The following Hip Hop groups are ones that I consider to be the Greatest of all time. If you agree or disagree definitely chime in and let your feelings known. The criteria of "group" would be any musical act that had more than one person doing the rhyming. If the standard was a act with simply more than one person then Eric B and Rakim, and Gangstar would be on my list as well. As you see I have a 10a and 10b because I am a cheating bastard. Here we go..
1.Public Enemy-This is my favorite rap group of all time. This is a group who I consider the most important group in Hip Hop History. This summary is going to seem like a love letter to Chuck D, so I'm sorry. I was familiar with P.E when they came out with "Yo Bumrush the Show" but they caught my full attention with "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back". Chuck D formed a crew with DJ Terminator X (born Norman Lee Rogers, August 25, 1966) and Professor Griff (born Richard Griffin) as the choreographer of the group's backup dancers, the Security of the First World, whom performed homages to old Stax and Motown dancers with their martial moves and fake Uzis. He also asked his old friend William Drayton (born March 16, 1959) to join as a fellow rapper. We all know him as Flava Flav. Sonically beautiful beats, and rugged rhyme flow by Chuck D made for some classic Hip Hop material. Chuck made his black listeners proud to be black and taught you lessons that you wouldn't get in your local High School. He taught his non black listeners about the black community and black history. Chuck knew that schools were just teaching us about Martin Luther King and George Washington Carver, both great men, but there is more to black history than that! Chuck sparked a interest in social issues and the plight of black folks that has stayed with me until today. The reason I love this group so much is because to have a message in your music is so damn courageous. Courageous because there was a danger that people wouldn't want to be preached to and not buy it. Courageous because some of the things that came out of his mouth.(Elvis ain't shit, Fuck John Wayne, a song about kidnapping the mayor of Arizona because they didn't recognize MLK holiday) In a day where we are bombarded with ignorant horseshit like Lil John, incompetent lyricism from Nelly, and scores of other uninspiring drivel, I long for the Day were a artist puts out something creative and innovative. Long Live P.E
2.Run DMC-The main reason that I still wear Shell Toe Adidas is because of these gentleman. If I didn't love Public Enemy so much they would be Number one. Trend setters that laid the groundwork for Hip Hop's future. All three members of Run-D.M.C. were natives of the middle-class New York borough Hollis, Queens. Run (born Joseph Simmons, November 14, 1964),DMC (born Darryl McDaniels May 31, 1964), and Jam Master Jay (born Jason Mizell January 21, 1965). They broke through the public consciousness with hard core beats over heavy medal riffs, rugged rhyme flows, and a combat outfit consisting of Shell Toe Adidas, Leather jackets, Jeans, and Fedora as head gear. "It's Like That", "Sucker M.C.'s", "Hard Times", "Rock Box", "Beats to the Rhyme", their vast array of hits is basically unmatched by anyone. First artist to go platinum, first rap act to be played on MTV, first rap group to make the cover of Rolling Stone, they definitely paved the way for anyone today that calls themselves a rapper.
3.De la Soul-Debuting in 1989 with the release of "3 Feet High and Rising", they were a group that I loved from the second I heard "Potholes in my lawn." The trio -- Posdnuos (born Kelvin Mercer, August 17, 1969), Trugoy the Dove (born David Jude Jolicoeur, September 21, 1968), and Pasemaster Mase (born Vincent Mason, March 27, 1970) where definitely one of the innovators of alternative Hip Hop. They brought funky samples, abstract rhyme styles, and constant innovation to their music. They are also legendary for other reasons outside of their amazing artistry. De La Soul had sampled the Turtles' "You Showed Me" and layered it with a French lesson on a track on 3 Feet High called "Transmitting Live From Mars," without getting the permission of the '60s pop group. The Turtles won the case, and it drastically changed the way samples were approached by Hip Hop, being that they all had to be legally cleared by the original artist. I will always love these cats, primarily because they were a fresh alternative from the "gangsta Rap" that bombarded Hip Hop in the late 80's-early 90's. They have always stayed true to themselves, letting their audience know that selling out isn't a option. They continue to push the boundaries of creativity and hundreds of years from now when they look back on what Real Hip Hop is, De La Soul will be in the first chapter of their research.
