DAR Hip Hop: 20 Of The Greatest Hip Hop Groups Ever

Conducted by @TrueGodImmortal w/
@CherchezLaPorsh, @SpeedOnTheBeat, @IUseCondoms, and @JADBeats 

In hip hop, chemistry on records is hard to come by. From posse tracks to just regular features, chemistry on a song is rare. Now, imagine an entire group of individuals combining together for a full album or mixtape to create something special? It would prove to be tough, correct? Well, over the decades in hip hop, there have been a ton of great groups that made their mark in the genre. Today? We look back at those particular groups and immortalize them, DAR style. The format was originally just the top 5 groups of all time, but you know we do, we have to give love to ALL the great groups of the genre, old and newer. Everyone involved makes a few of their own choices and the editors choice is one we all agreed had to be on the list. The criteria? No duos (so Outkast, EPMD, Mobb Deep, and many others aren't here) and the group needs to have 3 members at least to qualify. Now that you know the criteria, let's get into our list.

*Hot Boy$
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-Some might not understand why this group is one of the first you'll see on this list. The answer is simple: for me, young True, this group was the most important group growing up. I would listen to every Hot Boys collaboration on the solo Cash Money albums and I'd have the Hot Boys albums in rotation regularly. Even now I still listen to Guerrilla Warfare and I occasionally revisit Get It How U Live and Let Em Burn. The chemistry between these four MCs was impeccable and there aren't many groups from the south quite like Juvenile, Lil Wayne, B.G., and Turk. They might be my PERSONAL favorite of all time. They are the ones who influenced me to start making music, oddly enough.

*Geto Boys 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-Though not my personal favorite, any group that spawns the legend Scarface and releases classics like "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" and "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" deserves recognition. One of the OG groups of the south, the Geto Boys were monumental to the game and sound of hip hop.

*Wu-Tang Clan
(Picked By @CherchezLaPorsh, @IUseCondoms, @JADBeats, and @TrueGodImmortal)

-In many ways, the greatest group ever assembled. 9 MCs from New York combined for what would have to be considered one of the most epic runs in hip hop history.

-And my number one spot for best hip hop group of all time (IMO) goes to The Wu-Tang Clan. When a group of that size comes with one unified vision, they are unstoppable and the Wu really was. They dominated the 90’s by taking the growing popular gangster rap concept and implementing an underground, grimy, street “feel” and if that wasn’t enough, they coupled that with the discipline and focus of martial arts. The result would be “Enter The 36 Chambers”, a true classic masterpiece with a perfect tracklist. While underground fans had known of some of the Clan members for some time, this debut allowed the commercial emergence of the collective and set the foundation for some of the greatest solo albums to ever happen to the genre. The impact and influence Wu-Tang had on rap music was instantly felt. The beat production done solely by the RZA had never been heard before and the abrasive hardcore nature of lyricism was unlike any other (not even NWA). Rap fans knew New York MC’s were powerhouses, but The RZA executed his vision flawlessly, and introduced nine (ten with Cappadonna) gems to hip hop.

-Hands down the greatest group ever. No debate. Wu Tang is the greatest.

-RZA, GZA, Old Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghosface Killah, Method Man, Masta Killa and  honorable mention to Cappadonna. I first heard them when I was 10 after I hopped in the back seat of my uncles car. "C.R.E.A.M" was blasting and up to that point, I'd only listened to my dad play West Coast gangsta rap, BDK, LL, Public Enemy, KRS-1, etc. My mom played 2 Live Crew, Salt n' Pepa, Roxanne Shante and others, but this was different, as the Wu's sound just captivated me. It was real, it was raw, it was new. I became an instant fan once I got my hands on Enter The Wu. By the time Wu-Tang Forever dropped (1 of my top 5 albums ever), I was a fanatic. I was known as the Wu guy in school rockin Wu Wear hats, head bands, jeans and shirts. Drawing Wu symbols on any & everything, my lingo changed, it was that real. Their music shaped my mind and gave me wisdom and understanding that my dad never passed along. Their sound is and will always be unmatched. I was already in love with Kung Fu and Wu made me fall in love with hip hop and this is why they're the best group to me period. They're no. 1.

