First of all, I have to make it clear that I am the least qualified member of the Hello Friends crew (or extended crew, thanks Sarah!) to make a top 10 MC list. That being said I can make a list of my favorite voices in Hip Hop. This includes the tone of the MC’s voice as well as their ability to rhyme and ride a beat. That about exhausted my ability to talk about MCing so let’s get to the list:
1. Q-Tip- Q-Tip’s voice and rhymes are stuck in my brain more than any other MC I have heard. But not just because of his A Tribe Called Quest output; his work on “The Renaissance” shows just how truly talented he is.
2. Guru- I love Guru’s voice and his “Jazzmatazz” project was one of the first Hip Hop records that really grabbed me (my favorite Guru product now is “Hard to Earn,” don’t even bother shitting on “Jazzmatazz” as I’m sure you want to Beezy). Whether with Gangstarr or solo, Guru will always be one of my all-time favorites. R.I.P.
3. Posdnuos- De La is right up there with Tribe when it comes to Hip Hop I can recite word for word. Also like Tribe there are two MCs here and I chose the one I like better but that in no way diminishes Trugoy The Dove’s place in the group. Classic albums all the way up to “Stakes is High.” This version of “Saturdays” is like a Hip House remix of the OG. I like the video but wish it were the original super dope version.
4. Jay-Z- I got into Jay-Z (like everything Hip Hop) pretty late. I remember reading in Spin magazine way back when (2000? 2001?) that Jay-Z was the best MC around but I was in my “only positive rap is good rap” phase and thought Talib Kweli was way better than anyone talking about hoes and stuff. Hey, I already told you I am the least qualified to make a list. Jay mixes what I am looking for perfectly: a distinctive voice with so much damn cleverness in his wordplay I can’t help but smiling. Even if he is talking about how he has no bitch problems.
5. Ol’ Dirty Bastard- I still remember the time I was dancing at a club in Prague and the DJ was spinning Hip Hop records. I can’t remember what he was playing but all I could think was this would segue perfectly into “Baby I Got Your Money” and I went up to the DJ and suggested it. When that opening beat came in the place went nuts. ODB has that kind of power (especially over white people I have to admit) in no small part because of his crazy flow and amazing voice. R.I.P.
see more after the jump
6. KRS One- I first listened to KRS One’s solo stuff in the late 90’s and was hooked by his voice (both the sound and his politics). He still is one of the only MCs I like to hear political rap from. He’s a fucking smart dude. Only recently have I gone back to his BDP output and realized why most regular people dig him.
7. B Real- When I was an uptight Christian teen I felt conflicted liking Cypress Hill so much but come on! Seriously! B Real’s voice is amazing, and it’s impossible to not feel a little cooler when you listen to Cypress Hill. A to the motherfuckin’ K homeboy!
8. Ladybug- My brother Andy and I shared a room when we were growing up and one year (maybe 1995?) he used to play “Black Ego” almost every night as we fell asleep. Later I crashed my car while listening to “Dog it.” That has little to do with my choice of Ladybug from Digable Planets as #8 on my list, but I thought I might as well throw those tidbits in there. All three MCs in Digable Planets mixed together for jazzy hip-hop perfection but the lynchpin of the whole thing was Ladybug’s voice. And her rhymes were just better. Thus when Digable came through last year without her I said, “uh, pass.”
9. Ghostface Killah- I have to admit that I have had a very hard time telling the different voices of the Wu-Tang Clan apart (with the obvious exception of ODB) so it took me a while to realize just who were my favorites. That is why I was so glad Beezy introduced me to Ghostface Killah’s solo stuff. Holy shit is “Fishscale” dope. And now I can go back and realize who dropped some of my favorite parts from “Liquid Swords” and “36 Chambers.”
10. Pusha T- My #10 pick was way harder to make than my #1. There are many MCs who almost made the list but in the end I have to say I have listened to way more Clipse than any of the other possible #10s so I went with Pusha T. Very much unlike Tribe and De La, there is only one standout MC in Clipse in my opinion; Pusha’s cleverness is off the charts when it comes to raps about crack and the sale of said crack. That is also his limitation. I haven’t heard much else from him and I wonder if I would be interested in him talking about topics that weren’t related to hustlin.’ Who cares. Ki’s open doors! Ki’s Ki’s open doors!
HONORABLE MENTIONS/ TOUGH CALLS- Bahamadia, GZA, Edan, Biz Markie, Biggie, DMC, Rammellzee, Busta Rhymes, DMX, Lauryn Hill, Big Daddy Kane