Like many hip hop fans, I skeptically tuned in to BET‘s “Top 10 Rappers of the 21st Century” special. While one of my tweeps pointed out that the century is no where near over, I excused BET for this as even I do not know how to refer to the last decade (um, the oughts?).
BET assembled an esteemed panel of hip hop heads to determine the real shakers and bakers of the last decade. Though I only recognized about half of these people, I trusted them for reasons unknown to me and as I would quickly discover, against my better judgement. BET’s own Big Tigger (you may also remember him from his verse on R. Kelly‘s “Snake”) led the discussion with his signature joviality.
Tigger noted that the group would be using a preset criteria to gauge which artists should make the list. Commercial success, cultural influence, lyrical content, flow and social media presence were among the criteria for which the artists would be measured. (Did they say sales? Well, I guess that that weeds out the Lupe Fiasco types.)
I tuned in a bit late but it wasn’t long before they started dropping bombs over the Baghdad that is me. Where do I begin going in?
First, here’s the final list to view if you feel like having your sense assaulted.
- Jigga what? Jay-Z was forgotten.
Maybe this was explained in the 15 minutes that I missed but Jay-Z wasn’t even considered. Pick your mouth up off of the floor. There went all credibility, for a Jigga-less list makes all else irrelevant. However, I will continue with my quips…
- Aubrey made the list?
Will everyone born after 1993 please sit down? Let me remind you that Drake really came out last summer. I say he shouldn’t have made the list by virtue of the fact that he’s only really been relevant for two years (and I’m not counting his talent show rap on “Degrassi” in 2007).
But while we’re bringing Drizzy up, I’m really not even all that impressed with what he’s done so far anyway. Lyrically, I find him incredibly formulaic and studied. The same goes for his flow–it sounds like he’s been practicing for years. Frankly, a Drake placement is something that I would have expected from a panel of teenagers, not so-called industry authorities. Despite the fact that I don’t readily drink the Drake Kool-Aid, I do enjoy his music. But for me, all that singing makes him the 21st century Ja Rule.
- Drake gets a higher placement than Jeezy.
Ten years from now, everyone will remember Jeezy‘s “My President” as one of hip hop’s greatest political songs. Can we really say that about anything from Drake’s catalog (yet)? Now forward that to Moses.
- Fabolous in the fray?
He didn’t make the list but I was bothered that he was even being considered. Let’s throw Soulja Boy‘s name into the conversation then! I’m not sold easily on metaphors. Sorry kids.
- Why were Nelly’s radio hits not enough to overtake Drake?
The STL’s Nelly didn’t even make the list. Ouch! Jermaine Dupri argued that his midwestern pal made people look at St. Louis. True. But I have a hard time caring about that since St. Louis so readily fell right back off the map (with the small exception of the things I read about Chingy on Mediatakeout.com).
I categorize Nelly with Bow Wow because his catalog is best characterized by children’s party songs like “Stepped on My J’z” and “Air Force Ones.” Commercial success was of course the most compelling reason for Nelly’s name being tossed around and normally, I would absolutely deny Nelly a place on the list. But, with Drake as the grading curve, I would have to put Nelly on the list. As Nelly said himself, the judging criteria was inconsistent and the list just didn’t make no damn sense.
- Put Ludacris in Jada’s spot and remove Jada from the list.
Now, I only own Luda‘s first album but I have of course heard all of his singles and features (he has a lot of those) since then. Someone on the panel said that Luda had no social commentary in his music. While I love reciting lyrics like “feels like a midget is hanging from my necklace,” what has Luda ever really said? Don’t get his acting credits and activism confused with his music, people. Ludacris should have been lower on the list, perhaps in Jada‘s spot.
- Eminem over Weezy?
I’m in the Twilight Zone when it comes to Eminem. It seems like I’m the only person that doesn’t think he’s that great. But I won’t deny him his props. He’s good, yadda yadda yadda. However, I think he’s insanely overrated. His overarching themes are crazy (see: anything about his wife Kim or his mom). He has beefs with easy people to have beefs with, like Christina Aguilera. Dude, get in a beef with someone real! Like Rick Ross! Like many, I thought Weezy should have topped the list, Kanye at two and Em at three.
What is it going to take for BET to redeem themselves this time?
UPDATE: I watched again from the beginning because I needed to know if there was a criterion that kept Jay-Z from placing. And indeed there was–apparently, rappers that didn’t come into prominence after 1999 couldn’t be included. Well, that’s a pretty big damn deal! That’s basically a personal request to leave out Jay-Z and Nas. Even though learning about that heinous rule (because Jay-Z is very much a major part of this century’s hip hop landscape) made me understand the Drake inclusion just a teeny bit more, I still wholeheartedly oppose it and I still believe that BET’s list is on crack. On crack, but somehow better than MTV’s list.