Whenever people ask me who my favorite rapper is, I just laugh, cuz I could talk for about 3 hours, and it depends on the mood I’m in. However, I have attempted to put together a list which is, at least currently, pretty accurate.
1. EMINEM! JUST KIDDING!!! haha no way in hell, I can never give it up fully for people like Lil Wayne and Eminem, because as dope as their lines are and as sick as their cuts are, they have at least half their shit ghost-written… for the ignoramuses out there, that means other people write their lines (more like 100% for Lil Wayne ps, I heard he wrote the lyrics to one of his own songs once, but the people in the studio laughed when he couldn’t find a rhyme for see, spot, run…)
The following list takes attitude, lyrical style/poetic ability, content (big one there), also life-story and pure awesomeness of cuts also taken into account.
So who are rebellion’s favorite rappers for realz? Here it is.. the top 10
…. drum roll please…..
1. MF DOOM
aka Viktor Vaughn aka Supervillan aka King Geedorah aka Zen Love X aka Metal Face Doom aka Metal Fingers
It was a close race, but I gotta give #1 to the man in the mask. He is so dedicated to hip hop, that he wants it not to be about his face, but rather about his words, and thus he is seen only behind the same mask that Russel Crowe wore in gladiator (true story) – Given that has some cool ideology behind it, I think it actually serves to bolster his popularity more than his true face would anyway, and I think he’s smart enough to realize this. But still can’t take away from the man’s lyrical abilities, rhyming in an innovative and truly unique way.
- All Caps – Madvillain (MF DOOM&Madlib)
- Benzibox – Dangerdoom ft. Cee-Lo
- Potholderz ft. Dwight Spitz
There is no word in the world that Metal Fingers Doom cannot make rhyme, and he works with some of the best producers in the industry (Dangerdoom produced with Dangermouse and Madvillain produced with Madlib). Little known, but earlier in his career, MF DOOM aka Daniel Dumile, lost his brother (fellow rapper in KMD) to a car accident on the Long Island expressway; the same week they were scheduled to release their new album Black Bastards. Later that week DOOM was subsequently dropped from the label – he testifies to being completely depressed, sometimes suicidal, and living utterly homeless for the next three years, both physically and mentally, from 1994-1997. A sad loss, but only puts a human face to the man without a face: MF DOOM. The best that can be said is that out of it came one of the most brilliant, disgustingly filthy, and amazing rappers the world has ever and will ever see. Strange thing about art – the more pain that goes into its creation, or the life of its creator, the more beautiful it is (correlation is not causation?) Heard with this in mind, his lyrics gain even more depth.
“Living off borrowed time the clock ticks faster…”
“Terrorize with eloquence”
Again, close for #2, but for some of the most cutting-edge lyrics, and for being at the forefront of the new-wave, underground/alternative hip-hop scene, I’ll give it to Aesop Rock. Member of the weathermen and signed to Def. Jux, his style stands alone. Alone. Born in Long Island, Sop’s lyrics are often absurdist, but evoke some of the sickest imagery ever, his timing is on point, and some of his lyrics are quite profound and/or painfully true.. “Life’s not a bitch life’s a beautiful woman, you only call her a bitch cuz she won’t let you hit that pussy”. Also gets white-rapper style points. 10/10
“Life treats the peasants like
They tried to fuck his woman while he slept inside” – that’s personification at its finest..
Gotta respekt Biggie – not only did he rise from poverty to become the most recognized/famous rapper, debatably of all time, but style is probably one of the most technically advanced and smooth I’ve heard. He could make words rhyme no one ever thought to use before him and he overcame so much adversity with only charm and rhyming-skillz. Gotta give it up for bigz.
I guess that means all the top 3 of my favorite rappers are from NY. Damn
Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, was born in Brooklyn, New York, May 21, 1972. He was raised in the poor Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant as the son of a preschool teacher. Dropping out of high school at the age of seventeen, Biggie became a crack dealer, which he proclaimed was his only source of income. A trip to North Carolina for a routine drug exchange ended up giving the soon-to-be MC a nine-month stay behind bars. Once released, Biggie borrowed a friend’s four-track tape recorder and laid down some hip-hop tracks in a basement. The tapes were then passed around and played at local radio station in New York.
