TOP 10 M.C’S OF 2008 by Sean Deez

January 12, 2009

In the late 1970s, the term Emcee, or MC (master of ceremonies), became associated with the role known as the rapper in hip hop music and culture. An MC uses rhyming verses, whether pre-written or freestyled, to introduce and praise the DJ he or she works with, to hype up the crowd, to pay homage to his own stature, or to comment on society. As hip hop progressed, the title MC has been thought to mean a number of acronyms such as Microphone Controller, Microphone Commander, Mic Checka, Music Commentator, and one who Moves the Crowd, notably through Rakim’s lyrics on the matter (”Eric B. easy on the cut and no mistakes allowed/ ‘Cuz to me, ‘MC’ means ‘move the crowd‘”). Some use this word interchangeably with the term rapper, while for others the term denotes a conception and demonstration of the role indicative of skill and of connection to the wider culture, while the latter term does not. Here are our Top Emcees of 2008.

Props to Scritch and Scratch for the above sketch.

10. Bun B

  • It was hard not to include the legend. After listening to his verse continuously on Termanology’s “How We Rock,” Bun continued to impress on II Trill. Even though the album isn’t my idea of a great time, I couldn’t deny Bun’s understated talent. I began to realize his legendary status. Guest spots with Kidz in the Hall, Wale, Statik Selektah, Dizzee Rascal, and the aforementioned Termanology cemented Bun’s spot on this list.

9. Bishop Lamont

  • He’s been around in 2008. Mixtape appearances here and there and drops of his own here and there; but, not heavily mentioned. Check back on his catalogue throughout 2008, including Caltroit and The Confessional and it is easy to see why he belongs on this list. He has a variety of ways of slicing you, and about a million ways of examining the situation. Bishop has got loads of potential that just needs to be poured out onto an LP and with the right production, he could be number one in this category next year.

8. Crooked I

  • He’s had a big year. A great year. The track a week thing that leaked into 2008 was very dope. I don’t much advocate those things, but he has undeniable talent. He is, sadly, not a new comer, but is only now getting a bunch of shine he probably deserved a long time ago when he was running around with Suge Knight. The whole Slaughterhouse ordeal seems to be something worthy mentioning as well, and his style and talent could outweigh that of Royce, Joe Budden, and Joell Ortiz when he is on his game. He’s extremely dangerous when at his peak. A few screws he needs to tighten up, and I have total faith that he will, and he can easily become a prime emcee in 2009’s hip hop year.

7. Black Thought

  • If you only do one piece of work all year, you better be damn good to cut this list. Black was unstoppable on Rising Down. A great athlete, particularly in basketball or hockey, elevates those around him to a much greater level. How much better was “Get Busy” or “Rising Down” or “I Will Not Apologize” because of Black’s presence? This dark side of Black Thought is extremely haunting, but unreal to listen to on the microphone. “75 Bars” probably is enough, but no, he continued the onslaught throughout the entire LP. His body of work on Rising Down was tremendous and as long as The Roots continue to profile more of Black (a trend they’ve seen to pick up on since The Tipping Point), he’ll be a more frequent name around this topic.

6. Ludacris

  • He was originally much higher. Shit, he could’ve just left it with “Last of a Dying Breed,” “MVP,” and “Do The Right Thing” and he would’ve been higher. The filler on Theatre of the Mind kind of dropped him a bit, but who are we kidding, Luda had a great year. He made Game look silly on “Ya Heard” and out did every single one of his guest spots on the feature heavy Theatre. He even dropped a few really dope R&B features with T-Pain and Jennifer Hudson. All of these outstanding pieces from Luda continue to be expected, but what are also expected are his flaws. Regardless, he was a beast in 2008.

5. Reks

  • Man, were there many artists hungrier than this guy all year? Grey Hairsis 16 tracks deep? With no skips? All lyrically tremendous? He’s been around for a while, but I never knew he had it like that. One listen to “Say Goodnight” or any of his clutch features on the Statik Selektah, Stick to the Script album, will have you wanting more. We await it, patiently because Reks just blew everyone’s mind away.

4. Murs

  • Murs For President was a little bit of a let down, but really, none of it had nothing to do with Murs rhyming. In fact, he turned a song like “Lookin’ Fly” into an extremely catchy and tolerable commercial track. Something rare these days. His work with 9th on Sweet Lord reasserts the fact that he and Mr. Douthit are an amazing team. But he shined even more without 9th because we got to see how great of a lyricist Murs is without banging beats all the time. “The Science” is a candidate for song of the year, and so is “I’m Innocent” strictly based on his lyrical performance. His only track on the dreadful Madlib album is one of very few bright spots. He should remain in this category as long as he’s making music though.