(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-I'd be crazy to not give credit to the collective that helped change the sound once again of hip hop and shaped the mixtape culture before it became what it grew to be. 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck make up the full official G-Unit group for me, while Banks, Yayo, and 50 were the original 3. No matter how you slice it, with millions of sales, worldwide tours, classic mixtapes, and a huge movement that included most of us yelling out "G-G-G-G-Unit" randomly, G-Unit is one of the most special groups of the modern eras, if not the most important. They owned an era of hip hop alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre, but we all know that takeover for Shady/Aftermath would have no true power if not for the G-Unit brand dominating the streets and the airwaves.

*The Roots 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal, @IUseCondoms and @CherchezLaPorsh)

-The element of the live band evolved to be a part of the hip hop group. It hadn't been seen before and hasn't been seen since because who could do it better than the collective led by Black Thought and Questlove? With well over 20 years into this game, The Roots have provided great albums consistently and creativity beyond the norm in the genre. They must be appreciated and respected as one of the greatest hip hop groups ever.

-Classic album after classic album. A very underrated catalog and group. Definitely top 5 worthy music.

-I’m very vocal about my favorites in hip hop so I’m sure my choices will come as no surprise, and The Roots are a group that revolutionized the genre by implementing relevant elements which the era called for and by going an entirely different route and introducing an approach that hadn’t been heard. Now these guys have had a very interesting run with membership, and it’s hard to keep track, but I’m talking original membership which consisted of Questlove, Black Thought, Josh Abrams and Malik B. Of course the additions of membership only solidified what we already knew: these guys were consistently making music that tied the original sounds and elements of hip hop and infusing it with a whole lot of soul. While other groups were mastering sampled loops and already recorded orchestra-style instrumentals, The Roots were creating their own live music and using it to accompany their thought provoking lyrics. With almost a dozen albums under their belt since their debut in ‘93, hip hop fans knew there would be no group quite like them and they were right. The Roots have set and maintained a standard that will never be matched.

*Odd Future 
(Picked By @SpeedOnTheBeat)

-This is probably a controversial choice. I can hear folks already saying "why are they in your list?" But stick with me. Odd Future was one of the first groups of the late 00s/early 10s that managed to utilize social media to their advantage. Additionally, from the collective, we got Frank Ocean, The Internet, and Earl Sweatshirt just to name a few. That's not even considering Hodgy Beats, Tyler The Creator and others. But, what makes them special to me over a lot of groups is that it felt more like they were just guys goofing off together in the studio, like actual friends, versus a group that was forced together by dreams of money or by a manager. Plus, their style was pretty hilarious--and real.

(Picked By @SpeedOnTheBeat, @IUseCondoms and @CherchezLaPorsh)

-The West Coast has always been responsible for great hip hop groups over the year and there are very few that are as important to the culture as NWA. Any group that gives us Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy E, MC Ren and classic albums such as Straight Outta Compton has to be recognized for what they've done. Their music was truly powerful and their anti racism and police brutality stance provided a soundtrack for our people, in a much different way than the East Coast contemporaries were. The NWA helped with the architecture of gangster rap.

-I've spoken at length about NWA and Eazy E. But, who cares? Let's talk some more about them. Now, you could argue that NWA was more of a cartoonish look into the crack-ravaged street life of the late 80s/early 90s. But, I see them more as a grounded gaze. Were they the perfect group? Eh, no. But, from NWA, you got Eazy, Cube, and Dre. That trio right there is worth the price of admission.

-Ice Cube, Dre, Eazy-E? What can get better than this? Not much. Easily one of the greatest groups ever.

