They’re My Idols, The Highest Titles, Numero Uno(s) Part 2

Part 1
Earlier this week, I went back through my favorite top ten rapper/emcees of all time. There’s no way I can list every one that influenced me, and to those not mentioned, my bad. Still, since the whole world is on that list thing, here’s the rest of mine:

6. LL Cool J - James Todd Smith got it part right. Not the G.O.A.T. but the Greatest Underrated Of All Time. To date, the rapper with the longest career in this thing of ours. His 1985 ‘Radio’ debut cemented his place in history. The game’s first solo mega superstar. The young teenager from Queens boldly held his own against all challengers. And went on to maintain his spot for years. Put Def Jam on his back. And Def Jam carried the whole industry. We all need to seriously pay homage to dude. Rap ain’t never made it easy for a rapper to maintain sex appeal, hardcore image and pop access. LL made being the first to do it look so easy. For me, what’s better than a rapper always ready to battle, confident in his mic skills, but still crafting radio joints, club bangers? Nigga made it cool to mack chicks with the first true  Hip Hop love song, while at the same time causing many a sucker to get timb stomped by a crew of angry youth juiced up on murderous beats with L encouraging them, cause his momma said it. Truth be told, I didn’t become a fan of dude’s until that ‘Momma Said Knock You Out‘ album. He ain’t want to admit it, but that was the greatest comeback album evah!. Behind the scenes story tell of how, after Uncle L blew up, Run of Run-DMC fame felt a ways about him performing in his house. Cause he was hard as hell. [||] I could see that. LL Cool J, salutes.

7. Chuck D – When dude spoke, a nation listened. Cat spit like Martin Luther King spitting Malcolm X.  Undeniable that he and his Public Enemy set dropped the greatest rap album of all time. First rapper to make a nation of millions want to get smarter, be more politically active, to stand up against that. The best one to own some of the illest beats created by the illest Bomb Squad production team. The rapper from the best rap group of all time. With the greatest hype man of all time. The rapper that crafted my FAVORITE rap song of all time, “Rebel Without A Pause”, Chuck D’s influence to rap music is unlike any other. Fight The Power’, “Don’t Believe The Hype’, ‘Welcome To The Terrordome’, too many classic joints that was also anthems. That night at the Garden, when Chuck, Flav, Terminator X and the S1-W’s (Griff was on time out) rocked that Pete Rock “Shut ‘Em Down” joint and had thousands of fans, Black, white, Latino etc. standing, chanting in unison to shut the bitch down, fists in air, Chuck was the most powerful rapper on the planet. I still got my fingers crossed, waiting, hoping they’ll be another rapper like Chuck, another group like PE to roll through this rap shit. Thanks for calling out Elvis, John Wayne and all them other simple and plain suckers. Salutes.

8. Ice Cube – As a young’un from Brooklyn, if someone had told me one of my top ten was gonna be a cat from L.A. rocking a Jheri curl and with a corney ass name, I’da thought they’d been sipping on too much of that Cisco. The drank. My pre N.W.A. world saw the West Coast scene as goofy niggas with ghey names like Pop Locker Larry, all up in bright neon baggy pants. And with some L.A. Gear kicks, curls dripping off they foreheads like a damned rap clown. O’shea Jackson kilt that the first moment I heard him. Expanded my rap speak by introducing me to words like “gat” (one of my fav words), and waxing poetic about “wetting niggas”. If my introduction to gangsta rap was through KRS, Ice Cube and the 2nd greatest rap group of all time was gangsta on steroids. Not only the lead spitter but also the main writer for co-members Eazy E and Dr. Dre, Cube (along with MC Ren) made the whole team sound right. Then, right after he made us nervous around L.A. cats, he went ahead and got complex with his solo album. Gang banger gone conscious. Crying at dead homies funerals, but loading up later that night with his set to peel caps in revenge. Plus how he spit it. The raps, the stories, the emotion. My kids who loved him in that ‘Are We There Yet‘ flick can’t ever comprehend how years back, Cube was THE most feared rapper in the game. There had been some attempts before him, but Ice Cube was that first cat to wholly bring the West Coast to the East. For that, I thank him. Salutes.

9. The Notorious B.I.G. – My peoples had been working with Puff and Bad Boy for about a year. The summer before ‘Ready To Die’ dropped they handed me a super early advanced cassette of the album. So early that some of the songs had to be re-produced because they had samples that wouldn’t get cleared. Plus my copy had that collabo with him and Sadat X. My favorite album at the time, right before then was the Gravediggaz ’6 Feet Deep’. But the minute I put Biggie in the walkman, it was a wrap. Right then and there, I knew that my city of Brooklyn was about to be the center of rap’s universe. I played that tape so much that my tape almost popped. Best. flow. period. There ain’t much I can say about dude that you aint already hear, that you ain’t already heard. The King of NY, the G.O.A.T. Still can’t believe they killed dude, even though I was at the funeral. R.I.P. Christopher Wallace. Salutes.

