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Hip Hop culture was founded on the blood, sweat, and tears of African Americans and Puerto Ricans. Unfortunately, many of our Puerto Rican brethren are overlooked when discussions arise about great mcs and rappers. Other times, we find lists of Latino rappers that really don’t facilitate the contributions made by Puerto Ricans in view of Hip Hop at large. The following is a list of the greatest Puerto Rican rappers that ever touched the mic. Enjoy!
Number #1: Mark Anthony Morales aka Prince Markie Dee. Hands down Prince Markie Dee is the most influential rapper of Puerto Rican descent to ever bless the stage. He was the first Puerto Rican rapper to receive platinum honors while working with the Fat Boys. (Big Pun was the Puerto Rican first solo artist to platinum in the Rap music genre.) Not only was he a founding member of the legendary Fat Boys, but was one of the main producers of Mary J. Blige’s debut album What’s the 411? Actually, Mary J. Blige’s popular hit Real Love was written and produced by Mark Morales (Prince Markie Dee) and L A. Reid. People forget that the Fat Boys rivaled Run-D.M.C as favorite group among teens during the 1980’s. I had friends who would listen to the Fat Boys, but not Run-D.M.C.
Secondly, we have to consider that the idea of making “being fat” cool, which served as a great catalyst for the careers of Heavy D, The Notorious B.I.G, Raekwon the Chef, Fat Joe, and Big Pun, originated with the Fat Boys. I never for the life of me understood how Prince Markie Dee could ever get left out of the “who’s the best Puerto Rican rapper?” question considering the legacy that he had as a leading member of the Fat Boys. That don’t even make sense! Skills?!!! The flow is ridiculous, especially when you compare Prince Markie Dee to other rappers during the Fat Boys prime. If you want to know how hard Prince Markie Dee could rock a crowd as an MC, just listen to him spittin on the underground classic The Place to Be by The Fat Boys. I guarantee that you can play that record next to any new material to date and Prince Markie Dee’s verses will outshine them all.
Number #2: Christopher Lee Rios aka Big Punisher aka Big Pun. If Big Pun is not in your list of Top Ten MCs ever, then you need to back to school to study reading and writing on a third grade level. He was the first Latino rapper to have an album certified platinum as a solo act. The signature flow of Big Pun had some of Hip Hop’s legendary rappers rewriting their verses on guest appearances, which was the story of Nas on Fat Joe’s John Blaze.
If Big Pun was making a cameo, doing a mix tape, or involved in any rap cipher, the worldwide nigga’s ear to the street was the bullhorn event of; “Yo rewind that! Who is that?” Big Punisher held promise as much as he did fulfillment. Unfortunately, he passed form in 2000 before the noon of his career.
Number #3: Joseph Antonio Cartagena aka Fat Joe. On the subject of Puerto Rican rappers the name Fat Joe is an inevitable list-carrier. Not only is Fat Joe respected as a legendary rapper in the game, but his work ethic is phenomenal. As an unsigned artist, Fat Joe won rap contests at the Apollo Theatre week after week after week. One thing that Fat Joe must also be admired for is his skill in business. As CEO of Terror Squad Entertainment, Fat Joe was able to put together a team of highly skilled MCs during the classic era of the 90’s. Although he didn’t score on all the deals he made, Fat Joe is responsible for giving a lot careers life. His lyrical skillz is sure to make jealous ones envy.
Fat Joe’s potential was recognized early in the game. His range of collaborations with legends of the genre includes names like Grand Puba, Raekwon the Chef, Nas, and of course the legendary Big Pun, whose career was sparked by the Bronx legend. Fat Joe is still relevant in today’s rap game. He is also seen as an iconic figure, similar to KRS-One, when it comes to Hip Hop history. Fat Joe’s career is impressive as the artist he put on, he gave them room to shine for who they are.
Number #4: James Whipper II aka Prince Whipper Whip. One of the great pioneers of Hip Hop and an original member of Grandwizard Theodore & the Fantastic Five, Prince Whipper Whip and is an often sought after mentor to many of today’s MCs and rappers. The original Puerto Rican Prince from the Bronx continues to work behind the scenes with some of the best of them.
