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Posts Tagged ‘GOATs’

The Greatest MCs: Part 1

Posted by and1grad on April 15, 2010

Within the last week, on twitter, I’ve read, and at times participated in, several hip hop debates regarding the “Top 5 MCs of all time.” As someone who has tried to keep up with hip hop, to some degree, since the late 80s, I LOVE these debates. I NEVER get tired of hearing who people like and why. Sometimes, I even enjoy the impending battle over MCs that HAS to take place whenever such a list is even presented. I mean…you HAVE to defend your choices, right?

One of the myriad issues that arise when trying to come up with this list is that there is no real set criteria. Most of us are just going on who our favorite MCs were/are and, often, IMO, where they come from. Make no mistake, where the artist comes from has a direct effect on their rap style, BUT I believe certain rappers are given MORE credit than they deserve simply because they’re from/in New York, the birthplace of the art. Personally, I give NO credit for that. You’re from New York? Big deal. I’m about impact on the genre, lyrical content, subject matter, catalog, beats (including your ability to rhyme on that beat), individual style, and longevity. There may be a factor I’m missing but those are what come to mind. I should say that these are not equally weighted factors…but they do all matter.

Here are my Top 5 MCs (G.O.A.T.s), in order: 1) Jay-Z, 2) Rakim, 3) 2pac, 4) KRS-One, 5) BIG

MANY people have, do, and will beef with this list. I’m ok with that. I honestly hope that in a few years, there will have been rap songs/albums that will make me change this list. As of right now…nope. So why does my list look like this?

Jay-Z. It starts with Hov. Lot of hate towards having this cat ahead of BIG, let alone Rakim…but to that I simply say this: Look at his catalog. The sheer amount of hits this dude is responsible for simply CANT be denied. Look at the fact that he’s been considered the best in the game and for how long. Even if you dont believe he’s the best right now, you did at some point…and it was probably for SEVERAL years. How many classic albums does Jay-Z have? 4? 5? How many rappers can claim that? Lyrically sound. Good beats, DIFFERENT beats, and he can actually rhyme ON said beat. Etc, etc, etc. To me, there is no other choice.

“Hov on that new shit, niggas like ‘How come?’
Niggas want my old shit, buy my old album
Niggas stuck on stupid, I gotta keep it movin
Niggas make the same shit, me, I make the blueprint…”

Rakim. Does this need explaining? Didnt think so. Next.

“Thinkin of a master plan…” (DO I EVEN NEED TO SAY MORE?)

2pac. Oh people BEEF with having 2pac in a Top 5. He isnt lyrically sound enough for yall. I understand that. Lyrically, he wasnt mesmerizing. Thats obvious. But I DARE you to name me another rapper that had his level of IMPACT. People will FIGHT YOU over 2pac. Lost among the fact that his lyrics were not complicated, and his obviously unmatched impact, was the fact that the guy rapped on SO MANY more topics, including social issues, than most rappers and they were great songs. You’re foolin yourself if you say you didnt like “Dear Mama” or didnt vibe with “Keep Ya Head Up,” etc. The guy had hit songs/records coming out posthumously. You dont know a rapper that could rap over an R&B track like 2pac. Not even LL. 2pac is a once-in-a-lifetime rap artist and I’m not convinced we will ever see another like him. If you cant understand THAT, well…good luck to ya.

“Sellin my soul for material wishes, fast cars, & bitches
Wishin I lived my life a legend, immortalized in pictures
Why shed tears? Save your sympathy, My childhood years
Were spent burying my peers in the cemetary, Here’s
A message to the newborns, waiting to breathe
If you believe, then you can achieve, just look at me…”

KRS-One. I mean. What do you wanna say about KRS-One? I STRUGGLE to encapsulate all he’s meant to hip hop. I couldnt do it justice. The ONLY beef I have w/KRS-One is that sometimes he’s just DETERMINED to go off the beat. I dont understand why. Drives me crazy. Anyway, an all time legend. No. Doubt.

“In rap tournaments, I reign permanent; 
Dont you think by now the number 1 spot, I’m not concerned with it; 
The course of rap, I’m turning it;  
Back to that good old fashioned way of getting cash money, by earning it…”

Notorious B.I.G. was a great rapper and during his time was the King Of New York. BIG could put 2 bars on a track and it was INSTANTLY better. Plenty of classics for such a short career and small catalog.  This essentially why Jay-Z passes him, IMO. I was never a BIG guy…but I believe that given more time he could’ve been the best. I just really wish he had a broader subject range. He stayed on the player/thug, money-bitches-drug theme. Thats also part of why I consider Rakim & 2pac to be better. BIG is a great great MC. But, unlike MANY, I do NOT consider him the greatest OR second only to Rakim.

“Live from Bedford Stuyvesant, the livest one
Representin BK to the fullest, gats I pull it
Bastards duckin, when BIG be buckin
Chickenheads be clucking in my bathroom fuckin…”

Anyway…thats my Top 5 list of MCs. Honorable mentions include Eminem, Lil Wayne, and 3 Stacks. IMO, these guys are like 1 or 2 dope albums from HAVING to be on this list somewhere.


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