17. Notorious B.I.G.
The man born Christopher Wallace brought a swagger to hip-hop that other rappers today -- fifteen years after his death -- still can't touch. Considered by many to be the greatest MC ever, Biggie told complex and emotional stories through intricate rhymes that sounded effortless. Never contrived and never soft, he remains beloved by underground and mainstream fans alike. Just as his career was taking off, he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, the details of which are still disputed. - Chris Walker