Rap Music of the Early 2000’s

rap music early 2000s

Rappers of the 2000’s employed an array of styles. Some, such as DMX and Schoolly D, used the genre to criticize urban culture while others embraced aspects such as crime.

Missy Elliott used her genre-crossing production skills to engage her audiences in this decade and is widely remembered for doing so.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Rappers have always mastered the art of turning everyday events into poetic lyrics. But in the early 2000s, rappers truly unleashed their creativity to transform mundane situations into beautiful rhymes. Emcees like Andre 3000’s manic swagger or Toddy Tee’s Compton hardcore made for compelling listening experiences that were full of dark productions and big body flexes that kept audiences hooked for weeks on end.

Lil Jon’s hit single, “Get Low”, remains one of the greatest crunk club songs ever to grace nightclubs and its infectious vibe and catchphrases such as, “To the window, to the wall”, were sure to take clubs by storm.

Nelly made a name for himself as one of the premier melodic hip-hop rappers with his hit “Hot in Herre” beat that became one of his signature hits and cemented his place as the second biggest MC of his era, becoming an international phenomenon thanks to its sophisticated production and catchy hook.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis made waves early in this decade with hits like “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” yet recently parted ways due to a desire for change in sound and genre exploration. We hope their next project features less melancholic piano twinkles over anonymous boom-bap beats than more upbeat funky sounds; perhaps an album dedicated to Black activist tradition might do the trick? In any event, we look forward to what these talented duo has planned!

Young Jeezy

On Black Friday, braving the crowds to find bargains requires an energizing soundtrack. Enter Atlanta-based MC Young Jeezy: his music can vary between hardcore gangsta rap and radio-friendly fare your mom and sister would sing along to with every line – Band-Aids become hooks while playground chants become an anthem (see his 2010 hit “Country Grammar”).

Jeezy quickly earned himself a reputation during the early 2000s for being a cold-hearted hustler with an infectious grin who avoided getting involved with street-level drama like some of his rivals did. It was his decade to shine, and he took full advantage of it.

The Blueprint was Jay Z’s 2001 album that brought a new era of soulful samples and beats produced by Kanye West and Just Blaze, along with storytelling and lyricism that were at their height – such as on tracks like “Takeover” or his epic diss of Nas. Jay’s signature grunt quickly became iconic of his sound throughout the ’00s.

Bone Crusher

The early 2000s witnessed some of the greatest rappers ever. Eminem and Jay-Z quickly established themselves at the top of the game as commercialism deepened underground; yet one Atlanta artist would ultimately define his era by creating melodic hip hop unlike anything that had come before: Nelly.

Sean Price first gained recognition as part of Boot Camp Clik in Brooklyn; however, with Heltah Skeltah and two classic solo albums by himself he truly came into his own as an artist. Over production from 9th Wonder, Illmind, and Ayatollah, Sean Price displayed his incredible rhyme schemes to take down other rappers with ease.

Styles P may not have had as much commercial success as Jeezy or Jay-Z, but that didn’t stop him from working hard as one of hip hop’s hardest working rappers during the early 2000s. From hard-ass mixtapes to massive hit singles like “Fuck You” and “Mighty D-Block (2 Guns Up), Styles P cemented his place amongst hip hop’s elite in that timeframe.

Gucci Mane was already one of the pioneers of mumble rap long before Future and Lil Baby became household names with their melodic flows. His song “Slow Jamz” is an outstanding example of his talent for mixing different genres into an intoxicating soundscape.

Lloyd Banks

Lloyd Banks, known for his impeccable style and excessive jewelry, has become one of hip-hop’s premier veteran rappers since emerging with G-Unit alongside 50 Cent and Tony Yayo in the early 2000s. Through their mixtapes they quickly gained widespread fame.

Banks’ writing may have not had the smooth, fluidity of Ludacris and Nas, but his tales of criminal underground life still had impactful stories to tell. Additionally, Banks incorporated braggadocio and punchlines from his mentor 50 Cent which earned him the moniker “Punchline King”.

Banks is now emerging stronger than ever from years of struggling with drug addiction and personal issues, and has released three albums as part of his ‘The Course of the Inevitable’ trilogy between 2021-2023.

Banks has maintained the street credibility that defined his early work, while adding greater musical and lyrical complexity in subsequent works such as his latest release ‘The Course of the Inevitable 3’ which features collaborations from New Yorkers such as Method Man, Cormega, Vado and Tony Yayo. Banks has also abandoned some of the offensive punchlines that made him popular and instead has focused on more descriptive, emotive storytelling methods that focus on building characters like Tony Yayo or even Method Man himself.


In the 2000s, Jay-Z emerged as more than just a rapper. His business acumen allowed him to expand beyond music into team ownership (NBA’s Brooklyn Nets), real estate moguling, fashion design and even fashion designing – while still becoming one of rap’s greatest legends. Born Shawn Carter in Marcy Projects of Brooklyn NY he used firsthand experience dealing illegal drugs to inform his lyrics; Reasonable Doubt was released as his debut album and soon after brought about his rise to stardom.

After making his mark with his self-titled debut album, Jay-Z turned his focus towards building other artists through his Roc La Familia label. Vol 2: Hard Knock Life provided Jay-Z an opportunity to demonstrate his skill with complex similes and metaphors while at the same time expanding his flow; moving away from fast rhyming which ultimately became part of his trademark style.

MF DOOM and Madlib’s legendary collaboration is one of the most beloved hip hop songs ever created. The song serves as an invitation for respecting New York culture, making it an indispensable piece of any hip hop collection.


Eminem has made significant contributions to hip-hop culture over his long and prolific career, both through music and activism. His songs frequently address difficult subjects like drug abuse and inequality while using his lyrics as an outlet to tackle more pressing matters such as racism and inequality.

Eminem turned to rapping after dropping out of high school as an outlet to share his experiences with others. His first album, Infinite, garnered critical acclaim; however, his next record, 1999 Slim Shady LP became his calling card and caused much debate within and without. Slim Shady’s lyrics covered numerous violent and profane topics that generated heated controversy around its release and caused outrage among many listeners.

Slim Shady remains an influential album despite its many critics, having introduced rock-leaning sounds into hip hop for the first time and featuring an established singer duet on one song for the first time ever. Additionally, its production techniques were groundbreaking and pioneering.

“Stressed Out,” another notable track from the album, explores the mental gymnastics required of black people in order to survive. It stresses the significance of creating strong support systems and taking anti-anxiety medication – all key ingredients of resilience. This song showcases this iconic rapper and should be heard by any fan of rap music.