ARTICLE: Top ten emcees of 2002 (so far)

Top ten emcees of 2002 (so far) (By DJ MF)

It’s been over a year since I last went through the crop of MC’s out there, and I figured it was time to go through things again, in order to keep you, the reader, up to date with what is good in the world of hip hop.

You know the drill…

11) DJ MF
A rookie, but one with unlimited potential who shocked the world with his debut single ‘Supervillain’ on the internet at Incredible lyricism. Incredible flow. All the makings of the next heir to the throne.

10) Saafir
Dropping down the list almost completely because of the lack of new music he’s dropped this past year. Sure, there’s the incredible verse on ‘NBA’ from the still unreleased ‘Van Gogh’ album from Ras Kass, but other than that it’s been slim pickings, including a subpar performance on ‘Bounce, Rock, Golden State’ from the ‘Training Day’ soundtrack. When he’s on, the lyricism is nearly unmatchable, and teamed up with an off-kilter flow, provides a unique listening experience. And oh yeah – KILLER voice.

9) Eminem
The biggest drop out of all the MC’s remaining on my list from last year. Was #2 before, and now is on the verge of falling COMPLETELY off. The reason? It’s becoming more than a little boring to hear him complain about how bad it is to be a celebrity. Another? It’s becoming more than a little boring to hear him slag bad pop acts, when he himself is turning into one. Which is a sad thing. Although I think ‘The Eminem Show’ is a booty album, and might mark the end of his ‘pop’ career, the talent is STILL there. When focused, with some good production behind him, Em could easily be the best. Even dare I say, one of the best of all time – let’s hope he returns to that state.

8) Pharoah Monche
Holding steady, with a slight drop. Hasn’t released much this year either, but his skills are undebatable. Rapid fire staccato flow. Incredible breath control, perhaps the best in the world. Intricate lyrics. Listening to Pharoah is like riding a wave – soaring highs, with incredibly smashing lyrics.

7) Jay-Z
Has confirmed his place on this list with his stunning release ‘The Blueprint’. He was good when he talked about the ice, cars, and money – he’s only raised his game by meshing together his previously more introspective lyricism with that aspect of his career. Sure, many will say he’s doing nothing new – that’s not the point. When it comes to wordplay, few can match Jigga. Except maybe for this man….

6) Nas
A stunning comeback. Perhaps one of the greatest ever. ‘Stillmatic’, although flawed in some aspects, is the album that Nas fans have been waiting for since ‘Illmatic’. And with the reintroduction of a classic album for the masses, Nas also reintroduced himself as more than just a formerly great MC riding the ‘bling bling’ coat-tails. To me, Nas has never had the greatest voice – it’s always been about the ‘realness’. His delivery is flawless, his choice of words near perfect – but it’s the feeling he puts into rhymes that always gets me.

5) Last Emperor
I’ll be the first to admit I slept on him far too long. Sure sure, everyone and their momma’s has heard ‘Secret Wars’ and it’s incredible rap vs. comics interplay. But that ain’t the alpha and omega with Emp. A distinctive voice, a unique way with words, and the range to go from deadly serious (‘One Life’) to battling (‘Echo Leader’) to story telling (‘Secret Wars’), makes him an incredible all around MC.

4) Copywrite
Perhaps it’s bias showing through, but lately, there is no MC I’d rather be listening to than Copywrite. I’ve said it before – the man is a punchline god. Of course, the hip hop landscape is littered with battle MC’s who have little else to offer. So what does he do? He releases ‘June’, which posesses a haunting verse about the loss of his father. When the ‘High Exhaulted’ LP comes out, all hell will break loose on the world – mark my words.

3) Buckshot
A controversial choice? You bet. Even I know it. Buck fell off, WAY off, after the release of ‘Enta Da Stage’. It all hit rock bottom with ‘BDI Thug’ where Buck basically became a shorter version of Tupac. A low moment. But the last couple of years has seen an emergence of the Buck of old, with this particular year showcasing a return to the flow that made him famous – raggedy, all over the place, but just undescribably DOPE. Buck himself told me that ‘his flow was spiritual’ and that it’s indicative of how he feels. If his latest drops are any indication (‘You Could Get Shot’, What Ya Gonna Do’), then he must be feeling mighty healthy.

2) Ras Kass
OOOh. The king is dead! Well. Not really. But Ras ain’t numero uno this year. ‘Van Gogh’ is STILL not officially released, but the material contained therein DEFINITELY shows that the skill and talent is still there, and more importantly still being used. At times I may not agree with his philosophies, but dammit, the skill cannot be disputed in any way, shape or form.

1) GZA
Leaping up from his position of #5 last year is the Genius, based almost solely upon his work on ‘Iron Flag’ by the Wu. Appearing on a handful of songs, he left the greatest impression for me on an album that I deemed on par with ‘Enter The 36 Chambers’, a 5 star classic. Incredible metaphors, flow for days, and a great voice. The total package like Lex Luger, like his Wu-mate Method Man would say. And then of course, if that wasn’t enough, he flexes his muscles yet again recently with ‘Fame’, an incredible 5 minute story where he uses the names of celebrities to narrate. To me, the undisputed master of MCing here and now.

Left off the list this year –

Mos Def
Please, get back to hip hop! PLEASE. Get away from the rock acts, get away from the acting. Save it for when you’re old.

The effort is still there. It’ll ALWAYS be there. The numbers game keeps him out.

Personally, the biggest disappointment to me. A tear comes to my eye when I compare his work on ‘The Infamous’ to what he did on ‘Infamy’. Sad really.

You’re gonna have to come better than what you did on ‘Addictive’ if you want to revive the old career there.

VERY close. Rejuvenated himself with his latest. Now beefing with Nelly of all people.

Sage Francis
Made one of the most important tracks of the year with ‘Makeshift Patriot’ about the September 11th bombings, and has followed it up with a great new album. The voice is a little irritating, but the lyrics are up there with the best.

Talib Kweli
When the flow is on? Definitely has a spot on the list. But most of the times, its not – and that inconsistency keeps him away from the list.

In the top 15 at least. Knocking on the door. BUT, he needs to get back like he used to rhyme. His next album will be telling.

Dre from Outkast
Flamboyant, and the more celebrated member of Outkast with reason. It basically boils down to me not liking him as much as those I listed.

Fell off a LONG time ago.

Another of the Eastern Conference Records MC’s with a killer resume. Poised to blow up. The Peddlers were just the start. In the top 15.

Feel free to send comments on suggestions – but KNOW that I’m right…


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