3. Sean Price

  • It’s not that I think Ruck doesn’t deserve to be here, so don’t think that. But, Price did a large amount of work throughout 2008 and was in typical Sean fashion throughout. He had a bundle of guest spots ranging from his work with Guilty Simpson, Kidz in the Hall, DJ Revolution, Black Milk, and EMC; all top notch. He usually outshined whoever he was with on the tracks and delivered some of the catchiest, most vicious 16 bars on the track. P has plenty of charisma, knowledge, flash (when necessary), and inspiration; all of which are evident on any of his tracks. Throw on the fact that he never spits over a bad beat, and you get some of the dopest tracks you’ll hear all year.

2. Elzhi

  • If the lyrical ability on The Preface wasn’t enough, then maybe the creativity on songs like “Colors” and “Guessing Game” did the trick. It didn’t? Okay. What about his features on CaltroitTronicPicture This, andWhite Van Music amongst others? What about him pushing emcees like Royce, Bishop Lamont, Guilty Simpson and Black Milk to their utmost premier stuff? Elzhi is, without a doubt, one of the most defining moments in hip hop for us fans in the last 3 years. He’s a shining light.

1. Royce Da 5′9

  • Was this ever a question? Dropping a few mixtapes here and there and ending the year off with the DJ Premier “Shake This” wasn’t enough? I don’t think Royce had a bad lyric the entire year and it was beginning to get scary. He could do joints high as hell and still have them better than 98% of the stuff out there (see: “Motown 25″). He’s added multiple ranges to his flow and his style and seems hungrier than ever. Royce, on his A-game, is one of the best rappers we may see in this modern era.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Wale: He’s not ultra lyrical, but has got a lot to offer and was all over the place in 2008. When he does have some introspective stuff to say, he could be dangerous
  • Q-Tip: His album’s work is enough to get him here. His features were great too. One of the best comeback’s in 2008.
  • Joe Budden: He has always been a great blend of raw, thought provoking rhymes. Maybe 2009 will be his year though.
  • Jay Electronica: Bold predictions for him. Let’s see if he stacks up to being compared to this guy…
  • Nas: HHDX had this guy as their pick. WTF? He did a mediocre album and delivered some of the most non-Nas guest features yet in 2008. Still, he’s good more than he is bad.
  • J Live: People will stay sleeping on one of the best MC’s ever? Sure… you do that.
  • Killer Mike: His album got loads of worthy praise; one of the best political artist we’ve had sprung up onto the scene since Revolutionary Vol 1 Immortal Technique.
  • Phonte: He’ll continue rapping even if he’s singing. The guest features were more than enough due to their high quality. Could Tigga be the best MC of this decade?
  • Wax: Hopefully, you know his name by now. Whether it is his tongue twisting, multi-syllabic, layering word play or his all out bluntness, Wax brings it all the time.
  • Shad: The album came out mid-2007, but got plenty of what it needed in 2008. Shad will be a force to reckon with from the north. His album is a holy grail for wordplay, punchlines, and emotional stories that cut to the core.

3 Responses to “TOP 10 M.C’S OF 2008 by Sean Deez”

  1. SoulClap said

    Totally agree in Elzhi

  2. dahdi said

    WHOA!!! I like the way you used the image!! I have a couple more but I just never posted them yet. You just inspired me to drop more of images.

    Never heard of Elzhi or Reks. Crooked I definitely deserves his props.

    I must add a note about Black Thought and why he is (and Busta Rhymes) are in my top 1o list. Not too many emcees that can really rock a crowd with energy, charisma and power. I’m not talking about an emcee who just happens to be hot at the moment like Lil Wayne. He can practically burp and fans will go bananas. I’m talking about a professional emcee in every sense of the word who can control his vocals, sound clear, and project his/her passion in a small venue or across a huge auditorium.

    I actually prefer Black Thought live recording to his studio work because modern technology can not capture the work that he puts in.

    Personally I really think many hip hop acts lack quality live shows. A real great show from a hip hop act requires practice, and more practice. Chuck D* often addresses this issue but I don’t think many young guns care to listen. But it shows. While I really enjoy Ghostface music, I don’t think I’ll ever pay money to see him perform. KRS-1 and Busta Rhymes fortunately took cues and notes from the raw performances of many dance hall artists. Say what you will about Busta or KRS, but they kill on stage. Period. And right now, I don’t think that there is any real durable emcee performing like Black Thought. And if they are, they can not be doing it as consistently and as long as the Roots.

    So these emcees can sit there and do a song a week, a mixtape every month, whatever but they ain’t touchin what Black Thought is doing*. Some of them can’t even process being punctual. That’s another story.

    * Public Enemy will probably destroy 75% of the rap acts off the stage. And so will Busta Rhymes.

    **The Roots will be the back up band for the Jimmy Fallon show, so I think that ends their touring altogether. They deserve that NBC money.

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