5 Rappers Who Got Better With Age
We might not like to admit it but when some of our favourite golden era emcees come out of semi-retirement to spit a verse, the results are not always pretty. I mean, Just take for example a legend like Ice Cube and trace the time line of his career. At 18 he was writing hard street anthems for N.W.A. By 21 he put out one of the greatest debuts of all time “AmeriKKKa’s Most wanted“. At 23 he gave us “Death Certificate” (arguably his greatest work). At 24 we got The Predator which was followed by Lethal Injection. It was at this stage, age 25 that probably marked the end of his streak of certified classic albums. From that point on we witnessed a slow decline in quality. The Westside Connection phase always seemed a bit corny and then there was the brief flirtation with club hits like “Put Your Back In To It” (admittedly a guilty pleasure at the time). I can’t even recall anything memorable after that. It almost seems inconceivable that the Ice Cube who once preached about the virtues of staying “True To The Game” and resisting the cross over appeal of “hardcore hip hop to mainstream,” would one day be making records with novelty acts like LMAO (no pun intended).. But this article is not a hit piece on Cube. His ghetto pass is in no danger of being revoked (far from it). It is just a general observation that not all hip hop veterans have followed this same “peak then dip” pattern that so many other legends have. In fact, some sound even better than they did 25 years ago!
Andre the Giant aka AG has been dropping jewels since the early 90s and just like the rest of the people on this list, the standard hasn’t dipped since day one. I’ve watched over time how Andre has evolved to an almost effortless style of rhyming. He possesses the kind of confident flow that can only be developed over many years of honing his craft. In addition to his solo projects, Andre has also featured on countless guest spots were the “South Bronx Animal” routinely outshines other artists on the track. A few highlights for me from recent years are, “All Real“, “South Bronx” and “These Rappers Under The Hex”. I’ve also got to mention “Walk With Me“. That track is absolutely sublime! No question, AG is your favourite rappers favourite.
“You not on my level, no matter how many times I tell you – (you not)
I Never get old – (I’m hot).
I never get cold , this the story that never been told – so lucky me.
I’m the prototype, they study me.”
What can we say about Ace? When it comes to rap longevity, Ace is the Masta, (pun intended). With a solid career spanning 3 decades and counting, Ace isn’t showing any negative signs of high mileage. Just compare some of his early work like “Slaughterhouse” and “Master Ace Incorporated” to later material like “Disposable Arts, A&Es and you can clearly hear the progression in lyrical mastery. Ace may have just recently reached the half century milestone, but his skills are sharper than ever. Often named as the man who birthed Eminem‘s flow, Masta Ace is a very dangerous emcee. Rappers who bring him in for guest features are almost guaranteed to be out-shined.
“Y’all dudes are similar to cinema
Trained actors like Brad and Jennifer
But yo I got a flow like Angelina
And I’m a king like Billie Jean, promoter Don and Regina
We’ve been doin this as long as y’all been alive
So little boys keep your mouth shut when the men arrive”
I had to add Daniel Dumile aka MF DOOM to this list for the simple fact that there probably isn’t another rapper in history whose popularity has increased year after year for the past 20 years. DOOM started out in the late 80s as Zev Love X in the group KMD, a 3 man outfit which he founded with his younger brother DJ Subroc and MC Rodan, who was later replaced by Onyx the Birthstone Kid. The group had some moderate success but disbanded soon after the death of Subroc in 1993. Zev Love X took a 4 year hiatus before re-emerging in 1997 under his new title MF DOOM (all caps). It was from that moment, when DOOM donned the iron mask that his artistic creativity skyrocketed. The rhymes he spits are just bananas (in a good way) and completely immersive to the point that you just want to keep digging out more. Doom also comes with a plethora of alter egos, Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, Metal Fingers. Then there’s the collaborative projects that merge the Doom persona with the stage names of other hip hop veterans, Madvillain, Danger Doom, MF Grimm, JJ Doom, NehruvianDoom, MA Doom, to name a few. This never ending conveyor belt of limitless reincarnations was a genius move from old metal face. I can’t see his brand wavering any time soon. Just remember to use “all caps” when you spell the mans name.
“His own way was strange but it matters not
Tuned into a frequency tone that shattered rock
Hold it down like Shatner do Spock
Rapper jocks need to put a sock their chatterbox
The block got light of IOC stock
Folks gather round, it’s no joke like “Knock, knock”
I’ve been a die hard Geto Boys fan since 88 when Face was still transitioning from DJ Akshun to his Scarface persona. One thing is for sure, he immediately stood out as the raw talent of the crew. Willie D brought the laugh out loud humour, Bushwick brought the horror-core element, but Face painted vivid street level stories like no other. He was the glue that brought it all together. Since then Face has forged a hip hop legacy that is unsurpassed. When kids name drop rappers like T.I. as the king of the south – or anyone else for that matter – I have to chuckle. Face is cut from the same cloth as Tupac, deep masterful storytelling that pierces your soul. I didn’t think it was possible for him to recapture the same emotionally charged lyricism shown in tracks like “I Seen a Man Die” and “Now I Feel Ya” but his astounding appearance on the DJ Khaled project with Nas has to be heard to be believed. You will quite literally shiver and the chills will stay with you…..Trust me. His catalogue speaks for itself. As far as I am concerned Brad Jordan is the G.O.A.T. Nothing more to be said.
“And if I cry two tears for her
That will be the most that I would give to her
She left me stranded in my nightmares
Taking pictures of my memories she right there
Twisting on the blade in my heart, deep
Always on my mind so I can’t sleep
She used to tell me she was all mine
Now the only way I see the broad is online”
Edo G is a rap veteran whose carrier underwent an extraordinary transformation. Starting out in the late 80s with crews like F.T.I. and Da Bulldog’s, Edo forged a lane for himself early on in the game. I first caught wind of Ed in 1993. His Roxbury 02119 album was like the soundtrack to my youth. As memorable as Edo’s early work was, I would be lying if I said it was anything extraordinary among his golden era piers. Some golden moments but nothing that would compel fans to edit their top 5 emcees lists. However, fast forward a couple of decades and it’s as if Edo morphed in to a completely different animal. His lyrical content became more punchy and witty, and his overall rhyme style more technically interwoven and polished. The 2009 collaborative album with Masta Ace was a bar raiser and the same standard Edo displayed on that project is showing no signs of diminishing any time soon. His more recent album material is testament of that. Salute.
“Yo, honesty astonish or admonish me
Ma modesty is a prophecy on odyssey
You wanna be swear like you solemnly
My mob will cause havoc like prodigy”