z the best rapper of all time?
  • Is Jay-Z the rap GOAT?
  • Do the younger generation even know Biggie songs these days?

All of this is up for debate and really just a matter of personal opinion. What is not up for debate is the importance of New York in the legacy of rap history and its future.

This article was written by Justinian and edited by Michael.

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