5. Big L
Though this list has no order, what better way to start this list off than with the man who showed up Jay Z in a back and forth freestyle. Though people debate the winner of ’98 freestyle, most people will tell you Big L took the Big W. If you ask any rapper, underground or mainstream, past or present, they will tell you that Big L is a juggernaut to the rap game. Known for his deep, catchy, and sometimes evil lyrics, Big L was easily one of the most influential MCs to ever touch a microphone. Just before L’s sophomore album, his life was taken and hip-hop will never see another MC like him.
4. Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)
Though Yasiin ended his music career earlier this year, he is still one of the most slept on legends to ever touch a microphone. Not only was his solo-career very successful, but when he joined forces with Taleb Kweli, they were a major force in Hip-Hop under the title “Black Star.” Mos Def released his first solo-album “Black on Both Sides” and it was very successful. Known for his elegant delivery, his fluent flow, and his poetic lyrics, Mos Def takes the cake as one the greatest MCs of all time. The reason he gets slept on is simply because he hasn’t released an album since 2009. It also doesn’t help that he has been all over the news since he got arrested in South Africa. Don’t let that get your opinion on him twisted, he is still one of the greatest lyricists of all time.
3. MF DOOM
If you search for the top MCs of all time, his name might be hard to find in all of the juggernauts of rap, but when you actually listen to him, it is not hard to see why he is one of the greatest lyricists of all time. Any Hip-Hop legend will tell you that they are a fan MF DOOM. If you don’t believe me, check out this video of Mos Def analyzing some of Doom’s lyrics.
The reason DOOM is so great is his complex lyrics that make you have to go back and listen again to understand his puns, wordplay, and genius analogies. MF DOOM has had such a profound career living in the shadows. One of the most interesting things about him is his recognizable mask that he wears so people focus on his music, rather than his looks. If you are into lyrics and beats, DEFINITELY check out MF DOOM and sit down in your living room and try to decipher his genius lyrics.Picture By Possan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Big Pun
Big Pun was easily one of the most gifted lyricists to ever be in the game. The Puerto Rican MC passed away in 2000, but his legacy still lives on today. Big Pun’s flow was almost untouchable, on every record Pun had a nasty delivery. Pun’s style and technique was simply amazing, and he had a voice that drew the listener in and made you interested in whatever he had to say. Pun also had the awards to back him up, his album Capital Punishment (1998) was the first latin rap record to go platinum. May he R.I.P. and may his legacy live on.
Canibus is easily a lyric legend that gets slept on. It’s not hard to see why, he had beef with one of the most well known artists of all time Eminem. Put all the industry beef aside and you can’t deny his lyricism. Canibus was well known for his underground contributions to rap, and his scientific, clever rap-battle bars. He has put many projects out and he has a mass amount of respect in the hip hop community, Which is very well deserved. He puts together highly thoughtful constructed bars, while also contributing an excellent delivery, flow, and vocabulary in all of his rhymes. An underdog, yes, but also a legend in the game of Hip Hop.