The Best Performers in Rap Right Now


Technical skill, originality, and style always come into question when considering the best rappers, but the increasingly important live show is sometimes left out of the discussion. A great live show, however, always helps pave the way to stardom, and with music sales down, concerts are important for securing a loyal fan-base, an invaluable means of winning new fans, and a way to make money without selling CDs or MP3s. So from the masters of well-oiled, highly-rehearsed stadium sell-out shows, to the raw, punk energy of a sweaty basement gig, here are the best live performers in rap right now.

Note: This list of best live performers is absolutely not a representation of who we consider to be the best rappers out there (though there is of course some crossover), as live performance and recorded music are two wholly different beasts.

Click to start the list

  • Guest

    Honestly Kendrick Lamar did not meet my expectations

  • Casey Bird

    Honestly Kendrick Lamar did not meet my expectations live. It could be because 90% of the Baltimore crowd knew about 3 of his songs but he seemed detached from the crowd.

  • Jay Diaz

    Kendrick Lamar was not good live at all at Soundset 2012 I was really disappointed. Didn’t expect him to be on this list let alone number 2!

  • taylor

    where the fuck is machine gun kelly?

  • Luckey Bono

    This is what drives my ambition , knowing I can compete with guys like this . An that’s why I can’t stop grinding , it’s now or never . Sublime …. Google me at Luckey Bono

  • Jeremy K

    I agree man, I only saw him in Lincoln, NE so I kind of chalked his “less than 100% performance” on the venue, but same shit, wasn’t as good as i’d hoped.

  • Jeremy K

    Tyler, Jay and Kanye all deserve top 5 for sure. They get into it. Saw all of them at last years Made in America festival.

  • Branman

    So no kid cudi ? snoop dogg ? wiz ? madchild ?

  • Nic

    kendrick lamar is below par live, even in London he doesn’t rap every word and his ora is so fake

  • Jeremy K


  • jmoney

    I’ve seen Kendrick twice and he sucked live. Dont get me wrong, I love his tapes and record. However, live he sounds very horse and not nearly as fluid as he does on record..

  • jmoney


  • Harold

    Honestly Jay-Z and Kanye are head and shoulders better than everyone else

  • batman

    eminem? where are you???

  • Me

    Not to mention yelawolf…

  • Me

    that’s the problem with these lists, especially from hipsters blogs like this one, they’re always just a platform for shouting out the artists they want to shout out and never a real investigation of the topic they claimed to be looking into. snoop and wiz are obvious inclusions but of course they’re “pop” or not indie so they won’t make it on this list. but someone like kendrick or asap rocky who is clearly a poor live performer does…o well at least they had the sense to put lil b (but only at 19)

  • Me

    naw, normalized for production value tyler is clearly #1

  • Me

    action bronson probably #2

  • Smh

    Where are Drake and J. Cole? You must be out of your mind to put Earl Sweatshirt on this list and not those two. Earl has ZERO stage presence and is far from a top performer. And Kendrick at two? Yeah…okay…

  • Elimo Dwayne Ocran

    machine gun kelly

    am not a fun of him tho
    but he’s simply de best

  • PigsAndPlans

    We included Macklemore and Nicki Minaj. You think we really left off Wiz and Snoop bc they’re “pop”? Come on.

  • PigsAndPlans

    If Eminem puts out good new music he’d make it easily. It’s about “right now” though. When we get that new Em album it’ll be a different story.

  • m

    big krit

  • Toby

    A live performance should give you chills. You guys should have used this one for Kendrick

  • Joyce Ng

    lol @ “real investigation.” Please formally conduct one for us.

    I also wouldn’t consider Kanye or Jay as “indie” (as apparently the ones who made the list are “indie” enough), or imply that Snoop and Wiz are more “pop” than Nicki Minaj.

  • JRAM

    KRIT absolutely deserves a spot here.

  • EST Fam

    MGK number 1

  • Andy

    no CUDI?!

  • Dax

    Killer Mike hands down the best show i’ve ever seen. It was at Sasquatch btw

  • Fuckyou


  • getoffdatWizSnoopD

    I’ve seen snoop live 3 times – nothing to write home about.

