My love for rap dates back to when I was in Primary school. Not that I could really understand all they were saying then but the noise and the beat from a rap song endeared me to the genre. My eldest bro used to be a rap fan (I guess as you get older you listen to something with less noise) and at that period of my life he was the one I was closest to because the others were in boarding school while he was in Unilag. Our school shared the same boundary so I figure you know my Primary school now. He would play songs from Naughty by Nature’s ‘OPP’ to Queen Latifah’s ‘UNITY’, Salt n Pepa’s ‘Shoop’, ‘what a man’, ‘giddy up’, Heavy D and the boys’ ‘now that we found love’ et al. My mum always wondered how we listened to songs contrasting our personalities (quiet boys, loud music). The first real song I knew off hand was Snow’s Informer and amazingly it was a girl who helped out with the lyrics. The first song I learnt all by myself and still the best song I have ever heard is Warren G’s Regulate (classic toh bahd). He was my best artiste at that time.
As the years rolled past, I had a new favourite rapper, though before I mentioned 3 names I would mention Warren G. The Divine Master of the Unknown aka Dark Man X aka Earl Simmons aka DMX became my favourite rapper. His album its dark and hell is hot blew me away. He rapped with so much venom that you thought he wanted to kill someone. My mum called his style unnecessary noise, I told her it was PASSION. He was my best rapper between 1998 and 2005. I hated the grammy awards hosted in 2000 where he (DMX) didn’t win a single award out of his 4 nominations (Eminem cleared all). How did ‘Party up’ not win rap song of the year? Anyway that is gone. During my DMX years, Jay Z was steadily gaining recognition (in my books) though he had released platinum selling albums then (Reasonable Doubt, In My Lifetime: vol 1 and Hardknock Life: vol 2). Jay Z won best rap album with Hard Knock Life: Vol 2 at the 1999 Grammy awards but he boycotted the awards citing DMX’s failure in getting a nomination.
To cut the long story short DMX and Jay Z have been the only rap artistes I really listened to (post Tupac and Biggie era) before Naija musicians stole my heart. I will also take this opportunity to apologise to those that love other music genres. It’s not that the other genre’s are not worthy of mention but it’s difficult for me to write about them. I respect other genres and I am with the school of thought that believe other genres of music are more difficult than rap and as a go easy guy I love rap (it’s easier for me to criticise rap lyrics and songs).
Here are my best ten rappers ever :
1. Jay Z –my love for this guy began in 2003. I was listening to the Great Depression by DMX when a new hall mate told me Jay Z was a better rapper. I told him I had heard that many times before and that nothing could change my opinion of DMX being the best rapper then. He asked if I had listened to Jay Z’s Dynasty and I answered telling him I had only listened to a few songs off the album. He gave me the Dynasty CD (original). I haven’t returned the CD till date. Does that explain how good the album was? I figured. 11 Studio albums and 5 collaborative albums and still going strong. Gotta love him.
2. DMX – Whenever I say this is the only rapper to have all 5 albums (Its dark and hell is hot, Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, And then there was X, The Great Depression and Grand Champ) on the Billboard top ten, I am always corrected that he had other albums after these and they never made the Billboard top ten. He released year of the dog, the definition of X and Undisputed (between 2005 and 2012) which weren’t really successful. He acted in a good number of movies; Belly, Exit Wounds, Romeo must die, Cradle to the grave to mention a few.
3. Warren G – His Regulate…… the G-Funk era album is the best piece of work I have ever heard. Its the only album I listen to without skipping a track. The title track (Regulate) was a monster hit. A song I loved miming back in Secondary School. He followed up with relatively good albums afterwards but the Regulate album has been his best till date. He recorded “what’s love gotta do with it’ with Adina Howard (a soundtrack to Jackie Chan’s Supercop movie) and followed up with his second album “Take a look over your shoulder” which featured the smash hits I shot the sheriff (a remake to Bob Marley’s song) and Smoking me out. Please endeavour to listen to these songs if you haven’t and trust me the regulate album is a collector’s item. Thank me later.
