07 April 2014

Hip Hop March Madness: Final Four

Here we are, just one step away from the championship! Can you feel the energy? Can you feel the heat?! It’s the 2014 BITM Hip Hop March Madness Final Four! I don’t know about you, but I am HYPE! Without further ado, let’s get it started!

Irish Ninja: Yeah, before I even get into my reasoning behind my vote, I'm letting you know that Eminem takes this one. Through this whole tourney I have been heavy about skills being a major factor where you guys have been bringing impact, classics, and tenure into play. Here we have two cats that have had serious impacts on hip hop, both have classics under their belts, and damn if these dudes don’t both hold some sort of royalty position. I really can't see anyone REALLY thinking Pac is gonna take this one. 2Pac is a legend, we all know that, but he is not gonna be trading bars with Eminem, I just don't see it. Real talk, I'm sure Em would have battled Pac's hologram if it was possible. I can easily see 90's heads voting for Pac.....and they'd be wrong. Eminem, the legend killer.

Twon Jonson: Yeah this one is easy for me. It's no longer about legacies and impact anymore to me, although Eminem would hold his own in that category also. This is down to who would slay who in an all-out freestyle battle. Eminem is just on another planet when it comes to battling, and there are very few that can see him on that level. While I still prefer to bump Pac's music, Eminem easily destroys Pac.

stayfly: Toe to toe in a Smack DVD (remember those?) I am sure Marshall would destroy Pac. Eminem probably also has the total sales numbers in the 'W' column as well. And as I mentioned before, Shady Records and Shade45 have had a huge influence in hip hop culture. Dude is a hip hop robot (in a good way) and could probably change his style/flow to fit any feature or instrumental. But when it comes to subject matter the convo switches up for me. He IS capable of very introspective lyrics and themes. But they are very personal and make it hard to relate to (for example: I don't hate my mother and don't need to come up with insane ways to kill her all the time). He mostly focuses on HOW to say things and make them sound clever instead of WHAT he is saying. And I don't want to say his cadence or rhyme pattern and syllable manipulation are gimmicks (like Twista or Weezy or Kanye lately) because they are not. But after awhile it feels like. I get it: you can concatenate words in a new way. Which is why I also feel that his work is consistently better when he has a good lyricist to keep him in check like a Royce or a Jay (Renegade!). Enter Pac. It has been argued that Mr. Shakur is not the greatest lyricist and I can't argue that in its totality. But when it comes to the total emcee package, Makaveli is victorious. Pac was not only able to elevate his emcee status through his lyrics..he was able to elevate the culture. When I was younger it angered me to no end when people would say hip hop was just noise and explicit lyrics. But if I bump Dear Mama..aint a head who couldn't relate and feel the emotions that track evoked. Everything Pac said you could believe. He could affiliate himself with anyone..connect with the street thug's eternal hustle..as well as the young woman's yearning for equal treatment in her professional life. It is impossible to use one aspect of rap to pin these two hip hop monoliths against each other. If its a freestyle battle..Slim Shady for the win. But what about the street anthem..the socially conscience track..the vivid emotional narrative? Let's not forget about how ahead of his time Pac was with Me and My Girlfriend and his mastery of a track housed inside a giant personification. NO ONE could get that track in one listen without being told about it first. Now many emcees use this technique..but none will have a single that will have the effect that Pac had. No? Go to ANY bbq and bump this track..see what happens. Pac is too multifaceted to be confined to one criterion..and his impact too great to just brush off. TUPAC AMARU SHAKUR.

Irish Ninja: Yo Angel....the only question I'd have is how far ahead of his time was Pac? Are we talking like 2006, 2007, 2008? Or even 2012? I really get what you are saying and why you are running with Pac like that, but as far as street anthems, socially conscious tracks, and vivid emotional narratives? Come on homie, Em had those in spades. Now where street anthems, I can only mostly point to guest spots, but he was killing conscious tracks and  emotional narratives. Granted, they were from a different perspective, but being socially conscious doesn't necessarily point to the uplifting of a group out of a stereotype. It can be shining a light on parts of society that occur that society may not be conscious of (1st MMLP). And as far as emotional narratives, are you gonna tell me that the shit he was spitting about his moms, his baby moms, and his daughter wasn't emotional? It may not be shit some of us ain't familiar with, but that doesn't make it an less emotional. Even when Em was coming from his strangest places, you could here he was bringing an emotion with it, even if that emotion wasn't necessarily a positive one. 2Pac set the bar for being real in his rhymes. Em met the bar and raised it, real talk. 2Pac showed what it meant to be a great MC, Eminem met that standard and then kept it moving forward.

stayfly: This is what my breakdown is. As much "emotion" as Em can write with..it is not as relatable as Pacs. I just come from where NO ONE would even consider this a match. And Em has had WAY more missteps in his career than Pac. Due to drugs or whatever. He has A LOT more throw away tracks. Now that I got satellite..I hear some whack ass tracks. Even now he has tracks that make you scratch your head. I think his potential is not fully executed..but I feel Pac used all his emcee skills..and I'm sure if alive he woulda kept on growing. When Pac died that's as close to shedding a tear I came to for an artist. Like NBA MVP voters sometimes say..you really see a players value to the game when they gone (injured mostly). And you felt Pacs lose.

Ra'Z Al Ghoul: Pac/Eminem- I think stay is right as far as the battle and Smack Dvd goes, Eminem would destroy Pac. That's his habitat and what Eminem came up in. Battling was his profession at one point at time. Em's Freestyles are ridiculous and he would rap circles around Mr.Shakur. Even now, Em's approach on songs especially a feature when he is competing puts him on "Slaughter mode", I can't think of a feature Em hasn't slayed. As far as careers, Mathers has sold. Though some albums may not be as good as some he still has a catalog to back him up. Pac has an extensive catalog as well. His influence on the culture was ridiculous. Even the young, dumb and fickle fans of Hip-Hop/Rap can quote at least 5-7 Pac tracks, Half of an album in most cases. Even caught up in this popping molly, "turn up", and "shoot this nigga" mentality, the youth still remembers and he lives on through them. Though Pac will be forever young I think Eminem still takes the victory with his versatility in lyrics AND his career.

Irish Ninja: Em's got a bunch of throwaways because Eminem has had a long enough career to have them. I getting ready to say something that I'll probably catch much shit over......Tupac had some shitty songs. Not speaking ill of the dead, every artist makes tracks, or albums, that suck. But when Pac died, shit was different for him. Everything this cat did became an automatic blueprint and anyone who said anything bad about any of it was burned at the stake. I wouldn't be surprised if there are heads out there that have Tupac in their lists and don't even know why. Ra'z hit that shit on the head with that forever young idea. When talented cats die young, it's easy to look at everything they did and recognize they had more to give. If he was still alive, I can only wonder if all the tracks people pine over know would still get attention.

stayfly: i agree. but not this case..and not for me. flip that..em gets a lot of hype bc he white (boom..race card!). he is VERY talented..but if was just another black dude..dont think hed have the success he has now. especially with the suburban demo he has. you have your one criteria..battle..who wins. for me not so much. for i rather ask..play one of these dudes at a bbq..pool party..club..whip..who is gonna connect with a wider demo? pac.

Ra'Z Al Ghoul: I agree with stay. Lol that race card is a mutha fucka. Pac would definitely get more love hands Down.

Irish Ninja: So wouldn't you say Eminem made a big impact because he showed that a white kid could hold his own and surpass many that thought he didn't belong? And if he was a black dude, I bet he'd have done just as well because you still would have had a rapper that a bunch of suburban kids could relate to. I'd even up the ante and say no matter what his skin tone was, if Em would have came out rapping about what he was rapping about, he was destined for big success anyway. It would either be a conversation like we are having now where the race card (aka the Big Joker) gets pulled in, or it would have been a conversation about this black kid rapping about what people considered white problems and how he owned where he was from. The same can't be said for Pac. if Pac was white and dropped an album called Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z., he would have been shot a lot sooner. If we are gonna keep the race card in play, then you'd have to equally admit that 2Pac was successful because he was black and rapping about the stuff he was rapping about. At a club, bbq or wherever, Pac gets more love over a wider, older, demographic. Younger demo? I think you'd have more people pulling for Em than you think.

stayfly: Not to beat the white thing..but I don't see Em being bumped at any social gathering where the majority are minorities as much as Pac..at any age demographic. Even my bro (who is 22...23?) and his large group of friends ain't really following Em like that. I think there aren't as many people pulling for Em as you think..def not over Pac (Keenan?). And we have examples of black rappers who can technically do what Em does and even rap about similar subject matter. Like a Tyler..or even a Tech N9ne..and the latter of which MANY people don't have on any top 10 list. Ems color DID have an impact on his total success bc it made more accessible. Tech is saying some shit too..but not many people are kosher with a black dude who paints his face. Or that other young rapper..who wears white contacts (forgot his name)..but they have many traits that made Em "stand out". I am gonna assume I am not having Pac and Em piss in a magic fountain and switch bodies and have them go on with their raps and compare that. IF Pac was white..and as conscious as he was..he would NEVER come out with album titles like that. He couldn't rap about the same topics bc his life would be dif. Im a fan of Mac Miller..but if he started talking about pushing keys and capping cats..joint would be chicken nugget fake. But thats my point..its Pacs life that gave him the subject matter to create these intricate themes that mean more to me. It aint Ems fault (like it isnt Kdots fault)..that Pac came up WHEN and HOW he did. Just the facts. 

