Its only fair that after putting out a song and video for “Top 5″ and asking all of you to answer the question, that I, in-turn, answer it. First though, we must give some context and criteria of why I chose who I did. Its pretty simple though.
1. Catalog & Consistency – Does the artist have a decent-sized catalog that has held up over time? Never fell off or declined and has stayed relevant.
2. Influence – How has this artist contributed to the progression of the art-form? Have their been others after him/her that have tried to emulate their style?
3. Vocabulary & Rhymes – Obviously, this person needs to be able to rap words. Do this creatively using a vocabulary that extends further that lyrical/miracle and in a way that most before him/her hadn’t thought of before.
4. Character – Does this persons on wax character overshadow most others and does his/her character make you pay attention even if the rhymes don’t?
5. Personal Opinion – Obviously, this is an opinion list. Sometimes I/you just enjoy an artist because it speaks to us personally. This category is what makes the list so fun.
6. Mimicability – (Probably not a real word). I judge many MC’s on how easy it would be to come up with the rhymes they do and/or repeat there lines. If I feel I could probably do what they do, it detracts from how much I enjoy their music. This is obviously a category that only applies to other MC’s but I am one, so there it is.
ALRIGHT, LETS GO!
5. ANDRE 3000
I was always an outkast fan but when I heard his verse on “The Mighty O”, I spent the next few weeks finding every feature I could and re-studying every Outkast record realizing the depth of this MC. I doubt it will ever come but if he was to ever make a purely rap/hip-hop record. It would undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated and mind-blowing albums to ever be released.
Other required listening: “Royal Flush” with Raekwon & “What a Job” with Devin the Dude
When I first heard “My Name Is”, I hated it. I thought it was almost disrespectful to its audience how bad it was. But one day my friend and I were walking home from school and out of nowhere he started rapping, “when you see me on your block, with two glocks, screaming fuck the world like Tupac, I just don’t give a fuck!” I was like, “Did you write that!!??” He replied, “No, you know that dude taht does the ‘my name is’ song? Its his shit. His album is actually pretty amazing. The rest is history. In my opinion, No one has single-handedly changed the game like him since.
Just Don’t Give a Fuck - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T36ATobmi_w
Other required listening: “Role Models”, “Kill you” & “White America”
3. FRESH PRINCE
No matter how you slice it, The Fresh Prince had an enormous impact on rap music. Once he started rapping as Will Smith and having ghostwriters, I can no longer defend him but I know for me personally, he is the reason I ever tried rapping in the first place. I was majorly influenced by him and still look up to Will Smith as a person. He’s the DJ and I’m the rapper was one of the first CD’s I listened to over and over and over. And as a story-teller, even if you want to call it simple it was just as his namesake, “Fresh”….
Brand New Funk - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_W7NE1sG4g
Other required listening: “Nightmare on my street”, “I think I could beat Mike Tyson” & “Summertime”
I think many people overlook Ice-T because he is more well known for his acting, his over the top bravado and gangster persona but as an MC, he was far ahead of his time. While cats were still rhyming in that stop and start fashion, Ice, similar to Rakim was rhyming in that fluid flow that not many else were and is now common place. Not to mention he was saying things (he still is- his “I have guns so I can kill police when the come in my house” quote is important to the police state conversation we need to be having in America right now!) that were necessary and opposite to the status quo. And I personally think “OG Original Gangster may be one of the, if not the best Rap/Hip Hop album of all time.
New Jack Hustler - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yMaxHNNMp4
Other required listening: “Cop Killer”, “OG original gangster” & “Girls LGBWAF”
1. AESOP ROCK
Like many, I didn’t understand Aesop Rock upon first listen. And, like many, upon first listen it sounded like jibberish. But a friend and die-hard fan made me listen to “No Regrets” and I thought it was fantastic. After hearing this song, I decided to give Ace Rizzle a second shot, and proceeded to buy all 5 of his CD’s(Float/Labor Days/Daylight/FCDF&K and I even managed to find a copy of Appleseed) and listened to nothing else for the entirety of 2007. To this day, I have a hard time understanding much of what he is saying first time hearing a song but because his cadences are so fluid, they almost sound like another instrument and when you finally do understand what he is talking about, it’s that much more gratifying. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that he is not for everyone but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying every single one of his works and learning from him.
5 fingers - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gLH1ErYx8I
Other required listening: “9 to 5ers Anthem”, “Fast Cars”, “None Shall Pass”, “Bazooka Tooth” & “The Harbor is Yours”
THERE IT IS! Remember to always keep the conversation going. Hip hop is alive and well.
Honorable mention: Slick Rick, Ludacris, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Biggie, Scarface, Method Man, Xzibit, Rakim, Nas
NOW WATCH MY VIDEO AGAIN! =)