Number #5: Victor Santiago Jr. aka N.O.R.E. aka Noreaga. Thank God for N.O.R.E.! Thank God for Noreaga! Not only is N.O.R.E. one of the greatest rappers to ever do it, but has helped save many lives by negotiating and settling rap beefs. The work he has put in on the latter is legendary alone. While Hip Hop has its honorable teachers like KRS-One, N.O.R.E. has become one of its chief senators when it comes to settling disputes. Thank God for N.O.R.E.!
As one-half of the legendary Capone-N-Noreaga, Santiago established his respect in the rap game. Later, he moved onto a successful solo career, which included paying homage to his Puerto Rican ancestry by recording a catalogue of Reggaeton music. N.O.R.E. has made guest appearances on numerous records and is widely respected for his craft.
Number #6: Christopher Charles Lloyd aka Lloyd Banks, Raised in South Jamaica, Queen, Lloyd Banks is another example that hard work pays off. As one of the founding members of what many believe to be one of rap music’s greatest groups, G-Unit, Banks has seen his fair share of controversy, rap beefs, and a glorious array of hits.
Banks is of Puerto Rican and African American descent. He developed his distinct rap style through the mixtape arena and has grew to be become another G-Unit household name shortly after 50 Cent.
Number #7: Roberto Guzmán Rosado Jr. aka Tru Life. While this rapper’s career is still an unwritten book, Tru Life came into the industry with the strength of a street credibility not witnessed since the early 90’s. Hustling through a few musical beefs, making a few guest appearances on songs, Tru Life captivated audiences in a manner similar to Tupac Shakur, a lifestyle alone career.
Tru Life was sentenced to prison in 2011 on the verge of his career taking off. He came home in 2016 a renewed man with focus on making music and raising his family.
Number #8:Jorge Alvarez aka Kurious aka Kurious Jorge. One of the most well-known underground rappers whose influence can even be seen in the mannerisms of more popular artists like Kool Keith.
Kurious made his debut on Del tha Funkee Homosapien‘s album No Need for Alarm and on Pete Nice & DJ Richie Rich‘s album Dust to Dust. He later became known for his uniue flow and sarcastic sense of humor, which can be seen in songs like Walk Like A Duck.
Number #9: Joseph Guillermo Jones II aka Jim Jones. Hip Hop’s post-millennium bad boy was born in the Bronx to an Aruban mother and Puerto Rican father. Rapper Jim Jones is known for making Hip Hop history, breaking into the industry as one of the Diplomats.
While Jim Jones remains to be a pillar in the rap game and the face of controversy, his focus is concentrated on making good music.
Cipher: Joell Ortiz. The Brooklyn native rapper is in a class by himself that few rappers can even get in the ring with, which is why he stands outside the top nine. Let alone hold their own. Revered as one of Slaughterhouse’s finest, Ortiz brings his own flavor to the game that crosses the generational lines, making a good pot of stew in each and every verse.
Ortiz has commented openly on the struggle Puerto Rican rappers face in getting recognized. He is respected by many in the community and is one of the MCs left in the game.
Israel Perales Ortiz aka Mexicano 777. Perales Ortiz was from Caguas, Puerto Rico. He took the name Mexicano 777 in honor of his Mexican stepfather. With a musical career of nearly two decades, Mexicano 777 enjoyed underground and commercial success. His classic duo with KRS-One on “Balumbalang!” is simple legendary and he didn’t even have to speak English. After experiencing person problems, Perales Ortiz faced a battle with cancer that would prove fatal. He passed form in 2015, leaving us with a legacy of a true warrior.
Tegui Calderón Rosario aka Tego Calderon. The infamous Puerto Rican rapper made a name for himself, not just in the realms of verbal skill, but in using his craft to point out social injustice. The Grammy Award winning Calderon has also played an instrumental role in the expansion of Reggaeton. His career has expanded to include acting and songwriting.
Priscilla Star Diaz aka P-Star, The curfew is over! At nine years of age, Diaz began battling rappers twice her age in after hour nightclubs in Harlem.
P-Star, while still involved in music, has also become active in theatre and modeling.She has also become the first American rapper to make a rap song in Japanses. Now that’s a Warlock Asylum type of artist!