Wednesday, December 9, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #17: Method Man


The most known member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man emerges at the #17 spot on the P³ Entertainment All-Time Rap Artists list. 

Method Man received his name from the 1979 kung fu movie, Method Man; and the fact that he smokes so much weed, RZA appointed the name to him since "method" is a slang term for weed.

Success came early in the career of Method Man, as he emerged as the face of the Wu-Tang Clan, with the group releasing his solo Method Man, as the group's lead single.  From there, his skills and lyrical delivery kept the listeners wanting more outside of the group.  Method Man has a very distinctive flow and voice that sets him apart from other artists.  His cadence draws in listeners and made him the sought after group member others wanted to work with.

When his solo debut, Tical, was released in 1994, it was met with critical acclaim, selling over a million copies, and the single All I Need, later remixed as I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need, with R&B Queen, Mary J. Blige, gained Method Man a Grammy win.  He is also the only feature on The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready To Die album, featured on the song, The What?.

In the midst of the media driven East/West rivalry, Method Man appeared on both 2Pac's Got My Mind Made Up (with Redman, Tha Dogg Pound, and Inspectah Deck), and Spice 1's Hard 2 Kill.  The appearance of Meth on these songs should have shown the world that there were no issues between the two coasts, but the logic of the collaborations went ignored.

It was his collaborations with Redman that sent Method Man to another plateau of stardom.  How High was a crossover hit in the summer of 1995, which saw Red & Meth go on a worldwide tour, star in a movie and television show on FOX with the same name.

Wu-Tang Clan went on to release their second album, Wu-Tang Forever, in 1997, selling over 8 million copies; and with that successful wave, Meth released his second album, Tical 2000: Judgement Day.  Though the album sold over 2 million copies, surpassing his debut, critics panned the album for too many features, skits, and overkill of the albums' length.  The album did create two new hits in Judgement Day and Make Ups 2 Break Ups, going platinum and gold, respectively.

Through the years, Meth has released a few more albums with his Wu-Tang brethren and has taken on several acting gigs.  He is always in talks to take part in various movie and television projects, as he has broadened his range as an actor.  Meth still flows better than most and his guest features on songs are still some of the best in the game.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #18: Jadakiss


Jadakiss comes in at the #18 position on the list of All-time Rap Artists.  His raspy voice is very distinctive from all other artists, and with his lyrical delivery, is regarded to be one of the best rhymers to pick up a microphone.

Just as any kid with a love for hip-hop, Jadakiss started off as a freestyle rhymer who caught the attention of Ruff Ryders co-founders Dee and Wah.  He started battling in front of Ruff Ryders' studios with the likes of DMX before linking up with Styles P and Sheek Louch.

After establishing himself as a true talent to be reckon with, Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch signed to Bad Boy Records as the trio, The LOX.  At Bad Boy, he befriended and was taken under the wing of The Notorious B.I.G.  He received his first taste of mainstream success when he was featured on the B.I.G. tribute song, We Will Always Love Big Poppa.  Soon after, The Lox released their debut album, Money, Power, and Respect, which eventually went platinum.  But with the success of the album, Jadakiss, with the street mentality in his blood, grew tired of the flossy style of the label and signed with Ruff Ryders Entertainment.

His debut solo effort, Kiss The Game Goodbye, had a slew of features and producers to hype the effort, but it was not well received by the masses.  His second album, Kiss of Death, spawned his biggest hit, Why?, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song stirred the pot with some politicians and pundits when Jada mentions that the 9/11 terror attack was an inside job.  Over the course of all of his album releases, Jadakiss has always enlisted a mixture of R&B and hip-hop/rap artists to be features on the albums to gain appeal across multiple genres.

You can always hear Jadakiss on mixtapes, and guest features of R&B remixes, keeping his name out there and never disappointing.  His level to keep his rhymes as real and street as possible and brushing off the spotlight makes him a highly respectable artist.  Oh, and that trademark laugh.....

Lyrically, Jadakiss is one of the best to do it and now he's ventured off and have established a multimedia collective named SoRaspy, focusing on various online publications, apparel companies, monetized YouTube channels, and a record label.  In 2014, Jadakiss and his LOX partners, reinvested into their Yonkers community by opening a juice bar called Juice For Life.

Monday, December 7, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #19: Guru


The smooth vocalist, Guru, of the world renown duo, Gang Starr, lands in the #19 spot on this list.

One of the more accomplished individuals outside of music, Keith Elam, also known as Guru, graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Morehouse College, and took graduate classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

Guru hooked up with DJ Premier and released No More Mr. Nice Guy in 1989.  The single, Words I Manifest, was one of the more notable from from the album, and gained national recognition for the duo.  Guru's smooth delivery over Premier tracks is true music to the ears and like fine wine.  He emerged as a dope lyricist with the stories he told, such as Just To Get A Rep, Lovesick, Ex Girl to the Next Girl, and Betrayal. He rarely engaged in speaking on nonsense subject material, and often focused on real-life situations and being a dope artist.  Gang Starr released their final album as a duo, The Ownerz, in 2003.

Guru's love for jazz music took him into another direction with the creation of a jazz/hip-hop hybrid series of albums he entitled, Jazzmatazz.  With Jazzmatazz, he wanted to work with the actual jazz artists such as Donald Byrd, Branford Marsalis, and Roy Ayers, instead of sampling them, which created a new sound of hip-hop.  The series of albums sold respectively through it's run.

Tragically, Guru died of cardiac arrest in 2010.  DJ Premier and many others have kept his name alive via tributes and mentions through the years.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #20: DMX


The Yonkers, New York rapper comes in at the #20 spot with his gruff style of rap.  DMX, when he first established himself on the national scene, took everyone by storm.  Whether it was rhyming his responses during interviews, growling and barking like a dog on tracks (which became a trademark), or getting the party going, DMX was the talk of the town in the late 90s.

DMX had been making music since the early 1990s, but was having a problem gaining traction and exposure.  Eventually, he landed on a few noticeable tracks with the likes of Jay-Z, Mic Geronimo, and Ja Rule, and the L.L. Cool J smash hit, 4, 3, 2, 1, before his debut album was released.  These features built his reputation and anticipation for his debut.

Once signed to Def Jam Records 1998, DMX released the lead single, Get At Me Dog, for his debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot.  It immediately became a smash hit, and the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, eventually selling over 5 million copies.  Other notable singles include, Ruff Ryders Anthem, How It's Going Down, and Stop Being Greedy.  Later that same year, DMX released Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, again debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200, and selling over 4 million copies.  Notable singles include, Slippin', Keep Your Shit The Hardest, and Ready to Meet Him.

DMX's ruff lyrical delivery set him apart from the rest of the industry.  His in your face, buss your head style was very much sought after for guest features and motivational purposes.  Party Up and Who We Be are Grammy, MTV, and AMA nominated songs that are prime examples of X getting the listeners hype.  His ability to deep deep into his soul and pour out his spiritual side is another aspect of his persona that separates him from other artists.  His alter ego, Damien, is another character his personality was allowed to be put on wax so we all could hear him battle and suppress the evil within himself.  With him constantly battling his personal demons, X always finds time to pray on his albums, not just for himself, but for everyone who's dealing with personal issues.

Over the years, DMX release 5 consecutive #1 albums, making history for an artist to release that many consecutive albums in a row.  He maintained an underground position, while eating from the success of gaining mainstream acceptance.  He's even appeared as one of the leads in the hip-hop/gangster film classic, Belly; and other notable films such as Never Die Alone with David Arquette, Cradle 2 The Grave with Jet Li, and Romeo Must Die with Jet Li and the late R&B songstress, Aaliyah.