10. Jay-Z: I rightfully stay partial to Brooklyn rappers. Like they don’t rap it the best. When they drop the box set, that bitch is going to weigh a ton. And with nothing but hits. You even try to name another rapper, dead or alive, with more hits in their complete body of work than Jay-Z, I won’t even acknowledge that you’re in the same room. Maybe it’s that partial thing, but I do not get how some folk claim say they never felt Jay. That sounds like hate, or like they never really have a clue of what’s dope in rap, just looking at image and such. I’m not even talking about our recent New York Yankee Hov, more like “Friend Or Foe”, “Where I’m From”, “Brooklyn’s Finest” Jigga. Shawn Carter took all he learned from Kane and cranked it up another million, trillion. Timeless flow, the best rap beef battle of all time, longevity to rival LL’s, the word play and double, triple entendres,  Jay rearranged the blueprint for all rappers that follow in his footsteps. The greatest rapper alive indeed. Without a reasonable doubt. Thanks for holding down all them summers. Salutes.

Honorable mentions: Slick Rick, Kool G Rap, Nas, Scarface, Redman, Eminem, Mos Def, Doom

  • http://www.bboycult.com $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Salutes to the General!

    The list is ill. Not going to go there with omissions and sh*t. I’m liking the throwback knowledge with each number listing.

    Miss them Fila suits too.

    BK 4EVA

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      What’s good, y’all?

      I’m loving this list, especially this half. As far as underrated, I think Chuck D is definitely underrated to this day.

      And when Cube went East for his solo album, it was a napalm bomb.

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

    Pt.1
    Rakim
    Big Daddy Kane
    Kool Genius of Rap
    LL Cool J
    Redman
    ========
    Pt.2
    Ice Cube
    NaS
    Master Ace (way underrated)
    Craig G (niggas forget about the freestyle king, pre-Supernat)
    Slick Rick aka Ricky D

    Hard to narrow almost 30 years of Hip Hop down to ten cats. Damn you, CJ! *shakes fist*

    • General

      Damn Tony, for a West Coast cat I can’t believe the only one from the West you had on your list was Ice Cube. Now I agree Cube should definetely be on the list without a doubt, but I’m also perplexed at how people leave out Too Short, Ice-T, and even though he didn’t write his own rhymes Eazy-E. These are artists that laid a foundation that so many artists today still use…

      • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

        Whatitdo, Gen?

        See, thats why I made that statement about how there’s only so many slots to cram damn near 3 decades in. Plus, I didn’t want to go off on a tangent, like it’s so easy to do in these list drops.

        Also, the majority of my Hip Hop influence is East Coast. That’s just how it was when I was growing up. But I had: Kam, Deadly Threat, Cold 187, Donald D, King Tee, MC Eiht, E-40, Spice One, Del The Funkee Homosapien…Too $hort & Ice T didn’t real inspire or influence me, but that takes nothing away from their respective impacts on rap music.

        • General

          I hear ya, its always a foul point to me that these lists always drop on this site or others and there is no love for the West and the contributions made by the West and honestly Scarface should be in any top 10 too…(no love for the South either, lol)

        • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

          Scarface, definitely. ‘Mr.Scarface is Back’ was one of the best rap albums ever. Too many dudes….(& ladies) as well.

  • Sidney Potier III

    CJ– Chuck D. himself pulled back on Elvis, which was bullshit “knowledge” he got from nowhere.

    I defy you, as a lawyer and a writer I respect, to give me ONE– just one– documented incident that Elvis was ‘racist.’

    ONE. Just one, especially for a Southern man of his era.

    Shouldn’t be hard, right?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/11/opinion/11guralnick.html

    But that’s just one person.

    If you want to talk Elvis’ place relative to the black writer or musician of his time, OK. Then tell me about Don Robey– a name most of those here won’t know but you might (and will find VERY interesting if you don’t).

    Otherwise list is cool but why I listened to GARBAGE like most of “In My Lifetime” 1 or 2 said fuck this dude.

    A few hot songs, sure, but A LOT of crap that was just plain insulting (more than “racist” Elvis even).

  • Sidney Poitier III

    @ Tony Grands– I’m a Master Ace fan too but son is mad inconsistent, some verses are super dope, others VERY uninspired. It’s odd too because, he does have strong artistic vision but he’s never made THAT classic, unfortunately.

    @CJ– my comments aren’t going through in typical XXL fashion but Elvis = ‘racist’ is a myth, often contradicted by reality.

