Top 5 and G.O.A.T debates happen all the time when it comes to hip hop. As an avid fan of the craft I feel like a new discussion should begin. Music is an art and I think it’s fair to judge rappers as overall artist without limiting the discussion to a comparison amongst just rappers.
Today you can mention an artist from the Renaissance era and they’re automatically placed in a separate class and revered as a God-like figure. When I say artist this goes beyond musicians. I’m talking sculptors, painters, etc. The Creation of Adam is an amazing painting, but does Michelangelo have an illmatic? Can you definitively say William Shakespeare is a better storyteller than Nas? Leonardo da Vinci is well known for the Mona Lisa, but can you feel it like Can I Live by Jay-Z? Is it nuts to question if Reasonable Doubt is a better piece of art than The Night Watch or did Jay-Z have to die 300 years ago to be in the same sentence as Rembrandt? Like all types of artist nobody is well known for every piece they’ve made, but we’ve seen Nas take leftover tracks and make the Lost Tapes album which is easily one of his best projects. Could we open an art exhibit of lesser known work by Masaccio and have it be arguably his best collection of work? This isn’t to knock well known artist of the past. I’m just simply proposing a new way of thinking.
We put the greatest rappers in a box where they far exceed the competition and don’t think of putting them in the same sentence as Van Gogh, Mozart, and Beethoven. I don’t believe in waiting till someone is dead for over a 100 years to give them the credit they deserve. I’ve lived long enough to see illmatic turn 25 and age like Merlot from the finest vineyard. As time passes the legend of Nas beginning to craft one of the greatest albums in history as a 17 year old wunderkind will only grow. 300 years from now some kid will research Shawn Carter and see tales of his wealth, quotes from his peers, photos of him with his jewelry, and possibly view him with the same allure as we have when we see someone from the 1600’s in noble clothing. I fully understand how it goes, but it’s time to give people their roses while they’re still here.