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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



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  The MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust 2005




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Rank: 10

estimonial
If Uncle had stopped rapping 10 years ago, he still would have made this list. Cool J is like an NBA team that clinched a spot in the playoffs early but still plays hard through the rest of the regular season. He's one of the few MCs who has reigned as a pop-culture icon in the '80s, '90s and the new millennium but still maintained hip-hop credibility. Your kids love him, you love him, your mother loves him, your grandmother loves him. Even though he brought that Queens, New York, swagger to the silver screen, Daddy Cool is still one of the most viable rap acts.  When you factor in all his hits, his longevity and how much style he's brought to the game, there's no denying that he is one of the best ever.

Co-Signer: Nelly
"The first time I ever heard LL was the first time I ever seen LL, watching the [1985] movie 'Krush Groove.' He kicked the door in and was like, 'Box!' He was so poised and confident with his thing, it was an instant presence. You can feel it. I think he made a lot of fans with the 1.2 seconds he was in that movie. He played his part so distinct, you knew he was gonna be the man. I love him to death. Overall, he's an inspiration. He was one of the first guys who can go from 'I'm Bad' to 'I Need Love' and still have it respected on all levels. 'Eliminate punks, cut 'em up in chunks ... heard me and your ego shrunk!' Then he'd go to 'I Need Love' and 'Doin' It'. He was one of the brothers I idolized, because he didn't let anybody stick him in one category. He kept his versatility to the max and he always sustained that. When needed, he can put the gloves on or take the gloves off."

100 Percent Proof
"What the fu--? I thought I conquered the whole world,/ Crushed Moe Dee, Hammer, and Ice-T's curl./ But still, ni--as want to instigate sh--./ I'll battle any ni--a in the rap game quick./ Name the spot, I make it hot for ya bitches./ Female rappers too, I don't give a fu—boo!"

— from the "I Shot Ya" remix, 1996

Selected Catalog
*Radio (1985), *Bigger and Deffer (1987), Walking With a Panther (1989), *Mama Said Knock You Out (1990), 14 Shots to the Dome (1993), *Mr. Smith (1995), Phenomenon (1997), The G.O.A.T. (2000), 10 (2002), The DEFinition (2004), Todd Smith (2006)

* = undeniable classic

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NEXT: Common says of MC #9, 'MCing, to me, is when you hear a dude say something and you tell your homie, 'You heard what he said?' He has that ...
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