    There are MANY MANY MANY other better examples– but don’t ask me, ask Muhammad Ali and others.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/11/opinion/11guralnick.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2

    Is the REAL knowledge, for starters.

    Also, if you’re interested in the black music biz (which I know you are), the story of Don Robey, Duke Records, is instructive.

  • caino

    List is dope , not complaints glad you put Chuck D up on that , thats the Kat that got me into this rap shiiiiit!!

  • Worley

    “I didn’t become a fan of dude’s until that ‘Momma Said Knock You Out‘ album”

    Ya wilin’. Radio was spotty (yet good for its time) but BAD was the absolute sh*t. I saw LL perform at the Krush Groove ’85 and Def Jam ’87 tours. Believe me when I tell you: L tore that sh*t down.

    Some of those honorable mentions need more air time. We need some femcees too. You can’t tell me Lyte, Latifah and Shanté ain’t go hard. But good list anyway. Much better than some others where the writer clearly has no idea what the f*ck s/he is talking about.

  • Golden

    i’m digging mos def on the honorable mention…if you have time to respond – if you could expand your list or better yet just provide your thoughts on two of MY all-time favs: Big Pun & Black Thought…and why not Common while you’re at it…lol…thanks either way for a great read!…peace/

  • sealsaa

    Good list. Not to be on that complaining shit, but Nas by influence alone, should’ve been in Jay’s spot. He may not have the hits, but Illmatic>Jay’s discography. Even It Was Written goes head to head with Jay’s best album. No salt, just saying.

  • Curtis75Black

    I don’t know about Kool G. Rap in the honorable mention spot but it’s your list !! Homie still to this day has mesmorized with his flow !! I was just rocking Ill figures off that last Wu collabo (Rae and MOP), G. Rap blazed that shit on some smooth shit !!

    You slipped on Bigger and Deffer homie !!

  • http://www.facebook.com/maxprofit Max Profit

    Very east coast list but cool real cool.

  • http://www.incilin.com Incilin

    Great list, great post. Every blogger should do something like this, it lets readers know where their coming from. I’ve been planning something like this for a while now, I might need to get on that asap.

  • http://danjlovesthe90s.wordpress.com DANJ!

    Good list…

    LL’s ‘Mama Said’ is def. in my top 20 hip-hop albums of all time. Dude was NOT playin’ with that shit. The singles were on point, and the other joints on the album went hard as hell- “Murdergram”, “Mr. Goodbar”, “Break Of Dawn”… nigga kilt it.

    BIG & Jay are my top two so no argument there.

    Chuck D was my dude, but I think I like the whole of PE’s music more than I specifically like him as an MC. Nonetheless- my fav. Chuck joint is either a tie btwn ‘Terrordome’ or ‘PE No. 1′

    Ice Cube was m’man since I was like 10. He was killin’ it when he was in NWA, and then the solo joint was like “woooow”. ‘Death Certificate’ was my fave Cube album of all tho’. I fell off with Cube when ‘Lethal Injection’ dropped… shit was like “blaaaah”. But them 5 years prior was consistent as fuck.

    -D!

    • sb

      AMERIKKA’S MOST!!!! THAT WAS MY JOINT. I WAS THERE WHEN HE RECORED “TURN OFF THE RADIO” MY BOY WERE FRIENDS WITH HANK AND KEITH SHOCKLEE, SO WE WERE IN THE STUDIO WHEN CUBE WAS RECORDING. HE ALSO PLAYED “ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE PROJECTS” AND “AMERIKKA’S MOST”.WHEN THAT CAME OUT I PLAYED THAT TAPE ALL DAMN SUMMER….

  • alderman j

    part 1
    BIG DADDY KANE
    RAKIM
    KRS 1
    CHUCK D
    KOOL MOE D
    LL COOL J
    KOOL G RAP

    part 2
    SCARFACE
    NAS
    SLICK RICK
    ICE CUBE

    OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES
    JAY Z, BIG, PRODIGY, JADAKISS, BIG L, FAT JOE, GRAND PUBA, KANYE, TIP, CAMRON, METHOD MAN, GHOSTFACE, RAEKWON, ANDRE 300,

  • DetroitDraper

    Ice Cube continues to churn out great music independently with social commentary. If you havent check out his last two albums….classics to me

    MAYN HOL’UP

  • http://-- gaddic

    @sealsaa

    Great minds think alike

    Why when people are bragging that Jay-Z’s the best rapper alive

    they either come with

    his sales
    his number of hits
    his business prowess
    his influence
    his longevity

    All of thEse criteria are respected but what about the most important of all?

    SKILL!!!!

