Rap Madness is underway! The competition is tough and there have already been some close matches. With each round we’ll be highlighting 4 matches, one from each region, to analyze a little deeper. Who’s able to stay in the tournament, Wu-Tang Clan or Slick Rick? Which female has had a greater impact, Lil’ Kim or L.Boogie? These questions and others shall be answered in this edition of Rap Madness.
Lauryn Hill (8) defeats Lil’ Kim (9)
From the moment Hardcore dropped, the Queen Bee popularized sexy/raunchy female rap and sold a lot of records doing so. With her first three albums going platinum and a Grammy to her credit for her contribution to ‘Lady Marmalade’, her impact and success are unquestionable. But at day’s end, Biggie’s female prodigy falls just short against L.Boogie. The first lady of the Fugeees proved herself lyrically as the group’s lead MC. From ‘Mona Lisa’ to ‘Killing Me Softly’, she was the brightest star on both 1994’s Blunted On Reality and 1996’s two-time Grammy-winning The Score. When the group disbanded in 1997, all Lauryn did was create a true hip-hop classic in ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, a 19-million unit selling, 5-time Grammy winning gem. She would tack on her eighth Grammy for production credits on Santana’s Supernatural. While she peaked early and has largely kept herself out of the public eye over the last decade, at her best she was arguably the greatest female lyricist of all time and as such wins a thriller over Lil’ Kim.
Salt ‘n Pepa (6) defeats A Tribe Called Quest (11)
In a game that is renowned for individuality and talent, our next battle was esteemed as well as highly competitive. Salt n’ Pepa versus A Tribe Called Quest brings to light the passion and pioneering spirit needed to thrive in this beastly industry. From their inception in 1985 as hip-hop’s first all female rap group, the group went on to have a hollowed career starting with the fun and lusty single “Push It”, which was nominated for a Grammy Award, eventually pushing the album Hot, Cool and Vicious to platinum status in the U.S.. The talent and the hits just kept coming, each of their albums going gold or platinum in the U.S., with their ultimate achievement being the album Very Necessary, which went 5x platinum and spawned such great jams as, “Whatta Man”, the dancefloor phenom “Shoop”, and the Grammy Award winning “None of Your Business”. This album certified their place in hip-hop history as the ladies of rap, becoming the first ever female Grammy winners and multi-platinum selling female rap act. This brings us to the eclectic and varied styles of A Tribe Called Quest. Formed in 1985 and fighting popularity from 1990-1998, Tribe is best known for keeping the fun and smarts in the rap game, the basis for what is now considered “alternative rap”, alongside groups such as De La Soul in the Native Tongues Posse. Tribe is also known for such hits as, “Bonita Applebum”, “Scenario”, “Can I Kick It?”, “Award Tour”, and “Electric Relaxation.” Their top three selling albums were The Low End Theory, a certifiable classic to most hip hop heads, Midnight Marauders, and Beats Rhymes and Life. All three albums hold verifiable weight due to the intricate styles of beat placements and production and a lyrical spectrum that ranged from light hearted to socially conscious. Tribe is an unmistakable force in hip-hop; however when it comes to this match-up versus Salt n’ Pepa, S and P take the cake through ground-breaking success and longevity. Tribe put out true classics, yet they were never able to garner the true continued mass appeal that seemed to embrace Salt n’ Pepa almost effortlessly. And while Tribe made phenomenal strides and pioneered a sub genre of rap, there just has never been and never will be another all female group like Salt ‘n Pepa. Push it Good!
Wu-Tang Clan (7) defeats Slick Rick (10)
In another remarkable contest we have the Ruler himself, Slick Rick, going up against the gods of rap, the immortal Wu-Tang Clan. It’s almost unfair to put any one man against a severe army such as this, but if anyone was up to the challenge it was Rick the Ruler. Rick was part of the Golden Era of Rap and birthed such hits as, “La Di Da Di”, “Children’s Story” and “Hey Young World.” Using his boastful energy and mastery of the English language, Rick soon became regaled as “hip hop’s greatest storyteller.” With his unsurpassed imagination and innovative cadence, it was only a matter of time before Rick’s singsong raps and indelible lines permeated hip hop culture forever. And here we go from one icon to a super group which spawned at least 5 icons no matter your predilection for style, boroughs or skills. Entering the game with their prolific debut, Enter the Wu: 36 Chambers, Wu Tang immediately captivated a hungry audience with gritty street life portrayals, a power in numbers mentality, and a higher level of thinking with their chess references and eventual landmark deal, providing each with their own albums and lanes in the game. Forged by the brilliance and foresight of the architect, The Rza, Wu Tang unleashed a bevy of styles from one large extended family that took the whole genre by storm. And that’s how the Wu-Tang wins; their sheer force in numbers and talent has taken a hold on the game like no group has to date. From Rza’s groundbreaking production to Method Man’s iconic delivery or Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s erratic antics to Ghostface Killa’s supreme clientele of verbal wizardry, Wu-Tang Clan is simply a lasting impenetrable force of Hip Hop. Sorry folks the ruler is dead. Long live Staten Island!
MC Lyte (6) defeats Drake (11)
The Young Money star from Canada started from the bottom and has certainly left his stamp on the game, becoming one of the first artists to successfully navigate hip-hop’s movement towards a mixtape industry over the last decade. A regular at the top of the charts since smash hits ‘Best I Ever Had’ and ‘Successful’ dropped in 2010 right through 2012’s ‘YOLO’, Drake is certainly one of the major players in the game today. That said, while MC Lyte may lack the accolades she was quite simply the greatest female MC of all time. With early hits ‘Paper Thin’, off her debut album Lyte as a Rock to bangers ‘Ruffneck’ and ‘ChaChaCha’, introspective tracks like ‘Georgie Porgie’ and party anthems like ‘Cold Rock the Party’ (which helped elevate the career of Missy Elliot, a 3-seed in our tournament), MC Lyte helped pave the way for females in hip-hop and did it without resorting to overt sexuality or a faux gangsta façade. Few, male or female, command a microphone and control a crowd the way she does and with this in mind we simply can’t envision Drake holding a candle to Lyte in a rap battle. Advantage MC Lyte.