Hello party people this is Mr Ron, with my rendition of Top Phive. I had the privilege to watch hip hop grow; from beatboxing and nursery rhymes, to more complex productions and intricate prosaic compositions. I remember being a shorty, taking the back seat of the family Monte Carlo with my sisters. Oh yeah, party people, we used to rock the big ass “G” ride with wood grain dash board and velvet interior. It was epic. This vehicle actually would become a character in this tableau called Family Summer Trips to the Big Apple. So these excursions were a chance for me to dive into that New York State of Mind and bring back as much of it as possible. I’ve seen hip hop acts rise, evolve, regress, then fall. Here is my personal Top Phive.

1. Nas

The first time I heard Nas, I was watching videos and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” came on. Right then and there I felt it: Hip Hop at its purest form. No cheesy chorus, no frills, just straight up sucka free lyricism and a Large Professor production, who by the way, was the one to first feature the then Nasty Nas on a track called “Live at the BBQ”. Needless to say, I purchased Illmatic. When I saw him perform live it was obvious that this was no ordinary MC. I viewed him as the Beethoven of Hip Hop. The reasons why he’s numero uno are longevity, consistency, ability and evolution. Nas gave us over a dozen official studio releases.

A thug changes and love changes and best friends become strangers

“The Message” / It Was Written (1988)

2. Jay-Z

Jay had to be on this list, he just had to. Most people don’t even know that he was a roadie for Big Daddy Kane. His first appearances were with rapper Jaz-O on the song “Hawaiian Sophie” back in 1989, and his verse in 1994, on a posse cut called “Show and Prove”, from Kane’s Daddy’s Home. He rhymed with a “iggaddy twist” (which was the style for like a minute way back then). Long gone are these humble beginnings for Mr. Carter. He’s on the list because of his business savvy, flow, production, presentation and longevity. 

I been around this block too many times, rocked too many rhymes, cocked too many nines

“22 Two’s” / Reasonable Doubt (1996)

3. Big Daddy Kane

B.D.K. is numero tres but I have to be honest: it was a tie. It was either him, Chuck D, Rakim or KRS-1. Ultimately, someone had to make the cut, so I picked Kane as the representative of that specific period (88-92). Kane has everything to still be relevant. Sometimes, I hear his style in the likes of Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G, just to name a few. Lyricism? Check. Flow? He has it. Oh, and delivery? Can you say “Now whose flat-top rules in eighty-nine” ? 

To top it all off, Long Live the Kane is a perfect album.

 I’m the authentic poet to get lyrical. For you to beat me, it’s gonna take a miracle…  

“Ain’t No Half Steppin’ ” / Long Live The Kane (1988)

4. Q-Tip

First of all, let’s give it up for the most under appreciated yet most influential Hip Hop group: A Tribe Called Quest. Furthermore, meet their front man: Q-Tip. The main reason Tip is numero dos is his uniqueness, his familiar voice. But it’s not only the voice. There’s also delivery, flow, abstract lyricism. 6 albums with Tribe, 3 solo joints (2 solid ones) and a. What I love most about Q-Tip is that his music has no boundaries, and women love it. From corner pharmaceutical delivery boys to college intellectuals, to skaters, to rockers, I know people that do not enjoy hip hop at all, but instantly appreciated Q-Tip (Tribe) as soon as they heard his music.

The Abstract Poetic prominent like Shakespeare…  

“Excursions” / The Low End Theory (1991)

5. Talib Kweli

OK, ok, don’t get your panties in a bunch. I know Kweli only stepped on the scene in the mid 90s but from my point of view it doesn’t matter, because what he brought to the Hip Hop community is timeless. Kweli grew on me. It took time and now he’s always on rotation on whichever musical device i’m using. One half of Black Starr, I always felt that Kweli’s job was to make the Mighty Mos Def look good, since he (Mos) always had a better presence on the mic. Then Kweli (with DJ Hi-Tek, as Reflection Eternal) came out with Train of Thought, then Quality and so on and so forth. Coming from a highly educated family, Kweli is one of the more cerebral rappers, with longevity and originality. That’s why he’s numero cinco on my all time favorites list.

Yo, I speak at schools a lot cause they say I’m intelligent. No, it’s cause I’m dope, if I was wack I’d be irrelevant...  

“Beautiful Struggle” / The Beautiful Struggle (2004)

Honorable Mention: Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie Smalls is da illest!!! Party people, can we imagine, dare we imagine, a world where the events of March 9th 1997 had not taken place? Biggie would have probably had many more albums, a few probably certified gold or platinum. That would’ve raised the bar quality wise. In a world where Mr. Wallace is still here, a lot of rappers would still be living in their mom’s basement! No need to mention what B.I.G. accomplished. He’s in this spot only due to his lack of material, plus, his posthumous stuff is weak at best.

There’s gonna be a lot of slow singin and flower bringin if my burglar alarm starts ringin… “Warning” / Ready To Die (1994)

So there it is party people, my Top Phive Mc’s of all time. Hopefully, it will generate a lot of discussions and comments. Until next time, peace & I’m out.

Author: Ron Beauchamp
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