Who’s the best in the rap game? That’s a question heard on almost every block, written about in almost every urban magazine, and posted in just about ever rap related blog. While I don’t think this a terrible question, it is one that has been beat to death. Here on nappyafro.com, we’re gonna get a little more specific, and since the South has been running this rap shit in the last few years, why not start with that region.
This list is based on a lot of attributes, but first and foremost it’s based on lyrics (Sorry Pimp C, Master P, & Jeezy). Another is respect of the MC; how much respect is received by fans and fellow rappers (Sorry… um, Lil’ Flip). Last but not least is power and influence of the rapper (While Paul Wall and the rest of Houston did reintroduce grills, that shit don’t get you points here anymore). Here we provide you the years the rapper has been in the game, what state the rep, the reason they made the list, a suggested song that proves their rhyming ability, and all the albums under their belt.
Years In The Game: 12 Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia The Reason: Hold up youngster! We ain’t talking about the Cee-Lo who goes around dressing up in costumes and mostly sings nowadays (even though that version is good too). We’re talking about the old school version that preached realness to the masses. If it’s wasn’t him rapping about “The Experience” of being Black or talking about being the failure of being a high school drop out on Outkast’s “Git Up, Git Out”, he spit that realness. The Proof: Goodie Mob’s “Fly Away” (1998) The Albums:Soul Food* (1995), Still Standing* (1998), World Party* (1999), Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections (2002), Cee-Lo Green… is the Soul Machine (2004), & St. Elsewhere (2006) [*with Goodie Mob, **with Gnarls Barkley]
Years In The Game: 14 Representin’: Orange Mound/Memphis, Tennessee The Reason: MJG might not be as accessible or do as many guest spots as his partner Eightball, but “M J Pimpin’ G” does his thing. While he spits heavy pimp stuff, he does it with style and lyrics. The Proof: Eightball & MJG “Armed Robbery” (1993) The Albums:Comin’ Out Hard* (1993), On The Outside Looking In* (1994), On Top Of The World* (1995), No More Glory (1997), In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1* (1999), Space Age 4 Eva* (2000), Living Legends* (2004), & Ridin’ High* (2007) [*with Eightball]
8. Big Boi
Years In The Game: 13 Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia The Reason: What can I say about today’s Big Boi; he’s not what he used to be. But forget about that, back in the late 90’s he was hot and one of the South’s elite. Andre may be everybody’s favorite but “Billy Ocean” still can sometimes hold his own. Don’t sleep on his contributions and the jewels spit on Outkast and Goodie Mob’s albums. The Proof: Outkast’s “Aquemini” (1998) The Albums:Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994), ATLiens (1996), Aquemini (1998), Stankonia (2000), Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003), & Idlewild (2006) [with Outkast]
Years In The Game: 14 Representin’: Orange Mound/Memphis, Tennessee The Reason: The “Fat Boy” gets votes ahead MJG at number 7 for a number of reasons. Eightball is more accessible to the masses; over the years he has does countless guest appearances. Ball has a voice and flow that makes rhyming seem easy to him. The Proof: Eightball & MJG’s “Mr. Big” (1993) The Albums:Comin’ Out Hard* (1993), On The Outside Looking In* (1994), On Top Of The World* (1995), Lost (1998), In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1* (1999), Space Age 4 Eva* (2000), Almost Famous (2001), Living Legends* (2004), & Ridin’ High* (2007) [*with MJG]
Years In The Game: 7 Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia The Reason: Even though Luda has always been respected in the South for his flow, it wasn’t until he outshined Jadakiss and Nas on the “Made You Look” (remix) that made the Hip-Hop world take notice. Be it metaphors or wordplay, Luda is always good for a hot 16. The Proof: Nas’ “Made You Look” (remix) The Albums:Back For The First Time (2000), Word Of Mouf (2001), Golden Grain* (2002), Chicken-N-Beer (2003), The Red Light District (2004), Ludacris Presents: Disturbing tha Peace* (2005), & Release Therapy (2006) [*with Disturbing tha Peace]
Years In The Game: 6 Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia The Reason: T.I.’s flow is more straightforward but once you examine it more closely you see that it’s not all that simple. Tip’s swagger for being basically unknown in 2001 and calling himself the “King of the South” is almost to Muhammad Ali status; now he’s at the top of rap royalty. The Proof: T.I.’s “Stand Up” (2004) The Albums:I’m Serious (2001), Trap Muzik (2003), Urban Legend (2004), T.I. Presents the P$C: 25 to Life* (2005), King (2006), T.I. vs. T.I.P. (2007) [*with P$C]
Years In The Game: 19 Representin’: Houston, Texas The Reason: “Uncle Face” is probably the most respected rapper in the game. Not only is Scarface the pioneer of Southern gangsta rap, but he also enlightened people with rough inner city lyrics. Face gave Southern Hip-Hop an identity at a time when it had none. The Proof: Scarface’s “Guess Who’s Back” (2002) The Albums:We Can’t Be Stopped* (1991), Mr. Scarface Is Back (1991), The World Is Yours (Face II Face) (1993), Till Death Do Us Part* (1993), The Diary (1994), The Resurrection* (1996), The Untouchable (1997), My Homies (1998), Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly* (1998), The Last Of A Dying Breed (2000), The Fix (2002), Balls & My Word (2003), The Foundation* (2005), One Hunid** (2006), & My Homies Part 2 (2006) [*with The Geto Boys, **with The Product]
3. Lil’ Wayne
Years In The Game: 10 Representin’: New Orleans, Louisiana The Reason: I know a lot of people will be mad that Weezy ain’t at the number 1 spot, but come on. Yes, lyrically he is arguably one of the best if not the best in the game right now. Yea, his mixtape and guest spot game is crazy. And while he did recently get voted “The Hottest in the Game Right Now”, until he starts releasing OFFICIAL classic material, he’ll get the number 3 spot based on his influence and hustle right now. The Proof: Birdman & Lil’ Wayne’s “Army Gunz” (2006) The Albums: Get It How U Live!!* (1997),The Block Is Hot (1999), Guerrilla Warfare* (1999), Lights Out (2000), 500 Degreez (2002), Tha Carter (2004), Tha Carter II (2005), Like Father, Like Son** (2006) [*with The Hot Boys, **with Birdman]
Years In The Game: 19 or 15 (depends on who you ask) Representin’: Port Arthur, Texas The Reason: Before Weezy started killing the game with his hustle, another Southern heavyweight was doing it. In the years Pimp C was locked down, Bun-B hit up everybody from Lil’ Jon to Beyonce with guest spots. While he is wildly overlooked as a lyricist, Bun-B is always a constant for a good verse. The Proof: UGK’s “Murder” (1996) The Albums: The Southern Way* (1988), Banned* (1992), Too Hard To Swallow* (1992), Super Tight* (1994), Ridin’ Dirty* (1996), Dirty Money* (2001), Trill (2005) & Underground Kingz* (2007) [*with UGK]
1. Andre 3000
Years In The Game: 13 Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia The Reason: The standard for the Southern MC for over a decade. “3 Stacks” is still a mystery to us: rap music sometimes bores him but he’s still so good at rapping. While he dresses weird he gets a pass in almost any hood for being fresh. Andre’s rap style is simple yet complex, insightful yet not preachy. He is secure enough with himself to be able to rap about anything under the sun and at the end of the day, isn’t that what rapping is about? The Proof: Goodie Mob’s “Thought Process” (1995) The Albums: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994), ATLiens (1996), Aquemini (1998), Stankonia (2000), Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003), & Idlewild (2006) [with Outkast]