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

I started the year with a list. I got another one. Not necessarily a fan of them, and these days, lists ain’t worth the screens they were written on. Still, there is a purpose to some, maybe to remind the writer/ reader of what they like. Or don’t. I’ve been thinking of all the years I’ve been part of this rap ish (B, don’t ask) and how I’ve developed my tastes, my likes, the music and the artists that I’ve gravitated to, respected, listened and got the head nodding to. Seems like these days cats don’t want to admit that they’re rap fans. I’ve been a proud rap fan, still am. Here’s my favorite top ten rappers of all time:

1. Grand Master Caz – Way before most of youse effin time. My first rap idol. Ever. First rapper I heard in my life. He, along with  GMC, JDL, EZ AD and Almighty KG, DJ Charlie Chase and Tony Tone formed the seminal rap group The Cold Crush Brothers. My dude put me on to a cassette tape (do ya’ll even know what that is) of them battling the Fantastic Five emcees. Caz or GMC was super lyrical for his time, with mad mic swagger. Even though the Fantastic Five were judged to be the victors of that battle, I will go to my grave knowing the Cold Crush won. Was featured in that Wild Style movie. The first known true sucker emcee Big Bank Hank (from the Sugar Hill Gang fame) did some sucker emcee shit and openly bit GMC’s raps for the first official rap record to become an eternal smash “Rapper’s Delight”. Truth be told, I hated “Rapper’s Delight” when I first heard it, for how fake and candy ass’d it sounded. The rap music industry wouldn’t be the same without Caz. We all owe dude, even if you don’t realize it. My first rap idol Thank you. Salutes!

2. Melle Mel – Second rapper I ever heard in my life. On a cassette tape. Way back when. On boom boxes. On the train, on my way to 42nd Street to catch triple features of my favorite Kung-Fu flicks (3 movies for $2.50). When yung cats like me could be murdered in the streets of NYC just for tryna look F.R.E.S.H. Lead rapper of legendary group Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five, along with his brother Kid Creole, Scorpio, Rahiem and the late Cowboy. All of them was dope, Mel was the dopest. First rapper ever to call himself a MC (Master Of Ceremonies). He ain’t lie about being one too. I’ll never figure out how dude crafted the blueprint to the art of rhyming. Was one of the hottest before the raps on records thing. Left us with the forever classic “The Message”. To this day, one of my favorite rap songs. Ever. So dope I forgive him for how he dressed back then, and how he likes to rock muscle shirts these days. Melle Mel’s raps, his influence will always remain in my dna. Thanks for that sir. Salutes.

3. Run – Of Run-DMC fame. The first of rap’s then new generation. A young rapper that I could identify with more than his predecessors. Not the best emcee by far, but god damn did a young  Run kill the game with emcee swagger! Declared war against the Old School rappers (like the two I said before). So irreverant, so disrespectful. So fresh to the game. The perfect emcee image rapper contrasted against DMC’s perfect b-boy robotic style. The best rap duo that ever did it. Ever. Even if nepotism by being Russell Simmons’ younger brother placed him in the right spot, Run worked hard to earn his star on the pavement. Was there when he claimed Madison Square Garden his “‘mother fucking house”. Please believe a young Combat Jack was dipped rocking the leather pants and jacket set, along with brim and shell toes, as inspired by Joey Simmons. As a young rap fan, copping that issue of RUN-DMC on that historic cover of that Rolling Stones issue was one of the PROUDEST moments of my young life. And it wasn’t even me. Thank you Run, DMC. R.I.P. Jam Master Jay. Salutes! (A major middle finger still to them cowards that murdered Jason Mizell).

4. KRS-One - Holy. fucking. cow. The energy a young KRS-One brought to the game was, up until that point, unprecedented. Claiming the South Bronx (even though dude was a straight BK cat by way of Park Slope, up and down), KRS earned his stripes the old fashioned way, by challenging EVERYONE that came before him. Melle Mel, Run-DMC, all of them was game in this young spitters’ eyes. Alongside Scott La Rock and D-Nice, Boogie Down Productions gave up some of the GREATEST rap records ever dropped. Their first album ‘Criminal Minded’ blew me away for how graphic it was as the first official gangsta rap piece ever. That album stays in my eternal top ten. Before then cats wasn’t getting they heads burst by 9 millimeters. And who can argue that ‘The Bridge Is Over’ ain’t one of the genre’s finest diss record of all time. If you was lucky to catch a KRS-One show when dude was in his prime, you knew you’d always get your money’s worth. The beef with the Juice Crew, that Self-Destruction joint, him throwing that fat PM Dawn fellow off the stage,  the first rap death that hurt me to my core (R.I.P. Scott La Rock), there will never be another rapper as dope as KRS One. Thank you. Salutes. (Whaddup DJ D-Nice?).