Not extremely attractive, Wallace named himself Biggie, for his weight. Biggie was overweight, extremely dark skinned, and had a crook in his eye, yet he was a charmer. A young impresario and sometime producer by the name of Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs heard Biggie’s early tapes. Impressed, Puffy went to sign Biggie to his new label, Bad Boy Records.
Puffy and Biggie worked on the artist’s first album, and the Notorious B.I.G. was born. Biggie was first heard on a remix of a Mary J. Blige song and a track on the _Who’s the Man? (1991)_ soundtrack. After these successes, the album worked on earlier went through its final touches and was released in 1994, titled “Ready to Die.” The record was certified platinum quickly, and the Notorious B.I.G. was named MC of the Year at the 1995 Billboard Music Awards. After the quick success of the album, Biggie went back to get his friends, some who didn’t even rhyme. He had several run-ins with the law, on charges that ranged from beatings, to drugs and to weapons, while all claimed that Biggie was a gentle person. He soon met an MC from the west coast named Tupac Shakur, and the two became good friends. Tupac supported Biggie and was often giving him advice.
Nobody – Biggie ft. Korn
However, their friendship turned into the most violent era of hip-hop music on November 30th, 1994. While Biggie and Puffy were at a recording session at Quad Recording in Manhattan, Tupac went there to record with another MC for his third solo album, “Me Against The World” at the same time, but in the lobby, Tupac was held at gunpoint and robbed of $40,000 worth of jewelry. Tupac was shot five times. Biggie rushed down just in time to see Tupac being loaded into an ambulance. Extending a middle finger while dying, Pac blamed Biggie for the shooting and said that B.I.G. knew about it and failed to warn him. This sparked the East Coast West Coast war. Miraculously, Tupac recovered from his injuries. During this encounter, Biggie admitted that he was scared for his life. Biggie never responded to any of Tupac’s disses. Tupac attacked Biggie in every way he could, even starting strong rumors that there was a love affair between Tupac and Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans.
Later, The entire country became divided into two groups, the west side and the east side, which became Death Row Records versus Bad Boy Records, Marion ‘Suge’ Knight versus Puff Daddy, and Tupac versus Biggie. The two of finally met again late in 1995, and Tupac secretly said to Biggie, “I’m just tryin’ to sell some records.” Unfortunately, it became very real when on September 7, 1996, Tupac was gunned down in a drive-by shooting off the Las Vegas strip after he left a fight he was involved in inside of the MGM Grand Hotel after a Mike Tyson boxing match. He died six days later as a result of those wounds at the age of 25. The case is still unsolved. Typical.
Biggie wanted to put an end to the war between the two coasts. Biggie went to the west coast for several events, doing advance press for his next release, “Life After Death,” but also to make a statement that the war was over. On March 9, 1997, he attended the Soul Train Music Awards and went to the after party hosted by Vibe magazine and Qwest Records. After he left, Biggie was sitting in an SUV on the street when he was shot several times by an unknown assailant. He died almost instantly. Hip-Hop faced its greatest tragedy when both Pac and B.I.G. were killed. Biggie was only 24 years old.
And yet another top ten rapper from new york. Damn
4. Immortal Technique
What a story. What a rapper. Felipe Andres Coronel aka Immortal Technique was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Harlem, New York, where he first started his rapping career on the underground battle-rapping circuits. After developing an aggressive but politically intelligent style, he began writing lyrics. Most of his lyrics focus on political issues. The views expressed in his lyrics are largely a mixture of commentary on issues such as politics, poverty, religion, social class and racism. His style is so perfectly on point, his voice was made for rapping, and his producers/beat-makers got their shit on lockdown. Also gets the bonus points for being one of the most successful foreign-born underground artists ever, and for teaching me spanish from listening to his songs (though few are entirely in Spanish..)
OK this is just getting ridiculous, my top 4 fav. rappers are from NY. Better believe I’m changing this list tomorrow..
Amazing rapper – and he’s from Minnesota. That’s a rare combination. Sean Daley aka Slug aka Atmosphere combines sometimes heart-wrenchingly personal content, with political statements and even humorous or cynical takes on popular culture with master lyricism/deep poetic skill.
Also, Atmosphere puts on an awesome live show – their guitarist is amazing.
