From Mid to South, East to West: Hip Hop’s Greatest, “Who Will Win?”- Part 1 누가 더 랩을 잘하나

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The East Coast, largely because of New York City, is widely regarded as hip-hop’s mecca. Still one of the most dependable destinations for unadulterated, raw rap music, chronicling the great MCs that have originated within NYC would be an article in itself. However, even though hip-hop started in the Bronx, I also wish to examine the West Coast, the Deep South, the Midwest, and not just the East, all in the hope of answering one question; Out of the four areas, who can claim to have produced the best rap artists? The following discussion will be spread out over four separate articles, and it will only involve solo artists, no groups… sorry lovers of NWA and Public Enemy. It seems fitting to begin where it all began; The East Coast. The Top Five East Coast rappers of all time are:


5. Kool G Rap
Born Nathaniel Wilson, Kool G is one of Queens finest hardcore rap exports. What turned out to be the building blocks of an effervescent career, G Rap began rapping with the Juice Crew in the 1980s, achieving very little commercial success. In 1986, notably, G started doing the circuits with DJ Polo, a collaboration that resulted in the release of numerous underground hit singles, most notably Road to the Riches, a track that received massive airplay. G Rap’s rapid emergence soon cemented his reputation as one of New York’s finest lyricists. A man who possessed a talent for creating a persuasive, inauspicious narrative, G’s ability was undoubted. In fact, after Rakim, G Rap was widely considered the finest storyteller on the East Coast. Forever evolving and developing, quickly growing in popularity, G never embraced the opportunity to cross over like Big Daddy Kane, a fact that solidified his loyalty to the world of old-school hip-hop.


4. Rakim
Widely regarded by many as the greatest to ever grace the mic, Rakim is indisputably one of the most accomplished and influential MCs of all time. Born on January 28, 1968 in Long Island, New York, Rakim is a hip-hop pioneer. Immersing himself in the New York hip hop scene from a very young age, the legendary Eric B invited him to assist in the recording of “Eric B. is President.” Frequently cited as one of the most gifted MCs ever, Rakim is respected for his incomparable flow and intricate expressive prowess. Revolutionizing hip-hop’s lyricism through his multifaceted flow, sophisticated metaphors and speedy delivery, together with the aforementioned Eric B, Rakim released numerous albums steeped in brilliance. To date, most notably, his 1997 debut solo record (‘The 18th Letter’) proved to be his most commercially successful.


3. Nas
Ask a question regarding the world’s greatest living MC and the name ‘Nas’ might very well a response. Born September 14, 1973, ‘Nas’ is the son of jazz musician Olu Dara. In just over two decades, the artist has released eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum albums, with half of these managing to top the Billboard charts upon release. A pivotal member in hip hop super group The Firm, the rise of ‘Nas’ began 23 years ago. In 1991, often forgotten because of his epic musical legacy, ‘Nas’ featured on hip hop group Main Source’s debut album, appearing on the track “Live at the Barbeque.”

The rapper eventually shot to mainstream fame with his solo single “Halftime”, however, it was his debut album Illmatic, released 20 years ago, that ensured his place in hip-hop folklore. From critics to the wider hip-hop community, the release received universal praise, before going on to be widely regarded as a musical milestone. Constantly referenced as one of the greatest LP’s of all time, Illmatic was a significant moment for the hip-hop genre. It Was Written, the follow up from Nas, hit top spot on the Billboard Charts, retaining the throne for four consecutive weeks, before going on to hit platinum status.


2. Jay-Z
Some people call him a sell-out, some call him a genius, but, either way, Jay-Z is one of the most influential names to have ever been associated with hip-hop. Granted, there was indeed a period when Jigga would have struggled to make the list, however, his catalog of artistic achievements cannot be overlooked. In 2014, indisputably, Jay-Z is now considered one of the most important men in music, a figurehead with a net worth of well over $500,000,000. Not a bad sum of money for a rainy day. 18 years ago saw the dawn of a new era for hip-hop.

Reasonable Doubt, arguably Jigga’s greatest album, dropped in 1996. Featuring the genius that was The Notorious B.I.G., Reasonable Doubt is now considered a hip-hop classic. Cited as an inspiration by artists like Lil Wayne and Drake, The Blueprint, released in September 2001, was a catalyst in Jay acquiring a fresh new fan base. Oh yes, his romance with Beyonce may have also helped with his reignited popularity! Regardless of arguments over where he should appear on the list, Jay stands as systematic evidence to the international power generated by smartly constructed lyrics.


1. Biggie Smalls
Yes, I know, what a shocker, right? The Notorious B.I.G at number one, how original. In your heart of hearts, unless you are fiercely stubborn, you know that Biggie fully deserves top spot. Although his career was cut short, Christopher Wallace is acknowledged as one of the greatest hip-hop artists ever. Born on May 21, 1972, the American rapper was gunned down almost 25 years later. Quick to shrug off the name Christopher, the icon opted to choose the name ‘Biggie Smalls’ after watching the 1975 film Let’s Do It Again. Wallace was also known to embrace the names Big Poppa & The Black Frank White, a name taken from the film King of New York. Born and bred in the Brooklyn borough, at 22 years of age, Wallace released his debut album Ready to Die.

The Notorious B.I.G quickly became a key figure in the ascent of the East Coast hip-hop scene, playing a pivotal role in supplying NYC with a credible, marketable MC. The emergence of Biggie was vital simply because West Coast artists were then regarded as being artistically superior and more influential. A year after his debut dropped, Wallace led his lifelong friends to huge success through his protégé click, Junior M.A.F.I.A. In the midst of recording his second album, Biggie became embroiled in the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop warfare, a feud that dominated the music scene of the mid 90s, and on March 9, 1997, the larger than life character was gunned down by an unknown assailant.

After the Los Angeles slaying, Wallace’s double-disc set Life After Death hit top spot on the U.S. album charts two weeks later. Renowned for his free, effortless flow, Biggie’s sinister semi-autobiographical lyrics were second to none, the man possessed an uncanny ability to weave a poignant narrative. Seventeen years on from his untimely death, Biggie has certified sales of close to 18million units in the United States alone, a fact that emphasizes his significance in the world of music.


john glynn

Contributor, John Glynn

As a contributor of CultureM Magazine, he is writing about global culture, for example, movie, music so on. And he has a PhD in Psychology.

영국 출신의 컬쳐엠매거진 컨트리뷰터 존 그린은 영화, 음악 등 문화 관련 컨텐츠에서 날카로운 분석을 통한 심도 깊은 이야기를 전해주고 있다.

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