Monday, July 18, 2011

Top 5 Dead Or Alive

The list every rap fan has. The most debated and argued over. I'm sure some fights have started and friendships have ended over certain lists. For the longest time my list has been comprised of the top Emcees from my youth. I realize that is no longer a fair comparison for today's conversation on who's the nicest in the game. I'm an old school cat. My list was strictly Emcees, no rappers. Shit, my current list is still Emcees but I'm saying. For those not in the know let me make this distinction clear: All Emcees are rappers but not all rappers are Emcees. I'm an east coast Hip Hop head but also a huge admirer of music of all kinds, so I'm not limited to my region of growth, though I was when I was younger when it came to rap music. I've since grown and have a huge appreciation of rap from all regions around the world, as long as it's good, I'm good. I'm big on lyrics and lyricism and intelligence so most pop-rap is crap-rap to me. Hey, I told you I'm old school. I'm from the era when rap was NOT mainstream and the damn U.S. government was having Senate meetings and such to try and shut rap down. Yeah. Youngin's today have know idea about that!

Anyways, to my lists. Yes that's plural. I don't just have a T5DoA list because there are just too many excellent emcees out there. The kulture and it's music has expanded so much since it's beginnings that 5 is just not realistic. Let's start with my original list:

Big Daddy Kane
MC Lyte
Chuck D

Obvious why this is my list, right? Also completely unfair to modern emcees and rappers to make comparisons to them, right. Each of these cats is truly a GOD MC now. Also they each can still kill the mic and still produce music today. They are for all intents and purposes above the ranking. Also those I think are above the ranking are: L. L. Cool J, The Fresh Prince Will Smith, Ice Cube, Slick Rick, Q-Tip, Guru, and Queen Latifah. I feel I'm missing someone but I'm writing this off the dome so forgive me.

So, that's the GOD MC list. Next I think I'll make a list of the Legendary MC's which are right below GOD status but almost there and just above the running for the t5doa list.

Pharoahe Monch
Black Thought
Ghostface Killa
Method Man
Busta Rhymes
Heavy D
Chubb Rock

I'll leave it at ten. Honorable mentions here for Biggie, Pac, and Big Pun since, you know, they're gone.
Now the next list is current cats that have been out for a while. Still hot and making moves in some ways but not youngin's anymore. Legendary or damn near, at least to me.

Mos Def
Talib Kweli
Kanye West
Nas (I'm not a huge fan or admirer but respect is given.)
Snoop Doggy Dog
DMX (Not current but dude took the game for a few years and held it in a chokehold. Huge fan)
Ludacris (Hugely underrated!)
Andre 3000
Big Boi
Royce da 5'9"
RZA (As a producer he's above this ranking but this is strictly emceeing right now.)
Missy Elliot
Freddie Foxxx aka. Bumpy Knuckles

Again I know I'm missing some more but this is good for now. Next is cats that have been in the game for a while but are recently making a buzz and younger cats that have been out for a minute.

Sean Price (Ruck from Heltah Skeltah. Been on his solo thing for a few now and he's MAD NICE!)
Jean Grae (Viciously nice! Very very few are messing with Jeanie-Jean lyrically!!!)
Lupe Fiasco
Naledge (from Kidz in the Hall)
Black Milk
Lil' Wayne (He started so damn young! He should be one up but I'm still putting him here. Sleep or hate if you want, shorty can spit.)
Fat Joe (Scoff if you want but few Emcees have consistently improved over time like Joey Crack!)
Joell Ortiz
Joe Budden
Crooked I
Immortal Technique
50 Cent
Beanie Sigel
Pusha T (one half of the Clipse. He's spittin' hard right now!)

There are more but you get the drift. Now onto the new jacks. I don't really keep up with many 'cause I am probably officially an old head as far as Hip-Hop and rap music is concerned. I try and keep my ears open for what's nice by my standards. Here you go.

J. Cole (His 'official' studio album is on the cusp of dropping but the mixtapes and guest shots show shorty is nice lyrically. The proof is he got signed by Jay. Looking forward to the album.)
Drake (I'm back and forth with this kid but he's nice. I think J. Cole is better but he's cool.)
Nicki Minaj (She. Can. Spit. )
Cory Gunz (He's been around for a minute and probably would have blown up a while ago if his father wasn't screwing up his business. Kind of sorry for a father to be so obviously jelly of his son's talent. Check the show 'Son of a Gun' to see what I mean. But he's down with Weezy's click now so I can't wait for his official studio album debut. He is nice on the mic!)
Diggy Simmons (Who saw that coming?! Shorty got skills! 2nd generation stand up!)

There's a bunch of new jacks out there signed and making music but, again, I'm not really current with them. I know the names, i.e.: Whiz Kalifa, Yelawolf, Wale, Kid Cudi, Cyhi the Prince, etc. but I haven't heard enough from them to be impressed.

SO, these are my humble opinions on the T5DoA discussions. But if you must have a list of five I'll give you my current 5 favorites:

Royce da 5'9"
Pharoahe Monch
Sean Price

These cats are on heavy rotation on my Zune (yeah ZUNE!) at all times, and on backup duty on my iphone when the Zune runs out of juice.

If you want to comment go for it. I look forward to the ranting and raving!