It shocks me that in this day and age there is still such discrepancy of opinion on who the best rapper of all time is. The conversation arises frequently in my life among people who typically have reasonable opinions, but they are almost always incorrect about who this figure is. What they don’t realize is that one icon stands alone, an artist who has transformed hip hop and represents the quintessence of artful, phenomenal rap music in 2017. He has dominated his genre since he became the youngest member of the Hot Boys at 15.
Subpar “rappers” are often held in high regard by those who claim to value lyricism, flow and versatility in what they consider to be meritable music. The most prominent examples of these so called “rappers” are The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. There is a debate held between the most common of folk about which of the two is a better rapper, and whether one or both should be considered the best rapper of all time. I’m here to put end to that debate. Biggie or Tupac? Neither.
Since 1996, there has been a force in rap that has put all others attempting to gain a place in the genre to shame. He has privileged our ears with countless hits from “Tha Block Is Hot” to “Lollipop” to “6 Foot 7 Foot.”
Fact: the hero that we are all ignoring is the one and only Lil Wayne.
In the ashes of ’90s rap, after it was nearly destroyed by the likes Biggie’s deplorable album, “Ready To Die,” Tupac’s terrible “All Eyez On Me,” and the worst of them all, Nas’s “Illmatic,” Lil Wayne finally swooped in to rescue music. He gave music back to the loving fans who deserved something enjoyable to play through the headphones of their Walkmans after they’d been burdened with listening to bar after bar of straightforward lyrics — lyrics about real life experiences, the struggles of inhabiting the ghettos of the 90s and about expanding their work ethic and meeting the right people in order to come into their lavish lifestyles — Lil Wayne proceeded to save rap from going to hell. May we all thank him.
Lil Wayne, during his short feature in Juvenile’s 2004 hit “Back That Thang Up,” finally decided to put an end to the nonsense of “credible” rap with inarguably the most profound and emotive lyrics of all time: “After you back it up and stop, wha-wha-wha-what? Drop it like it’s hot.” I’ve been told by my parents that when I first heard those words at the tender age of 5, I said to my mother, “I have never been so moved in my entire life. I am so grateful for whomever said them.” Since then, I’ve been trying to spread my message that there will never be someone as influential to the rap game as Lil Wayne has always been.
I’ve done the research. I’ve run the numbers. I’ve listened to the debates. And I am beyond qualified to make the following statement: Lil Wayne has NEVER, in all of his active years rapping, had a singular bad verse on any song he has made himself or been featured in. His signature lighter flick began his extraordinary run of never missing a line from 2008–11. He even dabbled in rock music, making a full rock album (“Rebirth”), and is expected (by anyone with taste) to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame whenever they decide to put someone with raw talent in the hall. His excellence in all kinds of music he decides to try is especially impressive given that his discography is so extensive. He has even blessed us with a series of mixtapes that all who have ears should listen to.
Fact: Lil Wayne solidified his top spot as the greatest rapper to ever touch mic when he released “No Ceilings,” his 2009 mixtape. There has not been a mixtape released since that has even begun to scratch the surface of the genius contained in those 21 tracks. He conquers beats in ways the original artists must not have thought possible, or they would’ve done it themselves. Those who think anyone other than Lil Wayne is the best rapper ever are ignoring cold, hard facts, and couldn’t have possibly heard this mixtape. Everyone should listen so they can individually see the light.
Fact: Lil Wayne is the savior of rap music. He has time and time again graced the music scene with expertise to prove that he is truly above us all and grounded himself in our world by reminding us that he’s doing nothing but “getting his share” and “breathing this air.” At the very least, he’s an innovator. At most, he’s otherworldly. In the mind of any person who knows anything about the world that we live in, he’s a revolutionary.