The Mount Rushmore of Hip-Hop


Staff Writer: Amari McCain

Hip-Hop is a culture. It has had its fair share of memories, legends, movements, and icons. There has been an ongoing debate on who’s the greatest hip-hop artist of all-time, and honestly, it’s open to interpretation. But what makes somebody an all-time great? Is it lyricism, is it their production, or is it their message? I asked around Woodstock to get the opinions of some of our students, and most of them have the same idea. WHS sophomore Sage Carino said, “People that don’t just rap about sex, money and drugs and other stuff are better.” WHS sophomore Michelle Saucedo said, “Honestly, it’s anybody who has a good message and isn’t doing that mumble rap that’s popular today.” Most people agreed that the message is the most important part of hip-hop, so I’ve based my top four off of their message.


Some of hip-hops most iconic artists // photo courtesy of Creative Commons

The first artist on Hip Hop’s Mount Rushmore is Tupac Amaru Shakur, known by his stage name 2Pac, or nickname Makaveli. He is one of the most influential rappers of all time, and is widely recognized as the greatest. His relatable struggles to many African-Americans at the time, his appeal to women, and his knack to say whatever he feels makes him one of the most iconic to ever do it. His songs about police brutality, motherhood, money struggles and his heartfelt messages to disrespected women made him a favorite amongst hip hop fans. He was also known for his delivery and ruthlessness in his constant beef with other artists. His conflict with Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G, is widely known as one of the greatest beefs in hip hop history, second only to Nas-Jay-Z. Although Tupac wasn’t very lyrical, and had average production at best, his influence on the genre has earned him a spot amongst the three other legends.

The second artist on this list is Nasir Jones, also known by his stage name Nas and nickname Nasty Nas. If you ask any hip-hop head who the top three lyricists of all time are, Nas will make that list every single time. His complex rhyme schemes and amazing production makes his easily one of the most well-rounded and talented artists of all time. He also revolutionized the term “Ether”, as he made a diss track named Ether and it is widely accepted as the greatest diss of all time. If a rapper’s career is ended by a diss (Meek Mill this goes out to you) then they were ethered. You can thank Nas for that. This Queens rapper changed the game for the better, and is also responsible for some of the best rap loops in history.

This list wouldn’t be right without it’s fair share of variety, so the third artist on here is Lauryn Hill. She is easily the greatest female rapper of all time, and her project The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of the most iconic albums of all time. She truly opened the rap game for women, and her influence ranges farther than many male rappers. Her lyricism was never subpar, and her hooks and melodious voice provided joy to the ears of thousands of people. Her role in the Fugees was huge, and their song “Ready or Not” has been sampled more than almost any other song in hip hop. The “ready or not, here I come” motive can be credited to Lauryn Hill.

The last person on this list is truly one of the greatest of all time. Marshall Mathers, also known by his stage name Eminem and alter ego Slim Shady, is the final spot on Mount Rushmore. He is arguably the most lyrical rapper of all time, and his unmatched wordplay easily earns him a spot. He is also one of the most influential, as he truly shattered the race barrier in rap. Even though “White Men Can’t Jump”, Eminem proved that white men can become icons in the rap game, as he is the most successful rapper of all time. He even has a Grammy. He’s not even an actor. He is also one of the most featured artists of all-time, and has plenty of fans in the rap game. Although his discography is mediocre at best, he has a reputation alone that can get him in the top four.

This list was very hard to make. I wanted to put multiple artists on here, but had to narrow it down to four. But since this is America and I have the right to do so, I’m going to name all the honorable mentions for the top four spots.

Honorable Mentions: Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Rakim, Masta Ace, Immortal Technique, Kendrick Lamar, Biggie Smalls, MF Doom, Lil Wayne, Drake, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, Kanye West, Kid Cudi (yes, Kid Cudi), Talib Kweli, every member of NWA except for MC Ren, 50 Cent, the kid from the Reese’s Puffs commercial, Grandmaster Flash, Quasimoto and Wu-Tang Clan.


Some of the greatest to do it // photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: