We asked emcee, producer and rap historian Zilla Rocca to curate some playlists for us, and he didn’t disappoint. The first is spawned from a recent Twitter debate asking his followers about their favorite rappers not covered by the usual lists you see everywhere else. Listen to Part 1 below, but first, here’s the man himself with more background.
The Best MC’s Ever: The Other Guys – Part 1. Words and playlist curation by Zilla Rocca
Forget your Top 5 rapper list. We know all of those names already. It’s going to be 1-2 guys from the ’80s (Rakim/KRS/Kane/G Rap), 1-2 guys from the ’90s (Biggie/Nas/Jay/Pac/Eminem), and 1 guy from the past 10 years (Wayne/Kendrick).
The Best Rapper lists are safe and predictable because the arguments are rational – who sold the most albums? Who created the most indelible style that everyone stole? Who had a better run of albums?
Allowing only the same 15 names to be in the discussion is a waste of everyone’s time. This playlist is not concerned with any of that. It is about irrational love for rappers who haven’t been praised and canonized as All-Timers By Every Publication Since 1995.
This playlist is inspired by a tweet I posted a few weeks back asking people to list their own personal best rappers ever. Some names listed were guys who never put out actual solo albums (Breeze Brewin, Jay Electronica). Some were guys who made an album and vanished (Cool Calm Pete, Edan*). Some folks loved AZ and Styles P, who were hot 20+ years ago and keep grinding out albums and mixtapes years after their million dollar budgets dried up. My good friend Barry Schwartz will tell you year after year that Method Man is the best rapper ever. My good friend Alaska of Hangar 18 will tell you Jay Electronica is the one. My good friend Premrock even tweeted “Do 5 amazing verses from J-Treds count?” For this playlist, they all count.
This is the first part of several, randomly arranged by the responses from my tweet. I picked 1 song from each rapper, hoping it makes you remember why you love them, or if you haven’t thought about them, to go back into their catalog. No one will have Jay-Z’s career, so let’s offer victory to the hundreds of amazing rappers who stick with us and never made any lists before.