-No “top group” list would be complete without the West Coast’s most legendary group. Of course, I'm talking about N.W.A. with their six-member deep crew, as these guys were unlike any other. They are credited for creating the hip hop subgenre of “gangster rap”, dating way back to the mid eighties. While they also saw some membership changes, hip hop got two studio albums which had revolutionary tracks (Fuck Tha Police, Straight Outta Compton, Parental Discretion Is Advised and Dopeman) which would highlight so many social issues that were plaguing communities at the time, but no one was talking about. They would be the first rap group to inadvertently gain mass commercial appeal because the more (negative) media coverage the group got, the more the public loved it. It resulted in platinum selling albums, immense popularity and an approach to hip hop that had never been seen before. While the member disputes turned into big rap beefs and diss tracks, the groundbreaking work of N.W.A as a collective influenced (and continues to influence) rappers so many years later. The West Coast never saw any group quite like this ever again.

*Bone Thugs N Harmony 
(Picked By @JADBeats and @TrueGodImmortal)

-The Midwest has some really solid groups... but this might be the greatest of them all. The collective of Flesh, Wish, Krazyie, Layzie, and Bizzy Bone combined to give us countless classics over the years, including the infamous E. 1999 Eternal album and the Creepin On Ah Come Up EP as well. They would be seen as pioneers for a faster rapping meets singing style that some still employ today without even knowing Bone is one of the originators.

-Bizzy, Krazyie, Lazy, Wish & Flesh are like no other. Their sound was almosy devilish but yet holy, and that is sort of how I felt in my mind at the time. All this negativity around me, but yet keeping God at arm's length. If I wasn't playin Wu, I was playing Bone. With the ability to make you feel sad, at ease and ready to go at it with someone all in one song, it made their music infectious to the ear. They had the perfect balance of fast rapping mixed with harmonized vocals. We'd sit around just seeing who could learn their lyrics the fastest so we could recite them. With albums like E. 1999 Eternal and Art of War, it's only right, they're on my list.

*The Firm 
(Picked By @CherchezLaPorsh)

-I have to give a mention to the best rap Mafioso group of all time, The Firm. Not only was this because it was Nas’ creation rooted in my favorite album of his, but because it was a well thought out group with perfectly hand picked members: AZ, Cormega, Foxy, Nature and of course Nas. Each of them were at the height of their solo careers or just debuting and truly had the hunger and drive to put fantastic flows, great lyrics and their own personalities into the collective. Although they only had the one album, we could hear the way they complemented each other and (almost) made an audio rendition of the Godfather (okay, that might be a stretch but you get the point). Since I’m a huge fan of mob and mafia themes whether in music or film, I think The Firm executed that perfectly and it was an untapped area for hip hop from a group standpoint. Even though they lacked the success they had initially hoped for, The Firm would go on to inspire other groups in the same vein (Terror Squad even named their debut album “The Album”, "Phone Tap" is iconic, etc).

*The LOX 
(Picked By @JADBeats)

-Jadakiss, Styles P & Sheek Louch better known as Kiss, Pinero and Donnie G. They are definitely my favorite group after 2000. With gun bars, drug bars, creative killing, metaphors, hard punchlines, and mafioso rap with a topping of street wise lyrics over Swizz Beatz production, what more could you ask for? LOX lyrically got busy and rarely get credited for what they did on mixtapes which inspired a bunch of other groups and rappers to take on their style of rapping. I remember letting my white homie borrow We Are The Streets in HS and the next day he gave it back saying "there's too much killing", ah man it was hilarious. After all these years, Jada has yet to have a wack verse IMO, Styles is still the hardest with the bars and Sheek is still the glue that comes with off kilter dope verses.

