OK, so you meet a new person that happens to be a “Hip-Hop Head (HHH)”, right? You’re talking about what’s in each other’s playlist and all that. The energy is building, the lyrics are spewing, you’re adlibbing and the vibe is top of the crust. Eventually, it will happen. Somebody will either make or break the mood by asking, “So who is in your Top 5?”
Clearly, we’re not talking about a feature in your phone service. We are talking about the most important question that any fan of Rap music will have to answer. The weight of your reputation rests on your Top 5 emcees. And you better have a Top 5, because if you don’t, nothing that you say about music to this person will ever matter again!
So I wanted to give a few examples of what your Top 5 emcee’s of all-time says about you, since you will be remembered for all eternity because of it.
1. Your choices will tell your age bracket. I don’t know if I could still do it, but I was once able to tell a person’s age by the answers given about their favorite artists. For example, people often slip in an artist which they admired (during their teenaged years). And by gauging when that artist was at its best, you could make a good guess at the person’s age.
2. Your choices will tell your personal preferences. Are you a ‘Conscious’, ‘Southern’, ‘Gangster’, or ‘Shiny Suit’ fan, for example. It is not often that you’ll hear someone say that Mos Def and Snoop Dogg are in their Top 5. Mos Def and Snoop Dogg are far too spread apart on the lyrical and content spectrum to be on the same list.
3. Your choices will tell people whether you currently listen to today’s music. If your Top 5 ends with the most current career being Big Pun, you’re most likely listening to Rap from that time, nothing afterwards. Even if you’ve chosen Jay-Z (a Top 5 of many), but your favorite album was the Blueprint, the evaluation is the same.
There isn’t a debate that comes close to the “Top 5, Dead or Alive” discussion. People debate about who is the best ever, but that could be a similar debate to the greatest NFL Quarterback ever. Just think about it, people debate having the most Superbowl wins. But Ben Roethlisberger has one more Superbowl ring than Peyton Manning. There is no way in the world you’re going to tell me that Ben is a better quarterback than Peyton because of that. See, a fight would break out over that in a snap (pun intended). However, you telling me your Top 5 shows me who you are, compared to who you admire.
So in closing, I give to you my Top 5 emcees. Hopefully, you’ll let me know yours. And in no particular order:
1. Chuck D
3. Tupac Shakur