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 10. LL Cool J



 9. Eminem


 8. Ice Cube



 7. Big Daddy Kane



 6. KRS-One



 5. Nas



 4. Rakim



 3. Notorious B.I.G.



 2. Tupac



 1. Jay-Z



  50 Cent, Nas, Mary J. Give Their 'Greatest MCs'



  MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust 2006



  Honorable Mentions



  Back to Intro


Have a problem with our choices? Got a better list? Let us know, and check back later for our readers' hip-hop top 10 lists.

Kanye, 50, Diddy, Jay-Z, Tupac? Think your list is better than ours? Make your voice heard in our Greatest MCs poll.




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  The MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust 2005




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You've seen our "Greatest MCs of All Time" list — and thousands of you have responded. Many of you have been sending in your own lists, telling us who should and shouldn't be on there, or where you think they should be. Well, we asked some artists who would be on their lists — and here are some of the on-the-spot responses they came up with.

Jay-Z
"In no particular order: Scarface, Beanie Sigel, Eminem, Nas, Big, Pac — of course. Ice Cube, wow! That's seven, I'm working. ... [Iím] somewhere in there!" (He laughs.)





Ice Cube
"People I like? I can take it back all the way back to Melle Mel. To [Rev] Run [of DMC], to Rakim. Ice-T — he was always dope in my book. Scarface, Kool G Rap. All these people, when I heard them rhyme, made me feel like I had to get on my game. I love DMX, Jay-Z is off the hook. Snoop, Pac, Biggie. My favorite of all time is Chuck D, and I can't forget about KRS-One. Those are MCs who have made me switch a gear some time or another in my career."

Mary J. Blige
"I would start from the beginning with KRS-One, then I would go to Rakim. The reason why I put KRS-One at the top of my list is because he taught us something: Right now, no one wants to remove themselves enough to help the new generation. Songs like 'You Must Learn' and 'Self Destruction' helped us to think just a little more positively. He educated us and he loved us and he removed his selfishness enough to help us, and that's why he and Rakim are at the top of my list. I would then go to LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Black Moon, Biggie, Pac, Meth [Method Man], Jay-Z, Nas."

Nas
Of course, I put Rakim. Another dude that gives me the chills is Biggie — the way he spoke it out there. Pac gave me chills. Before the controversy, his music was chilling people — songs like Soulja's Story' [from 1991's 2Pacalypse Now], before people really knew about him. ... Kool G Rap, crazy. [Big Daddy] Kane. Cool J. I was digging Melle Mel, Eminem of course — Eminem is crazy. Jay, of course. Jadakiss, [Brand Nubian's] Grand Puba."

Lloyd Banks
"Big Daddy Kane to me ... [When I'm rapping now,] that's the part of me that comes out if it's a party record, just from listening to what he did back in the day. You know, like 'Smooth Operator' and all that. I got a mixture: Slick Rick is more like my persona. You know, you're never going to see me do too much, jumping on the table and screaming. I've been fortunate enough to grab the attention by my lyrical content and my ability, luckily. You had people like Kool G Rap, LL Cool J — he's from Queens — and of course 50, too. That's probably my ultimate influence, 'cause he grew up right around the corner from me. ... Biggie — definitely Biggie. If I could put Big up there twice, [I would]. And Pac."

Grandmaster Flash
"If you go back to certain eras, some of the greatest MCs from era one, I would say, are Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel. Era two, Chuck D, LL Cool J, Rakim. Then you have your Biggies, Jay-Z. For there to be one greatest MC of all time, I think, is totally ludicrous — no pun intended! What makes a great MC to me, [for one,] is live performance — you have to be able to control the environment of a venue; take an audience from a state of inertia to a straight-up state of pandemonium. Then wordplay: what's said and how it's said. I also admire how they treat people when they're not rapping. Great people are humble people, because the gift ain't yours. It's the will of God, you just happen to be the best. The great ones are kinda humble to the people that made them who they are."

Jermaine Dupri
"Big. Jay, of course. Nas. Rakim. Snoop Dogg. Mos Def. Man, there's so many. Tupac's gotta be on there. LL Cool J. Big Daddy Kane. Those are probably the ones I could think of off the top. My [criteria] of the top 10 rappers would be, who changed the scene when they came out? Who impacted the game so much [that you saw] others try to talk like them, be like them? Rakim had to be the most lyrical dude when he came out. His influences transcended to Nas, who used to talk about Rakim when he did interviews. When your talents go into somebody else, that's when you the best. Tupac, damn near everybody stole from him, so he's got to be the best. I don't know anybody who doesn't have any kind of Tupac reference in their records, whether it be 50, Master P, Jay redid a Tupac song. Everybody got a little bit of Pac in them. When you somebody who touches the whole community like that, you gotta be the best."

Big Daddy Kane
"My man Bumpy Knuckles, for one. Rakim, Kool G Rap, Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie. I thought Biggie had a different way of putting words together. He was different."




Rakim
"We looking at people I respect. Jay. Nas — the first time I heard him was the 'Halftime' joint. It was just refreshing to hear not only rappers who was out, but up-and-coming rappers was being more conscious and lyrical and still raw and from the 'hood. I always respected Nas. He was always a lyricist, and I always respect a true lyricist. Me and Nas got a rapport, we go back. He used to come up to Power Play Studios [located not far from Nas' home base in the Queensbridge neighborhood of New York City] when I was working on my early albums. Watching him grow, and having respect for him and getting respect from him, is a beautiful thing. ... Eminem. My man Kool Moe Dee. Melle Mel. KRS-One. Kool G Rap. Then, I can't front, back in the day, I was feeling people like [Brand Nubian's] Sadat X. I feel different people for different things, and Sadat came with his own style. I don't care if he only had 16 bars, he would say his 16 bars like, 'You gonna feel this.' There's a lot of people I love — Biggie. I'll leave it at that."

50 Cent
"I remember hearing [Rakim's] music way back — Paid in Full. I mean, Rakim was way ahead of his time when he came out. To me, him and KRS-One were the best rappers. He was able to stay street-orientated while maintaining being intelligent. He was a Five Percenter [a member of the Five Percent Nation, a black religious and social group founded in the late 1960s], he would add that to his music. The music just sounded really intelligent, with some of the terminology that they used. They studied their lessons so they speak a certain way, and they were able to put it into his music and make him appear a lot more intelligent than the other artists that were out there just rappin'. Everything about [Rakim], his whole swagger — he gave birth to Nas, damn near. Nas is dope, [too]."


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