The debate over hip-hop’s all-time greatest rapper is a subjective and polarizing argument with no end. Well, Kanye West added more fuel to that fire this week when he humbly tossed his name into the ring.
“I’m humbly top five of all time; dead or alive,” Yeezy declared on Wednesday night when he took his Yeezus Tour to Albany, New York.
To give Kanye credit, his speech on this night was all about praising creative types, the artistic geniuses who may have been overlooked in high school in favor of the jocks.
Still, by including himself in the fiery top-five debate, we can’t help but wonder who gets left out if Kanye is in. Someone’s got to make room.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a lyricist as skilled as Marshall Mathers. When you factor in his worldwide popularity, towering influence and multitude of platinum plaques, there is no way you can make a top 5 list without Slim Shady, right?
Hov’s run is unprecedented. He dropped an independent classic debut in 1996 and has reigned over rap ever since. Even at 44, Jigga’s latest Magna Carta… Holy Grail proves that the calculated vet is still at the top of his game.
For 20 years, Nas has stood as a street poet and a respected lyricist. With 10 solo albums, and a couple of classics to his credit, go ahead and try to make a top five list without God’s son. Dare you.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Though he only recorded two albums before he was murdered in 1997, Biggie is widely considered one of the greatest rappers ever, and leaving him off of a GOAT list would just be blasphemous.
Just like Big, ’Pac’s positioning on the greatest list is rarely debated. Big and ’Pac are the reason Kanye specifically makes the distinction — so he’s in the the conversation with any rapper “dead or alive.”