    Wiz is aight but his singing isn’t as nice live.

  • NTG

    I saw Chance, Earl and Mac Miller a couple weeks ago, Chance’s performance was the mist fun I’ve ever had at a concert

  • Jakob Lundgren

    Only seen him live once. One of the worst rap shows I’ve seen honestly. Maybe that was just a bad show to go to though.

  • NOLAson

    No Curren$y or Yeezy or Mos Def??? This list must have been made in Florida.

  • WASH


  • PAblo

    so no MGK? that is crap..

  • Jade

    No Phonte WTH…. Whether he’s rapping or singing with Foriegn Exchange he’s shows are full of energy and live.

  • Jade

    Chance is dope in concert. Hell he had me jumping!!!!

  • Joyce Ng
  • The Metalluminati

    Should have made this list as a Top 10 instead of 20. Lots of these guys don’t deserve to be anywhere near the phrase “best live performer.”

  • Sean

    I’ve seen Kendrick twice, the first time at a small venue a couple months after Section.80 came out and I loved it. The second was recently at a large amphitheater with the Black Hippy crew and I did not enjoy it at all.

  • Sean

    Also, there are a few notables missing from this iist…Wu? De La? Atmosphere?

  • Freddie

    Agree i’ve also seen him and it was def nothing to brag about

  • John Shaw

    Childish Gambino didn’t make the list? Guess you haven’t seen him

  • Walter

    Where the fuck is MGK!?

  • Anonlickyass

    Lol wtf I’ve seen kendrick 4 times and loved every god damn second of it. Danny brown should be on top though.

  • toogopro

    Machine gun kelly is the best live performer ever

  • Sean

    I agree with a lot of people on here about Machine Gun Kelly. I’m not a big fan of his music but one of my friends asked me to go with him to see MGK and he put on one of the best shows I have ever been too. Non stop energy, really involved with the fans and he is turnt up.

    Kid Cudi, Joey Bada$$ and Big KRIT are others that need to be put on this list.

    I have seen Bronson once, for the XXL Freshman show in Philadelphia. He was almost too high to perform and basically just did his couple of songs and left. I’ve seen some other performances on youtube and it sure looks like he puts on a hell of a show but I was really let down.

  • Buckets

    odd future live changed my life, cuz i needed stitches after it. best show ever. asap rocky was fun, flocka too!

  • Buckets

    kendrick isnt great live either

  • jgijigj

    Kendrick can’t rap or sing well live really.

  • jgijigj

    I would put Kid Cudi at #2. Just my opinion.


    Big Boi is a drastic omission. He shared a stage with Kendrick this spring and annihilated him.

  • jgijigj

    Kanye is miles ahead of all of these cats tho. Kinda funny. 16 minute improvisational Runaway performances, giving cues to his stage musicians, off-the-cuff rants, performance art elements, incredible stage design and visuals. He’s on another level.

  • Xero

    No Childish Gambino? He has so much energy and a live band.

  • Noory

    Live performances are very different to the sound created in the studio.. When you think about it he’s running around stage, jumping up and down getting the crowd hyped up. the change in the voice is inevitable. He still can and does rap his ass off and imo it doesn’t detract from the performance at all

  • Jason

    None of those people should ahead. tech should be number 1

  • ya mami

    I had to disagree with Kendrick being a poor live performer cuz that’s definitely not the case. Kid Cudi jumps off stage and punches his fans in the face… not really sure that’s my idea of a good performance, same with ASAP Rocky.

  • ya mami

    yelawolf is trash to watch live! I cant imagine MGK being any better lol They both think they’re rock stars when this is hip hop.. GTFOH

  • ya bitch

    cuz he punches his fans in the face lol

  • Jack_Lingo

    yeah this still doesn’t prove the his live performances are dope. Just means people got excited to see him perform live. Thats the perfect crowd to have if you want a good show though.

  • Jack_Lingo

    seriously, from the videos I’ve seen, it looks like every city gets a different show with Kanye

  • Chris Norman

    The roots should be higher

  • Name

    Jay-Z should be number 1. Period.

