As much as I would like to think that I’m the greatest emcee in the world, my accolades and critical acclaim just don’t measure up to the guys on my short list as the best emcees currently. My favorite emcee of all time is Rakim, and the greatest ever, in my humble opinion, is Jay-Z, but neither of those guys are the best emcee spitting RIGHT NOW.
I feel the catalogs of a lot of different artists, but my list of candidates for the spot of “top gunner” is considerably shorter than my playlist. Here’s a quick rundown:

Royce Da 5’9: The Detroit native is about as angry as it gets, but that passion spills out into every syllable, word, line, verse and song that he creates. The wordplay is on par with everyone else on this list, and his willingness to embrace that rage translates into good music. Not to mention he’s the only cat that I can recall eating Eminem’s food on wax before.
Joell Ortiz: Joell’s music oozes hunger, determination, and an accurate depiction of the reality that people deal with on a day to day basis. When I opened up for him back in April, I was a fan, but admittedly I wasn’t REALLY up on Joell’s work like I should’ve been. He absolutely changed all of that in a span of 40 minutes. It feels like ortiz is taking you on a walk through his environment every time he rhymes. The fact that what he has seen is similar to the vast majority of rap fans serves him well. The skill level rivals that of anyone that you feel brave enough to mention, and Hispanic hip hop fans haven’t had anyone this talented to support since the late Big Pun arrived on the scene.

Elzhi: Another Detroit emcee on my short list, but he’s not just ‘another detroit emcee.’ This dude has concepts, style, and delivery that has sent me back into the lab on more than one occasion. His thought process is too heavy for the average listener, which will cost him points in this debate, but the fact that I’m a lyrics fan made adding him to my list a no-brainer. (which means that Cory Gunz has to get an honorable mention on the strength of lyrics alone)
Joe Budden: I’m still kinda disappointed that the Royce/Budden battle won’t be happening (although now there’s a rumor of a supergroup consisting of Royce, Joell, Budden, and Crooked I due to a video of them talking at Joey’s crib) But Joey has what equates to a cult following on the internet do to his mixtape consistency. contrary to what you may hear in mainstream rap songs, the majority of rap fans aren’t living the good life, and the daily ills of Planet Earth often leave us looking for someone that relates to our struggles. Enter Jumpoff, with his moody, gloomy, yet glaringly honest music. Joey (like Nas before him, and others on this list) prove that groundbreaking production does not an ill emcee make, and that with enough subject matter, a rapper can be forgiven for questionable beat selection. He pours salt into his wounds over production, and you can’t help but hurt with him.

Out of the cats listed, I have personal favorites, but its really a matter of what I’m looking for at the moment that I decide to listen to music. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the topic as well.

  1. zillz says:

    i’m diggin the choices…just not a firm believer in Joe Budden. Sometimes…most times he bores me. However, that last mixtape was better than anything I’ve heard from him.

    bar for bar I think It’s Elzhi…I gotta throw Bishop Lamont, Blu and Supa in there too.

  2. danjohns says:

    I would roll with Royce, no pun intended. And your additions make sense. I’ll crash that list soon.

  3. akshun says:

    these are like th e only rappers i listen to outside of z-ro and devin the dude. yall can keep wayne and them. these are the dudes doin it right now

  4. Nora says:

    Hi there! My company does marketing & publicity for Black Milk. Thanks for recently posting about eLZhi on the daily blog portion of your site. I’d like to know what email address I can send press releases, videos and mp3s to for artists that would be a good fit for your site.

    Also, check out our current roster here.

    Nora Ritchie
    Online Marketing Manager
    Audible Treats

  5. Geechie says:

    You discredit your own work to much, I play “In the face of Danger” whenever someone takes a ride in the KIA, and people are really feeling it.

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