I’ve decided to change it up a little bit and spark some serious debate with the third issue of Blaze magazine from Dec ’98/Jan ’99. I’ll get back to posting Source mags in a few days. Anyway, I remember this issue causing major, major debates and arguments amongst me and my friends. Nine years ago, there obviously weren’t as many MC’s as today and the internet hadn’t completely taken over the music business yet. You most likely still had to go to the store and buy a CD and when you pay for music, you feel more passionately about it. Now, I’m sure that after nine years, many of you will have completely different opinions of who is the best/greatest of all time. Back then, many fans still mourned the deaths of Tupac and Biggie and it showed in the rankings. So after reading this, take your time and think of everyone who you have ever listened to. Don’t just think of your favorites, think of who you consider to be the best. I can imagine Travis @ http://wakeyourdaughterup.blogspot.com/ and Eric @ http://whentheyreminisce.wordpress.com/ debating this topic for at least a week.
Please check out my little survey below, and get back to me when you have time. The magazine link is at the bottom.
I’ve been asking these same survey questions to hip-hop fans since 1988 and it amazes me how some answers have changed and how some have stayed the same. The debates have been endless and have even caused some fights. I will include my own answers for each of the three questions and I will attempt to put them in reasonable order. Those answers are my personal opinion ONLY! Please share your choices and comments as well.
1. Who is the BEST MC/LYRICIST/HIP-HOP ARTIST EVER??? You can list a few but the first choice must be the all time best in your opinion. Not your favorite, THE BEST! HE/SHE has to have at least ONE hip-hop album released to be considered for the list. But it doesn’t have to be a good or even great album at all. Some lyrical artists can’t make an album to save their life. Here are some of the criteria to be considered: Lyrical ability, lyrical content, impact, influence and/or charisma, voice (sound, delivery, flow, etc.), wit, longevity, consciousness/mental stimulation, overall creativity, etc.
2. Who is the BEST HIP-HOP DUO/GROUP EVER???
(Same as question 1)
3. What is the BEST HIP-HOP ALBUM EVER???
This can be confusing so let me clarify. It doesn’t matter how many albums were sold, how many awards were won, how much money was made, etc. What matters is the impact of the album, influence of the album, cohesiveness of the album, lyrics on the album, production/sonic quality of the album and longevity of the album. Would you play it today and is it better than most of the music coming out today? Has it stood the test of time? Would you buy it again today if your copy were lost/stolen?? Is the entire album, beginning to end, just plain great to you?
~My personal answers~
BEST MC/LYRICIST/HIP-HOP ARTIST EVER
1. KRS-One (The only MC that has done everything from college lectures, fundraisers, becoming Hare Krishna, battling and freestyling, rapping about vegetarianism and the ill effects of eating meat, rapping about the flaws of Christianity and some of the history of Africa and the Bible, creating the Stop the Violence Movement, H.E.A.L., and the Temple of Hip-Hop, and beating down PM Dawn!)
2. Rakim (The original lyrical poet and deep thinker. His rhymes from 1986 still tower above 99.1% of rappers today.)
3. Kool G Rap (Just plain ill.)
5. A tie – LL Cool J (Too many women messed up his flow. But listen to the original “Rock The Bells” and you’ll hear him mention “The Thane of Cowder” or something like that. We were studying that guy in World History class in 9th grade. And he’s the only hip-hop artist to have gone gold/platinum in three entirely different decades.) and Tupac (The most influential of all hip-hop artists. A one man combination of N.W.A. and Public Enemy. Much more poetic than lyrical, which some people do not like. From movies to music to poetry, everyone is still biting his style. And he created so many songs that he still has new albums coming out.)
BEST HIP-HOP DUO/GROUP EVER
1. Run DMC – The first hip-hop tape I ever purchased was their first. I listened to the tape so much that it popped! They influenced darn near every artist out today.
~ The first hip-hoppers to go gold and platinum.
~ The first hip-hoppers to endorse commercial products (Adidas).
~ The first hip-hoppers to sell out concerts in large arenas in the U.S. and Europe.
~ The first hip-hop video on MTV.
~ They starred in hip-hop themed movies (Krush Groove and Tougher than Leather).
~ And what other hip-hop group has a Christmas rap song that you can listen to and like???
2. Public Enemy – Consciousness, intelligence and anger rolled into one. Their influence is too important in hip-hop.
3. A Tribe Called Quest – In my mind, the only group to EVER have THREE straight classic albums.
4. De La Soul – Along with Prince Paul, they took creativity and thinking to a whole new level in music.
5. A triple tie – N.W.A. (Their two albums (along with PE’s) changed almost everything about hip-hop in terms of image and finance.), EPMD (Just raw hip hop, no filler) and Gangstarr (same as EPMD).
BEST HIP-HOP ALBUM EVER
(The most difficult and controversial category. More so than “Best MC”. The best MC’s don’t always make the best albums.)
1. Public Enemy – “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” (The best all around hip-hop album ever.)
2. Eric B & Rakim – “Paid In Full”
3. A Tribe Called Quest – “The Low End Theory”
4. Nas – “Illmatic”
5. A Tribe Called Quest – “Midnight Marauders”
This category is the most debated amongst me and my friends. As I’ve said to my girlfriend, who thinks “Step in the Arena“, “Enter the Wu-Tang“, and “Midnight Marauders” are the best hip-hop albums ever, your musical taste can really depend on your age and/or when you were in middle school, high school, and/or college. I’m of the opinion that the best hip-hop music was created when I was in high school and college (’87-’94). Those influential years produced so many great albums in my opinion and I’m sure you can see that in my choices. So to each his own. The debate will rage on forever!
Blaze Dec 98/Jan 99