From eight MCs to one. By popular vote, KRS-One is the greatest emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era. Of the eight lyricists selected for Bracket Madness, it all boiled down to two greats in the end: KRS-One vs. Rakim. Both legends in their own right, KRS-One takes the crown as being the No. 1 dude from the golden era of hip-hop. In a close call, KRS-One was victorious over his opponent by 20%. Here’s our theory as to why KRS-One won.
Rakim’s influence on cats like Biggie, Nas and Jay-Z is undeniable. And while Rakim mastered the art form of rap, popularizing the hustle element of East Coast rap, Rakim never blew up on a mainstream scale. He remained fairly under the radar, which affects ones popularity. KRS-One, bred of the same time period as Rakim, with just as much influence, had more of a presence. He reached a larger audience with his group Boogie Down Productions and battle raps with rappers like MC Shan and Roxanne Shante. His rhymes were also more controversial. Any song like “Sound of Da Police” in which a rapper takes shots at the 5-o is guaranteed to bring attention your way (and a group of admirers). KRS-One introduced reggae, bridging rap, battle and boasting into the genre. There’s no denying the ways in which he rapped ended up helping to shape what hip-hop is today. When two dope MCs with the stature of KRS-One and Rakim go toe-to-toe for a title, there is no real loser because this is hip-hop at its finest. But only one can wear the crown. Well deserved, KRS-One!
[Photo: Getty Images]
Well, ladies and gents, it looks like our Bracket Madness has come down to the final two. Running for the proverbial throne of the Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era is … drum roll please… KRS-One vs. Rakim! We’re popping our popcorn for the showdown, as this one seems like it’s too close to call.
In Round 2, KRS-One won over his West Coast opponent Ice Cube, while Rakim annihilated MC Lyte (we still love you Lyte!) with a huge victory. Now it has come down to two heavyweight emcees known for their hip-hop legacies. Will it be the philosophizing battle rapper KRS-One or the lyrical mastermind Rakim?
For your enjoyment we’ve included two videos of the emcees in their heyday. We admire the imagination, creativity and simplicity of the videos in the pre-bling and booty generation. Reminisce on KRS-One’s “My Philosophy” vs. Rakim’s “In The Ghetto.” Then, vote for your favorite emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era. Voting ends Monday, 04/30 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
Everything about the Rakim vs. MC Lyte match up for Bracket Madness is so hip-hop. Legendary rappers who’ve been around since hip-hop’s nascence? Check. Male and female? Check. And lyrics that cannot be denied? Check. As it stands now, MC Lyte is trailing behind Rakim, but we have a feeling her fans won’t let her go down without a fight. Anything can happen between now and Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT when the votes are closed.
Being the hip-hop enthusiasts you are, we know we don’t need to remind you of the fire both rappers have spit in their prime. But we will anyway. Listen to MC Lyte’s master storytelling in “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” : “‘Cause to me, oh my gosh, he was one in a million. I shoulda knew the consequences right from the start. That he’d use me for my money, and then break my heart. But like a fool in love I fell for his game. But I got mine, so I show no shame.”
Now, if Rakim & Eric B’s “Paid in Full” doesn’t remind you of a time rappers told a vivid picture with lyrical poetry, we don’t know what will: “A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape/ of Me and Eric B, and a nice big plate of fish, which is my favorite dish/But without no money it’s still a wish/’Cuz I don’t like to dream about gettin’ paid/So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made/So now to test to see if I got pull/Hit the studio, ‘cuz I’m paid in full.”
You decide. Voting for this round ends on Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
RELATED: BRACKET MADNESS: Does Ice Cube or KRS-One Have The Best Bars To Make It To The Finals?
Ice Cube and KRS-One are such different rappers that the only way to match up the two are literally comparing bar for bar. While Ice Cube’s catalog may ring more bells for most folks (because who doesn’t know “It Was a Good Day”), KRS-One’s “The Bridge Is Over” is a classic in its own right. Ultimately, whether KRS or Cube make it through to the next round of Bracket Madness to battle it out against either MC Lyte or Rakim for the best emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era, is up to you. Before you decide, check out three verses from each that emcee that get get the people going…because it’s provocative!
Is it really fair to put anyone against Rakim? If there is one consistent name that appears on lists of greatest MCs of all time, hands down, it’s Rakim. We think his contender LL Cool J is up for the challenge. LL may be acting more than rapping these days, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have bars. I shudder just thinking of “Second Round KO” directed at Canibus or “To Da Break of Dawn” aiming shots at Kool Moe Dee, Ice-T and MC Hammer. He’s sold 7.5 million albums with five top 40 hits on the Billboard charts. He’s known for popular tracks like “I Need Love” that show a glimpse of his softer side, and “Mama Said Knock You Out” that solidifies his toughness. Do not get it twisted. LL will wax you on wax. Get it?