With DMX's party songs being his bread and butter; most of his single releases where anthems and club songs that maintained heavy radio rotation.  But his personal issues continued to hold him back and his projects began to slack.  He continues to do stints in and out of jail which prevent him from releasing solid projects.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #21: Busta Rhymes


1989 saw the creation of hip-hop group, Leaders of the New School, with Busta Rhymes as a pioneering member.  He was named after former NFL wide receiver, George "Buster" Rhymes, by Chuck D, while on tour with Public Enemy.

Busta first got national attention as a unique personality in the music industry when he stole the show when A Tribe Called Quest and Leaders of the New School performed, Scenario, on the Arsenio Hall Show back in 1992.  After his breakout performance on the song, as well as gaining national attention, there was turmoil within the group dealing with Busta's popularity, and the group broke up.

While starting to get his footing as a solo artist, Busta Rhymes appeared as a feature on a slew of classic hip-hop tracks by classic hip-hop artists such as, The Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Craig Mack, KRS-One, and Brand Nubian.  As he continued to rip verses and making a name for himself, his animated persona landed him several minor movie roles.

By 1996, he released his solo debut, The Coming, which saw the single Woo Hah! (Got You All In Check) blow up the charts and was Grammy nominated.  In 1997, Busta released his second album, When Disaster Strikes, which saw the single Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, get a Grammy nod as well.  Busta even has a duet with Janet Jackson, What's It Gonna Be?, which is one of the bigger budget videos in hip-hop history, costing upwards of $2 million to create.  The song is most likely Busta's most commercially successful song and had won awards almost each time it was nominated for either the song or video.  Through the years, Busta has been nominated 10 times for either an album, single, or performance by a solo, duo or group.

All through the 2000s, Busta continued to create hit songs such as I Know What You Want, Touch It, and Pass the Courvoisier, all Grammy nominated.

Busta has evolved his flow over the years and has become one of the fastest rhymers in the game.  In 2012 he was featured in the Chris Brown song entitled, Look At Me Now, where he displayed his rapid fire lyrical ability, where afterwards, almost every feature he was asked to be on, he displayed that style of rap.

Many artists these days will only dream of having the longevity, style, creativity, and success that Busta Rhymes has had over the last 26 years, and still counting.  His ability to stay true to himself with all of the commercial success and not change who he is as an artist lands him in the #21 position.

Friday, December 4, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #22: Genius/GZA


Lyricist extraordinaire, Genius/GZA, known as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan stomps into the all-time list at the #22 spot.

Genius embarked on his career by traveling from Brooklyn to Staten Island to battle MCs all through New York City with this cousins RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard.  Genius signed to Cold Chillin' Records in the late 1980s/ early 1990s, releasing the album Words From The Genius, before he became one of the most feared chambers of the super group.

When the Wu-Tang Clan released group projects and solo efforts, GZA would get features, displaying his lyrical prowess, gaining respect among his clan mates and MCs throughout the industry.  In 1995, when he released his first solo album, Liquid Swords,  as a member of The Wu, a legend and a classic was born.  Not only was the album celebrated for its lyrical delivery, it achieved commercial appeal as well.  To this day, the album is regarded as one of the best solo releases from any member of the group.  In 1998, The Source Magazine selected Liquid Swords as one of the Best 100 Rap Albums of all time.  Liquid Swords has stood the test of time, and holds up against most current releases, lyrically, production wise, creatively, and with meaningful subject matter.

GZA continues to contribute to Wu-Tang Clan releases and tours the world performing Liquid Swords themed concerts and performing new tracks from his previous projects.

In recent years, GZA has been lecturing colleges and universities on using words wisely when recording albums, so one day "there can be an album without a Parental Advisory sticker".  He wishes to see artists find more creative means of wordplay to express themselves instead of using profanity as filler.  He also is working to improve science education in New York City schools by motivating students to learn science by creating science-based lyrics and lyrical competitions.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #23: Ludacris


Starting his musical career as a DJ in Atlanta, Ludacris' versatility as an musical artist and crossover television and movie actor lands him in the #23 spot.