5. Big Daddy Kane – Rakim held the crown, but when Kane dropped, best believe Brooklyn stood the eff up. Barritone grown man’s voice, illest beats from legendary Marley Marl, Albee Square Mall swagger like nobody’s business, Kane’s hi-top ruled in ’89. Like most rappers of his day, Kane’s stage show was no joke. Star member of the famed Juice Crew, nobody wanted with BDK. KRS even made sure to omit Kane from his attacks against dude’s crew, just cause it was obvious KRS never want it from dude. No one did. So nice even that rumors in the New York streets at the time was that God MC Rakim might have problems with Antonio Hardy. So nice even that he mentored the young Shawn Carter, grooming him to one day take his place. Kane warmed it up better than most, and the pedigree bar for Brooklyn rappers was forever raised. Long live the Kane indeed. Thank you B. Salutes.

To Be Continued

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  • El Tico Loco

    “If you was lucky to catch a KRS-One show when dude was in his prime, you knew you’d always get your money’s worth”

    Actually you still get your money’s worth and the same can be said for Kane.

    • Curtis75Black

      Hell Yeah Tico !! Alot of the elderstatemen can spit live for days !! All peeps gotta do is check them out. They had to be able to perform not just have hot songs on the radio. I seen the majority of classic acts coming up.

      • BIGNAT

        ghostface, mos def and the roots you will get your money’s worth off them.

    • combat jack

      krs one is mad overrated he is NOT technically skilled yet he is G.O.AT HOW COME !!1.he is rhyme scheme is simplistic and has an awful voice plus his music is no longer relevant

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Word is bond great minds think alike. I’m putting together a female drop on right now as we speak. Tired of these weak pr0n rapping chicks. Y’all be on the lookout for that drop. Until then feed off this wonderful female emcee:


    • snopop

      You got Rita J on your list? Still finding her voice but Artist Workshop kills those repetitive hyper sexualized female MCs.

    • DV8

      Lady of Rage is the illest FEMCEE ever.

      • $ykotic/Don McCaine

        @ sno

        I couldn’t find anything clear on Rita but you can tell by my list I know about her.

        @ DV8

        I mentioned her but I didn’t drop the music. I started disliking Dre when he never dropped that album in a timely fashion (i.e. when she was buzzing).

        Hopefully y’all went and checked out the drop. Comment so we can build and exchange music for these cats who don’t know the deal…

  • Willis Still Sunsweet, WWIB

    co-sign KRS still kicking it live; 2008 summer at Prospect was dope as fuck, and the recent KRS and Buckshot shows are heat too.

    Not the first but still fave of great Melle Mel moments–

    Summer ’84: “Beat Street” AND “Purple Rain”? Whoa…

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    I can clearly see y’all slept on CJ’s work ethic with only 3 comments so far.

    Y’all regulars and lurkers know how I get down, so check me out:

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    I can clearly see y’all slept on CJ’s work ethic with only 3 comments so far.

    Y’all regulars and lurkers know how I get down, so check me out:

  • Tony Grands


    LL Cool J
    Big Daddy Kane
    Kool Genius of Rap

    -to be continued…

    Honorable Mention-50 Cent, but he can’t be grouped in with those cats, who helped me form my opinions of Hip Hop as an adolescent.

  • Dee el


    Cosign like a MF!!!!!!!

    Dee El Sends

  • Pierzy

    Hopefully part 2 will include (of course) Rakim, N.W.A, and Public Enemy.

    Chuck D destroyed “Welcome To The Terrordome”!

  • Pierzy

    Not just on “Welcome To The Terrordome” of course…but you get my point.

    • Curtis75Black

      Homie always sounded like someones Father when he spit !! That was my very 1st thought when I 1st heard him. Chuck D is very, very underrated.I loved his solo joint. He definitely had the potential and talent to leave PE if he wanted to.

      LL ft. GrandMaster Caz – Ringtone Murder !! I know y’all niggas slept.

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      I’d like to nominate “By The Time I Get To Arizona”.

      That was a true political song.

  • alderman j

    KRS 1
    KOOL G RAP!!!!

  • Worley

    I can’t believe the Tony Grands nominated 50. That must be an impostor. This list is for MCs. Entertainers and businessmen belong elsewhere.