Sean Daley, (born on September 7, 1972) better known by his stage name Slug, is a rapper fromMinneapolis, Minnesota. Slug is best known as one half of the hip hop group Atmosphere, which he founded with Derek Turner (Spawn). He is also one of the founders of the Minnesota Hip Hop record label Rhymesayers Entertainment.
The son of Valerie and Craig Daley, Slug’s nickname comes from his father’s; his dad was known to his friends as “Sluggo” and thus they began to call Sean “little Sluggo,” which he shortened to “Slug.” Slug was a member of a loose group known as The Rhymesayers Collective prior to the formation of Atmosphere. Its other members were Stress (Siddiq Ali) and Spawn (Derek Turner). Slug DJ’d behind the scenes and let Stress and Spawn handle lyrics. Later calling themselves Urban Atmosphere and garnering some underground notoriety, the group eventually formed a strong relationship with Ant (Anthony Davis) and began collaborating on music. Along with MC Musab (then Beyond), rapper Mr. Gene Poole, and the Abstract Pack they formed the mid-Nineties crew Headshots, with Slug appearing on the underground tape series HeadShots. Every HeadShots volume allowed a member of the clique to showcase their talent, and HeadShots Vol. Seven was Slug’s tour de force.
Another notable project of Slug’s is Felt, a collaboration with his friend, another underground rapper, MURS. Other projects he has been a part of include The Dynospectrum, in which he was known as “Sept Sev Seven Two”, and Deep Puddle Dynamics. He is a member of a loose collective known as The Orphanage, along with Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, Eyedea, Blueprint, and Illogic.
In 2005, Slug and MURS started up Women Records, a record label through which they would release the albums of rock bands that they were friends with. The label was set up as an imprint through Rhymesayers Entertainment.
The most prominently recurring theme in Slug’s music is a woman whom he refers to as Lucy. He named an EP Lucy Ford after her and mentions her on almost every Atmosphere album, a notable song being Fuck You Lucy. Slug has stated that whilst Lucy was originally used to write about his on-off girlfriend and mother to his son, Lucy has evolved past this to be a device to write about women in general and even disguise political statements. Slug is also to have said that Lucy also is sometimes symbolised as hip-hop itself.
“I will show you all you need to know you, must hold onto anyone that wants you, and I will love you through simple and the struggle, but girl you gotta understand the modern man must hustle..”
“Sometimes you gotta give in to win” – Slug
5. Sage Francis
Sage Francis’ style blends a varying tone and delivery with subject matter that focuses on intricate sequences of widely varying imagery, metaphors, puns,absurdisms, word play, and features phonetic mix-ups and rhetorical excursions, and pop culture references, while including touchstones of traditional hip hop such as storytelling and self-promotion.
Francis is the owner/CEO of the independent hip-hop record label Strange Famous Records. Gotta respekt a (somewhat) fat white rapper who owns his own independent label and has seen major underground success. From Miami Florida… 9/10
“They run in place, and they call it the human race, losin’ pace with that stupid look on their face, shootin’ blanks..”
“It’s not that what we’re doin’ is wrong. Let’s try and keep this here secret between me, you, and this song. Menage a trois that sings to me, sinfully, and God plays along..” – Sage Francis
6. Brother Ali 9/10
A devoted man of god. A loving father. A poet. A damn good rapper. 5 stars.
“I’ma be alright, you ain’t gotta be my friend tonight. I’ma be okay, you’d probly bore me anyway” – Brother Ali
Also best live show I’ve ever seen put on. The guy doesn’t lie that you’ll see his blood and sweat on the back of the ticket stub from his show – this guy’s got more heart and belief and faith than any other rapper alive, hands down. His lyrics often center around living a good life, love for his son, being a man of god, independent and self motivated – gotta respect the guy cuz he doesnt have to cuss, look hip hop (the guy is freakin albino for god’s sake), or anything else, and he doesn’t preach while still having more positive messages for society and culture than any other rapper I’ve heard. He is widely considered one of the best lyricists alive. Little known fact, half of the lyrics from your favorite rapper on the radio came from him as he makes half his money from ghost-writing for others and selling his writtens to other all the other people who can’t do it themselves. Ya, he’s that good.
