Complex posted an article breaking down the best rapper of each year since 1979. It was a very interesting and no pun intended, complex piece. The reason I’m mentioning this is because we all have our favorite emcees and guys that resonate with us personally. When we talk about the GOAT, the arguments are slightly different. So yes there will be advocates for Ghostface, Big L, Big Pun, MF Doom, Joey Badass or whoever you believe is at the top of the game. But, “The GOAT discussion is reserved for the chosen few; no rookies or new jacks qualify. It’s strictly for the catalog artists, people who have shifted the culture in previously unmovable ways, artists whose music has permeated and resonated over an extended period of time.”
I feel like they handled a lot of my rebuttal to the hip-hop heads that put Redman and Black Thought above Biggie and Jay. This post isn’t really about the most lyrical lyricist because we would have to try to include everyone from Kool G. Rap to Lupe Fiasco.
With that said, do you include the guys with the strong track records and years in the game? Where do we place T.I., Kanye West, Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Cam’ron, Young Jeezy, Scarface, Jadakiss, DMX and Lil Wayne? Is my generation holding on to the 90s legends?
The new hall of fame class will include Drake, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar. But at what point can any of these men wear the imaginary crown?
Well we have to be honest and consistent when it comes to criteria. Album sales matter, public opinions are a factor, classics under the belt count for something, but most of all when an artist is running the game there is a feeling that we all have. We anticipate their release and when it happens, it is the most talked about project. It comes up in barbershops and ball courts. The question isn’t, “Have you heard Get Rich or Die Trying?”
The question becomes: “Do you think College Dropout is a classic?”
There are certain LPs that you can’t shun or disrespect. You can try and break down Illmatic if you want to. You can argue that there were only 9 songs and two were released early. You can make the case that some of the lyrics in 3 songs are interchangeable. But there is a feeling that you can’t deny when you listen to the album. Maybe it speaks to the youthful rap fan that witnessed a transition from rigid categories like gangsta rap, conscious rap or party rap to introspective street rhymes that were not only narratives, but they were placed in front of a variety of noteworthy producers. Nas was a pioneer in his own right. Just like Scarface was for his sound in Houston. These guys had their moments in time where they commanded the national spotlight. 50 Cent made a valiant case for being top canine but although cases can be made for the guys I listed lets simply cross them off the list.
It finally happened. I wasn’t sure when it would go down, but I’m actually writing words down again. Well I am truthfully typing them into a phone and a computer but you know what I mean. I wasn’t writing blogs or music this year until now.
I think I had to take a step back from it all because I almost forgot my mission. For the last few years I had been caught up in staying relevant, showing consistency, and ultimately I became a victim of doing something so long that I needed to see some grand result for the years of effort, and for the naysayers. I don’t know what a naysayer is but I’m guessing it’s someone that says nay quite a bit.
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Monday Ramble #54 “Aubrey’s Album”
In all my years of writing I’ve never given an album review in first person. I wasn’t trained that way when I wrote for hip-hop magazines before I was featured in them.
I read Big Ghost’s review of Drake’s album and he is one of the most hilarious writers of our time. I can’t compete with that.
Dear Lil Wayne’s Jeggings,
I watched you perform on stage a few weeks ago at the Video Music Awards and I wanted to reach out right away, but I knew my email would get lost in the barrage of letters you were going to receive directly after the show since you got a Twitter page so fast.
You don’t know me and I have no place bothering you on this Monday but I’ve been following your owner/partner/pal for a minute now.
Let me back up a bit. I’ve flip-flopped back and forth for years about your guy. At times, I’ve heard people call him the heir to the throne, the best rapper alive, and the leader of the hottest crew out.
Then I’ve also been around when the word came back to me that he was graded on a curve because he got a whole lot better after a shaky start, that he could never be the king of hip-hop because his subject matter isn’t diverse enough and some folks just said that when it comes to Carters, Dwayne will always be number 2.
How do I feel? I’ve been listening since “Bling Bling,” my ears perked up on Biggie’s Born Again and when Wayne decided that rap was a serious tool on the first Carter LP I was there telling dudes, “you know who can spit?”
But so what? There’s no award for thinking someone had potential, he gradually took over where Busta Rhymes and Ludacris left off and featured on everything moving. Then Weezy decided that he was going to spank anyone that got next to him on a track and made Swizz’s “It’s Me Bitchez” and DJ Khaled’s “We Takin’ Over” his coming out party for anyone that didn’t know Tha Carter II was about him trying to prove he was the Best Rapper Alive.
Then the mixtapes began to make noise, talks of Young Money got louder, New York began to embrace him and all of a sudden, “A Milli” became the foreshadowing record that would catapult Lil Wayne into a superstar that was also an emcee.
It’s not an easy task to be on top of the game while critics praise your pen. Jay-Z sat comfortably on top for years selling records and winning arguments about who was the best to do it. Sure Big and Pac will always have a mention, Nas may get shouted out, 50 definitely had a moment and Eminem will forever be regarded as one of the greatest to ever do it.
But your dude is from the slums of New Orleans, he has fashion dreads, gold teeth, tattoos everywhere, we knew him since he was a baggy T-shirt-wearing adolescent, he was accused of stealing Gillie the Kid’s style and flows and he kissed the Birdman in the beak.
The odds seemed to be stacked against him, but for some reason he prevailed. He signed Jae Millz and we were perplexed a little, signing Nicki Minaj seemed like it could work out, but putting her and Drake out and making them exist on their own was bold and it worked. He put two stars under his umbrella and didn’t let the Kanye-directed (sabotage attempt) “Best I Ever Had” video hurt Drizzy.
He made sure Nicki deflected the Kim comparisons and jabs and remain who she is and voila. Young Money is an army, better yet a navy. So there were some holes in the ship when he showed up to an award show singing about how he wanted to have sex with every girl in the world while his daughter pranced around the stage.
It didn’t matter much that he didn’t really rap on “Lollipop,” became so obsessed with autotunes that he created a T-Wayne moniker, and tried his hands at a rock album. Tha Carter III did a million in a week and not many rappers can say that for themselves. Not many can say they saw it coming either.
And with all that said, there I was telling people again that Wayne was a real contender for the crown. I got Watch The Throne and told folks that it was solid but I expected more.
The jail time and the sobriety were supposed to slow him down but it didn’t. “How To Love” is a good record, “How To Hate” is even better.
Wayne jabbed Jay-Z in a polite way and even let people know it was coming. “She Will” is one of my favorite songs of the year. So why am I writing this letter? I saw the VMAs and every argument I had that hinted to the fact that his latest LP was better than those that came out weeks before, got destroyed after he hit the stage and brought you out.
The autotuned mic was bearable, the off beat live rendition of “John” without Rick Ross and the shirt coming off revealing his boxers was bothersome. But when I saw you with your leopard print all tight and shiny, it just deflated my fanship. It’s not your fault, some stylist grabbed you off a women’s clothing rack and you got a free trip to an award show. I would have gone too.
Every time I see your boy on a major stage shirtless with sagging tight pants jumping around displaying his gold Baby-slobbing teeth, I cringe.
When he goes on sports shows and I have to see that earring in his face and excessive facial tattoos I don’t know why it bugs me that he sounds twisted and he speaks slow in order to sound knowledgeable and it almost works. I want him to win deep down inside. But I can’t help what I feel about looking at him as opposed to hearing his music.
It makes me sad to be a rap artist; I’m almost bothered to belong to the same race. And this isn’t hate…this isn’t even on purpose. It’s like thinking of your mother having sex with your boy. I make that face you just made when I see him take the stage sometimes.
Wait you don’t have a mother, or a face, but you know what I mean Mr. Jeggings. You’re a combination of two things, (jeans and leggings) and I don’t think you should have to be subjected to being with a man, but what can you do? I just wanted to let you know that you helped me decide that Lil Wayne is not my favorite rapper, nor is he the King of the game.
His sales are impressive, his music is strong, his punchlines hit every six out of ten times, it’s cool how he personifies life, death, has sex with the world repeatedly and I love his passion. But like Kreayshawn’s popularity, I just don’t get it sometimes. I don’t know what’s hot and I don’t pretend to anymore.
Jeggings may infiltrate my generation, men may begin to sag their suit pants in corporate offices, but for me I’m bowing out here. So again, Mr. Jeggings, thank you for showing up on my TV screen in non-HD on that Sunday evening, I was starting to lose my way but now I hath found it.