Rakim is a legendary emcee. Lyrically, he’s so amazing you don’t feel comfortable calling him a rapper — only emcee will suffice. Not only was his debut album with friend Eric B deemed a classic, Paid in Full was considered the greatest hip-hop album of all time by MTV. There’s no sense in even naming the rappers he’s influenced because it’s pretty much everyone worth their rap credentials. Steve Huey of Allmusic.com said, “Rakim is near-universally acknowledged as one of the greatest MCs —perhaps the greatest— of all-time within the hip-hop community.” That said, whereas LL became a household name, Rakim never reached massive mainstream success. With Eric B., he released four albums, only completing three solo projects. He took a 10 year hiatus between his second (The Master) and third (The Seventh Seal) album. He only sold two million records in his over 20 year career. But what Rakim lacked in commercial success he makes up in talent.
This one’s going to be juicy. Vote to advance your favorite Yo! MTV Raps era emcee to the next round. Voting closes on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET. Read more…
It’s always bitter sweet to see the ladies pegged against one another since so few female emcees break through the glass ceiling of hip-hop. Queen Latifah and MC Lyte proved that women had something to say, something worth listening to, and ultimately demanded the same respect as their male counterparts. That’s why precisely why they’ve been chosen for their fans to vote for the Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era.
MC Lyte’s critically acclaimed first album, Lyte as a Rock, debuted in 1988, while Latifah’s All Hail the Queen was released a year later. “Ladies First” was one of the most popular songs from Latifah’s first project, and still gets crowds bumpin’ when it comes on in the clubs today. MC Lyte’s breakout singles include “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” and “Paper Thin;” the latter topped the Billboard Rap charts at #1. Lyte made a name for herself with her uncensored lyrics, and we loved every minute of it. Both women continued to make records throughout the 90s, but by the mid 90s, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown had changed what it meant to be a female rapper with their explicit lyrics and barely there outfits.
You can’t mention female emcees without noting the contributions of both Latifah and Lyte. That said, whether it was the woman empowerment vibe Queen brought, or MC Lyte’s unapologetic no nonsense hardcore lyrics, you can only pick one. Vote for the femcee you want to advance to round two. Voting closes Wednesday, April 25 at 4 p.m. ET/PT!
Are you excited yet about Round One of Bracket Madness featuring your favorite emcees of the Yo! MTV Raps era? In this corner, we have the pioneers of this rap thing: Chuck D vs. KRS-One. With their well respected contributions to hip-hop its kind of hard to choose between the two. Both bred in the ghettos of New York in the 60s and 70s, their lyrics reflected the awareness of the world they saw around them. But one would be highly mistaken if they attributed the consciousness in their rhymes for weakness. Each one of their flows are undeniably raw. So who do you vote for? Here’s three reasons to vote for either one.
1. Two words: Public Enemy.
Dude was a member of Public Enemy. Need we say more? A rap group like that doesn’t come around twice in a lifetime. “Public Enemy #1″ was a classic track from their debut album Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987. From 1988-1991, the dynamic group released three platinum albums. The same group gifted the world with “Fight the Power.” This song is better than some cats’ entire catalog. I’m just sayin’. Public Enemy went on to sell four million albums throughout their career. Plus, anyone that could put up with the clock rocking Flavor Flav, has to be one hell of a guy.
2. Distinctive sound.
No one in hip-hop has a voice like Chuck. It’s so distinctive it couldn’t even be duplicated. He raps, you listen. From the flow to the tone to the speed, Chuck D has a full command of his sound.
Now that you’ve had your nostalgia fix with 40 Greatest Yo! MTV Raps Moments, we’re letting you decide the eight greatest emcees of that era. It’s the ultimate face off! You vote for your favorite contenders hoping they advance to the next round. But only one will walk away with the coveted title of “Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era.”
In Round One, Chuck D. takes on KRS-One, and Ice Cube is matched up against Fresh Prince. Both Chuck D. and KRS are said to be at the top of any lyricism list. That will be a close call. With Ice Cube and Fresh Prince you have a west coast, former N.W.A. member versus the fun “Parents Just Don’t Understand” creator. We’re not even sure if that’s a fair match up. How will you decide between LL Cool J vs. Rakim? And, of course, we couldn’t leave out the women of hip-hop with Queen Latifah vs. MC Lyte.
Vote for your favorite emcee if you want to see them take the crown! Round One is open from 11 a.m. today to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Round two opens from 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25 to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 27. The final round voting opens at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 27 and closes at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 30. Check back daily to see who is on top.
[Photo: Getty Images]
On Friday night, we aired the last installment of our five-part, 100 Greatest Women in Music series. If you happened to miss the countdown, it’s spoiler alert time: VH1 crowned Madonna as the greatest female artist of the last 20 years.
While it’s tough to argue with the musical legacy of Madonna, we received an incredible number of comments, emails, and tweets from our VH1 audience asking about their ability to participate in this countdown. Well, we listened and worked to put together the following bracket-style tournament of The 8 Greatest Women In Pop where you, the reader, will be able to select the most accomplished female artist in the pop music game right now. (Sorry, Adele fans: We figured that since she just swept the Grammys, she has enough awards for the moment, so we left her out of this tournament).
Our tournament will run today through next Monday, February 27, and our first round matchups are pretty outrageous: Lady Gaga vs. Madonna, Britney Spears vs. Rihanna, Katy Perry vs. Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez vs. Beyoncé. One tiny administrative note: Be sure and get your first-round vote in by 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, 2/22.