    It might also be better to do these lists by decade. Some of the greats were only great in their time. They seem to have lost a step or fell victim to inconsistency as time went on. My list would look like:

    70s: Caz, Melle Mel, Moe Dee, Busy Bee

    80s: Kane, Rakim, KRS-One, Chuck-D, Kool G. Rap, Slick Rick, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, LL

    90s: Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface, Prodigy, Redman (first 3 albums), Jay, Biggie, Snoop (Doggystyle and Chronic only)

    00s: Nas, Ghostface, Jay, Wayne (especially around the Carter II), Andre 3000, Luda (don’t sleep)

    • Tony Grands


      Yeah, I agree, it should be more of a time-integrated list. 30+ years of MC’s is a lot to narrow down to a top ten list.

      But as far as 50, the time when he was rocking & had the whole world watching, he wasn’t a hot, influential MC? Really? But, you give Wayne recognition though? I’d take that “imposter” remark if Wayne didn’t make your list, but them dudes are cut from the same monotonous cloth of business & entertainment, as well as influence & presence in Hip Hop.

      I should’ve broke it down with time restraints, then it wouldn’t have been such a jump from Rakim to 50.

      • Worley

        @Grands: I feel you on Wayne. That’s why I stated around the Carter II when Gillie The Kid tightened up Wayne’s flow. 50 is still a tough sell for me. His mixtapes were the sh*t but I never considered him much of an MC. His “aggressive content” is what does the trick like certain rappers’ “swagger.”

        @Curtis75Black: Longevity is key, but to be inconsistent for a long time does not make one great. See Fat Joe’s career.

        • MidWest Grindin

          By stating that Gillie tha Kid “tightened up Wayne’s flow”, you do mean “ghostwrote the WHOLE Carter I and II”, right? I’m sorry i’m trying to paraphrase what you’re saying…in order to tighten up someone’s flow, they had to have some kind of flow to begin with, albeit weak. Like, LeBron “tightened up” his jumper these last couple years in the NBA. He didnt go from having absolutely no J to having an above average one. Wayne had NO FLOW before Carter I. If you call what he had flow, then he had the worst flow in the whole Hot Boys, and that’s REALLY bad.

    • Curtis75Black

      80s: Kane, Rakim, KRS-One, Chuck-D, Kool G. Rap, Slick Rick, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, LL
      Not to get technical but there’s a thing called Longevity and LL, KRS, Lyte as well as Chuck ran thru the 90′s and only LL and KRS kept it going to the New Millenium and more 2008 and 2009 respectively. These are the very few emcees that didn’t stop in the same decade they came in. We need to start recognizing that more if we want to maintain. Just cause you’re hot don’t mean you’ll last. We seen too many one-hit wonders this last decade to prove that.

  • sb

    pretty good list so far

  • chillo

    Combat Jack you failed.

    Grand Master Caz, JDL, EZ AD and Almighty KG made up the Cold Crush 4 along with Charlie Chase and Tony Tone. Otherwise good work.

  • Chill Divine

    Correction- Whipper Whip and Dota Rock were in the Fantastic 5 with Grand Wizard Theodore.

    The Cold Crush consisted of GMC, JDL, EZ AD and Almighty KG along with Charlie chase and Tony Tone.

  • Jamal7Mile

    Dope list, CJ.

    I just wanna shout out UTFO and the back-and-forth with Roxanne Shante. That was mad entertaining! It’s too bad I was too young to go to some of those concerts.

    Too bad about Big Bank Hank being a sucker MC. I never knew that was true until I started fuxing with the ‘nets in the ’90s.

    Grand Wizard Theodore invented the scratch if I’m not mistaking. The dopest sound in Hip-Hop music next to 808 bass.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Wild Style=GOAT rap movie

    Cold Crush won that. Damn a cat misses Harlem World. Anyone have a collage of all them flyers? I could smoke for hours looking at the flicks.

    So hopefully Kool Moe Dee will be on the next bracket list. Because he was there in those days and made the transition to the ’90s. Actually was one of the early emcees to go into acting (dudes couldn’t recognize him w/o the shades).

    Who remembers Paul Winley Records on 125th? Going there with a cassette tape trying to get recorded? This is why I enjoy my OG status. $yk was there ya heard?

  • DV8


    this is my pre 90′s list

    P.S. How in the world did everybody fail to mention StatQuo’s mixtapes in the Best of ’09 list. All 5 of those joints was heat rocks.

  • RonTucker

    ”KRS even made sure to omit Kane from his attacks against dude’s crew, just cause it was obvious KRS never want it from dude.”

    BDK was in high school during the bridge wars. He didn’t join the JC until a few years later.

  • Nacirema_Dream

    How can you can say Wayne had no flow before The Carter I? Did you not hear the Squad Mixtapes.
    Thats when he started to come into his own.
    Gillie The Kid took credit for the Wrong Carter Album. Everyone knows that the best Carter album was The Carter II. Thats when wayne really perfected his rap style.

    “Im just saying”