It was written that Ludacris would become the multi-talented entertainer that he is today.  His witty on wax personality is probably only rivaled by Busta Rhymes and Redman, but being an artist from the South, he brought a different game to the table that most southern artists lacked.

His rapid fire flow, ad libs, comedic videos, and punchlines set him apart from his peers.  With a background learning from the likes of Timbaland, Dallas Austin, and Jermaine Dupri, Luda was destined to become a star.  His first major label release, Back for the First Time, peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 with lead singles What's Your Fantasy and Southern Hospitality.  His next release, Word of Mouf, saw the single Rollout, get a Grammy nod, followed by more hit singles Saturday (Ooh Ooh), Move Bitch, and Area Codes.  More albums followed with Luda showing his progression as an artist and also as a man.  His music began to evolve with a more serious tone touching on sensitive subject matters, using his talent to send a message on a more conscious level.

As Ludacris' star grew, he's become a very successful actor landing several television and movie roles in many profitable franchises such as Crash, Hustle and Flow, Law & Order: SVU, and the Fast and Furious series.

Luda could have potentially ranked higher on this list if he had concentrated more on the music, but we can't knock the hustle when there's more money to make in different lanes.  He is 9 albums deep, and with the dwindling market in music, crossing over to mainstream movies is the way to go when you are in demand.  Get that money...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #24: The D.O.C.


The D.O.C. makes the list in the #24 position due to his potential of being an all around artist and producer.  He has been given his proper due for the early success of N.W.A. as an executive producer and ghostwriter for Eazy-E and other group members.  Also, to some, he may be responsible for the early success of Snoop Dogg during the Doggystyle Era, as it is speculated that he wrote some of Snoop's rhymes.  The rumor started to grow after Snoop noticeably fell off lyrically once he left Death Row Records for No Limit Records.  But that's mere speculation....

The D.O.C. had started out in the mid 80s in a group named the Fila Fresh Crew and was affiliated with N.W.A.  As previously stated, D.O.C. had penned and co-produced several N.W.A., Eazy-E, and Michel'le hits, before going solo.  His solo debut, No One Can Do It Better, was released in 1989 and peaked at #20 on the Billboard 200 charts.  The album went platinum 5 years after its release, set a benchmark for West Coast hip-hop, and is a certified classic to hip-hop aficionados.

Again, tragedy strikes, as months after the release of No One Can Do It Better, D.O.C. was involved in a car accident that crushed his larynx and permanently changing his voice.  If he had not been involved in that accident, D.O.C. could have changed the West Coast hip-hop scene in its entirety due to his versatile ear for production and noticeable voice when he spoke.

He is regarded as a legend in hip-hop, even with just one certified platinum album under his belt; but the impact of that one album has made it's mark 25 years later with it's replay value.  No One Can Do It Better is an album that has lasted the test of time, and future generations who come across the album will be blessed with a true treat.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

All-Time Rap Artists #25: Big L


Born Lamont Coleman, May 30, 1974, the Harlem native was on the come up when he was killed in a drive-by shooting on February 15, 1999.

In 1995, Big L released his debut album,  Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous to much acclaim as he had the underground hip-hop scene buzzing, and many top tier artists wanting to work with him, such as Lord Finesse and the D.I.T.C. Crew.

After disputes with Columbia records over his subject matter and rhyming style, Big L left the label and went independent.  He later released the single Ebonics in 1998 which The Source called a Top 5 independent single of the year, and garnered him the attention of Roc-A-Fella Records CEO, Dame Dash.  Big L was on his way to signing with Roc-A-Fella when he struck down in a hale of gunfire.

Big L makes the list at the #25 position due to his witty rhyme schemes, vivid storytelling, wordplay, and his potential to being a game changer in the heavy 90s when there was so much competition amongst artists.  He was a rising star who's light was snuffed out before it got to shine its brightest.


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