Since we’ve reviewed so many rappers for the upcoming 10 Greatest MCs of all time, I felt we should definitely include some of the interesting highlights from that list. My thinking was A) It would give people more insight into the criteria used to rank the rappers, and B) it would provide more opportunities for an incredible deluge of hate mail.
While most of the rappers at the top and bottom of the list lived and died by a crippling Achilles’ Heel (that, in some cases, prevented them from taking the top spot), I have decided to highlight a group of individuals that did nothing notable enough during their careers to make them either loved or hated -they were just happy to be there, keeping their heads low enough so the bosses didn’t notice them, and doing just enough not to get fired. They are truly hip hop’s middle management. And today, they get their day in the partly-clouded sun.
Presenting (in no particular order) the most mediocre rappers of all time:
Ace Hood’s career has been steady, but relatively unremarkable to date. He scored a few minor hits, he has a decent flow, but he’s neither insightful enough nor terrible enough to truly be a force in southern hip hop. And as we all know, in order rule the south, you have to be one or the other.
Juelz Santana is Cam’Ron light: the diet coke of the Diplomats. He has attained about the same level of success as both Killa Cam and Jim Jones, and has the same knuckle dragging sensibilities that bring the rest of that crew down in our rankings. However, he’s no where near as vicious a lyricist as Cam can be (when he’s not picking out selections for his pink wardrobe), or as terrible as Jim Jones (who’s better known for his “Ballin’!” dance and reality TV than for any verse he ever spit). He’s simply Juelz Santana – delightfully innocuous.
It’s hard to be a member of such an elite squad as the Wu-Tang Clan was in their heyday. Your standouts were either incredible lyricists (Inspecktor Deck, GZA, Raekwon, Capadonna), Had an abundance of charisma (RZA, Method Man, Ghostface, ODB), or were so god-awful that they dragged down any song they were on (I’m looking at you, Masta Killa). U-God, to his detriment, had none of these things. He anchored verses well enough to not be terrible, but couldn’t carry a song by himself either (The one time he tried, we got “Black Shampoo”. Yikes.)
He simply did his job, like the Ron DeVoe of the Wu-Tang should.
Warren G is, as Tom put it, “The Smooth Jazz of Rap Music”. He never did anything terrible, but his hit song “Regulate” owes more to Nate Dogg than to himself. Not much more than a lesser version of Snoop Dogg, Warren G had a successful career, and did just enough to keep you from changing the station, but not enough to make you stand to your feet either. A Warren G song is as comfortable on an elevator as any song by Sixpence None the Richer.
In legendary West Coast stoner group Cypress Hill, you had three guys: B-Real, DJ Muggs, and Sen Dog, colloquially referred to as “the other guy”. It’s not his fault, all the groups charisma and lyricism just belonged to the better of the two, and his guttural chants (“And you know I had to Gat ya!”) could have been anybody. Also, he may have had a few good verses, but damned if anyone can remember any.
The other half of Mobb Deep, by all accounts, is every bit as essential to the group’s success as lyrical standout Prodigy, since he crafted the beats that made the duo the second most talked about rappers from Queens. Unfortunately for him, this is a measurement of his rapping ability, and while he was never terrible, he just never had so much as a punchline that stood out during the group’s heyday. Every experiment needs a control, however, and in order to even be considered a good rapper, you have to meet what I’ve now dubbed “The Havoc Standard”.