There Are Three Reasons Your Favorite Rapper Isn’t Anyone’s Top Five
Your all-time favorite MC has a name that heads know, incredible mic skills, and an impressive catalog. However, when you read “best of all time” lists, if you’re lucky, s/he’s an honorable mention. As it turns out, it’s usually because they fall into one of these three categories.
Part of Something Bigger
Current hip-hop isn’t filled with groups like back in the ’80s and ’90s. That era brought us A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, WuTang Clan, Public Enemy, Run DMC, and countless others. These days, there are definitely crews, like Black Hippy, Young Money, and Pro Era, but one could argue that The Roots is the last great hip-hop group working today. And a byproduct of all the joy that The Roots has brought us is Black Thought. As prolific and gifted as he’s been for 20-plus years, he doesn’t seem to make most GOAT lists, though he should.
Another example is Andre 3000. Fans want a new Outkast album more than they want solo projects from Andre and Big Boi; it’s just a fact.
Overshadowed by a Partner in rhyme
It’s hard when your homie is a superstar. AZ came onto the national scene as Nas’ only guest MC on Illmatic, and now it’s hard for many fans to think of AZ without thinking of Nas. Royce Da 5’9″ spent a lot of his early years trying to shake the larger association with Eminem, like when he rapped, in “Boom”, “Rappers think Detroit not as down as them / Or since I’m down with Slim that I sound like him.”
How about MF DOOM? He’s easily one of my favorites of all time, but he’s also not always easy for “the streets” to digest (Mm…food. Sorry, couldn’t help it). The mask, the DOOMposter(s) at shows, and wacky subject matter, keep him out of urban barbershop “best of” arguments.
Then there’s Redman. Another one of hip-hop’s greatest characters, whether it’s his iconic Cribs episode, the “I’ll Bee Dat” video, or his antics in “How High”. However, because of all that hilarity, people seem to forget how solid his musical contributions have been.
And oh yeah…Andre 3000 also fits here. As Outkast famously captured on Stankonia, some fans just didn’t know what to think about Andre as he transformed from a savvy ATL street poet to an ATLien and then the hip-hop Cupid armed with a pink love pistol.
What do you think? I bet that you have other MCs in mind that fit into these categories, or other categories of underrated rappers. Let me know at @aguycalledDon!