Everybody got a top 5… here’s mine…
As much as I try to stay away from the same ole same ole list… I’ve got to call it like I see it! I’m going to follow this one up with something else about some of my favorite emcees… cats that are crazy but just don’t fit in my top 5. But for now…
5. LL Cool J
I got into LL around the time “Mama Said Knock You Out” came out… he had more records out before then, but this was the one that did it for me. The whole album was crazy… from start to finish LL brought a lot of different styles… He’d be laid back on “Boomin System” and talk to the girls on “Around The Way Girl” – but it wasn’t a corny rap about girl.
LL was always consistent and I respect that. I love how he came back a few years ago with “Headsprung”. LL was also dope at switching up flows. He’s got so many different styles. No doubt that he’s a legend in the game.
Biggie is all about the flow. I’d never heard anyone bounce on tracks like that. It’s like he always knew the perfect flow to become one with the beat. My first memories of Big were when I was reading Rap Pages and they had all these letters to the editor about Big. Homie hadn’t dropped an album, didn’t even have Juice out… and people were talking about how much his music affected their lives. When I got that album I found out why. Tracks like “Suicidal Thoughts” were so deep, but he crafted it so ill. My favorite from the album has to be “The What” with Meth. At the time Meth was one of my favorite MC’s. They both kill it on that track. Meth has always been like that though. It’s like he needs someone to bring it out of him! But now as an MC, I think about how it must have been when they were both in the booth. I’m sure they each wanted to kill it.
Biggie was definitely one of my favorites in his era, but since his life was cut short, so was his catalogue. One reason he’s not higher on my list is cause there just aren’t enough records.
For any young rapper who wants to learn the craft, I’d tell them go get Illmatic. For my generation it was the “Paid in Full”. Nas definitely comes from the tradition of MC’s like Rakim. Calm and deadly… real lyrical because their metaphors are timeless. Nas has had so many dope albums too. Even though a lot of people hated on his second album, that’s a classic to me. And “I Am”? Another classic. Nas is a little like Meth though, he doesn’t bring it everytime. But everytime he gets challenged, he always comes hard. “Ether”… “Stillmatic”… crazy albums.
The thing I love about Pac is that you feel you can relate to him. It’s like he’s sitting beside you talking to you. Doesn’t matter if you from the streets or the suburbs, girl or guy – Pac is a dude you just have to respect. The thing I’ve liked about Pac’s catalogue is that there is a Pac track for everything your going thru… “Ambitionz of a Rider” will get you hype… “Crazy” is my track when times are tough… “Keep Ya Head Up”… damn! The list goes on. Some say Pac wasn’t the most lyrical, but I disagree. Brother knew how to make a song! Look at tracks like “Brenda Got A Baby” – ill story telling track. If only his life wasn’t cut short…
Jay-Z’s my favorite because he earned it. I never was the biggest Jay fan. Reasonable Doubt was ill fa sho… but best of all time? Nah I wouldn’t put him there. But Jay’s my number one now because of his consistency. Brings it every time. And not just consistent, he grows each time. Jay has shown a model for a rappers life. He’s made getting older look cool. For Jay, it’s the hustle. I remember times when I was hustling CD’s or booking shows and I’d play “You Don’t Know” and it would just fire me up… when your rapping “1 million, 2 million…” You feel that it could be you getting that paper soon enough.
Blueprint 3 really solidified it for me. Jay’s great in so many areas, but maybe the best thing is his beat selection. He always knows to get the bangers!