4.A Tribe Called Quest-It was track practice in the spring of 1990, and I asked one of my teammates with a car if he could take me to the record store. He obliged, and what I purchased was A Tribe Called Quests first single "I Left My Wallet In El Segundo". Without question the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest abandoned the macho posturing rap music had been constructed upon, and focused instead on abstract philosophy and message tracks. Sidenote* I hooked up with some beautiful women at Tribe shows. If I ever meet Q-Tip, I have to thank him** A Tribe Called Quest was formed in 1988, though both Q-Tip (b. Jonathan Davis) and Phife (b. Malik Taylor) had grown up together in Queens. Q-Tip met DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad while at high school. "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm", "The Low End Theory", "Midnight Marauders"(Where Phife totally came into his own) are classic Hip Hop that can't be denied. My favorite tracks are "Award Tour", "Sucka Nigga", "Can I kick it", along with various others that would take too long to name. After "Midnight Marauders" they lost focus, and soon after Q-Tip went solo. Apparently they are back together and plan to release a album sometime soon. Lets just hope that they can recapture the magic they once had.
5.Boogie Down Productions- Coming out of the South Bronx by KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock, BDP were a major force in the evolution of hip-hop, and one of the first groups to fully embrace social and political commentary in their rhymes. "Criminal Minded" was played so much in my house, I would bet you money that my mother can recite some of those rhymes. Revolutionary, in your face reality, consciousness, and hardcore beats made a perfect recipe for this legendary group. That album detailed depictions of urban struggle -- drugs, violence, promiscuity, hip-hop turf wars -- it was sometimes harsh but also celebratory. After the death of Scot LaRock, KRS One regrouped and recruited his younger brother Kenny Parker, D-Nice, and Ms. Melodie. On By All Means Necessary, Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop, Edutainment, Live Hardcore Worldwide, and Sex and Violence BDP always pushed the envelope of when it came to pure Hip Hop and consciousness.
6.EPMD- This group is near and dear to my heart because I have recollections of late summer 1988. My cousins came down to visit from New York and since my birthday is August 31st they gave me two tapes for my birthday. One was Big Daddy Kane's "Long Live the Kane", and the other was EPMD's "Strickly business." Those two recordings assured that I would be a lifelong MC. EPMD standing for "Erick and Parrish making Dollars" always uses the word Business somewhere in their title, they hit their listeners with hardcore beats and unapologetic rhymes. Even though their subject matter consisted of simply dissing "suck MC's" and their sexual exploits, I couldn't get enough of this duo from Brentwood Long Island. Hip-Hop classics including "It's My Thing," "You Gots to Chill," "Get the Bozack," "Strictly Business," "Rampage", and the Posse cut "Headbanger" will always be major parts of my listening collection. EPMD were also responsible for the careers of K-Solo, Das EFX, and Redman.
7.The Roots- The Roots first entered my life when I was driving with my friend Calvin and Buddy to their College homecoming at St. Augustine in North Carolina. We were freestyling the whole way when Buddy asks from the backseat if I would put a tape in that he suggested. I obliged, and that tape was The Roots single "Distortion of Static" and immediately I was hooked. The Roots, one of the only groups to have live band backing them up, have continued to represent the real Hip Hop from their first release. This isn't a very popular opinion, but I personally think that Malik B(member of the group that left the band) was actually better than Black Thought. I know, Blasphemy!! Black Thought is definitely a underrated MC, continuing to show the masses that he is nice on the mic. Also, in a age where a decent live Hip Hop show is basically extinct, The Roots continue to give their fans a awesome performance each and every time. Thank you Buddy for introducing me to this amazing group.(R.I.P good friend)
8.Outkast- When I first heard OutKast I was actually in Atlanta, probably chasing a piece of out of state ass. I remember thinking that their sound fit the vibe of the A.T.L so well, I was digging them from the first time that I heard it. I would of never thought that they would become the national phenomenon that they are today, but they deserve every accolade that they get. The group, consisting of Andre Benjamin (Dre) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi), wows their listeners with gritty country fried southern soul, fluid raps, and a creativity that is almost unparalleled. They were both dressed in athletic wear early on, but I guess when Erykah got a hold of Dre he changed his style up. "Elevators", "Bombs over Bagdad", "Players Ball", and countless other hits are proof that Outkast is a force to be reckoned with.
