Billboard magazine recently released a list of the Top 10 Rappers Of All Time. As you can probably guess, its bullshit. In late 2013 I made a list of my Top Five Rappers Of All Time and from what I can recall I didn't get much in the way of disagreement. Strangely, only one of mine made Billboard's ten. Actually, its not that strange. When people make lists a lot of people disagree with them because we all have our favorites and those we think deserve more respect.
Billboard said “Diehard fans, music nerds and critics love lists. But in rap, rankings like this take on a special level of import: aside from moving a crowd (shouts to Rakim), MC means proving you're the best. In no other genre do artists so blatantly express their desire to outdo competition. That made Billboard's editorial list a more high-stakes undertaking than usual. Many favorites -- Kane, Drake, KRS -- didn't make it, and each of those omissions hurts deep down. Note: we're ranking these folks as MCs, not artists. That's why Dr. Dre and Kanye West, for example, two legendary producer-rappers who don't match the mic skills of those listed here, were left out. Even Tupac, perhaps the most influential rapper ever globally, is arguably known more for great songwriting than dominant bars.”
The fact that they listed Drake in the same sentence of examples as KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane bugs me. They don't even have LL Cool J? Mos Def? And what does “we're ranking these folks as MC's, not artists” even mean? You can leave Dre off. I am fine with that. Leave Kanye off for sure because he is a shitty rapper. Tupac I was just talking about with my friend and cousin saying how I was never a fan of his. To me he is the Superman of rap: great design and power, but if you've heard one Tupac song you've heard them all.
10. Lil Wayne. “His dizzying run of mixtapes, albums and guest spots from around 2004 to 2009 is arguably the most prolific example of quality meets quantity hip-hop has ever seen. No MC has ever rapped that well, on that many songs, for that long of a time period.” I could not disagree more. I have never been a fan of Wayne. You could give me 100 rappers and he wouldn't make the list. He introduced a form of mumble mouthed rap that drives me crazy till this day.
9. Kendrick Lamar. “From triple and quadruple-time rhythms, his layered adlibs, and his multiple-personality voices, the Compton rapper is arguably the greatest rap craftsman to emerge this millennium, but his lyrical content never suffered.” Again, another I disagree with but they had to add someone relatively new to the list. I've listened to a couple of Kendrick's albums once and never needed to again. I cheered when Macklemore beat him for a Grammy since I have listened to “Heist” more times than I can count. Kendrick is more “That was cool...moving on.”
8. Ghostface Killah. “It was on his solo records where he was at his most comfortable, playing with rhyme schemes like a pro to craft some of the past two decades' best rap releases.” If we're talking Wu-Tang I have to say that Method Man is the best out of that group with Ghostface being second. He's good but I wouldn't add him to my top ten. Top twenty, yeah.
7. Lauryn Hill. “As one of the most versatile musicians in hip-hop, Lauryn Hill buoyed her group The Fugees in the ‘90s with professor-level raps and velveteen vocals. It was with her 1998 debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, though, that she became fully realized, boiling down a bad breakup into a project equal parts grit and vulnerability.” That last sentence they praised her for is the exact reason why Taylor Swift gets shit from everyone. Can we please get off Lauryn's dick? She's not that good. I'd never see her perform live after seeing how she behaves on stage and hearing friends horror stories. I would have added Queen Latifah or MC Lyte before Lauryn.
6. Andre 3000. “As the better half — no offense to the also awesome Big Boi — of Outkast, Andre 3000 was the limber anchor behind the group’s impeccable five-album run, one unmatched by any other hip-hop act in terms of quality, success and innovation.” Andre and Big Boi were the Hardy Boys of hip hop. No matter what Big Boi (Matt Hardy) did he would never be able to outshine the flamboyance of Andre (Jeff Hardy). Andre to me is also the male version of Lauryn. Is he good? Oh, yeah. But he is also his own worse enemy. Andre hasn't made anything you've heard in years. He is one of those rappers that if you don't add to your list people will say your choice of music sucks. I personally prefer Big Boi. Check out his song “Shutterbug.” Shit is amazing.
5. Nas. “Before Nas' debut album, 1994's seminal Illmatic, early hype had critics and fans calling him the second coming -- of Rakim, not Jesus, but still.” I was never a big fan of Nas. He's had a couple of songs I liked but I was never someone that actively searched for anything he did.
4. Rakim. “The dividing line between old-school and new-school isn't a year, it's a person: Rakim. His 1987 debut with Eric B, Paid In Full, was a quantum leap in terms of mic techniques, from its complex internal rhyme schemes to his soft-spoken delivery.” This one I agree with. When dude came around he fucked up the rap game with his skills and the fact that you could understand every word he said. Plus, his voice is very distinctive. I thought rapper Big Kish was him when I first heard him rap. Rakim could still ruin most rappers today if he came out now.
3. Eminem. “Eminem is one of the few who broke through to the mainstream, thanks to censor-stoking rhymes about rape, murder and drug abuse delivered in a tongue-twisting, thought-provoking way.” Eminem is someone whose albums and skills got better with each one. Even the album he hates, “Relapse”, is better than most of the shit out there now.
2. Jay Z. “Jay Z's nimble flow used to be a lot less relaxed, as evidenced by the rapid delivery on his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt. But nearly every year since, the Brooklyn rapper developed his craft, improving with each album by tightening his flows and developing his wordplay.” I like Jay Z but he is someone that I hear the album a couple of times and get kind of tired of it. I like hearing him on the radio once in a while but it all starts to sound the same after a bit. He should not be number two of all time.
1. Notorious B.I.G. “His storytelling rhymes mined straight from his experiences in the Brooklyn streets materialized on 1994's insta-classic Ready To Die, a wild mosaic of vividly visual rhymes delivered with the expertise of a linguistic master.” I would never deny this guys skills. He has albums worth of songs that are great. His songs don't sound like a particular time period the way Tupac's do to me. But number one? For sure top ten.