Irish Ninja: I mean, you have cats doing it now, but when Eminem first started, seeing a black rapper rap about shit like that would have been more of a rarity, so I stand by that argument. I was reaching a little with the album reference; but in the same breath I think if he was white he may not have even have had the same outcome to some of the situations he faced. The race card works both ways in this one, please believe! I have to call shenanigans on the whole not as many people pulling for Em; dude is like one of the most successful rappers ever. Not successful white rapper, not successful black rapper, successful rapper. And Pac was more revolutionary than conscious. This is the same dude that made the track Hit 'Em Up and started it off screaming, " Yeah, I fucked your bitch!"

Ra'Z Al Ghoul: Another big ticket with Em and his success which goes with the race card is him NOT saying "nigga" within any of his songs adds to his success. But Stay is right. Tyler does the same exact thing Almost. He has a fan base but he still hasn't had the success like Em did.

stayflyI think he was both conscious and revolutionary with his lyrics. He had goals he wanted to achieve with his music. And being both puts him head and shoulders above most emcees. 
And yes..like most emcees..Pac has some throw away tracks. But that's bc they were boring (lyrically or production wise) or were just whack. With songs like Puke and Fack..you can't tell me Eminem had anyone to blame but himself (I could probably come up with many other tracks..Puke came from my coworker..and looked up Fack bc I just heard it the other day)..he choose the conceptual tone to take. Its like hes the M Knight Shamalan (?) of rap..he can gives us sixth sense..but his last joints had some wtf questions to it. And if MMLP2 aint come out..you cant tell me he has been getting consistently better (or staying good).
Ha. Ummm..dam Ra'z..if thats what you like..thats what you like. I do give kudos to Marshall for proving he aint THAT crazy and dropping the nbomb. I think Hopsin is the other dude I was thinking about..and there are many underground cats who have that same wit and lyrical ability that aint get NO shine. 

The Niftian: This one is difficult for me, because I'm a huge fan of both of them. Tupac had the fiery temperament to rock a crowd and still had the knowledge, street smarts and wisdom to bring it to you raw and correct in a way that would open your eyes to unsees issues. Eminem isn't anywhere near being the street poet that that Pac was, but his lyrical dexterity is unrivaled. Eminem can rock any beat, any flow, and any style with ease. Eminem can take your style and really make it fresher. It's crazy how alike these two emcees are, and yet so different. Tupac can easily defeat most emcees on the mic with his know-how, his strength of flow and his powerful attitude. This is what translated to sales and everlasting fame. Eminem is the only artist in rap history who has achieved the same status, in my opinion. The difference is not just in sales translations, but also in worldwide appeal. Some would argue (some in this thread already are) that Eminem's sales and appeal are a direct result of his race, and this may be so. But the point is that hip-hop is on a level unforeseen because of him, and he isn't another Vanilla Ice. Eminem sales because he is that damn good. He can dismantle a track and link his flows to the tiniest snare, ripping you apart with 32 bars of teeny tiny lyrical razors, or he can ride the bass and slap another emcee all over the cypher with puns and deadly metaphors. Tupac is the artist of a culture of people, and that culture (gangster rap) is coming to a close. Eminem is the artist of a lifetime. Put the two head to head in ANY type of conditions and Eminem comes out on top in every single one, with the exception of street poetry. But even then, Eminem has pressed his own stamp on the culture, with such monumental tracks like "Sta." Eminem spent the majority of his career trying to obtain Tupac status. Well, he's passed him. EDGE: Eminem

Winner: Eminem


Irish NinjaAndre 3000 vs. Nas - Oh wow, we really have to do this one, don't we? Dammit. Real talk, these are two totally different type MCs. Nas definitely has that staying power, but he has had a couple missteps like we discussed previously. Andre has his game so tight where people are just happy to hear a verse from him and I don't see as many missteps like with Nas. What that means to me is Nas would have the stamina to go for the long battle, but Andre would have the lyrical strength to end the battle before stamina even became a question. And I don't see where Nas would be able to come at 3 Stacks with any real disses that would cut deep like he did with Jay-Z and Ether. Andre would have too much ammo to hit Nas with, and would sound too fly while he was doing it. Andre moves on to the championship round.

