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The 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists: Honorable mentions

They didn’t make the list—this time around.

Outraged by our list of the 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists? Think we missed some true hip-hop heroes? The competition for the top 50 was so fierce, we made space to celebrate these artists who have made an enduring contribution to NYC hip-hop—or might just be a part of its future.

Heavy D

Rap’s history is littered with MCs who lost their base after going too mainstream. Whether it was rhyming on Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” or bringing the short-lived early-’90s hybrid hip-house to the charts with “Now That We Found Love,” the late Heavy D was the first rapper to master the balancing act between pop and hip-hop. What’s more, the “Overweight Lover” helped pave the way for plus-sized lotharios from Biggie Smalls to Fat Joe.—Jesse Serwer
Key track: “Nuttin’ but Love”

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Native Tongues Posse

Along with De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest (all of whom feature in our main list), the poetically minded Native Tongues collective included pioneering MCs Monie Love (from London) and Queen Latifah (New Jersey); two female MCs in a pool of too few, who were proudly woman-shaped but felt no need to use sex as their hard sell.—Sophie Harris
Key tracks: Monie Love: “It’s a Shame (My Sister).” Queen Latifah: “Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children.”

Antipop Consortium

Whoever came up with the concept of “dropping science” might have been describing Antipop Consortium, a cult-fave NYC trio whose name tells you exactly where it stands with respect to the hip-hop status quo. On their early-aughts releases, MCs Beans, High Priest and M. Sayyid, along with producer Earl Blaize, perfected the art of rap as sensory overload—high-tech soundscapes colliding with counterintuitive lyrical flow. It’s no wonder they count Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and progressive-jazz luminary Vijay Iyer among their devotees.—Hank Shteamer
Key track: “Laundry”

Ol’ Dirty Bastard

In a crew of pretty weird dudes, most of whom can’t seem to kick a kung fu and comics obsession, Brooklyn’s Russell Jones was by far the livest wire of the Wu-Tang Clan, a walking burst of adrenaline whose up-and-down career was destined to be misunderstood as well as mythologized. While singles like “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” “Got Your Money” and “Brooklyn Zoo” may not be the most recognizable Wu-Tang solo joints, they’re up there. Also, he was Kanye before Kanye. Wu-Tang is for the children. Never forget.—Corban Goble
Key track: “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”

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Dead Prez

One of the more controversial hip-hop acts of the past few decades, Dead Prez is known for its pro-African, anticapitalist lyrics. Nobody is safe from M-1 and Stic.man’s criticisms, many of which became better known via boosting by Dave Chappelle. The duo broke a near ten-year silence with last year’s Information Age album.—Colin St. John
Key Track: “Hip Hop”

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Kool G Rap

Truly your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, Corona, Queens’ Kool G Rap (working alongside DJ Polo and producer Marley Marl) birthed hip-hop’s obsession with La Cosa Nostra, inspiring the “mafioso rap” of Biggie, Nas and Raekwon with gritty, story-driven classics like “Road to the Riches” and “Streets of New York.” Though only a sporadic presence in recent years, the owner of the world’s most menacing lisp remains a deadly lyricist on his occasional cameos.—Jesse Serwer
Key track: “Road to the Riches”

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Grandmaster Caz

An MC from one of hip-hop’s earliest crews, the Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Caz (short for Casanova) can lay claim to being among the best of hip-hop’s first wordsmiths. But his influence goes much deeper: Caz argues that much of the rap from hip-hop’s commercial breakthrough, ’79’s “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, was lifted from his lyrics book. And since one of Big Bank Hank’s lines in that iconic track goes “I’m the C-A-S-A, the N-O-V-A,” we believe him.—Bruce Tantum
Key track: “MC Delight”

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Brand Nubian

New Rochelle’s Brand Nubian was one of rap’s most dynamic crews in its early-’90s heyday, with Sadat X, Grand Puba and Lord Jamar all bringing distinctive viewpoints and—this was so important—vocal textures to the table. Though the three have only occasionally reconvened after launching solo careers, their collective blend of dark humor and consciousness influenced Wu-Tang, the backpack movement of the mid-to-late ’90s and even Biggie.—Jesse Serwer
Key track: “Slow Down”