  • Jeff ross

    How the hell is MGK not on here?

  • Charise Gelser

    This is a joke right? Lol and machine gun Kelly isn’t on he list? Get out of here with that complete fuckery

  • TomAss

    Saw MGK the other night and the show was insane!!! He as hanging upside down from the rafters rapping.

  • Joseph

    Saw Kendrick at Bonnaroo this year and he was unbelievable. You could tell he loved every second of performing and his passion was unmatched. I don’t get how people can hate on him so much, I’d give anything to see him again. Oh yeah, I’m seein him at Lolla in four days.

  • Rennerozay

    Like everyone else said where the fuck is MGK…you mention him with tech nine but dont list him

    Fuck how you feel about his music he gets shit turnt up . You can’t deny that

  • JDuB.

    very true, kendrick live was crazy, and kanye is exactely where he should be, and your right Snoop is nothing to brag about i mean he just straight west coast old skool performer!

  • Jw

    Madchild, tech and atmosphere all insane live shows


    Tech N9ne is 41 y/o still doing it as well as anyone. He should be #1 on this list, lets see where Tyler the Creator is in 5-10 years before we put him that high.

  • Amir

    Game? check out his tours in Europe…or the one in Milan….poor list, a blow to hip hop fans.

  • John

    Gambino live is crazy

  • Carter Ace

    so true

  • Wuyu Wantatah


  • Qamara

    And where the fuck are the Taylor’s O.N.I.F.C all Day….bp

  • Fadel Fakhouri

    Kid Cudi should be number one on this list. I’m so sick of Cudi being underestimated so often.

  • a

    Lol…I get it you bloggers mad a mistake and are forgive we all do now stop messing around and release the list corrected with MGK. If you want to be known as a reputable site get your shit together and save money for the very underpriced MGK concert you will want to go to every time he is performing in a 1000 mile radius

  • Ela

    dunno, I love him and all, but I saw him in LA and he was kinda subdued. The crowd was into it obviously, it was LA. He had his hoodie on the entire time, but maybe he wasn’t as confident back then as he is now

  • Ela

    Logic is amazing live

  • Carlos

    Kendrick Lamar live at Hammersmith Apollo, London:

  • tnas11

    where the fuck is t.i !!!!!


    Ha, NO ONE, is better than Tech N9ne live, see to believe, many on this list wouldn’t even argue this

  • lewis

    no redman or methodman you don’t shit

  • newfags

    and you like these fake rappers..hahaha

  • THR33JS


  • sup

    all i gotta say is tyler broke his foot on the first song, finished out the show and stage dived multiple times. thats a performer.

  • JP

    Obviously never been to a Yelawolf concert!

  • NickRagu216

    Where’s MGK at ??

  • brandon

    where the fuck is mac

  • Anthony.S

    why is asap rocky 20? He played one of the best shows ive ever seen. No big Sean or mgk either? damn they fucked up on this one

  • Patrick

    Machine gun kelly puts on an amazing live show.

  • Keywon

    no wiz??? tf type of list is this?!

  • Dave

    Where’s Travi$ Scott man.??

  • Svprxmxly

    Why is A$AP on here, he left a show cause someone wouldn’t give his hat back

  • Svprxmxly

    And Macklemore Doesn’t Deserve To Be On This Either

  • brad

    mgk is sick no eminem? people saying yelawolf why he was terrible live i think j cole should be on this list as well

  • Kai Jake Palacio

    WHERE IS MACHINE GUN KELLY?! He is clearly a better live performer than all of these!

  • asani baki

    Kendrick should be number 1, you can’t control a crowd better than him, the only one who could do that was tupac in 1995/96

  • dubbs

    It should be noted that Danny Brown once got his dick sucked on stage and rapped the whole time.. He should be #1.

  • bizznizle

    YAll bitches is tripping but erryone knows eminem is #1

  • Jalea

    Sorry but Jay may be one of the GOAT but his performances right now <<

  • yalltrippin

    yall niggas trippin, saw him live here in Dallas and it was amazing.

