A Definitive Ranking Of Hip-Hop’s Most Influential Crews

Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique.

The Rules:


This is highly open to interpretation. But generally speaking, a crew consists of several artists — usually a heavyweight, a rapper, some subgroups, maybe a singer at some point or other. Some of the members might come and go. Also, these are groups who proudly repped their set, through logos, chains, hand signs, clothing lines, or just making sure you never forgot their name.

We asked ourselves questions about their cultural impact, regional influence, longevity, and uniqueness. Who changed our childhood? What crews fill you with nostalgia? Who kicked down doors? Who made you say ugh?

26. Slip-N-Slide Records

Atlantic / Via upnorthtrips.com

He says: When you think of crews, you gotta go with your biggest act. If your biggest rapper is Trick Daddy, like, come on.”
She says: “Drop the mic, Javi. Drop the mic.”

25. Maybach Music Group

Warner Music Group / Via byanymeans.co

He says: “I feel like they’re a two-trick pony. Who else is on there besides like Rick Ross and Meek Mill?”
She says: “My favorite, Wale! Unfortunately. This label is the death of him. And I guess wack-ass French Montana-Kardashian.”

24. Screwed-Up Click

Screwed Up Records / Via lh6.googleusercontent.com

She says: “I understand they are regional legends. I understand DJ Screw is responsible for chopped and screwed music. But none of this ever became national. And this is where my understanding ends.”
He says: “In my opinion, they invented and popularized an entire style of music.”

23. Flipmode Squad

Frank Micelotta / Getty

He says: “**sings**’What it is right now?’ I think they’re a one-trick pony, but it’s a good —”
She says: “It’s a good pony? LOL. Yeah. I mean, Busta was the man.”
He says: “But I’ve never heard anyone say, like, ohmigod I love Flipmode. Never walk into anyone’s room and see Flipmode posters.”
She says: “OK, but like, Busta Rhymes.”

22. Terror Squad

Big Beat Records / Via rapmusicguide.com

He says: “I’m still on the fence about Slip-N-Slide versus Terror Squad.”
She says: “Nope, Terror Squad is lower, and here’s why: When you think of Miami, you think of Trick Daddy. When you think New York, you think… a whole lot of other people before you get to Fat Joe.”
He says: “Terror Squad had Big Pun.”
She says:“Good point. They represented the region AND their culture.”

21. Hypnotize Camp Posse

Prophet Entertainment / Via blastro.com

She says: “I don’t even know why they’re on here.”
He says: “Riddle me this, Dria: Who else on the list has an Oscar? Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t even have an Oscar, and Three 6 Mafia has an Oscar, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
She says: Some people go to Julliard. Others sing ‘It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.”

20. Grand Hustle

Kevin Winter / Getty

She says: “‘Grand Hustle homie!’ T.I. did also usher in an Atlanta renaissance. But fuck them. Iggy Azalea is part of this wretched squad.”
He says: “I think Grand Hustle is like the other Atlanta clique. But Iggy is hot right now.”

19. Top Dawg Entertainment

Jason Merritt / Via Getty

She says: “It’s really just Kendrick and his friends.”
He says: “I like Kendrick Lamar, I like his shit, but I will always have an issue with his ‘king of New York statement.’”
She says: “I meeeean, as a storyteller, no one is better then K.Dot. No matter what city or state. Good kid, m.A.A.d city is a complete snapshot of his adolescence, a full story in a way that most rap does not offer these days. Also, I hear Schoolboy Q had a No. 1 album. They’re on the rise.”
He says: “I don’t feel that strongly about them yet.”

18. Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All

Kevin Winter / Getty

She says: “Let me be clear: I don’t understand these youths. They make me want to drink some Milk of Magnesia and take a nap. But they have the requisite solo stars, such as Tyler, the Creator. They have groups within the clique like The Internet. And, well, Frank Ocean. Also, they’re irreverent and controversial. I think they inspire the kids, maybe.”
He says: “They have so many groups within groups that they’re hard to keep up with. I do like them, and feel like they have an amazing future ahead of them.”

17. St. Lunatics

Universal Records / Via iheart.com

BOTH: “IT’S A MIDWEST SWANG!”
She says: “They made hip-hop fun again! They were all bouncy and sing-songy — and Nelly was fine like rappers hadn’t been in a long time. He had major hits, and pop-crossover appeal.”
He says: “He put the region on his back. Like who did you think of when you thought of rap from the Midwest? Nobody. I will always be a sucker for cornrows and manicured toes.”

16. Disturbing Tha Peace

Def Jam Music Group / Via zarysxi461.sourceforge.net

She says: “At this point, we’re dealing with a bunch of cliques that have one heavyweight and a bunch of randos. So we’re asking ourselves here if Ludacris is more influential than, like, Nelly.”
He says: “Luda was a DJ in Atlanta, and he’s like more of an entertainer. He’s an actor, he came out in all those Fast and the Furiouses. And he dropped bows on ‘em.”
She says: “I also feel like he put Atlanta on, like he helped them break through at that time, and gave the South the shine it wasn’t getting.”

