priests & paramedics

“Ivan Illich was once asked what is the most revolutionary way to change society. Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform? He gave a careful answer. ‘Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story.” • Tim Costello

15 December 2006

Greatest of All Time

Last weekend, I caught a viewing of a new ESPN special called Ali Rap. The creators of the show - and the subsequent DVD and hardcover release (just released Dec. 12... order now, in time for Christmas) - postulate that Muhammad Ali invented rap as we know it.

While I'm sure the Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash would beg to differ, for the sake of my point, we'll go with it.

The show is narrated by Public Enemy's Chuck D, and there are numerous appearances by rap luminaries who are all too eager to quote one of Ali's classic insults/wisecracks/politically charged provocations.

But really, all this got me to thinking... like any other white kid who grew up in the suburbs, I'm an expert on the subject of rap music. So to that end, I've come up with my definitive list of the top 5 MC's (Master of Ceremonies, Mic Controller, main rapper guy) of all time. In order:

5. Snoop [Doggy] Dog - Impossible to list the top rappers without mentioning Snoop D - O - Double - G. No other rapper is so smooth. Even as he speaks of committing a "187 on [an] undercover cop," it somehow makes you want to sit back on a cool night and sip a tall cool glass of Gin and Juice.

4. Jay Z - Not really sure on this one, but this is what all the kids tell me.

3. Ice Cube - 3 words: "Straight"... "Outta"... "Compton." If you didn't rap it, it would be 4 words. But if you didn't rap it, you'd be a dork.

2. DMC - Darryl McDaniels made every white kid "Proud to be Black."

1. Rakim - He of "Eric B and Rakim" fame. If you doubt, listen to "Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness)" from the Colors soundtrack. Simply the greatest flow of any rap song.


He somehow rhymes "money's spent," "...up with lint," "residence," and "dead presidents." And if that's not enough to win you over, Snoop himself covers this song in the ultimate ode-to-wannabe-rapper-cool movie Old School.

There really can be no debate about this list. They're the greatest of all time. I was in NYC three months ago, and I felt like a pre-pubescent schoolgirl at an N'Sync concert (or at least how a pre-pubescent schoolgirl at an N'Sync concert in 1998 felt). As I looked across Broadway, I saw DMC as he was walking into the House of Blues for a show. I had a flutter in my heart, and a tear down my cheek.

Thank God it wasn't Rakim.


Editor's Note: I can't believe I forgot Chuck D! He was the inspiration for the list in the first place. "Fight The Power" might be the single greatest rap song in history.


At 1:05 AM, Blogger Fayola said...

welcome back. you should take one of the hip-hop tour whenever you're up in nyc. worth every penny.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Marquito said...

Great post. I linked this entry to my blog.


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