A lot of rappers and producers have been giving their Top 5 of All-Time lists of late, and Just Blaze is the latest. Just may also have the list that will have the most people up in arms. Eschewing the the usual consensus picks like Kool G. Rap, Jay-Z, and Rakim for other emcees from the same era. The New Jersey bred producer hit SOHH with his list and provided explainations.
Beastie Boys has to be in my Top 5, as a group. And you gotta remember, one thing about the Beastie Boys is that none of them ever really had “verses”. Everything was them playing off of each other. They write collectively. It wasn’t like, “I’m gonna write my verse and then you’re gonna write your verse.” You can’t break them up. They deserve a spot on my list. So I’m gonna have to say that’s one.
I would have to go with ’95 Prodigy. I loved everything about him back then. There was a point where he was the best out, in my opinion. You think back to how many great opening lines Prodigy’s had in songs. From “Shook Ones” to “Survival of the Fittest” to “Godfather Part III” to “Quiet Storm”, he was the maestro to the opening line. So I would definitely put mid-1990’s Prodigy on the list.
D.O.C.’s gotta be in there. You gotta remember with him, there really wasn’t a West Coast vibe around his era. He was from Texas [and] formed a group with artists who were from the West Coast, but his album just felt more universal. I think what we consider these days as the “West Coast” sound was more so like the G-Funk era. Up until that point, everything that for the most part was coming out in terms of hip-hop was still different spins on it. It was like the East Coast sound was more rhymes and imitation and then D.O.C. kind of came out of nowhere, relatively unknown, from Houston, rapping the way he [did]. He’s definitely one of the greats. He put out one album and that one album still stands the test of time even to this day.
I’ve gotta keep it to what I listened to growing up and so I have to name Brother J from X-Clan. If you listen to a lot of those old X-Clan albums, they specialized in just jacking everybody else’s beats and rhyming on ’em. So listening to an X-Clan album felt almost like you were at a house party. It sounded like somebody was just on the mic freestyling. His rhythm, his flow, his vocal presence, the knowledge he was kicking, all those factors are important. At the time, a lot of people were trying to kick knowledge but not too many could do it like him. Whatever you listen to at 12, 13 years old, it always sticks with you for the rest of your life. Even though he was rapping over everybody else’s beats, his rhyme, his cadence, his flow, his rhyme patterns and just what he was saying in general, it’s always stuck to me over the years. I can still go back to those first two albums.
My last pick would probably be Chuck D. Public Enemy’s concept and pride in black nationalism at the time was important. It was such a movement more so than anything else. He might not have had the best rhymes or flow, but his voice and his presence made you stop and listen. His voice was one of the few that actually had the ability to control the people.
What do you think of Just Blaze’s list?