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.
The Hip Hop ABCs lands at the letter J this week, and there was some controversy about the voting. I’m a big believer in democracy, but it has its limitations. Whether growing up as a middle child in a three boy family or as a veteran of numerous team sports, I’ve got a ton of experience being the “glue guy” or consensus builder. I pride myself on being able to create win-win situations. My name is attached to this list so I wanted it to be respectable and to reflect the will of the people. If I had any doubt on the matter, I would side with The People ... but sometimes they are just wrong.
Ja Rule, who recently stopped in at Jannus Live, received votes as did one of my personal favorites, Jurassic 5. Jean Grae and Jeru the Damaja were also nominated. This proves The People are not complete idiots, but had I went with their recommendation, the Jedi Mind Tricks would take the crown for the Letter J.
I’m sorry, but The People are overruled by me on this one. I get that my voting contigent has a predisposition towards underground hip hop. I share that sentiment, most of the time.
But not this time.
All the time.
Jay-Z is one of only a handful of hip hop artists who's sold 75 million records. Big deal, you say. The Black Eyed Peas did that, too, you say. Well, name another hip hop artist in the 'J' category who can match Shawn Carter’s 17 Grammys or his whopping 50 nominations?
I’ve mentioned JMT as an influence on “Epitaph” off my debut album The Anomaly. Vinnie Paz, Stoupe, and Jus Allah, are undeniably dope but Jay-Z is arguably a Top 5 dead or alive emcee. Regardless of what Drake might think, if it is draft day for the Letter J, the No. 1 pick is Jay-Z.