    I watch his shows on youtube all the time and its like this… If the crowd is in it, then he is in it.

  • Thor

    Where’s Eminem?

  • Confusion

    Eminem would be on here if it wasn’t “right now.” Now it seems like Em only does concerts when they’re sponsored corporate events. If he does release an album this year and goes on tour I think he could definitely be one of the best again.

  • Kevin

    I remember going to see Mad Skillz live back in ’95 in a club in the ATL and by the end of the performance this cat from the audience had ended up on stage after challenging Skillz and his man(who was just as dope on the mic).
    Shortly thereafter a vicious impromptu lyrical battle had ensued between Skill’z man and some anonymous fan,both of whom were razor sharp.

    Now that’s the kind of hip hop experience that I came up on.

  • 21faces

    Busdriver and El-P need to be on here

  • Enrique DB


  • Confusion

    It’s just about that “right now” part. Lately Em hasn’t been performing much, and when he does, it’s mostly corporate events. After he drops new stuff and starts doing real shows, I’m sure he’ll be on top again.

  • DesignatedH8R

    No Nas or Eminem, but Macklemore (which was the lamest shit I’ve ever seen live) and Mac Miller? GTFOH with this stupid list.

  • DesignatedH8R

    Yelawolf is way better live than Mac Miller

  • DesignatedH8R

    He’s aight. Good records definitely. Live performances aren’t bad.

  • DesignatedH8R

    Game guzzled a whole bottle of grey goose at the show I went to. One of the best, no doubt.

  • DesignatedH8R

    The Roots is in Rolling Stone’s top ten bands to see before you die.

  • DesignatedH8R

    El-P is pretty cool. Was just going to pass on it, but he got my attention at a festival.

  • DesignatedH8R

    doesn’t make him #1

  • My Nigga D

    I saw Chance twice…I’ve never been so alive. I’ve seen Kendrick also, songs like Maad city pump you up. but other than that it’s shit you can vibe too. not get turnt up. I recommend any Chance performance, doe

  • Ela

    In response to my last post, I saw him again in LA and it was definitely way better than my first time. I guess he got more performance experience

  • MGK

    MACHINE GUN KELLY nuff said

  • Ahmed Khogali

    Where’s J.Cole? he’s good

  • hjk

    Bro eminem

  • Oneel

    I know why Mr.Rager hasn’t made it to the list. He takes his shows to the outer space where these Sucka Hatin Niggas Can’t Follow. He should be No1 on this list followed by Kendirck, Hov, Snoop, Wiz and then Pro Era & the whole Beast Coast!
    Thats My Opinion !

  • 412loyal

    Saw MGK live, he’s no where near my favorite artist. Saw him cuz he came to my college. Kid killed it and blew me and everyone in the place away. MGK life fan after i saw him live. Def the best live hiphop performance I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot.

  • sergio

    y’all should put Captain Murphy (FlyLo rapping) on the next list. saw him at SXSW this week and maaaaaaaaan. creative as hell, he was the best one at the showcase, and it was all rappers.

  • Free

    Drake should definitely be on here at the very least for the same reason Jay is on here, he got HITS and people know every word to a damn near everyone, plus he has good energy, great sequencing, has developed great stage presence, and has a good, clear performing voice (which i cant say for guys like Wayne and Kendrick)

  • Talo

    where the fuck is RAP GOD ?

  • no_one_from_chicago

    Did Kanye West prepare this list?

  • Paulo

    kanye definetly earned to be number one. i saw the yeezus tour and it gives you a whole new perspective of the new album. the concert was filled with lights explosions. it gives me goose bumps to this day.

  • jus

    Eminem shud definitely be on the list his live concerts r fucking crazy

  • Smirnoff

    Where the fuck is Eminem???

  • Neek_TheFreek

    Disappointed MGK and Travi$ Scott arent on this list.

  • Sarah Z. Mamo

    Thirding this. Kendrick’s my favorite rapper of all-time in terms of content. Section.80, GKMC, and TPAB are some of my favorite albums, but when it comes to live performances, he’s subpar.

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