Top 5 Dead Or Alive: "It Was Very, Very Hood, Hardcore & Black Music"
Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012 12:10AM
[Each week, SOHH asks two entertainment personalities to name their Top 5 rappers of all-time. To make things tricky, we've created a "Hall of Fame" of emcees (see right) who are universally respected and therefore may not be mentioned. After Richie Branson broke out his top rhyme spitters last week, Brother Ali dishes out his fave five rappers.]
Run-DMC. They were the first ones that showed the world rap could speak to the masses above and beyond. They basically took that Hollis, Queens [environment] and their music was very hardcore. It was hardcore beats and guitar stabs. It was very, very hood, hardcore and black music. They competed in the rock world. They looked at enormous stadium acts and said, "Hip-hop is better than all of that sh*t." They had one of the best deejays with Jam Master Jay and they did it.
Public Enemy. I think Public Enemy had some of the most creative forms of sampling, first of all. The way that they took little tiny snippets of 30 different songs and made one song out of it was incredible. Out of all of the people who had some type of social commentary, I think they're the greatest example of what's going on in hip-hop. Musically, they did things that had never been done before.
N.W.A. I picked them because of the impact they had. Musically, they are the ones that really brought funk into it. I know there were people doing it before but they were the ones that made it big. They are the ones where the whole East Coast did the James Brown funk, N.W.A. ushered in the West Coast Parliament funk. Out of N.W.A., you get not only get Eazy-E and Ice Cube, but Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem all come from N.W.A. Branches off that tree now are Slaughterhouse, Shady Records, Yelawolf. Even on an underground level, that momentum still mattered and it's still going on.
A Tribe Called Quest. They are the leaders that brought jazz into rap. They put jazz onto the big screen for hip-hop. I think the thing they did more than anything else, everybody prior to them was a character. They had a big persona and image they had to fit into. Gangster dudes were just gangster dudes. The lyrical spiritual dudes were just that. They were so exaggerated. They were the first person to make it really popular to say "I'm just a dude. I'm fly, I'm smart, I'm funny, I'm silly and I'm just out here living my life." A lot of what kids are doing now from the Kendrick Lamars to Wiz Khalifa, it's people showing they're just fly people.
Atmosphere. There is a lot of talk about being independent and everybody kind of does the indie thing now. I think the record needs to be clear that nobody did that like that better than Atmosphere. They're pioneers for people like Mac Miller or a lot of these other guys that were independent. They came up at a time when not everyone was touring.