9.N.W.A- The first time I heard N.W.A was while I was playing basketball with some neighborhood friends. My boy Kenny walked up with his Walkman and told me to listen to something. As I heard it, it was the most misogynistic, violent, vile shit I have ever heard...and I LOVED IT!! When I got a copy of "Straight Outta Compton", I listened to it in total privacy, and when I wasn't listening to it I was hiding it in discreet places like a husband hides porn from his wife. Even though detractors can dismiss their sound as simply "negative" if you listen closely between the hedonism of criminal life, and the violence that the crew celebrated, there was a social commentary that came out of their music. Ice Cube, Easy E, DJ Yella, Dre. Dre, and MC Ren were unapologetic about who they were and their views on the police. Their song "Fuck tha Police" resulted in the FBI sending a warning letter to Ruthless and its parent company, Priority, suggesting that the group should watch their step. After the departure of Ice Cube in 1990 because of financial disagreements, the group stopped being groundbreaking and began to become caricatures of themselves. N.W.A, like them or not, were influential to "gangsta rap" and scores of groups who thrived to be like them.
10a.Brand Nubian- Brand Nubian formed in 1989 in the New York suburb of New Rochelle. Grand Puba (born Maxwell Dixon) was previously with a group called Masters of Ceremony, and then was joined by Sadat X (born Derek Murphy, originally dubbed Derek X), Lord Jamar (born Lorenzo DeChalus), and DJ Alamo (Murphy's cousin). The group signed with Elektra and released their debut album, All for One, in 1990. I still hear Puba in my head, "I swing a beat and hit a note like my name was David Ruffin/Quick to toast a MC just like a English muffin", classic. With their songs about their faith in Islam, uplifting, and social consciousness were mixed with dope beats and innovative flows. The group took a serious blow when Puba, a band member who did the lion share of the rapping and was their chief producer, left the group in late 1991 to go solo. DJ Alamo left also, electing to work with Puba. Puba dropped a solo album that had mixed reviews, but the remaining members of Brand Nubian released "In God We Trust" in 1993. From that album came the classic "Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down". They have drifted apart, Sadat releasing a solo album, Puba still releasing material, Lord Jamar venturing into acting(HBO's "Oz"), them coming back together..To me, they are definitely on of my favorites.
10b.Ultramagnetic- I used to date this really freaky girl named Carla. Ok, how do I put this??..she was sexually inventive. Some of the shit she wanted to do would make me blush, and I am a certified heathen. For some reason, she put on a Ultramagnetic tape while were in a compromising position. The sounds that I heard, Kool Keith, Ced Gee, and DJ Moe Love made me totally forget what i was doing and who I was with. Jeep heavy beats, funky-heavy tracks and obscure lyrical references is all you need to know about this amazing group. They are one of the first groups to use the sampler as a instrument, one of the first to use live instrumentation, and the first to feature a former psychiatric patient(Kool Keith) on the microphone. "Something Else" and "Space Groove" are a couple of my personal favorite and are suggesting listening material.
Beatnuts- Not the most lyrical guys to ever live, but their fantastic beats and love for Hip Hop make them one of my favorites.
Blackstar- Might Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Awesome one two punch, and their work is amazing and innovative. The only reason they aren't on the list is lack of material.
Eric b and Rakim- Again, not on the list because the "more than one guy rapping" thing, but they are awesome. Rakim is one of my favorite rappers of all time so it was hard to keep them off.
Leaders of the New School- Another great group of their time. Milo, Dinco D, Charlie Brown, and Busta. They only had one good album.
Black Moon-A group who I was very fond of when they came out, but as the years have passed they have become less and less effective. But I will bump "Who Got The Props" now and then.
Salt & Pepper-They paved the way for many females after them, but they aren't on the list because most of their early material they didn't write.
Das Efx- A very trendy group that was big in the early 90's, but after a couple albums slowly faded away. I love them, but I heard some new stuff of theirs and they have the same "riggidy-raw" style" Come one guys.
Gangstarr-The on;y reason they aren't on my list is because the criteria that I set about more than one person rapping. They are awesome, premiere is my favorite producer, and Guru is the shit. Sorry guys..
The Fugees- Their first album was horrible, and I was duped into buying it because I heard a few songs that were remixed.(Were not on the album) "The Score" was dope, but lets be honest, Lauryn was the main attraction there. I give them much respect, but they didn't come close to cracking my Top Ten.
WU Tang- I know that many of you are cursing my good name because I didn't have these gentlemen on my list. They were dope, and they were creative, along with a bunch of other praising adjectives. They just never did anything for me, I can't explain it.