    ILLMATIC IS BETTER THAN RDoubt by light years
    Nas has a far better discography

    erase the hype and the commercial success
    Jay-z wouldn’t even be called in the same bracket as NAS

  • DetroitDraper

    I also concur@GADDIC…I like SOME of Jay’s work but Nas’s discography is classic. But thats just the contiinuation of the lifelong debate of style over substance…

    MAYN HOL’UP

  • sealsaa

    @DetroitDr***r

    You hit the bullseye. Style over substance pretty much sums up the difference between Jay and Nas, which is why i’ve never been particularly hyped over a colab between the two.

    I AM hyped over that Nas/Junior Gong album. Shit’s gonna be an ear bleeder.

  • allhiphop>xxlmag

    fuckers wack!
    cant even make a list
    bunch of homos on this list of fags

  • http://www.bboycult.com $ykotic/Don McCaine

    It Was Written>>>>>>a WHOLE lot of Jay-Z’ publishing catalog

    *stone straight face*

  • SW PHILLY

    It Was Written and Mama Said Knock You Out. Two albums that were classic. To quote LL-”When I’m on the microphone I want silence/ Let KRS-ONE stop the violence”. Still think that LL and Big Daddy Kane would have been a classic battle.

  • oskamadison

    Not only do I respect this list, I respect the OG and the OG logic behind it. This list reminded me that no matter how fed up I get with current-day Hip-Hop and start whistlin’ “Looking At The Front Door”, I can’t even grab the doorknob. Oh, what the hell…
    Pt. 1
    Rakim
    Nas
    Redman
    Hov
    Common
    pt. 2
    Ghostface
    Kool Keith (just on the strength of Critical Beatdown)
    Kool G Rap
    Rah Digga (only until Lauryn Hill comes back from that…”vacation”)
    Large Professor

  • oskamadison

    My bad, drop Kool Keith, add Big Daddy Kane. Damn, how could I forget…

  • doggert

    dope list, mid ninties is my ‘old school’ so its cold to find old new bangers.

    first 3 fav rap songs that got me into hiphop –
    ‘keep your heads ringin’ – deathrows greatest hits
    ‘trading war stories’ – 2pac
    ‘ganster paradise’ coolio

    3 ‘underrated’ rated era albums

    36 chambers – wutang
    operation stakoloa – luniz
    gang related – deathrow soundtrack

  • sb

    my list in no particular order

    BIG
    JAY Z
    LL COOL J
    ICE CUBE
    CHUCK D
    EMINEM
    ANDRE 3000
    SLICK RICK
    MELLE MEL
    RUN

    ALL 10 HAVE MADE HUGE CONTRIBUTIONS TO HIP HOP. AND THEY WERE JUST AS INFLUENTIAL ON POP CULTURE AS WE KNOW IT TODAY.AND THEY ARE ALL STLL RELEVENT

  • sb

    MOST IMPORTANT HIP HOP GROUPS OR DUO: NO PARTICULAR ORDER

    COLD CRUSH BROTHERS-THEY WERE THE BLUEPRINT
    FLASH AND FURIOUS FIVE-REALITY RAP
    RUN DMC-MY ADIDAS,1ST RAPPERS ON MTV
    TRIBE CALLED QUEST-FUSED JAZZ AND HIP HOP
    PUBLIC ENEMY-THE BLACK PANTHERS OF HIP HOP
    NWA-GANGSTA RAP AT ITS BEST-INTRODUCED US TO THE WEST
    OUTKAST-THE ESSENCE OF ATL, ALWAYS PUSHED THE ENVELOPE SONICALLY
    WU-TANG-DOPE INDIVIDUALS THAT HAD A MONOPOLY ON THE GAME, AND WAS SOOO GRITTY
    WHODINI-SEX SYMBOL GROUP/ CLASSY/SMOOTH CATS WITH GREAT TOPICS
    DE LA SOUL-DAISY AGE,THOUGHT OUTSIDE OF THE BOX AND CREATED THEIR OWN LANE.DARED TO BE DIFFERENT

  • kedordu

    my list

    rakim /krs
    slick rick /big daddy kane
    ice cube
    jay z
    ll cool j
    chuck d
    biggie/tupac
    nas/lauryn hill
    eminem
    kool g rap/redman

    honourable mention snoop dogg , DOC , kurupt , lord finesse, mos def , common,big l , talib

    i see it in terms of impact . i can never take for granted that this thing of ours is only 30 yrs old . we’ve come a long way . we just need an african rapper now to tell his story . the MC story from the beginning.

    most underrated rappers

    kurupt the first rapper to start really flipping flows on every song. he blended east coast and west swag . (the most skilled gangster mc ever)

    beanie sigel the most naturally gifted rapper ever to pick up a mic . his delivery is top 5 ever ( slick rick , rakim , biggie ,kool g rap,

    foxy brown (female beanie sigel) she incorporated biggie and jay z in her delivery.just like how nas merged kool g rap and rakim