TwonJonson: Damnit this one is tough. Both of these dudes are in the upper echelon of hip-hop's elite; some would even consider them at the very top. But someone has to lose right? Both of these artists came into the game with classic albums full of some of the most complex and clever cadences and rhymes I've ever heard in my life. And while Nas has managed to maintain a steady career, I can't help but point out the fact he is not a better rapper now than he was in 1994. Andre 3000 on the other hand did nothing but get better and better as his career went on. Back in 94 if they were to battle I would probably give it to Nas. But 20 years later they are both in two different leagues lyrically. That's not to say that Nas sucks, but look who he is up against! Stacks' flow is NUTS! I've never found myself rewinding a verse from Nas before because it went over my head, but 3000 consistently makes my fuckin head spin with the shit he spits most of the time. Andre 3000 moves on to the championship round. 

stayflyNas v Stacks: Full disclosure..as mentioned before..ima go Nasir until he loses..or wins it all. It is hard to argue that Andre Benjamin is anything less then one of the best emcees in the game today..or the last 20 years. Outkast HAS to be on everyone's top 5 hip hop groups list. We (BITM) have even been questioned as to how we can have a south bracket without Big Boi. To me this is just yet another point for Stacks. Big Boi is easily one of the greatest emcees from the south. But as in all groups..there has to be the alpha emcee. Andre was able to evolve the most out of the group..and really out of any emcee that I grew up following. He was the futuristic alien to Big Boi's funkadelic pimp. And it worked. And his greatness was even more apparent when they "split" and Stacks was on EVERYBODYS feature. No matter who else was on the track..Stacks was top billing. Of course there is no growth unless your lyrical content evolves..as well as your rapping techniques. And in both areas Andre is a lyrical chameleon. No track is impossible..and no topic is irrelevant. I know that I..and the majority of the hip hop world..can't wait for that Outkast reunion album. What can I say about Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones that I aint say yet? His catalog is unmatched. No one has a cooler flow. Nas can destroy you lyrically and still be laid pack with a cigar in one hand and a cognac in the other. I actually think that he is stronger now than ever. Now that he is past his need for commercial success..the trials and tribulations of his mother passing..a crazy baby mama..and unfortunate extremely public wedding/divorce. Mr.Jones is comfortable in his own skin (I know I used that line before..ha..and I think it was for Stacks too) and knows what he wants. He wants to do music he enjoys. So we get the grown folks Cherry Wine..the speaker on blast The Don..and the father anthem Daughters. Nas can even give us the throw back flow in his feature of the conscience vet Common's Ghetto Dreams single. Nas was able to keep his essence as an emcee intact and true for over 20 years. His lyrics are mature and his verses are eternal. When he chooses to..Nasty can hit the complex metaphors like no other. But he can do this and more while still keeping the tightest thematic structure in the game. Close your eyes and there is no sense that he leaves out. Don't believe me..peep Undying Love. Want more? How about a song that literally starts at the end and goes backwards in time in a perfect story..peep Rewind. What more can I say..he never sleeps cuz sleep is the cousin of death. NASIR JONES.  

Ra'Z Al Ghoul3 Stacks/Nas- Andre 3000 is definitely in my top 10. I love Outkast and Andre is one of the coolest rappers ever. Andre's lyrics can't be matched. He can rap to anything about damn near anything. His style on tracks and different flows have been perfected and I don't think anyone can adapt to a track like he can. Once again, his presence on a track can draw attention from everyone. Everyone wants to hear a Andre 3000 verse, and when he drops that 1 verse a year, it is most likely top 5 of the year. However, this very reason is hinders him. When will 3 Stacks dropping some material? There isnt even a verse for me to put up. He doesn't have anything current for me to go off of. Nasty Nas showed us with his "Life Is Good" release that he more than possesses the capability to make an album as potent as "Illmatic." Nas has definitely elevated through his career to get to where he has today. Nas embodies the meaning of an MC, he is "The Don." I see Nas is being as timeless and forever living as Pac is. Nas' storytelling and lyrics Is an audio book. The story telling ability and lyrics in his songs like "World's an Addiction" is why I have Nas coming out as the victor.

The Niftian: Nas is awesome. Andre 3000 is more awesome. EDGE: Andre 3000

Winner: Andre 3000





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