You know what this means? You’ll have #1 by the end of the week?

For a recap, start here and go backwards!

2) Big Daddy Kane

Representing: Brooklyn

No, I didn’t intentionally drop a Kane piece on the same night that his “Unsung” biography on TVOne airs (something I will unfortunately have to miss due to prior commitments), but I’m OK with letting today be a day that we put as much shine as possible on a man who pretty much defines what it is to be an emcee.

Technical skill? Check. Swagger? Check. Sense of humor? Check. Adaptability? Check. Influence? Check. LL’s later forays into love-man land were as inspired as much by his own “I Need Love” as they were by Kane’s courting of the fairer sex. There were more parallels between the Notorious B.I.G. and Kane than you could shake a stick at (not the least of which was the fact that Kane’s DJ, Mister Cee, was one of the people who could lay claim to being a huge benefactor early in young Biggie’s career). As for Jay-Z, not only has Jigga name-checked Kane several times in song (most notably on 1999’s “Do It Again (Put Your Hands Up)”, but Kane gave Jay his biggest look pre-Reasonable Doubt (on 1994’s posse cut “Show & Prove”), and it’s pretty clear when listening to the work of both artists that Jay was heavily influenced by the former Antonio Hardy (sometimes it’s pretty easy to figure out why artists change their names).

He had to battle no less of a foe than Kool G. Rap for supremacy in Marley Marl’s Juice crew, he held his own with the all-time greats during the most creatively fertile stretch for hip-hop in history, stands as one of the all-time great live performers in the genre, and even in semi-retirement (quite possibly the only thing that kept him out of consideration for the top spot on this list), can still tear a concert hall down, as evidenced by his mesmerizing turn on VH-1’s Hip Hop Honors show a few years back. Despite going overboard on the scented oil-flavored musical goop on occasion (witness near-unlistenable tracks with Barry White and Blue Magic for proof), Kane is still a rhyme animal, a champion MC, someone who’ll bite your neck off in a battle, the illest punchline emcee EVER (and he knew it too…how many other emcees could’ve gotten away with repeatedly dropping the music out of the mix whenever he or she had a classic punchline?), and almost…the greatest rapper of all time.

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