15. Ruff Ryders

Universal Music Group / Via junodownload.com

She says: “Swizz, Swizz Beats!”
He says: “They had one of the easiest, sing-songy hooks of all time: ‘Stop! Drop!’ Sounds like a nursery rhyme!”
She says: “Listen, DMX is my one. I looooove me some DMX. Also, the ‘pitbull in a skirt,’ E-V-E.”
He says: “Shit, they still play ‘Party Up’ on ESPN.”

14. Star Trak

Universal Music Group / Via amazon.com

She says: “I mean it’s hard to name anybody beyond Pharrell —”
He says: “But FUUUCK Pharrell and N.E.R.D. are innovative.”
She says: “The thing about them — much like Missy Elliott and Timbaland — they crafted their own sound. It didn’t matter who the artist was, because of the sounds they used and whatnot, you knew you were listening to a Neptunes record.”

13. G.O.O.D. Music

Michael Buckner / Getty

He says: “They got John Legend, right? That’s reason enough for me.”
She says: “They’re fairly high, but mainly because they had so many artists of substance: ‘Ye, Legend, Common, Mos Def…and they got my boi Big Sean.”
He says: “I almost feel like they should be higher. And I feel like a lot of stuff they’re doing is different.”
She says: “Ooh, we have to put them lower because honestly, they’re a collection of people who were already dope and famous. It’s like they reverse-engineered a super clique. Plus, who’s even with them right now? Like, Teyana Taylor and Pusha T? They’re not really doing anything as a unit right now because —”
He says: “Because Kanye’s too busy being a Kardashian.”

12. G-Unit

She says: “No. 11?? They’re up pretty high.”
He says: “They had hits. I feel like Lloyd Banks wasn’t that great of a rapper, though.”
She says: “Awww wait a minute! I loved Lloyd Banks. He had punchlines.”
He says: “That’s what New York rap was all about. Metaphors and punchlines. Didn’t they have their own clothing line?”
She says: “Yup! And people actually wore it too. Buuuuttt can I put them lower for the fact that Fifty fuckin’ dated Chelsea Handler?”
He says: I just remember the beef between 50 and Ja Rule, and 50 came out on top, so I think they should be higher than Murder Inc.”
She says: But he picked at Ja. That was a low blow. And you only come for people who are hotter than you, otherwise it doesn’t benefit you.”
He says: “Hey — He made more money from VitaminWater than he did from rapping.”
She says: “I respect his business acumen, absolutely. But he ain’t goin’ higher than Murder Inc. This is about cliques. Also many cliques had a member they were holding down who was in jail. Yayo met this prerequisite for them.”

11. So So Def

Dave Kotinsky / Getty

He says: “To me, it was all about Jagged Edge”
She says: “I hated Jagged Edge!”
He says: “You still hear ‘Let’s Get Married’ to this day.”
She says: “Yuck! That’s the least romantic song ever! ‘We might as well do it’?? You should never play that at your wedding!”
He says: “Now you’re just splitting hairs.”
She says: “In that case, they were ugly too. Anyways, you jumped out with J.E. like they weren’t led by freakin’ Jermaine Dupri. Plus, they had Da Brat, Lil Bow Wow…and kinda Mariah Carey.”

10. Murder Inc.

Def Jam / Via junodownload.com

She says: “Ja Rule and Ashanti were unstoppable.”
He says: “Ja Rule nailed the whole duet thing, back in the early 2000s.”
She says: “He had the songs with my girl Lil Mo, too.”
He says: And one of Christina Milian’s first songs —
Both: “‘Now when I first met her all I thought was thong-thong-thong’!”
She says: “And let’s be honest: He put J.Lo on. ‘I’m Real’? Please, she crossed over because of him.”

9. Dungeon Family

RCA Records / Via genius.com

She says: “Goodie Mob are more regional. But them plus OutKast is just…”
He says: “OutKast by themselves are legends. And then when CeeLo went off on his own? He was so creative.”
She says: “Also to your point of longevity, no one is messing with 3-Stacks.”

