Each week here on VH1 Tuner, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer’s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown tomorrow morning when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.
Although I try to be colorblind in both my life and musical travels, I can’t help but notice when people applaud a Caucasian dude—especially one outside of the hip-hop genre—when they’re able to deliver rhymes at breakneck speeds. If “white men can’t jump,” I guess they’re not supposed to be able to rhyme either, huh?
In hip-hop, Caucasian MC’s are called “white rappers,” as documented on VH1’s 2007 reality venture The White Rapper Show, but what do you call a white boy who can spit fire on the microphone, one whose music comes from another genre altogether?
For the sake of this list, let’s call them the 10 Greatest (Non-Hip-Hop) White-Male Rhymers of the last quarter century:
10. Andy Grammer
Try singing Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head” the next time you’re at a karaoke bar and you’ll realize how nimble he is on the microphone.
9. Billy Joel
The Piano Man makes this list solely on the merit of “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” not to mention that the Beastie Boys once named Billy Joel as The Fifth Beastie Boy.
8. Pat Monahan
We all know Pat Monahan can croon, but lately, especially on Train‘s last two albums, he shows agility with his rhyme-flow as well.
7. Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake is an acceptable rapper, as seen on his “History of Rap” skits with Jimmy Fallon, so what’s keeping him from stepping outside of his pop comfort zone and releasing a JT hip-hop album?
6. Mike Doughty
The former Soul Coughing front man has always had a propensity for rhyming, and because of the unique timbre of his voice, his flow is like no other.
5. Ed Sheeran
Looks can be deceiving, especially when you consider that this stocky red-headed kid from England could possibly give Twista a run for his money.
4. Danny O’ Donoghue
The Script‘s lead vocalist is known for cramming verses of his band’s songs with a mind-numbing amount of rhymes, fit more for a seasoned rapper than a front man for a pop-rock group.
3. Barenaked Ladies
I’d like to see the world’s best rappers do a cover version of the Barenaked Ladies’ essential hit “One Week.” This track, like many from their catalog and live freestyles, is filled to the brim with vicious world-play and high-speed rhyming.
2. Jason Mraz
When Mr. A-Z starts rhyming double-time over a mid-tempo beat, it’s not only amazing how quickly he can do it, but how he’s able to pronounce every single coming out of his mouth.
1. Anthony Kiedis
If you don’t think Anthony Kiedis would’ve been a dope MC, listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Give It Away” and “Around The World.” Just think, what if Flea owned a pair of turntables instead of a bass? What could’ve been rock’s loss would’ve been hip-hop’s gain.