Before I divulge my nearly two decades of rap expertise and send itunes in a frenzy trying to populate its online store with “Early 90’s Gangsta-Rap-Pimp-Shit” (that is an actual itunes genre by the way), I would like to preface my list with a little background of where my opinion derives. For those lazy bastards who hate reading, simply skip down to the bottom of the page. Anyone who actual enjoys a story, continue on and don’t forget to check out the rest of the site, it’s the shit!
For those of you that lack the intelligence to infer from the title that I grew up in a small town, I will make it abundantly clear now. I grew up in a very-small-fucking-town. The importance of this is the following:
- I wasn’t engulfed in a culture of hip-hop like those who grew up in an urban environment. I had to fight hard to discover artists and wasn’t influenced by the opinions of those around me, because I could use my fingers to count the number of people who I hung out with who also listened to rap as intently as I did (and still do).
- Outside of recreational drug use, I had nothing better to do with my time than to listen to every single word of an artist and scrutinize their work.
The hindsight of my becoming caused me to realize that I have a natural prejudice to early rap music from the east coast. If your first conclusion was that it must derive from the 2Pac and Biggie conflict, please stop reading now, forget this site, and go back to listening to your Lil Wayne. You are not worthy of knowing The Best Rappers Of All Time, you Top 40 deep throater.
The exposure of rap music where I lived, as I stated earlier – was limited. It was hard enough finding west coast rappers on the shelves, let alone anyone from the east coast that wasn’t from the Wu-Tang Clan. This west coast exclusivity caused some early biases that I have been able to overcome today, but are still reflective in my preferences.
The difference I found between west coast and east coast (before the popularity of rap intertwined the two and killed virtually all distinction) would be primarily in the beat, chores, and lyrics. What the fuck else is there?
West coast rap has a very distinct clap on every second or fourth beat.
No, seriously. I am not fucking with you.
Go back to any early to almost any mid 90’s rap song from the west coast. Without fail, it will have it. Maybe because the trifecta of djs (Dre, Quik, Battlecat) all arose from the same camp (Death Row)?
There is also variation in the music between the verse and the chorus. While during this era, east coast rap songs had no problem going through an entire track with little change in the music at all and sometimes would even neglect to include a chorus.
The final distinction between east coast rap and west coast rap (in the early 90’s) can be found in the delivery of their lyrics. West coast rappers let the music intertwine/enhance their lyrics – east coast rappers used the music/beat as simply a serving dish for their lyrics. This distinction started to fade roughly the same time that Biggie and 2Pac brought popularity to the genre
Here listen to these two examples and see if you can pick up on the differences.
West Coast Example:
East Coast Example:
Lyrics – Beat – Chorus
These are the three elements that it takes for a rap song to make it onto my list. With the most emphasis being on Lyrics. If you are just bobbing your head to a beat, or bumping a song because the chorus is catchy, you are missing out on 90% of what makes rap fucking awesome. So pay attention boys and girls and listen to the songs below.
The Best Rappers Of All Time
In no particular order and not regarding their career in its entirety. This list serves as an example of talent and not as an all encompassing list. For example – I have 15 Dj Quik songs that would make this list but I am not going to go through the effort of adding them all. Use the artist as a reference and go check them out . . . you lazy fuck!
Quick shout out to my peeps coming up in the StayTucky – Beer Iz My Water
Oh – and I realize that not all of the songs listed below are from the era in which I expressed my upbringing and interest. I was simply illustrating where my opinion derives.
Da Brat – Funkdafied (Only female rapper to make the list)
To Be Continued. . . .