*Run DMC
(Editor's Pick)

-Impossible to have a list of this magnitude without Run DMC. The Queens trio are true pioneers in hip hop and they've made waves by helping to bridge the gap between rock and hip hop during the growing height for both genres. Their albums were seen as classics for that era, and their Adidas heavy style is still something that many have tried to copy or emulate. Run DMC might not have had the greatest lyrics, but they were catchy, straightforward, and most of all, the group was more entertaining than their competition in this era. Run DMC is without a doubt one of the greatest hip hop groups ever.

*Naughty By Nature 
(Editor's Pick)

-This is a pick that I debated on honestly. It dawns on me the success and how vital this Jersey trio was to the genre and that's why I couldn't leave them off. I mean, who could stop Treach back in the day anyways? The collective put out some good albums, had big hits over the years and continued to put on for Jersey and what's even crazier is that they are still mostly in tact aside from a few issues. Before Redman, Joe Budden, Tsu Surf, and a large number of Jersey artists got on, Naughty By Nature was the first group to REALLY take it to that next level.

*Public Enemy 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal and @IUseCondoms)

-I was surprised that more people didn't pick them, considering what they meant at the time. Regardless, the group is one of the more important collectives in hip hop history, with Chuck D becoming one of the more vital voices in hip hop at the time. Flava Flav was interesting to witness as a performer also, but his clock was also iconic and memorable. With Professor Griff and Paris also riding with the movement, we'd have to recognize the contributions that P.E. made to the culture, what they accomplished, their albums, and the legacy that still lives on.

-One of the most important rap groups of all time. They brought awareness to the struggles of African-Americans through their very powerful music.

*De La Soul 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-Imagine my shock when I was finishing up the list and saw no one else mentioned this group. De La Soul is almost as vital and important as Tribe and these were the two groups at the time that really made me love hip hop at the core as a youth. While I enjoyed the NWA sound and the more gangster rap sound, there was also a need for everyday hip hop with more lyrical sensibility. De La provided that and they also gave us classic albums. Even now, they still put out good music, showing hip hop is not limited to age or just a young man's game. The legends still have something to say and hip hop as a genre should respect the evolution, while always supporting the legends.

*Goodie Mob
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-I almost wanted to put the entire Dungeon Family, just to include Outkast (no duos on the list is the rule), but how can I neglect to mention one of the strongest southern hip hop collectives ever? Big Gipp, T-Mo, Khujo, and Cee-Lo made up the group that would bring us the all time classic album Soul Food and of course the near classic follow up Still Standing. Goodie Mob gave us a country fried brand of hip hop, but with more intelligent lyricism and social awareness than we had honestly seen at the time. They rapped about the trap and the drug money, but also the pitfalls and the problems that come with it, something most groups who made that style of music didn't do. Goodie Mob allowed the world to know that the south really DID have something to say.

*A Tribe Called Quest
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal, @JADBeats, @IUseCondoms, @SpeedOnTheBeat,   @CherchezLaPorsh)

-A unanimous choice all around the board as expected. While some of us had some different choices, we mostly all agreed on two main choices: Wu-Tang and Tribe. Tribe is one of the greatest and dare I say greatest group of all time to me, even over the Wu personally. The jazz inspired, smooth rap sound they employed is still something I love, appreciate, and in a way embody with my own music and the chemistry that Phife and Tip had was second to none. With 2 straight classics under their belt and one final album dropping very soon, the legacy of Tribe is solidified and for me, they are my personal choice for the greatest group of all time (and probably no. 2 or 3 on my personal favorite list, which yes... it is different than my choice for greatest).

RIP to Phife. Had to get that out of the way. But, ATCQ is one of my top groups because they took sampling and jazz rap to a whole 'nother level. On top of that, they were able to slip conscious thoughts into happy-sounding tracks without it being overbearing.

-Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed & Jarobi White had that smooth, jazzy, bass driven boom bap fresh hip hop sound that you could put on anywhere in any setting and just vibe to it. If anyone says "You on point Phife", I'm sure someone would follow up by saying "All the time Tip" or "Can I Kick It" followed by "Yes You Can". This group is responsible for Busta Rhymes' iconic verse on "Scenario". They've inspired many artists we've come to know and love. They've also had many MCs borrow their most notable lines. They weren't about violence, drugs or much negativity. Just being positive, having fun not taking themselves too serious and that's why they're on my list. ATCQ on point all the time. RIP Phife Dawg.

-2 classic albums. A great group of rappers with jazz styling in their music. RIP Phife. Curious to hear what their last album sounds like.

-My second favorite hip hop group of all time is none other than A Tribe Called Quest. Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed and Phife truly gifted the genre with an intelligence, an artistic approach and feel good vibe that no other collective could pull off. They were revolutionary in their alternative hip hop approach and were unlike any other group in 1990. They singlehandedly bridged the age gap between fans young and old. While gangster rap was emerging with popularity, Tribe went “against the grain” and used a ton of jazz to make the laid back beats, soothing delivery and a feel good vibe they would be known for. Instead of violent street crimes at the forefront of their themes, they focused on reminiscing about their childhood, school days, past friendships and love while delivering it so tastefully. Their debut got the attention of fans nationwide and just served to fuel the energy, momentum and drive they had. Unlike most groups and artists, Tribe’s albums just got better with every release. One thing they did do, was provide a classic track with each release, from “Bonita Applebum” to “Scenario” to “Electric Relaxation” to “Stressed Out” and “Find A Way”, Tribe cemented their ranks as one of the best to ever touch a mic. The hit the hip hop world took with the passing of Phife just a short while ago, proved the impact they had on people of every demographic.

*Three 6 Mafia 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-Now let's be honest, Three 6 is one of the greatest groups ever. Hands down. If you doubt this, I'll chalk it up to you not being a fan of the group, but for over 20 years now, Three 6 has been one of the greatest rap groups from the south period. The group had members leave and come back, but regardless, the collective from Memphis truly put on for their city. Their albums were always enjoyable, and I think Juicy J and DJ Paul might be the most slept on production duo in history. The soulful sounds combined with those 808s and the Memphis tinged lyrics really made for some classics. It is no way for me to do this list without having Three 6 on it.

*Flipmode Squad 
(Picked By @JADBeats)

-This was a hard spot to fill because there are so many groups that brought so much fire in different ways, but I decided to just go with Flipmode because of what they did on The Imperial. Almost every track was dope and with a roster like Busta, Rampage, Lord Have Mercy, Baby Sham & Rah Digga, there were bound to be nothing but bars.

*The Pharcyde 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-This is the issue with lists like these. I wanted to put The Fugees on here. I wanted Slum Village. However, my heart and my mind went to Pharcyde. Their first two albums are classics, and when comparing that to the one classic that the Fugees have and the possible one classic that Slum has, I would have to edge this to Pharcyde. The four man crew from the West Coast gave us some hits, but also some playful sounds while dealing with some solid content as well. Add that to the fact that they would utilize the production of Jay Dee/J Dilla on their 2nd album, and they were destined to be all time legends.

*Little Brother 
(Picked By @TrueGodImmortal)

-This is truly where I think a lot of people are sleep. Little Brother is a top 5 group of all time to me personally, and the reason why is simple: they've never released a bad project. Most of their albums are classics or very close to being one. This group is responsible for giving us one of the best and most versatile MCs we've ever seen in Phonte, and one of the greatest producers of this last era in 9th Wonder. It also gave us one of the most slept on underdogs in Big Pooh, and they gave us classics like The Listening, The Minstrel Show, and Separate But Equal, along with near classics in GetBack and The Chitlin Circuit (1.5 is my favorite). They have other solid projects like Justus For All and LeftBack, leaving a pretty solid legacy behind and in my opinion, one of the greatest hip hop group legacies in such a short window of time. It's fitting for me to end the list off on one of the greatest groups I've had the pleasure of listening to.



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