Recently the fine folks over at Hip Hop DX sat down with the man himself for an interview, and to be quite frank it’s one of the best in depth and personal interviews I’ve read in a long time. There are a lot of issues that I never knew about that he discusses in this interview.
The interview starts out with Ali’s views on his fellow peer and mentorKRS-One’s feelings about Barack Obama. He also sounds off on how Verizon wouldn’t let him tour with Gym Class Heroes because of his “Uncle Sam Goddamn” video. A truly devoted hip hop idol. I also had no idea that the Department of Homeland Security froze the Rhymesayers bank account when Ali was overseas in Australia. HA! Typical. It’s funny that Ali really isn’t that political of a rapper – he certainly pales in comparison to immortal technique – but even he agrees that he has been getting the Chuck D Treatment.
One of my favorite rappers, who else can start out a song (one of my favorite songs too) with.. “Depending on the day and depending on what I ate, I’m anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds overweight”.
Fuckin’ classic man. I love this dude (hetero..)
7. Andre Nickatina 9/10
But in all seriousness, Andre’s lesser known work is actually fantastic, and the guy is one helluva rapper. Also from the BAY. first west coaster to crack the top ten. REPRESENT. If you don’t believe the cat’s got skill, see Jungle, Saw A Gangsta Cry, Conversation with a Devil, Train With No Love (one of the deepest and most heart-felt autobiographical raps I’ve ever heard, similar to Dance with the Devil by Immortal Technique), Smoke Dope n Rap. Then try and tell me he shouldn’t be in the top ten.
Adams released two albums under the stage name Dre Dog: The New Jim Jones in 1993 and I Hate You With a Passion in 1995. I Hate You With a Passion peaked at #79 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. In 1998, Adams changed his then current stage name to Andre Nickatina, and released the albums Cocaine Raps and Raven in My Eyes, which were released independently under Dogday Records. Unlike his albums released under the name Dre Dog, Cocaine Raps had deeper production values. Raven in My Eyes was noted for emphasizing “sequencers and keyboards that buzz and whine” over live instrumentation, as reviewed by Todd S. Inoue of the news magazine Metroactive. That year, he founded his own record label, Fillmoe Coleman. Nickatina explained in an interview with Strivin magazine that his name change was “for the better” and that he raps because he feels that he is talented enough to do so but not for the sake of popularity.
Soon afterwards, his following three albums, Tears of a Clown (1999), Daiquiri Factory: Cocaine Raps, Vol. 2 and These R the Tales (both 2000) made him more well-known in the West Coast underground rap scene. Mosi Reeves of the San Francisco Bay Guardian noted Nickatina’s popularity at a CD release party for another underground Bay Area rapper, Smoov-E; Reeves called Nickatina “a quick-witted rapper who spits as hard as Kurupt does”. A combo CD/movie project, Conversation with a Devil, followed in 2003. Charlie Amter, a music critic for SF Weekly, regarded the film as a knockoff of the classic gangster movie Scarface. Nate Denver for the SF Bay Guardian praised the album, though. Another album, The Gift followed in 2005, when the newspaper SF Weekly named Nickatina the “Best Local Hip Hop Legend” of that year. In 2008, he released A Tale of Two Andres with Mac Dre. Although they released only two songs together, they were close friends and the album was a tribute to his memory.
AMAZINGHeralded instantly as one of New York’s leading rap voices, Nas expressed an outspoken, self-empowered swagger that rallied the streets of his city and elsewhere. The self-appointed King of New York battled numerous adversaries for his position atop the epicenter of East Coast rap, none more noteworthy than Jay-Z, who vied with Nas for the vacated throne left in the wake of the Notorious B.I.G.’s 1997 assassination. Such headline-worthy drama informed Nas’ provocative rhymes, which he delivered with both a masterful flow and a wise perspective over breathtaking beats by amazing producers: legends like DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Pete Rock; hitmakers like Trackmasters, Timbaland, and Dr. Dre; street favorites like Swizz Beatz, Megahertz, and the Alchemist; and personal favorites of his own like L.E.S., Salaam Remi, and Chucky Thompson.
Born Nasir Jones, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade, trading classrooms for the streets of the rough Queensbridge projects. Eventually he gained notoriety after signing with Colombia Records and putting out the instant classic “Illmatic”. His career has been a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, and many say his career declined after 2001, due to his mother’s cancer and his separation from his woman. However, for one of the most masterful styles of all-time, combined with his content-based, provocative, often political rhymes, delivered with style and swagger, we gotta give Nas top-ten status.
