What do you like the most about Hip Hop? Is it the dope beats, the ill rhymes, the bootilicious, the hot rides or the gangster lifestyle? For me, the lyrical content interests me the most. Like any other music genre, Hip Hop artists come and go just like that except for the one with the lyrical skills. That’s how artists like 2pac, Nas, Eminem, Rakim and Jay-Z still holding on to the belts. Not only these artists have the lyrical skills, their unique styles allow them to stay strong in the game. If you ask me to rank these artists from 1-5, I can’t do it but I can break down what I have learned from listening to their music.
Let’s start off with 2pac. He has always been my inspiration. 2pac probably has the biggest mouth in Hip Hop. He speaks from the heart and spits out whatever is on his mind. You can just pick out any lines from his song and understand clearly what he talks about. For example, “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me. Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting pussy.” -Hail Mary. You can play 2Pac’s music in any random order and still appreciate the power of his words.
In contrast to 2pac, Nas carefully crafts his songs into stories. It’s a like book of rhymes where you flip through page by page. Whenever Nas drops his knowledge there is always a message behind it. You can always learn something from him. In I Can, Nas lays down some Black History:
Before we came to this country
We were kings and queens, never porch monkeys
It was empires in Africa called Kush
Timbuktu, where every race came to get books
To learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans
Asian Arabs and gave them gold when
Gold was converted to money it all changed
Money then became empowerment for Europeans
The Persian military invaded
They learned about the gold, the teachings and everything sacred
Africa was almost robbed naked
Slavery was money, so they began making slave ships
Egypt was the place that Alexander the Great went
He was so shocked at the mountains with black faces
Shot up they nose to impose what basically still goes on today.
Listening to Eminem is like watching a movie. His attention to details is amazing. With his descriptive words and wicked rhymes, you can visualize the motion picture in your head. In Loose Yourself, Em gives you an open shot of a nervous white boy before he picks up the mic:
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
to drops bombs, but he keeps on forgetting
what he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth but the words won’t come out.
Jay-Z is a clever MC. He makes sure every word counts. So when he drops a verse, it cuts straight to the heart without needless words. That’s his weapon and no one can do it like he does. He always come correct even when battling with other rappers, “I am all about the dollar, what the fuck is 50 Cent?” In Moment of Clarity, he spits some tight ass rhymes,
If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically, Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did five mill’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since
When your cents got that much in common
And you been hustling since, your inception
Fuck perception, go with what makes sense
Since I know what I’m up against
We as rappers must decide what’s most impor-tant
Rakim is the poet of Hip Hop. The way he drops his lyrics is aesthetically beautiful. For instance, in Lyrics of Fury, you can hear the sounds from his verbs.
Strike like lightning, It’s quite frightening!
But don’t be afraid in the dark, in a park,
Not a scream or a cry, or a bark, more like a spark;
Ya tremble like an alcoholic, muscles tighten up,
What’s that, lighten up! You see a sight but,
Suddenly you feel like you’re in a horror flick,
You grab your heart then wish for tomorrow quick!
So what do you think? Who else would you consider a lyricist MC? I know there are many more but I enjoy these five top dawgs the most.