Finding the GOAT: Ghostface Killah vs. Kurupt…Who You Got?
Ambrosia For Heads is proud to present the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). We are asking you to help us rank, who is the greatest MC to pick up a mic. We will take over 35 years of Hip-Hop into consideration, pairing special match-ups in a sequence not unlike March Madness. For the next several months, we will roll out battles, starting with artists from similar eras paired against one another, until one undisputed King or Queen of the microphone reigns supreme.
Looking at Hip-Hop’s many iterations, style shifts, and constant elevation, AFH’s next two MC’s to square-off are disciples of the early ’90s, who took the baton, and ran with it: Ghostface Killah and Kurupt. Coming from two of Rap’s leading crews of their day, these MCs are known for their aggression, unpredictability, and fearlessness in creative direction. Oh yeah—and they’re friends too. Check out a recap of each MC’s career below and then weigh in with your vote.
Like his contemporaries Nas and Jay Z, Kurupt took the featured role on other artists’ albums, and maximized the opportunity. A native of Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania (just outside of Philadelphia) Kurupt brought the rugged East Coast style, and applied it to the gang-related imagery he witnessed in his teens, living in South Central, Los Angeles. Often regarded as the most skilled lyricist of the early ’90s Death Row Records dynasty, Kurupt showcased his high-speed, supremely confident lyrics on albums like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle. Three years later, Kurupt (and partner Daz Dillinger) spearheaded Tha Dogg Pound, and became MCs known to apply the combative aesthetic of Battle Rap into their own brand of G-Funk.
After a multi-platinum Dogg Food debut, Kurupt took on “Tha Kingpin” role, and built a solo career outside of the major label marketing machine. The MC maintained respect (and sonic styles) on both coasts through the mid-1990s, and walked away from the war one of the most durable Death Row acts, now off the label. Albums like 1999’s Tha Streetz Iz A Mutha showed an ability to make melodic, lyrical Hip-Hop that brought some of the conventions of the ’90s into the new millennium. Moreover, Kurupt—a Top 10-selling MC from a coast declining in popularity, battled DMX, Murder Inc., and Dre’sta & B.G. Knocc Out throughout his career, never seemingly taking a loss.
If you ask the Black Hippy’s of today, it was Kurupt who unwaveringly maintained lyrics with a SoCal pastiche. His experimental flows (sometimes rhyming the same words together) shaped many to come. With stories to tell, a “piss and vinegar” attitude, and a track record of being both a conventional and experimental rapper, Kurupt is one of the most active, most championed 20+ year vets in Hip-Hop today.
See: “Doggy Dogg World” (1993) (with Snoop Doggy Dogg & Daz)
Long touted as one of Hip-Hop’s most original MCs, Ghostface Killah entered the scene with Wu-Tang Clan in 1993. A Staten Island native, Ghost unconventionally protected his identity until after music had been released. The dynamically-voiced MC shunned the spotlight, one of his most unique qualities. On the microphone though, the longtime friend of RZA was unafraid—whether admitting the poverty on his youth, his emotions surrounding unrequited love, or breaking rhythms (and plenty of conventions) in kicking a verse.
After being one of Clan’s many great role-players, Ghost played a “co-star” on 1995’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… album, before moving into his own 1996 LP, Ironman. Throughout his first three albums, Ghostface Killah offered a homogenous blend of Gangsta Rap, relationship songs, and brutally honest reflections about race, childhood, and the bygone New York City in the Giuliani Era.
Although not always commercially rewarded, in his 21 years, the MC took risks in working with artists like Danger Mouse and MF DOOM, as well as making an R&B-styled LP in 2009’s Ghostdini: The Wizard Of Poetry In The Emerald City. A true slang specialist, Ghostface Killah is an abstract MC, who specifically deals in reality. Although he’s become a reality TV personality in recent years, the star of Stapleton projects has been unwavering in giving Heads the Hip-Hop he wants, with no sugar or compromise.
“Daytona 500 ” (with Raekwon & Cappadonna) (1996)
So, who you got?
Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets