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.
So once again I’m revisiting my opinionated post identifying Biggie as the greatest. My affinity for hip-hop has actually fallen off slightly so this may be a more objective analysis of these artists. I’m playing more and more D’Angelo and Sia these days and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wanted to take a closer look at the arguments I would make for some of the guys that may challenge Biggie for the crown. Since so many of us have our “top fives,” there will never be a clear victor. But I will say that there are popular and unanimous vote-getters in the GOAT department.
Let’s start with Jay-Z.
Shawn Carter is the most iconic hip-hop artist of our time in terms of truly coming from the bottom and evolving into a wealthy entrepreneur right in front of our eyes. He is the quintessential American Dream for rap artists. While rappers like LL Cool, Ice Cube and Queen Latifah have enjoyed much success transitioning to Hollywood, Jay was always in the “best to do it” convos and he is still a relevant artist and businessman…or business, man.
Why Jay-Z is the greatest:
He did it on his own. When the labels fronted on him, he invested in himself (well maybe Kareem Burke helped) and created his own company which allowed him to spit rhymes about being able to match a triple platinum artist buck by buck with only a single going gold. He picked up where Biggie left off and infused the street life, drug talk with radio friendly hits and eventually began to sell records. Hov then became the number one trendsetter and wherever his sound went, the industry followed. Whether it was Swizz’s sample-free keys, Timbaland’s futuristic synths or the soulful backdrops provided by Kanye, Bink and Just Blaze, he led the followers year after year.
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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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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.
For those that may almost care about this little known fact: I have been either arrested, detained or stopped by authorities on four occasions on or surrounding the actual date of my birthday.
This of course leads me to believe that God has likely cursed the day I was born and wants me to know that any chance of celebrating the anniversary of being brought into the world will be thwarted if he has any sayso.
Ok maybe God didn’t do that, but it sure feels like it.
And don’t get me wrong, I know the deal, everything happens for a reason…what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger…Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and blah blah friggin blah.
I was in a cell for two days without food, a visible clock, a decent seat or real sleep so pardon me if I’m not choosing the spiritual path on this fine day to cope with my misfortune.
It could’ve been a lot worse for me so I’m not tripping.
And I learned a lot during my short stay with my fellow cell buddies.
I met a few rappers, I met a bunch of rappers, a young dancer that smacked up his girlfriend, a coke dealer whose girl wouldn’t take the rap for him, a man with kidney failure that had his dialysis treatment halted by jail, one guy that got locked for holding a train door open for a kid, another swiped his Metrocard for someone he didn’t know and got accused of selling swipes, and I even ran into a fan or two.
The system is the system, and once you’re arrested, they want you to go through it as an inconvenience that will hopefully deter you from coming close to doing any sort of crime again.
“To Protect and Serve” should not be the mantra of the police force. I don’t even have the extreme “eff the police” view that some folks have but I will say that they are more like a fraternity than a gang.
The force is made up of individuals who may not actually change because of the badge, but they use the power of the badge to be who they really are. They could have been corny in high school, in love with firearms, obsessed with power, all of these characteristics lead to folks that forget about helping a community and become concerned with numbers, provoking fear, and making sure they go home in one piece.
All that means they’ll do whatever to ensure their safety, including making you feel like the assailant and victim all at once.
I don’t know what it is about freedom that’s so precious. Until you lose it, then you know exactly what it is. Asking permission to use the bathroom, or to use the phone, not knowing what time it is, and not seeing daylight are the small things we take for granted and they can be snatched from us because another human being has the right to do so.
You are subject to restrictions because of the laws built in the space you reside in based on a certain time period, and these guys are the protectors of those laws…supposedly.
Smoking weed in one area of the world is illegal while somewhere else it isn’t. Killing in the hood is unlawful but murdering for your country is cool. And this is the justice system we humans made up. A jury of your peers will decide your fate if you ever do something that extreme. But what if you don’t do anything extreme but you still end up in a precinct?
For some of you this sounds foreign. Why would a police officer detain you or even harass you if you weren’t doing something wrong? It is because that is their job. It doesn’t mean firemen have to be arsonists or doctors should spread diseases but the best security guard in the world may get praised more for handling an incident over a low incident rate.
Was I supposed to feel cool that some people in Central Booking recognized me as an emcee? I didn’t. Was I supposed to have a lawyer on retainer for instances like this? Maybe definitely.
Should I feel like I never want to go through that process again so I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure I don’t? That’s their plan. Or is it?
When so many cases get thrown out for being foolery, the system may seem to suffer and waste time but I still had to pay a court fee and that Booking area will be just as packed tonight with charges that won’t stick, teens that won’t be as affected as I was, and dudes that have been there so many times that they’re on a first name basis with officers.
I can tell you that two days away from the world is nothing compared to real time in prison. The difference for most people going to jail is that they wake up that day knowing they’re going or aware that they are about to do something that may land them there.
The similarity is that both are treated like a number and like someone that deserves to be behind bars.
So here I am, still mad at myself, disappointed for missing my own bday shindig, trying not to hate the law enforcement occupation, and you were waiting for a Watch The Throne review.
Well I heard it, I watched it, I learned a lot about Jay’s watch collection and his new fixation on the “ugh” adlib, both of their bank accounts, and for some strange reason I’m anticipating a Drake album. I know right, I made that face too. Shout to Ye and Jay though for making people pay attention and attempting to do some groundbreaking stuff.
Update: By some strange happenstance I ran into the officer that arrested me when I was leaving the studio last night, he said he wanted to let me go and then laughed when I told him I spent two days in there. He laughed alone.
Tell me your authority story…
Ban “Otis” freestyles!
So you didn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day, and you’re feeling down about it. You forgot it was Black History Month and totally decided you would focus all of your attention on your social life and your lack of someone in your world that cares enough to send you the very best.
But you don’t really care about Black people anyway. If they don’t know their history by now, they’re not going to get it in the 2 weeks left in the month.
Should you be down about not getting flowers or candy…or a card or some symbol of affection from a loved one…or at least a secret admirer?
Yes you should. Unless you remember being back in school, and seeing the girl with the massive balloons and big ass teddy bear going from class to class, hitting the lunchroom, then the train ride home with Valentine luggage to show off, and you felt lucky that that wasn’t you.
I would hold on to that feeling if I were you, she wasn’t better than you then, and she isn’t now.
I could never get anyone all of that stuff back in school because at some point I would have to be seen with it…and teenage love isn’t that strong. I got someone a gift one year like an idiot back in the days. I don’t remember (too embarrassed to say) what the gift was but I conformed to society’s pagan holiday, and I felt foolish once the person I got the crap for, received junk from other dudes…and everyone knew about it. What was I thinking? I requested a Valentine and got turned down basically. What the hell was that about? If she said yes, what was next?
Now as an adult, we’re still hung up on gifts and monetary displays of adoration. We’re falling for it again.
I know, I know…your co-worker just got some beautiful arrangement sent to her desk right on time. Oh your friend just got proposed to this morning in some special way. Get outta here. That’s sweet.
No it isn’t. They won’t last. People send themselves flowers all the time. If you’re single don’t be discouraged. There’s nothing like being single because number 1 is the best number. Everything else is a downgrade. You’re gonna read a lot of Facebook statuses today that may piss you off.
And there will be expressions of love everywhere. But you know what? Tomorrow is February 15th. And hate will rule again. I’ve seen it. Trust me.
The whole relationship concept is overrated. What’s the point of liking someone, figuring out how much you can tolerate of them, then loving them, then telling them not to mess with anyone else, while you lock yourself down? Then y’all wanna live together, share finances, look at each other change shapes, cross lines of privacy, reveal idiosyncrasies, meet family members then ultimately make offspring and be tied together forever.
My friend you have dodged a bullet. You know how many people were on the verge of breaking up, then Feb 14th rolls around and a good deed makes a couple continue to kill each other slowly? It’s sickening.
You really want to spend your weekends worrying about some human being letting someone else rub on them? You actually think it’s a good idea to be with one person for the rest of your existence?
Variety is the best thing on earth. You don’t even wear the same head scarf two nights in a row…you can’t stand leftovers…if someone says, “huh, what did you say?” and you have to repeat yourself, you’d rather not, you’re above repeating…
So what makes you think you can be with the same person day…then night…then day again, then another evening and they’re still there, and so on until y’all hit the dirt?
Think about it…and you want some damn candy. Go speed dating tonight, get bent, sleep with someone, get up and walk away, feel better for it. Happiness is not around the corner, it’s right here. Look at Oprah Winfrey, she never got married and she’s a billionaire. Tyler Perry’s paid and he’s single. Can that happen to you?
Probably not…but you can have your own reality show looking for love. Ok, so first you may just have to get on a reality show competing for someone else’s love and if you’re a big enough personality you’ll get a spin-off, but that’s not too farfetched.
Speaking of reality shows, I was watching Hell Date the other night on BET and all I could think about were the auditions for the role of the devil. I can imagine a lot of midgets came out competing for that slot, but with only one little line to say, how did they choose?
“You on hell date!” That’s not hard to mess up, I’m sure the competition was intense.
If I were to go on that show as the date from hell, I would be the cheap guy. I would be asking the server about the prices, ordering water and an appetizer for me, cringing after she orders the $25 seafood platter, saying, “No dessert menus, we’re good.”
And I would ask her to go half or itemize what she got and ask for that exact amount. Even without cameras I think that’s a good idea, I may have to have a midget come out and say his line for her to get the joke…but I would still go Dutch.
Why do Dutch people go half anyway? I would hate to be from the country named after that. “I can’t afford this, let’s go Costa Rican.” That would suck. Dutch people should be pissed.
I lost my train of thought. What is a train of thought anyway? Is that a metaphoric symbol for different ideas linked like train cars? Wouldn’t that make it a train of thoughts? And how would you lose that anyway? Even metaphoric trains aren’t tough to find.
I don’t know what I’m talking about, oh I saw some of The Grammys, I watched most of it on Twitter as people commented on everything.
I remember as a kid, I didn’t watch the rock or country performances…now as a grownup, I don’t watch the rock, country or rap performances.
I’m joking, but I know plenty of people expressed their opinions about artists and their wins, how they looked, how they sang so I’m not gonna bore you with more of that. But you can feel free to mention them, Nicki Minaj was_____, Oh man Lady Gaga looked_____, Drake’s hair, Diddy’s speech impediment, Usher did what to Bieber?____. Go ahead, chime in, I’m not hip enough.
Am I still going? This is long as hell.
A lot of folks were upset about Guru not being listed as one of the entertainers that passed away last year. These are the same folks that gave Milli and Vanilli an award…and refused to televise the rap award that The Fresh Prince got for about a decade years ago. Relax people. Enjoy your love day.
You made it this far, might as well leave a comment, it means a lot.