The 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists: Honorable mentions

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

0

Comments

Add +

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

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”

 Download on iTunes    Download on Amazon

Native Tongues Posse

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

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

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”

 Download on iTunes    Download on Amazon

Dead Prez

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”

 Download on iTunes    Download on Amazon

Kool G Rap

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”

 Buy on Amazon

Grandmaster Caz

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”

 Download on iTunes    Download on Amazon

Brand Nubian

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”

 Download on iTunes    Download on Amazon

Azealia Banks

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”

 Download on iTunes    Download on Amazon

Grand Wizard Theodore

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




Users say

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

TONY NYC hip-hop artists bubbling under playlist on Spotify

Tweets by Time Out NY Music