Yet another top ten rapper from NY..
9. Murs 9/10
Subtle, often overlooked, but personally I think this is the most underrated rapper in the world. His style on cue, he’s worked several times with Slug (see 3:16) and his rapping style is deep. Ain’t nobody out there that can sum up the American Dream (nightmare?) with more painful attention to detail than Murs (see God’s Work)
“I work hard. God damn hard. To keep this roof over my head and pay off these credit cards. I work hard. God damn hard. So I can pay off all my debt and get a house with a yard. I work hard. God damn hard. So I can wile out every weekend and buy drinks at the bar.” – Murs
“Best to ever do it, best that ever did it, Murs is better than your favorite rapper, ADMIT IT” – Murs (with the line that made him famous, if you didn’t know..)
10. Mos Def
– amazing lyricist, good content, great resume, can freestyle and just all around great rapper.
For his work with Urban-Thermodynamics, Black Star (w/ Talib Kweli) and his solo work, gotta give #10 to Mos Def
Best song: Mathematics
Other rappers close to top ten:
11. Cage: another member of The Weathermen, along with Aesop Rock. Truly underrated rapper, spent half his life in mental institutions, but he has some of the most jaw-dropping lyrics I’ve ever heard, a truly distinct style, and the guy gets points for being the only Asian to even come close to making the list. I originally had him at 9, but dropped him down for mos def and Nas. Sick rapper, and when he’s sober enough to go on tour, I’m gonna see him.
Other notables (aka 11-20)
12. Dr. Dre
Many may disagree, but I graded on a basis of pure vocal skills first, their production value second. Dre is a great producer, and a pretty talented gangsta rapper, but gangsta rap has its limitations. However his style has developed since his early days with NWA and his beats have gotten cleaner as well, staying up with the times. He still has got to be near a top ten. Snoop Dogg and 2Pac in this same category.
(gonna spare you songs off the album “Chronic 2001” as almost every track is fantastic and it has been overplayed more than any other CD in existence)
Nuthin’ But a G-Thang
The Showdown (ft. Eminem)
Mac Mall & Mac Dre – similar to Andre Nickatina, but also different. Both have unique and interesting styles, but I could only choose one from the same wave of rappers from the Bay and I just had to go with my man Nickatina. I’d recommend reading further down and grabbin’ some tunes by these two as well though.
Other top-ten contenders: Common, Scarface, Jay-Z, KRS-One, Cannibus, Blue Scholar members, De La Soul members, Guilty Simpson, P.O.S., Anyone from Wu-Tang but especially GZA&Method Man, you gotta hear Breeze Brewin from the juggaknots to believe it (also one of the best freestylers ever hands down), Fatlip&other members of the Pharcyde.. Chuck-D, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Big Daddy Kane. It was truly a painful list to make, cuz for every spot I gave up, there were 5 other rappers that could easily be there in anyone else’s list or at any other time in my life. Hope you found it interesting though, I’ve gotten overwhelmingly good responses so far.
Cookies for reading this far…
A Few snippets of my (extensive) Biggie collection:
Off “Born Again”
Off “Life After Death”
Off “Ready To Die”
scroll down to the “check it..” post for other songs by these and my other favorite artists
a relevant post/reply from Sallam Said (also holdin down the music scene at CMC)…
top ten most dynamic musical duos in Hip Hop either battle or on a team in studio.
1. Method Man and Red MAn (team)
2. Ghostface and Raekwon
3. Phife and jarobi
4. Krs One and Buckshot
5. Jay Lib and Madlib
6. BlackMilk and Guilty simpson
7. Beastie Boys
8. RUn Dmc
9. Eric B and Rakim
10. Guru and Primo
1.de la soul
3. MF Doom and MF GRIMM
4. DRE and Snoop
5. Jay-z v.s. Nas
6 .Biggie Vs Tupac
7. Mos def and talib Kweli
9. Grand master Flash and the furious five
10. Slug and MURS
complements of Sallam Said:
note: favorite rappers list excluded groups, but I probably will do a favorite rap groups list later, stay posted ***VR***