I miss the early days of hip hop–not because I thought the content was better or anything like that. Pioneering emcees have always rapped about women, sex, money, and other worldly issues of life. What I miss is the originality of hip hop. Does anyone else remember how much energy was spent by DJ’s and emcees addressing biters? Those days are important but dead and forgotten like a grand-parent who dropped jewels that you chose to ignore because it was easier to do so. It’s been easier to take than create or originate. And, the truth is, a levee holding back death waters could deluge 70% of the emcees out there–a tornado could drop on 70% of what’s available to the public–a meeting of biting-ass emcees could be held and some damn space junk could fall from the sky and kill everyone at the meeting, and what would be left are the few special emcees who know rule #1:
BITERS GET THEIR BITIN’-ASS TEETH PUNCHED IN!
At any rate, (in no particular order) below is my list of originators and those who have contributed something to hip hop–those who, if they hadn’t come, we would be missing something. I’m not saying that I like any of these emcees. I’m just saying that they are dope for being original. And no! Gucci Mane didn’t make the list! Ahahahahahhahahagagagaggahaha…goodness that guy sucks.
Man, the truth is that no one else sounds like E-40 and he doesn’t sound like anyone else. The dude has his own dictionary, and even though Digital Underground and other notable Yay Area emcees have been dope, for a lot of people, E-40 is the face of Bay Area hip hop. You can’t tell me that dude who made that song “Oh let’s do it” isn’t rehashing the hify movement.
I don’t know what the hell Nas was thinking of when he made Nastradamus, but besides that notable miss, the dude owns a flow that others copy with no regard. “You been on my dick…you love my style.” Indeed many rappers do. Shit. Before Nas, who vocals were riding the track like that? Plus, the dude has dope content. He doesn’t fit into any one category of rapper.
In that regard, Nas reminds me of Tupac. Tupac might write a song about how many brothas he needs to kill, how much he loves his mama, how much of a thug he is, and how we need to be revolutionary in our thinking and actions. More over, nobody, and I mean nobody sounds like ‘Pac did. More than that, few artists have been able to connect themselves with listeners the way ‘Pac did. In LA, you can be socked out for saying ‘Pac wasn’t the truth. People felt him that much.
Speaking of being felt. Few emcees inspire me like Kanye West. True indeed, the dude is a butthole, but no one ever said hip hoppers need to be humble. It’s actually just the contrary. For me, Kanye West is separated by his overall passion–a Tupac-like passion that connects with listeners in an intimate way. You can feel his hustle and the dreams he’s been chasing. 808 Heartbreak was innovative in every way possible, and the dude pulled it off, which is proof that emcees can be themselves and still move units. But with Kanye, it’s not just emceeing. He’s a dope producer, director, and while I don’t dress like that, many others have gotten their swag from him. The dude is a trendsetter.
The same can be said for Snoop. Man, Snoop makes gangbanging and killing sound smooth. His voice comes off in a convincing manner, and you feel like, “Of course, I should be doing that. Snoop just said so. Why else?!” For me, the brotha fell waaaaay off after Doggstyle, but every now and then he puts out a joint that is worth listening to and reminiscent of why I first thought he was dope.
While we can say that Do or Die and Twista and Fu Schnickens were all dope fast rappers. Hell, Fu Schnickens had a song in which they rapped backwards. None of these artists can be said to have reached the level of acceptance and praise that Bone has. It’s not that Bone had dope emcees with hot lyrics. They just had a supremely unique delivery that anyone else would sound stupid trying to duplicate.
Now, some of you may be wondering how Jay-Z has made this list, but the dude has shown considerable growth and taken chances with content and styles that others have been afraid of. Moreoever, he has mastered a style of laying his vocals that Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne, and others copy. True indeed, Biggie was able to do something similar, but I would say that Jay perfected what Biggie began.
Let me just say that Outkast is my favorite group of all time! Them boys are innovators in every way possible. An unwavering passion for good music, self-expression, and healthy competition keeps Outkast at the forefront of what’s dope. I need another album! They put out entire albums that can be listened to from the intro to the outro. Each album has its own sound, and each song offers several layers of content.
The “Five foot, 6 inch god…” is dope! His showing on MTV’s Cribs was the first in which books were actually shown! Cee-Lo is pure soul. He has yet to put out a wack album. If you don’t have his catalog, you’re slipping, and OH MY GOD, I pity the fool-hearted emcee who ever ventures to diss Cee-Lo. That won’t be a good move for your career.
Speaking of career-enders–how many careers has LL Cool J ended? Shit, the man ended Canibus’ career, and in my opinion Canibus is a way doper rapper. But what Canibus didn’t understand is that LL is an icon like Jerry West and the NBA. He gave us “Audi 5000,” which we have translated into being “outty.” He gave us the one-leg up sweat pants look. He made it cool and acceptable to rap about loving women wanting to be with women. And say what you want about how he looks, but the dude has inspired, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Chino XL, Nelly, Busta Rhymes, and just about any other rapper you can think of that didn’t care about his body. LL is to hip hop what the color blue is the world. Yeah I said it. He’s been that important.
I’m realizing that this list is longer than I originally thought. But, the list of biters and deadweight emcees is MUCH longer. I ask: What would we be missing if Fabolous (who I like) stopped rapping? Nothing!
Who is on your list of hip hop’s must haves? Who would you do away with? I can’t have hip hop music without Common, Eminem, Wu Tang, Big Daddy Kane (who could be the Snoop antecedent) Mos Def, Timbaland & Missy, and Public Enemy!