Edd’s MANtra: Who’s #1?

Ah, it’s the debate that will rage until the end of time.

And I’m not talking about if Bret Michaels’ hair is real. It’s obviously not.

Mos Def, rapper, actor and the man the wifey wishes were her husband , weighed in on who really is the best rapper alive. From music-news.com:

Mos Def says he doesn’t agree with Jay-Z’s “Greatest Rapper Alive” title, saying he feels there are other hip-hop artists who deserve the title more.”My response was to me seeing an article where [Jay-Z] was referred to, with trademarks following it, as the ‘Greatest Rapper Alive’. 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, who’s 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.”
Darth Vader: The hateration is strong with this one.

Mos makes good points, but like it or not, Jay is the best rapper alive.

Yes, Jay gets on my nerves as much as he does yours and sure, he’s lost a step or two in the last five years, but he’s still the complete package. Lyrically, the Roots’ Black Thought is much sharper than Jay, but Hov is a better and more diverse songwriter. The Roots can do the intellectual stuff, as can Jay, but they don’t have the number of club bangers, radio favorites and mixtape anthems that Jay boasts.

My boy Nas overall has a better catalogue than Jay, but I dare say Jigga has more classics – three classic albums to be exact (96’s Reasonable Doubt, 2001’s Blueprint, and yes, even 1998’s Hard Knock Life, don’t hate).

And while I love and respect the old school, I don’t think you can call The Ruler nor Rakim the greatest alive, simply because of inactivity. I’d easily name Rakim as the No. 3 best rapper alive (behind Jay and Nas) but when was the last time Rakim did something relevant? That song with the Truth Hurts lady?

There’s a reason why half of y’all just had to google Truth Hurts.

You could even make the case that Kanye West has had a greater impact on pop culture than Jay. I’d agree, but…did you listen to 808s & Heartbreak? I’m still getting treatments for dry heaving after listening to that atrocity.

Jay’s been a top star for nearly 15 years now and I don’t really see that changing. Love him or hate him, he’s the best rapper alive.

Now, if we factor dead folks into the conversation, there’s no question:

See? He has the crown and everything.

Who do you think is the greatest rapper alive? Anyone who votes for Lil Wayne will be banned from GeorgiaMae for life.

5 Comments

  1. LL Cool J!!!

  2. MC Lyte

  3. Edd Jay-Z is definitely dope. Like you said he has the club hits. He has the radio bangers. But I don’t think we can call him the greatest rapper alive just because of that. To me the greatest rapper alive is someone who’s dope no matter the beat or the production. A few years ago I wondered if Jay really had any “classics”. I mean 20 years from now which songs of his are we going to really call classics? In terms of cultural impact, flow, lyrics my money is on Chuck D. Some of these young kiddies don’t remember him but he has to be near the top. My top 5 alive are:
    1. Chuck D.
    2. Jay-Z
    3. Nas
    4. Talib Kweli
    5. Rakim

  4. E$xcuse me! You can’t seriously have this conversation without bringing Common into the fold… But before we argue, it’s important to talk about the criteria. What areas are we judging? Let’s see…

    Classic songs: Lil Kim
    Classic albums:Jay Z
    Creativity:Common
    Originality: Run DMC
    Longevity: LL Cool J
    Hip hop influence: Kanye West
    Pure talent: Talib Kweli
    Best Collaborations: Nas
    Self-awareness/growth as a rap artist: Nas
    Best seller: Lil Wayne
    Diversification/entrepreneurship: 50 cents
    Stage presence:Nas
    Best underground: Nas

    Based on quantity, I’d give it to Nas!

  5. Yeah, Ms. Miss, Nas definitely near the top – it’s tough to argue against him having the No. 1 spot. And I feel you Phil, Chuck D is almost always overlooked, but that’s because, in my eyes, he’s become more of a hip hop advocate than hip hop artist.

    For the record, I’d go:
    1. Jay
    2. Nas
    3. Rakim
    4. Eminem
    5. Possibly Andre 3000, or LL Cool J if he had stopped making albums after 2004

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