Oftentimes, when it comes to determining an MC’s caliber, lyricism is heralded as the most important factor. Beat selection, while equally crucial, often gets bypassed as the second slot on the checklist, leaving an assembly of rappers lyrically gifted, but production-wise lacking. A great bad-beat rapper doesn’t mean the artist’s music is negligible. It actually stands for acts that can excel despite their bad choice in production. Their lyricism, wordplay, and content so jaw dropping that even if the beats may turn listeners with cringe-inducing reactions, the actual records suffice to be enjoyable. That said, this selection of artists is meant to highlight the greatest rappers with outstanding talents, that although they’re often scrutinized for poor taste in beats, their records are celebrated for sheer brilliance. While many hope these artists to take upon “better” production, let’s not forget why fans love them in the first place. —Jaeki Cho (JaekiCho)
Mos Def_Bad Beat
Let’s be clear, Black on Both Sides was an incredible album with production credits from some of east coast hip-hop’s most celebrated names. Mos Def’s following outputs (The New Danger and True Magic), however, found the Brooklyn MC in an experimental phase with odd beat selections and song structures that surprised many of his initial fans. Despite the left-field choices Mos never failed to impress as a rapper, all thanks to his amazing usage of cadence, wordplay, and lyricism. As displayed on The Ecstatic, with the right support, he’s almost flawless as an MC.
Immortal Technique_Bad Beat
When it comes to battle-tested rhymes, aggressive delivery, and shock-factor punchlines, Immortal Technique is the go-to figure that seems to be capable of ripping off a chunk of an MC’s dome (and take it back home like the Berlin Wall). His projects Revolutionary Vol. 1 and Revolutionary Vol. 2 were both heralded with critical praise for its neck-snapping delivery and lyricism. But in terms of production, many of the two albums’ beats were simplistic and strictly served as spicing to Technique’s rapping. His union with DJ Green Lantern on The 3rd World, however, found a good equilibrium where the self-claimed revolutionary MC exhibited both mastery in lyricism over fittingly accommodating production.
Ras Kass_Bad Beat
Ras Kass forever molded a spot within rap geeks’ list of most underrated rappers. His jam-packed dosages of word tidbits are often overwhelming, and usually get lost in a cyclical verbiage of rhymes, similes, obscure cultural references and many other rappity, rap nerd fantasies. While his debut Soul on Ice and sophomore effort Rassasination were both critically acclaimed for the L.A. MC’s lyrical feats, his choice in beats never shined on a parallel lane to his mastery in rapping.
Canibus - "Get Retarded"
"When I bomb shit, I get retarded; probably more than you bargained / I'm talking about rip a mic off your arm shit / Hype shit, blow up a mic shit, you might get / Beat the fuck up in broad daylight with a nightstick."
How can one of the greatest MCs of all time end up on this list you ask? Well, since Illmatic, Nas hasn’t had one album that didn’t include a sub-par beat. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the producer who made the beat, as oftentimes, Nasir enlists some of the game’s finest talents. The reason why he chose those beats from those talented producers boggles XXL, but the Queensbridge MC always managed to turn doubtful beat selections to impactful records. It’s been an everlasting trait by Nas, and by now both fans and critics have come to live with it.