8. No Limit

Universal Records / Via rap.genius.com

He says: “I remember them for their blinged-out, cheesy ass album covers. Which Cash Money had, too.”
She says: “But I think No Limit was out first. Right?”
He says: “By a hair.”
She says: “Yeeeah. Master P built an empire. He was, like, record-breaking rich at the time, independently. He really, really was a mogul. And he put his whole family on.” **winks at fine-ass Lil Romeo**
He says: “Did you see his episode of Cribs? His foyer was gold-plated. That’s how rich he was at one point, to say the room in the house that nobody uses? I’m gonna put gold on it.”
She says: “Also, C-Murder. He’s the locked-up member they were holding down.”
He says: “Mystikal too, for a minute.”
She says: “He was so dumb for that.” **shakes head. sips tea**

7. 2 Live Crew

Luke Records / Via theurbandaily.com

She says: “Oh my God! We almost forgot Uncle Luke and ‘nem! How could we? Uncle Luke testified before the Supreme Court!”
He says: “The man is a champion of free speech.”
She says: “They were so filthy. They were sued for being too nasty! But no one did booty-shaking music better. No one. To this day, you throw on “Scrub Da Ground,” it’s over. Or any damn 2 Live Crew song.”
He says: “You know what else I like about them? They don’t use metaphors. They don’t sugarcoat shit. They don’t say ‘cookie or cho-cha.’ You know exactly what the song’s about, in the title and in the lyrics.”
She says: “Also, they put on for Miami. Would you have Pitbull, Trick Daddy, Trina without 2 Live Crew???”

6. Wu-Tang Clan

Loud/ RCA / BMG

She says: “I might sit this out. They’re soooo regional to me.”
He says: “They’re so influential though. There’s so many of them, and a lot of them went on to have solo careers. RZA, GZA,Ghostface Killah, ODB, Method Man…And they’ve had beef with literally everybody.
She says: “But they didn’t have a singer. That’s kinda part of the rules. I agree they should be high, though. I just was a kid and don’t really have any personal reference for them.”

5. Roc-A-Fella

Universal Music Group / Via celebritynetworth.com

He says: “Roc-A-Fella had their run, but what puts them anywhere near the top five is Hova.”
She says: “But also, Dame Dash was a businessman. Hov is a living legend, which puts them near the top, but they really branched out and diversified. I respect that.”

4. Bad Boy Records

Universal Music Group / Via rap.genius.com

She says: “Too many artists to name – 112, Ma$e, The LOX, Loon, Craig Mack, Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, Diddy…”
He says: “Black Rob! But name five Bad Boy artists who are still relevant.”
She says: “Can’t do it, which is why Bad Boy gets demerits for being a place careers went to die. However, they absolutely changed the game during their time. Shiny suits? The producer all up in the video?”
He says: “Biggie is the greatest rapper of all time.”
She says: “That’s another argument for another day. “

3. Young Money

Universal Music Group / Via galleryhip.com

She says: “As Nicki and Drake have been saying recently, they’ve been running the game for the past five years. Like, for the entirety of your collegiate years and young adult life, you have been rocking to YMCMB hits. There’s a whole bunch of folks over there, but the triumvirate of Wayne, Drake, and Nicki —”
He says: “That’s it right there.”
She says: “Not that I necessarily like any of them, I’m just acknowledging that they have clout right now. They are absolutely unstoppable.”
He says: “But how long is it gonna last?”
She says: “I mean, for however long it lasts, they have influence now and have for the last few years. Even when Wayne was in jail. They’re the team to beat. And now they have this mutant rapper Young Thug and Rich Gang…”
He says: “Birdman, he’s a savvy businessman. And he does it with all those awful face tattoos. Have you seen him? He has a star tattoo in the middle of his head? He’s one of the few millionaires who can do that. Fame didn’t change him; oh nooo.”

2. Cash Money

Universal Music Group / Via allmusic.com

He says: “Two words: staying power. They’ve been doing it since the late ’90s.”
She says: “Since the 9-9 to be exact. But they’re not still doing it. They’re like fragmented and broken up.”
He says: “Lil Wayne?”
She says: “They have to be higher than Young Money, because Cash Money beget Young Money.”

1. Death Row Records

VIBE Magazine / Via dannymaxon.com

He says: “This is No. 1, hands down. Every single member was iconic. *Snoop, Dr. Dre, Suge Knight…”
She says:I would make them No. 1 for 2pac alone.”
He says: “Everyone from Death Row is still relevant today.”
She says: “For better or worse.”

Honorable mention: Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Timbaland, Aaliyah

Scott Gries / Getty

Frank Micelotta / Getty

 

At some point, some of these artists and producers went by the name Swing Mob, but that group disbanded in 1995, and the alums went on to literally change the sound of R&B music. Missy, Timbaland, Aaliyah, and Ginuwine made revolutionary music — and music videos — together in the late ’90s/early aughts.

Some sources say they later went by the name Da Bassment — but part of being a clique is the unabashed representation of your clique. These artists never had a logo, chain, or shout-outs in the records; however, it’d still be remiss not to mention the long-lasting collective impact of these icons.

Disagree with us? Sound off in the comments below!

*And yes, we know that Snoop has been in every clique at some point during his career.

Universal Music Group / Via youtube.com

Update

Truer words have never been spoken – “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” We heard you loud and clear; Wu-Tang Clan is now in the top 10, and rightfully so.

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