8. Andre 3000
It took a long time before I was able to appreciate OutKast. Not to say I was a purist, but…well, I was a purist. No one from outside New York was as good as artists from New York. Shit, prior to OutKast, rap from the SouthEast was booty music a la Luke. To this day, I don’t think Southernplayalisticadillacmusic is a fantastic album. Then “Elevators (Me & You) came out and I had to reset. Turns out OutKast, and Andre 3000, is one of those artists that had to grow into his dopeness. By the time Aquemini came out, everyone from The Source magazine to the record buying public agreed that Dre and Big Boi had something very special. However, it’s only recently that I’ve heard Andre being involved in discussions about the G.O.A.T. Could it be that you don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone? The fact that Mr. 3000 has been working at a MUCH more leisurely pace for the past five or six years could be why we lap his occasional guest verses up like water in the desert. Although I’m wishing on a star for a solo album (or a new OutKast album!), if we have to receive our Andre 3000 fix by virtue of his guest appearances on songs by Beyonce, John Legend and (ugh…) Ke$ha, then I guess that’s what we’ll have to do…for now.
Speaking of growing into your dopeness, listen to pre-Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z some time. Remember “Hawaiian Sophie”? Remember his verse on “Show & Prove” by Big Daddy Kane when he was still rocking the DAS-EFX “iggity” style? Three years after that Kane cameo, Shawn Carter had found the key to being a great emcee. Of course, he’s misplaced that key several times over the years (do you find it strange that Jay-Z’s best selling albums are generally his worst?), but the fact remains that when he wants to be, Jigga is one of the best to EVER do it. EV-ER. Blessed with a combination of swagger (some would call it arrogance), an eye for detail, and the ability to sound menacing as fuck without raising his voice even half a decibel, Jay-Z is the textbook post-golden age emcee. If he was more consistent (and didn’t obviously dumb down his skill set in order to sell records), he could have easily found himself three or four places higher on this list.
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