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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