HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!Thought of this post after hearing a verse from Black Thought and sitting on the phone with my guy Sam. Let’s start the year off right!
For at least 15 years now, the current era of Hip-Hop has locked in a solid Top 4 which includes Big,
Pac, Jay, Nas and whoever feels they deserve to be in the fifth slot.
Jadakiss called himself “Top 5 Dead or Alive” on the Nas “Made You Look” Remix. Many people believed it and at the time not many challenged it.
Eminem said his list was “Reggie [Redman] Jay Z, Tupac and Biggie, Andre from Outkast, Jada [Jadakiss], Kurupt Nas and then me” on the Eminem Show Album. So not only did he not make himself Top 5, he barely makes his own Top 10. It may be humbleness, may be him avoiding the backlash. I think the people will always put Em high no matter what he says.
Lil Wayne’s only real proclamation was “I’m the best rapper alive, since the best rapper retired” On his Carter Album. Many people believed that but, Wayne never officially put himself in the heralded “Top 5” he just “Took Jay Z’s spot” when he retired.
Ludacris told us “3 of your Top 5 is too scared to fawk with me” in 2008. I mean…is Luda really wrong from a lyrical standpoint?
Kurtis Blow said he was King and The Best in a Crush Groove Freestyle, LL Cool J called himself The Greatest of All Time in 1997. Both at their respective times were bold yet honestly valid statements just off pedigree.
The latest Top 5 proclaimation was Roots front man Black Thought on Statik Selektah’s The Imperial when he said “Yo who’s your Top 5? Jay, Biggie, Pac, Nas? I ain’t trying to hear another name if it’s not mine”
That was an open challenge that apparently nobody wanted to take head on but, it definitely gave me something to think about.
So, it’s officially 2015. Who is the rapper that is going to change the course of the game and break the “Top 5” That has been in place for almost 20 years!?!
Who’s going to be that person to say respectfully Pac ain’t here no more putting out music, Biggie didn’t drop enough music so, they don’t count past the year 2000? Who is going to say “They can be the best of the 90’s but, they can’t be the best ever”?
Who’s going to be that rapper that takes Jay or Nas out of their Top 5 completely by making room for themselves and someone that they were either inspired by or for this era is bigger than they are? To give you an example. If someone were to tell you right now that their Top 5 is Jay, Wayne, Drake, Kanye and Eminem would they honestly be way off base if they started really getting into hip-hop in 2000?
Don’t pull the legends card, because Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS One and LL Cool J have all put out something in the span of 3 decades and are literally the pioneers of a lot of the content and imagery that goes on now and even the Purest or Hip-Hop Purist leave them out of their All Time Top 5’s. Rap has been around long enough where the Top 10 could include 6 rappers minimum from the years of 1980 to 2010 yet the majority start with the rapper that died in September of 1996.
Could it be Drake, Wayne, Kanye, or Eminem? They all have the resume to speak and make it sound valid. What about the new crop of guys just getting started in the mainstream eye like Kendrick Lamar? What if his next “Control verse” is him destroying the standard industry rapper Top 5? That would really be something to send viral that means something. What about very credible vets like T.I and Ludacris? They have a claim at Top 5 and not just in the south.
To a degree I feel this standard Top 5 is what has killed the competition in rap music. It’s almost like artist would rather borrow from the standard 4 then outdo the standard 4 so the 5th spot just rotates. Add that to the years of 2004 – 2010 where everybody wanted to rap but nobody really wanted to claim the actual occupation of rapper and you see why virtually any and everybody has put themselves in that 5th spot and no one has went out of their way to challenge it. A lot of you may like them and buy all their music but, when is the last time someone’s Top 5 consisted of Jeezy, Rick Ross and The Game? It’s not the fans fault though, they were the original “I’m not a rapper…” rappers that came in the game and became successful.
I care what no one says. Lyrics and great emceeing will always be profitable. Again I say, show me a subpar lyricist doing BETTER than Jay, Kanye, Drake or even Wayne and I’ll shut up forever about it. Tell me why the hottest new hand in the game belongs to Kendrick Lamar and he hasn’t done a song on a trap beat yet? People do buy music that you have to sit with, take road trips with or listen to find similarities in your own life. That’s the reason country music will forever be the most popular genre.
I’m begging a rapper to really shake up hip-hop. Shake up that Top 4. Move someone down, around or out. I’ll even accept a rapper saying who the 5th spot really belongs to. I just want new conversation in the game to really show people it’s still thriving and progressing forward.
I know, the audacity of me for wanting rappers to be bold, make statements and feel like they are truly the best at what they do. How silly of me for wanting emcee’s to get in a competition for mic supremacy that could lead to some of the greatest albums that we have heard in this current decade. I must really be losing it.