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Azealia Banks

The 21-year-old Harlemite has been on the hip-hop map for barely more than a year, but she’s made no shortage of headlines via Twitter feuds with, um, everyone (Angel Haze, Nicki Minaj and Funkmaster Flex, to name a few), hard twerking in a “Harlem Shake” remix, or her bawdy breakout hit, “212”—a track so crass, catchy and conclusive, it may yet secure the sharp-tongued up-and-comer a spot in the NYC rap canon.—Marley Lynch
Key track: “212”

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Grand Wizard Theodore

A young protégé of Grandmaster Flash in the mid-’70s, Theodore Livingston—better known as Grand Wizard Theodore—was playing “Jam on the Groove” in his bedroom when his mom yelled at him to turn the music down. He put his finger on the record to stop it, wiggled it back and forth—and thus the scratch was born, along with the art of turntablism. That’s the way the legend goes, at least—and Theodore has stuck to his story over the years, so who are we to doubt it?—Bruce Tantum

Best New York hip-hop: The 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists

New York is the home of hip-hop. We pay homage to the genre's brightest stars and biggest innovators. New York is the hip-hop music capital of the world. You can argue with us all you like, but we will simply respond with geography and genius—the raw statistics that tell you everything you need to know about the city and its still-unfurling legacy. Namely? The Bronx: KRS-One, Big Pun, Slick Rick. Staten Island: Wu Tang Clan. Queens: LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C., A Tribe Called Quest, Nicki Minaj, Nas. Harlem: Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Mase. Brooklyn: Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Foxy Brown, Biggie.Not only is New York the birthplace of hip-hop, it’s also home to the genre's biggest star today: Jay-Z, whose cultural and fiscal influence is evidenced by his financial investment in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, a venue/basketball team/mass-media enterprise that opened with an eight-night run of sold-out shows from the star.Assembling this roster, we kept the big-business aspect of hip-hop in mind—so you’ll find such hefty quarterbacks as 50 Cent alongside art-world crazies like Rammellzee. Time Out Music writers voted on the list, and we invited some of our all-time favorite artists and tastemakers—such luminaries as Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul and Peter Rosenberg—to give us their personal picks. And you can listen to the greatest hip-hop songs on our Spotify playlist.Did we argue over this list? Of course. Are we proud of it? As proud as we are of this city. Let us

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The 50 Greatest NYC hip-hop artists: Guest list

You've seen the list, now hear what Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul, Peter Rosenberg and more have to say. The biggest names in New York hip-hop reveal who they think is the greatest NYC hip-hop artist. In other words, your favorite rapper's favorite rappers dish on their favorite rapper. You heard right. Talib Kweli Black Star MC and solo pioneer, No. 31 on our list of 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists“Rakim was the artist who successfully moved hip-hop from the party and the streets to the intellectual side. But he did it without moving a step. As a lyricist, Rakim is the father of my style—he’s the father of Nas, he’s the father of anyone who is considered to be a good lyricist. He was talking about esoteric stuff, he was talking about Five Percent philosophy [Nation of Islam], he was talking about the state of the community—but he still wore Dapper Dan suits. He was still able to kick street knowledge. “So, Rakim encompasses all the great things about New York hip-hop. The grittiness, the griminess, the intelligence, the lyricism, but also being fly and making party records, you know? I think that ‘Follow the Leader’ is the best-written hip-hop song of all time. So I would have to give it to Rakim. He’s the cornerstone of anybody that takes hip-hop seriously.” You might also like The 50 sexiest songs Let our sexiest-songs playlist take you by the hand, whisper sweet nothings in your ear and lead you all the way to the bedroom. Yeah, baby! Music may very well be the food

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Comments

1 comments
Doubter
Doubter

Judging by his absence from both the main list and the honorable mentions, I guess we have to deduce that Big L does not appear as a) you're trying to drum up some conversation and sharing amongst disgruntled hip-hop fans or b) you just plain forgot about him. Shame