[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 Audubon put out his top spitters, hip-hop veteran RA the Rugged Man dishes out his fave five.]
SLICK RICK and DOUG E. FRESH. Slick Rick changed the art form of storytelling in HipHop forever and was one of the most lyrically creative MC that HipHop has ever witnessed. And his partner in Rhyme Doug E. Fresh wasn’t just a straight forward Rapper/MC he was known as “The World’s Greatest entertainer for a reason. He could beatbox, dance, rap and put on an amazing show. He was an all around dope ass artist/entertainer. So putting these two together they were one of HipHop’s unstoppable forces.
REDMAN. Redman is great at basically every aspect of MC’ing. LYRICALLY: he could be super hardcore, super humorous and clever and he a master story teller too. FLOWING WISE: When at his best he could out flow the best of them. And LIVE ON STAGE: he brings that raw energy and could rock a crowd like very few. All around dope MC.
CHUCK D. No one ever before or since has ever commanded the mic like the great Chuck D from Public Enemy. His voice was the epitome of how a strong voice should be used to command the listener. On top of that he had some of the most powerful thought provoking rhymes that not only influenced hiphop fans but influenced the community like no other rapper before or after in my opinion. He revolutionized HipHop, period. Wether you agreed with what Chuck was saying or not lines like “Elvis was Hero to most but he never meant shit to me; straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain, mother fuck him and John Wayne” were some of the most potent/powerful ever written.
KOOL MOE DEE. He raised the bar on how to be lyrical in HipHop, He revolutionized the use of fast flows and was one of the great battle rappers in history. He outlasted every rapper from his era of the 70’s and early 80’s and was still making serious noise into the early 90’s. At that time it was unheard of for rappers to have that kind of longevity because the art of rhyming was evolving so rapidly but Moe Dee was able to keep up and be lyrical at a top level. At his peak he was a lyrical murderer and destroyed rappers. He gets a bad wrap sometimes because some HipHop fans remember him later in his career competing against the younger MC’s in the game like LL cool J. And at that point some thought his flow sounded too old school but he is unquestionably one of the greats.
TRAGEDY KHADAFI/ MASTA ACE (Tied). The Juice Crew is the greatest crew of MC’s that ever existed. from Big Daddy Kane to Kool G Rap they had the most great top level rappers ever. I couldn’t decide which one of their members should be on the SOHH Top 5 list because Kane and G-rap weren’t allowed to be listed but someone from the juice crew had to be on the list, I just couldn’t decide so I broke it down to two. ACE might be the most consistent MC’s of all time. He has been a top tier MC since the late 80’s and still is a Top tier MC today. Rhyming at a top level of HipHop for over 25 years straight and making some of the greatest well crafted albums in HipHop history on the way. And Tragedy isn’t as consistent as ACE album wise but is most likely the more influential and lyrical MC’s of the two. Without Tragedy NAS or Mobb Deep would not exist. He was one of the heaviest influences on the entire Queensbridge sound and not to mention one of the most lyrical MC’s on the planet since he was 14 years old.