This is kind of embarassing, since I’m not in middle school. But a couple of my friends decided to pick our top 6 rappers, make a mix tape, and send it to the other guys. We actually made the selections in draft format (hey, work can be boring…sue me). Here’s who I ended up with:
- Ghostface Killah
- Lupe Fiasco
- Black Thought
- Sean Price
- Killer Mike
- Pusha T
Are these the 6 greatest rappers in the world? I don’t know…they were just the first 6 I chose. Not a lot of thought went into it. But I figured if I went through the trouble of making a mix, I might as well post it up here on the blog.
Download the Top 6 Mix Vol 1 here
1) Clipse – Keys Open Doors
I probably picked this more for that beat than I did for Pusha T’s lyrics. Whatever. He still comes with it: “Open the Frigidadre 25 to life in here / So much white you might think your Holy Christ is near / throw on your Louis V Millionaires to kill the glare / ice trays, nada, all you see is pigeons paired.”
2) Sean Price – Call the Ambulance
This pretty much sums up Sean P right here: “N*ggas tryin’ to free Mumia / I’m unravellin’ roach clips tryin’ to free this reefer / got a Boot Camp hat on, Wu-Wear shirt / Funkmaster Flex Lugz lookin’ like a f*ck*n jerk / no money, clothes bummy, nose runny / been Metrocard, 44 blow dummies.”
3) The Roots – Web
This one’s all about breath control. No punch-ins here. ” You see the squad come in the place, they all freeze / Ice cold, with his mellow cool breeze / MCs, never showed loyalty yet / Kool Herc ain’t never get a royalty check”
4) Lupe Fiasco – Switch
Not the first song where the rapper switches up his flow/style every couple of bars, but Lupe might execute it better than anyone else.
5) Re-Up Gang – Dey Know Yayo
“You’re middle-mannin’, I’m touchin’ the hands of the growers / from Texas, to Tijuana muthaf*ckas know us / drier sheets line the trunks to disguise the odor / your price is low, but I bet my number Shawty Lo-er”
6) Killer Mike – The Next Bitch
Just about every a-hole out there has a song comparing hip-hop to a woman. Killer Mike takes it up a level, penning a break-up song as he leaves his real girlfriend for the crack game, who he leaves for the rap game, who he leaves for the corporate game. The quotable lines (“f*ckin’ with this rap b*tch help me get my bread up / girl I live good, girl I live plush / and I’ll I do is tell a bunch of lames ’bout us”) are nearly as good as the between-verse ad-libs (“I don’t wanna get the worms, b*tch”).
7) Ghostface Killah – Shakey Dog
Nobody tells stories with greater, more vivid details than GFK. “Straight ahead is the doorway, see that lady that lady with the shopping cart / She keep a shottie cocked in the hallway / Damn she look pretty old Ghost, she work for Kevin, she ’bout seventy seven / She paid her dues when she smoked his brother in law at his bosses’ wedding”
8) Lupe Fiasco – Make Sure
Lupe can rap his ass off. But sometimes his ambitious song concepts don’t quite hold together (see pretty much every song off The Cool). This one barely works (comparing the US to a pimp, and Iraq to a hooker, I think?), an opinion that I probably hold partly because I love that Marvin Gaye sample the beat is based off of.
9) Sean Price – Black History
This song is one big quotable, start to finish: “Jimi Hendrix OD’d off drugs / David Ruffin got hi sh*t roughed up by some straight-up thugs / Pac & Biggie, Freaky Tah / brought my son to Pun tape the next week, he died / Eazy-E, Donny Hathaway, we smell death / it’s hard listenin’ to BLS / Ol’ Dirty got shot in the piece / Eddie Murphy played his-self he let Ru Paul hop in his V / Richard Pryor on fire, he got jokes / Red Foxx hot but he died broke (damn)”
10) Re-Up Gang – Hate It Or Love It
One of the rare cases of Pusha reminiscing without expressing regret “I was coppin from E and them / he was coppin from K and them / K died, Pooh came home, he started placin’ them / Pooh died, and I can’t tell you who is replacin’ him / cause he’s still livin, and I ain’t tryin to catch no case with him”
11) The Roots – Don’t See Us (DJW Remix)
One of my all-time favorite Black Thought verses: “OK Computer / Radiohead’s knock to the future / shock like Curtis, at your service / none other than / the fifth government playin the cut again / y’all clueless to what the f*ck us up again / yo, hard times and sufferin / what, my peoples in the crevices strugglin / ‘Nuff of them are toy soldier thespian / but I’m from the next e-on / supreme being that’s unseen for MC’n”
12) Lupe Fiasco – Get Down
He makes it sound too easy “I was nuts with the cane, Planters Planters / adjust my frames, tamper, tamper / I’m real…as Seinfeld / they ain’t talkin’ bout nothin’, George Costanza”
13) Ghostface Killah – Beat the Clock
Nobody sounds cooler when spitting complete nonsense “People be talkin’, I feed dolphins / My defense’ll fly the coop off your mean office / My skills is a fortune, robbin’ leech out a suite auction” Um, sure thing, dude.