4. Nas – His self proclaimed most creative LP to ever hit stores “It was Written” was off tha chains but I also loved Illmatic, I am, Nastradamus with my favourite being God Son. God Son was a like a story book to me and it showed his brilliance. His Street disciple album wasn’t bad either but God Son was the ish. Well Stillmatic isn’t something I want to talk about. Yea because of his feud with Jay Z, but asides the “Ether” track the album wasn’t bad too. He is a deep rapper and it takes patience to really enjoy his songs. You would need some science textbooks to understand some of his songs, hahahahaha. He was in the Belly movie with DMX.
5. Eminem – The best white boy rapper. Bubba what? Bubba Sparxx disappeared with his ‘deliverance’ track. Eminem used to be a murderer lyrically. Eminem was believed to have murdered Jigga on the latter’s Renegade track (I still don’t agree though). His Slim Shady LP album launched him into the limelight though he had a wack album (Infinite) before it. I still believe his Marshal Marthers LP album is his best. He didn’t care who’s ox was gored. He would take on anybody (even his ex wife) in a beef track. His collabo with Dr. Dre (Say what you say) on his Eminem Show album is a diss track I will always pay serious attention to whenever I listen to it. They really dissed Jermaine Dupri in that track. He made his Hollywood debut in the movie 8 mile and also won an Academy award with the single lose yourself (one of the soundtracks to the movie). Over 100 million records sold.
6. Ludacris – The King of the South no disrespect to T.I though. His Area Code song off the “word of Mouf” album was a popular number back in 2001. He is a consistent rapper and his delivery is always on point. He also acted in movies such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Crash, Fast Five and Fast and Furious 6 to name a few. His Chicken and Beer and Release Therapy albums are a delight to listen to.
7. Snoop Dogg (Before he became Snoop Lion) – The Dogg father as he was used to be known is one of the few old rappers that are still relevant in the game. He has been around for so long and dropping albums non stop. He always hit platinum status with his albums (even when he was at Master P’s No Limit Records). I love Snoop because even if he has to feature on a growling DMX track, he would always bring down the tempo of the song with his smooth rap. He is definitely a legend. He has acted in some movies too.
8. Jadakiss – member of the group LOX (Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and Styles P). Jadakiss was also a member of the defunct Ruff Ryders clique. His in depth delivery has always being the reason this guy will always make my top ten list anytime any day. His biggest single till date has been “Why” where he featured soul singer Anthony Hamilton. A great song by all standards but his Kiss the game goodbye album was tight and still is my favourite work of the artiste . Eminem even mentioned him as one of the best rappers in the game in his song “till I collapse” off the Eminem show album.
9. Nelly – I used to call him a razz boy. I really can’t explain why but jokes apart this dude is a great rapper. His Country grammar album was given to me by a cousin. Sadly it was stolen. I loved that album so much especially the tracks Luven me, country grammar, never let them see you sweat (featuring St. Lunatics) and E.I. His follow album Nellyville was a big success and I also loved his double album Sweat and Suit, a rap and R&B oriented albums respectively (both released on the same day). Brass Knuckle was a far cry from his previous efforts. He also appeared in the movie Snipes.
10. Kanye West – what can I say about this dude? Talented producer and a fantastic rapper. My favourite Kanye album is The College Dropout which featured the hits Jesus Walks, All falls down and Never let me down featuring the god MC (Jay Z). All Kanye’s albums have hit platinum status. Cant wait for the Yeezus album.
I am sure you would be wondering why Tupac and Biggie aren’t on this list. First of all when they were alive they were in a world of their own. Nobody could and can be compared to both of them. I still can’t say who is better but Biggie’s Life After Death album was off tha hook and Tupac dropped albums non stop (even in death). Oh I didn’t mention Rakim, KRS 1, Eric B, Erick Sermon, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube,50 cent et al? I respect them and all but they only drop or dropped hits I listen to once in a while. Olamide would have made the list but I guess it’s probably too early to regard him as one of the greatest rappers, lol. He would surely get there. Don’t blame me if the list doesn’t seem accurate but I am sure each and everyone of you must have liked/loved these rappers at some point in your lives. I know for sure my friend Ponche will definitely not agree with this list, not with where I have put Eminem.
Thanks for reading this long scripture. I expect to read your criticisms because I see myself criticising this list too, hahahahaha. Please share with your friends……………………………… CHEERS!!!!!!!!!!!!
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