This subject is a great debate where ever there are hip hop heads and fans. Fellas will argue over this for hours, and friends will insult and batter each other's judgement without remorse. Today was the first time I tuned in to MTV in a while. Usually I cant bare the commerciality of MTV, but this morning I wanted to see if they were playing any good videos. Didn't see any good videos but they were broadcasting a real viable subject... The Top 10 Hip Hop Groups of All Time. Then I went to the internet of course and saw the list for Top 10 Greatest MCs. I'm glued in now. The list didn't look too bad...
I decided to do my own list to see how it would compare. This list entails true hip hop artists, and not that underground crap (no disrespect) that no one has heard of. That stuff is cool, but staying true to the Underground forever doesn't help you all the time. In rare cases, being true to your underground roots can be a good thing. Look at UGK. The epitome of Underground. UGK... The Underground Kings. Started off as underground, but now they are loved for their loyalty. At any rate. My list looks at "Impact to the game," "Longevity," and "Lyrical Skills." Now there are of course 2 names that go straight to the top of this list that have question marks next to their longevity. True, but their impacts to the game have been so crushing that there can not be any arguments. Without speaking, without mentioning... they automatically go to the top.
(Damn these boys Kevin Durant and Acie Law IV balled they asses off last night. Kevin Durant is the truth... period)
Now back to what I was talking about before I was interrupted by something else I was thinking about. For me, the top 3 are easy picks. It's everything after that that is difficult to put a finger on. So without further delay, here is my list... in my order.
10. Scarface - No not Cuban immigrant turned Drug Czar. Scarface... The Geto Boys' Scarface. His impact to the South is immensefully recognized. He brought numerous cats into the game as well as inspired millions more. He also held it down as a third of the Geto Boys. Besides them and UGK, no one has held it down longer with consistency. (10 solo albums to date).
9. Ice Cube - You can argue this choice all day and night, but you can't question his impact along with longevity. He was a pioneer to Gangsta Rap. Now look at where that genre has gone... off the charts. Jheri Curl, Glock, 40, and 6-4 Impala. He even had his share of battle rapping at his apex. He deserves the 9 spot.
8. LL Cool J - Now this man is why longevity is spelled with an L. He is you and your mom's favorite rapper. Going on his 3rd decade of spitting on the mic he still has the same consistency. Now his lyrical ability may be questioned, but if you have not heard him battling don't open your mouth. Personally his music is not a favorite, but you have to respect the longevity along with positive consistent production.
7. Big Daddy Kane - A true pioneer to the game. Longevity may not have been there like the previous 3, but his lyrical skill is smashing them off the list. Along with that, he has impacted many just because of the era and his flow at the time. Look at what he was talking about. He was rapping for the ladies most of the time. Now think about your favorite rappers. My opinion... a very talented rapper that let the ladies distract him a little too much.
6. Eminem - Probably one of the best at using word play and making it flow through a beat like water through a brillow pad. He can rap about of a lot of different things with the "Passion of Christ." He came out with many doubters and turned them all into Stan lovers. He has never been questioned for being selfish, as he has started a lable and called on many that he started off with. As far as impact. A white rapper in white America with a dominance in white listeners who was not known for having dominant lyric ability. Talk about giving a race some confidence. Oh yeah and has sold more albums than anybody... period.
5. Rakim - You often times can not mention hip hop greats without mentioning this guy. Him and his DJ set it off like no other at the time. At even to this day your favorite rappers are still quoting this man's rhymes. His lyrical ability alone gets him in the top 5. He is still around today spitting and appearing as a guest on different tracks, and he still has the flow. It's just a new era.
4. Nas - Influenced heavily by Rakim, Nas hit the record spinning "Live at the Barbecue." His skills since then has only evolved and left heads wondering if he would be the second coming of Rakim. With lyrics, he has been around since '92. Thats about 15 years in the industry itself. He has also collaboed with some other serious lyricists. The only question with Nas is his choice in production. He seems to rap to a different beat. His beats are not always the best, but no question that his lyrics are up there.
3. Jay Z - Jay Z is what they say, cut from a different cloth. Since the deaths of two greats in the late 90s he has exponentially improved his lyrical skills like no other. Rumor has it that he does not write any of his material down. All formed at gametime. That's pretty amazing, being that he has nothing but 4 and 5 mic albums under his belt each time around. His impact. Well... look at all the people under him. Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, and so on. These people will never go broke if they stay close. Without a doubt one of the best lyricist with a strong impact on the game, and he WILL be around for a while. Even though he's not a 80's baby... 70s baby either.
2. Notorious B.I.G. - This is where the arguments really come in. Some say Biggie is the greatest, some say otherwise. To me... he had the lyrical capability to really make Greatness be pronounced as Biggie. His impact after only 2 albums is unheard of let alone imaginable. He had a movement in the East coast, and from that movement he has birthed many great artists. There is not much that needs to be said about this legend. Guranteed, if he was alive right now, the game would be totally different.
1. Tupac - My number one and number two are really close together. At times I think they can be interchangeable. Right now I'm saying Tupac. His impact on the game has been equally as strong as Big's with more time. Who else was rocking bandanas, tatts on they stomach, while drinking hennessey and alize? This man spoke the truth about women (demeaning and uplifting them), violence, death, politics, drugs, and the list goes on. He spit with a sencerity, a passion, a... something that I can't really describe. His lyrical skills and impact are sick. He also deserves a question mark from me on his longevity. He was murdered at a young age after 25 years of life. He had at that point released some of his best music, and some of the games best music. After his death he has still been releasing music... 11 years later. Hmmm. Longevity? I don't know what to call that.
There are a few that I personally would like to conclude as honorable mentions. Not in any order, but just a list of them. With more work they could definitely make a push for the top 10.
Lil Wayne, Common, Andre 3000, Big Pun, Kool G. Rap, Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, Redman, Method Man, Foxy Brown, and the sleeper... Busta Rhymes.
So there it is. DocBoone's top 10 MCs of all time. What's your Top 10?