14) Sean Price – 60 Bar Dash
So ignorant, but so clever: “Evel Knievel hot wheels jumping like Duke boys (yeeeehaaah!) / Posdnous, Mase and Trugoy (what?) / Plug one in your neck and plug two in your chest / Turn around and plug three in your rest”
15) Killer Mike – 112 Freestyle
Nothing beats a good story “this n*gga bust out the bathroom, gun in hand / he was yellin’, screamin’ shootin’ and missin’ / it was like that first scene in the movie Pulp Fiction / before I could duck, Big Z gat was spittin’ / left that boy laid out, holy as a Christian / them white girls spazzin’ out, cryin’ flippin”
16) Clipse – Ride Around Shining
The hook is one of the all time great hooks. But if you don’t focus on the verses, you’ll miss stuff like “Pusha push John P Keys, with these sounds of crack-ness / the black Martha Stuart, let me show you how to do it / break down pies to pieces, make cocaine quiches / money piles high as my nieces”
17) Killer Mike – That’s Life
Best…adlibs…ever (“I can’t rap about doin’ crime, but if I actually do crime and do time, I can come out and have an TV show with an all white audience? If I rob shareholders of millions? But if I rap about getting some money on the block, it’s a problem? Are you f*cking retarded? I’m not even gonna tell you how stupid you are right now, cause you should already know”). And maybe the best song ever (“George Bush don’t like blacks, no sh*t Sherlock / and his daddy CIA and flooded the hood with rock”). The most amazing part? According to this (amazing) interview, “I didn’t write it; it’s a freestyle. I don’t do the whole ‘I don’t write, I just go in and freestyle’ thing. Sometimes what’s in me is just so at-that-moment, I go in, do it, come out the booth, rewrite it, refine it, and go back in and redo it. With “That’s Life,” I fired in all directions because as a young American it comes at you from all directions.”
18) Ghostface Killah – The Forest
Somebody does lots of drugs and watches lots of cartoons. And we’re all better off for it: “Pippy Long Stockin’ had it poppin’ / her and Barney had an army out in pink house, the sh*t was rockin’ / guess who got rich and bounced? / Scrooge McDuck, he had an ounce / ain’t no money out in CandyLand, we out…”
19) Killer Mike – The Whole World vs. Stevie
Killer Mike shows you how to flow. His cadence on this verse makes drums unnecessary.
20) The Roots – Quicksand Millenium
Black Thought doesn’t exactly get political, but he can paint a picture of a failing society like few others. The style he kicks on this one was really a preview of what we ended up getting from him on Game Theory: “South Philly turnin into Kuwait, what’s going on / welcome into the quicksand millennium”
21) Sean Price – I Love You (Bitch)
I don’t recommend dedicating this to your girl next Valentine’s Day “stretch marks, titties lookin like prunes / f*ck you with the lights off from behind in the room / my sister told me leave your ass alone, but f*ck it, I love you”
22) The Roots – Live at New Year’s at Jay Dee’s
No one rocks a live show like Black Thought. When he’s in front of the crowd freestylin’ he can have fun and act a fool. Here’s a little glimpse behind the curtain of his rap-machine facade. Being a great rapper isn’t just about being a great lyricist.
23) Ghostface Killah – Whip You With a Strap
Nobody does poignant songs about childhood like Ghost. “despite the alcohol, I had a great ole mamma / she famous for her slaps and to this day she’s honored”