The Hip Hop ABCs: Letter R

The alphabetical rap battles continue...



It is nearly impossible to get a bunch of passionate hip hop fans to agree on anything. But I tried anyhow, starting with a series of polls on Facebook that aimed to figure out which emcee or group was the best in the game as driven by the letters of the alphabet. No specific rubric or criteria was given; just a simple request for answers to the question, "Who is the best emcee or hip hop group beginning with the letter 'A'?; 'B'?; 'C'?; 'D'?..." and so on. The responses were immediate and spurred some pretty spirited discussions. A general consensus was ultimately reached for each and per the request of Music Editor Leilani Polk, I'm bringing the poll results to Ear Buds. Each week, I'll reveal a letter and its "winning" artist, and then I'll re-open the question for further debate. Once we finish the first 26, we'll start it all over again fresh.

When a group as huge as Run DMC can do no better than a distant second place, you know the Hip Hop ABCs has entered the presence of royalty. After KRS One, there is no emcee on this list that I hold in higher regard than the winner of the Letter 'R.' Collectively they may have been the king of rock, but Rev Run, DMC and the late Jam Master J could not match up to this rap god.

Rakim is number one when it comes to the Letter R and ranks fourth on MTV’s Greatest MCs of All Time list. To say that he was ahead of his time does him very little service. He was a leap forward.

In an era where many of his contemporaries wielded basic rhyme schemes, William Michael Griffin Jr., delighted audiences with internal rhyme patterns expected from present day lyricists. Master of ceremonies is nice and proper but it was Rakim Allah who taught me that emcee means move the crowd.

If you do not know who he is, stop reading right now, punch yourself, and then go to your streaming service of choice and listen to Paid In Full. Then listen to Follow the Leader. You’ll want to punch me afterwards because you will no longer be able to listen to mediocre rap music.

The 18th Letter literally belongs to Rakim.

Did we get it right? Who gets your vote for this letter?

Infinite Skillz is a Hip Hop fan and emcee. Click here to find out more about his music.

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