Rap veteran Nas has taken on the popular “Greatest Rapper of All Time” debate and said no emcee is worthy of being credited as the best.
From Nas’ perspective, there will always be “greats”, not just one G.O.A.T.
“There is no best or greatest MC. Should never happen, doesn’t make sense,” he said in a blog post. “It makes sense temporarily when you’re striving to be number one. It makes sense for [the fans] to see that, but you have a long run to be the greatest. To me, people already felt like they were [the greatest] in more ways than they should have and I think that hurt them. There is no greatest of all time. We won’t know that until we’re 60 years old. I think there will be like four to five great ones at the end of the day, but there will be none that’s greater than the other. Impossible…[Jay-Z] is the one that smacks everybody in the face that’s out there and wanted to say what he wasn’t and what he couldn’t do. The challenge is that people always count you out and even when you have a hit record and put out a hit album, you’re gonna have people dissing you. I think he’s showing you: I won’t be stopped ever. And that’s motivation for everyone else.” (VIBE)
Last year, rap vet Rakim shared his thoughts on Jay-Z being a candidate for G.O.A.T. honors.
“I think it’s only right that these new names and some of these other cats is gon’ get mentioned in that circle,” Rakim explained in an interview. “What I did and that feeling that I gave the game when I was at that forefront was then. The same feeling that I gave to certain people is a feeling that Jay is giving to certain people today. I gotta understand that the era calls for a different time where different people get the spotlight. My thing is, I just hope that what I did do is strong enough to last a few more years to keep my name in that loop for a few more years.” (BET)
Artists like Mos Def have questioned Hov’s “Greatest Rapper Alive” title in the past and compared him to Rakim’s lyrical talent.
“My response was to me seeing an article where Jay-Z was referred to, with trade marks following it, as the ‘Greatest Rapper Alive,'” Mos explained in an interview over the summer. “Now that don’t have nothin’ to do with me, but if you saying that, that’s a trade claim…If you saying that, you saying you better than Slick Rick, whose still very alive and well? You saying you better than Rakim? You saying you better than Black Thought? People making that claim have never been in a position to defend that in an open forum. I’m not talking about making a diss record or trying to go in on somebody’s girl…When people start coming out and making claims they’re gonna have to defend, like, who have you had to defend them against? It’s certainly been with people not on your level.” (“The Angie Martinez Show”)
Jay recently explained why he calls himself the “Best Rapper Alive.”
“But when I say I’m the best, I don’t say that outta my a**,” Jay said in an interview. “I say that with all my stats behind me. I put that against anybody. I mean anybody. I really believe that…I believe in a lot of things. I believe that ‘SportsCenter’ is the best thing on TV. I shouldn’t have to prove it. But I do have these stats to prove it. I’m talking about real run. I’m not talking about years off. I’m talking about straight–boom, boom, boom–back to back. We’re not talking about heritage acts either. We’re not talking about respect what I’ve done. I’m talking No. 1 [albums] 10 times. The Beatles is the only one [to have more No. 1 albums]. They got 19, and if I get a surge of creativity, I could make nine albums next year.” (XXL Magazine)
Check out Mos Def speaking on the “Greatest Rapper Alive” debate below: