1: J. COLE – Speaking of a new generation, this emcee is far from unlikely. And he’s not alone. Drake, Future, French Montana and Big Krit are all in for the ride. Curren$y, Nicki, Kendrick, Schoolboy Q and 2 Chains are all in there. Every time I hear Rae Sremmurd I instantly think of Kriss Kross. Like I’ve said, we’re in a different time and Hip Hop is in a really new place. We just need a few more female emcees. Ol Skool or legendary emcees are going to keep dropping.
I’m fiending for some new Luda or DMX. Fuck it,
what I wouldn’t give for a new Redman and Method Man album?”
Who’s to say Jay Z won’t drop another classic? Or Nas is not about to bang with yet another knowledge ridden masterpiece? Lil Wayne’s “Carter V” is already highly anticipated. I’ve been killing those last two Ghostface albums, you know, “Twelve Reasons To Die” and “36 Seasons’. I’m fiending for some new Luda or DMX. Fuck it, what I wouldn’t give for a new Redman and Method Man album? Or a new Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. In the meanwhile, the one thing we can’t do is miss out on what’s happening because we don’t get it.
J. Cole is number one on my list because he puts the game back where it belongs. I’m a conscious emcee with a street edge. Most of what I listen to is conscious; like, Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, 2Pac, Nas, The Roots, the old Kanye, Ice Cube, Immortal Technique or… J. Cole and Big Krit. I’m a civil rights kind of thinker. So obviously the moment I heard “Cold World”, “Born Sinner” and “2014 Forest Hills Drive” I was sold.
His music is unexpectedly dark, which I like. After hearing all the hard stuff, vibing to the party and gangsta shit I throw in a laid back CD that speaks to the soul in an uplifting way.”
After checking out all the multitude of artists out there I found myself playing J. Cole just a little more because it has that rawness with a little pain in it. His music is unexpectedly dark, which I like. After hearing all the hard stuff, vibing to the party and gangsta shit I throw in a laid back CD that speaks to the soul in an uplifting way. Letting the listener have hope and inspiration like what you’d get if you popped in a Bob Marley album or a Burning Spear joint. J. Cole takes the cake on this one. He’s the nicest new cat on the strip.
2: JEEZY – We live in a different time. The top 5 emcees use to be Biggie, Snoop, Jay Z, Tupac, and Nas. Now, Nicki Minaj stands as the first female to be named on a top 5 emcee list. What’s even more; is we have guys like T. I., Drake, Lil Wayne and Bun B who deserve a spot… at the top. We have dope emcees like Jadakiss and Styles P who have represented the hood with heart and grit. What about Wu Tang? You can’t forget them. However, Snap came. Before you knew it, Trap became the shit and the entire focus shifted.
So many dope emcees will be passed over if we skipped to this new era.”
Now you have East Coast emcees rapping over Trap beats. It became difficult to name your top 5 emcees because this new generation has its own top 5 hardest, top 5 most lyrical, top 5 richest, top 5 Ol Skool or top 5 conscious emcees? If we split it up, emcees like J. Cole filter to the top. So many dope emcees will be passed over if we skipped to this new era. Hip Hop is in that place right now. It’s comforting to see that if Nas, Snoop, Luda, Jay Z, 50 or Styles were to kick back, we would still have a hand full of guys who could hold it down. That’s pretty good for the Kulture.
Jeezy’s come a long way. Right now he’s among the best of the best out there. I would liken him to The Game or Joe Budden. On some real shit, I cannot stress enough, that the greatest emcees are Rakim and them. They laid the foundation. Big Daddy Kane, Special Ed, Naughty By Nature and em are in Hip Hop’s virtual Hall Of Fame. Every true emcee knows to get on Biggie, Nas, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Common, DMX, Redman, MC Lyte, Eric Sermon and all that.
If you wanna go West Coast then of course you have to get on Tupac,
Snoop, B-Legit, Too Short, Ice Cube, Butch Cassidy, The Game, Daz, Kurupt, Dr. Dre, Goldie Loc, Scarface, Ice T, MC Eiht, D. O. C., Tray Deee, Warren G, Yo Yo and all of them.”
One of the fundamentals of becoming a good rapper or emcee is to know the pioneers who laid the foundation and paved the way for the generation you’re in. Whether you like Chicago or Boston or you rep Jersey, Philly or New York or you’re from ATL, Florida or New Orleans in the South or you love LA or Mid West Hip Hop, at the end of the day, you have to know the emcees. Right now, Jeezy is among the blameless pioneers of Hip Hop. Being that the Kulture is heavy in the South it’s only fitting that he appears on this list.
3: EMINEM – When it comes to spitting flows, I don’t think there are too many emcees who can rap better than this guy. I know, he’s white. White guys are known for “genre jacking”. That’s the story, it’s racist and unfair to both Whites and Blacks but Em reps Detroit. He is believable. Also, for all my Ol Skool Hip Hop heads who know their history, I want to clarify that this is about who is “it” right now.
We have so many legends from the East to West, North to South and even outside of America…”
This does not take from the legends who paved the way – Dr. Dre, Rakim, Snoop Dogg, MC Lyte, Too Short, EPMD, E40, Scarface, Salt N Peppa, A Tribe called Quest, Ice T, Outkast, Tupac, Lauren Hill, Biggie, Ice Cube, Nas, Busta Rhymes, LOX, Queen Latifah, Mobb Deep, DMX, Da Brat, Jay Z, Sr. Mix A Lot, Will Smith and the list goes on. We have so many legends from the East to West, North to South and even outside of America in places like Canada, UK, Africa and France. Em being white has nothing to take from anyone out there.
To be honest, Em does not even talk about the same things we hold dear in Hip Hop. He does not talk about rags to riches, surviving the system, police brutality, civil rights, profiling, bitches or any of the themes that regular black folks identify with. Lord Jamar once said Em gets a pass on the corporate level of Hip Hop because of his skin color. To be perfectly fair to Em, he does rap about relationships, decisions, personal demons, celebrities and dual personalities. These are general topics which anyone can relate to.
Plus, if we’re going to talk about album sales, he has sold the most records than any rapper in history.”
Em’s energy resonates instantly. Like the many great emcees before him and those in his time up until the Snap and Trap era, Eminem has remained consistent to who he is. Plus, if we’re going to talk about album sales, he has sold the most records than any rapper in history. That’s crazy because Will Smith sold a shit load, Tupac sold a shit load; Snoop Dogg sold a heap and so did B. I. G. And since this list is about the emcees who are killing it in right now, I’ll have to say Eminem is among the nicest emcees out there right now.
4: NICKI MINAJ – Every female hiphoppa wants to see a female at the top. Sadly, the streets can’t hand those out. Though we don’t have enough female emcees at the top and we want women to try, ladies will have to step up and claim that. There use to be a time when we had more women in the game. When Queen Latifah was making her bones while Monie Love put Britain on the map; we had Roxanne Shante, Left Eye, Da Brat and Queen Pen at the same time period as MC Lyte, Lady of Rage and Salt-N-Pepa.
When Queen Latifah was making her bones while Monie Love put Britain on the map…”
Those were the times when sisters put pen to paper and wrote intricate prose; when girls came out on the stoop to spit with the fellas. That Amil type of girl; that Rah Digga kind of girl. Like Big Krit asked, “what happened to the soul food”? What happened to the females in our Kulture? Our women are distracted – with “tell all” books instead of holding down their crew. As the years go by, many have embraced Reality TV. Lauryn Hill pushed back in ’98 with “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” while Lil Kim and Foxy Brown came, saw and conquered. E. V. E. held the Ruff Ryders down.
Remember the times when multiple females rocked the stage during the same time period? Back when Hip Hop was still considered ‘male dominated’ – when every crew needed the first lady? That was the recipe. Timberland and Missy, Trina and Trick Daddy; Lil Mama, Mia X, Remy Ma, Vita …and then, Khia dropped “My Neck, My Back”… and then, silence. It seemed the female emcee was no more. We went from Yo-Yo to Charlie Baltimore.
Yes Iggy is a close competitor but when the hood listens, it’s not hearing that hood shit from Iggy yet so Nicki is still the badder bitch on stage.”
Right now, in 2015, Nicki Minaj sits on the thrown. She delivers new hood perspectives of the female experience. It’s clear that she’s holding Young Money down. Yes, Iggy is a close competitor but when the hood listens, it’s not hearing that hood shit from Iggy yet so Nicki is still the worse bitch on stage. In this era in Hip Hop, the game needs more hood female emcees. The selfie-taking, self-idolizing business entrepreneur-ess of today needs to spit bars for the Kulture. Thankfully, women in the spoken word have not given up their poetry. Nicki is the hardest female on the strip.
5: BIG K. R. I. T – This is where the list gets interesting! Here is a New Skool emcee that has the respect of every Ol Skool head in the game. Some might say well ‘what about Schoolboy Q or Tyga or even Rich Homie Quan? They’re spitting fire too!’ Some might say ‘well what about Rick Ross and Meek Mill? What about A$AP Rocky and 2 Chains? All these artists are great for the game right now. The New Skool is bubbling with dope emcees that are not on this list!
Some might say well ‘what about Schoolboy Q or Tyga or even Rich Homie Quan? They’re spitting fire too!’ Some might say ‘well what about Rick Ross and Meek Mill?”
That’s assuming we agree that Jay Z, Nas Bun B, E40, Too Short or any of those top 90s emcees are on Hall of Fame status. We’re talking the newest of the new as well as those who were not so hot in the Ol Skool but have transitioned pretty well in this era. If this list was longer you would see more of your favorite rappers somewhere in the top 20 or top 50. In a top ten line up, we only have so much so we pull in guys who have great flow and lyricism and good rep.
If Krit keeps this up he could run the game. Krit, Kendrick and Schoolboy Q have that untarnished essence that you can’t find so easily. Let’s be honest here, if we’re going pound for pound lyrically, Rick Ross would come in heavy. No matter what, Ross can spit without a doubt. The reason why K. R. I. T would come in this high on my top ten when Ross lands in my top 20 would be all the other qualifications that combine to make an emcee truly embraced on all levels without any question from anyone.
When it comes to Ol Skool acceptance, it’s all about where an emcee came from, what they did before rap and what the music sounds like.”
A lot of these emcees came in the game via an already accepted slew of mixtapes. Like Drake or Meek Mill, these guys had already drawn a substantial crowd before they got a deal. When it comes to Ol Skool acceptance, it’s all about where an emcee came from, what they did before rap and what the music sounds like. The emcee may not be a commercial hit but the hood may love him or her because the hood knows what’s real. Besides, Hip Hop is hood music first before it becomes commercial. “Now they wanna hear a country nigga rap”. *
TO BE CONTINUED…