Finding The GOAT: Slick Rick vs. Shock G…Who You Got?
As we continue 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.
The next two MCs to square-off are as legendary as their accessories and stage props: Slick Rick and Shock G. With mid-1980s beginnings, these two MCs studied singers, stand-up comedians, and some of history’s greatest entertainers, only to apply the lessons to Rap. One told stories, while the other hosted parties. Each influenced legions of peers and pupils on how to sustain a career, add something different, and persevere through hardships. From opposing coasts and wildly different movements, these two have a lot in common. Listen to these similar icon’s music, message and read up on their impact before casting your vote.
One of Hip-Hop’s foremost storytellers, Slick Rick’s output has been much more J.D. Salinger than Mark Twain. Born in England, the Bronx-native was the breakout complement to Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew. With an unmistakeable voice, effortless delivery, and conversational approach to rapping, Rick could take seemingly nonsensical routines like “La Di Da Di,” and spin them into Rap folklore.
After making a classic debut in 1988’s The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick, one of Hip-Hop’s most innovative, three-dimensional stars of the day was among the genre’s first to sacrifice his career to the judicial system. Accused of attempted murder, the Def Jam Records sensation would spend the better part of the next five years “behind bars.” Even still, MC Ricky D’s carryover material, such as 1994’s Behind Bars still had glimmering moments, despite being made by an artist who was hamstrung by wildly changing musical times since before his bid.
Even still, Slick Rick—with just four albums, has risen to the ranks of legends. In recent years, through appearances with his pupils (Outkast, Mos Def, Raekwon, Chamillionaire), “the eye-patch” is ageless. Never a gangsta rapper, Rick was able to combine the innocence of mid-’80s Hip-Hop with a mischievous side. Like any continental star, Rick has been inventive with storylines—from pizza parlor romances, to the mind of soldiers in the War On Terror. Now known as “The Ruler” (likely to avoid legal/label troubles), Rick is a Hip-Hop mystic, and like The D.O.C, a reminder that through hardship, tragedy, and limited output, icons are immortal.
Other Notable Tracks:
Few Hip-Hop artists have been able to channel the attitudes and free-forms of Funk as well as Shock G. The mastermind behind Digital Underground, Shock used props, secret characters, grand choruses, and versatile voices to conduct an orchestra that was seemingly a direct link to Parliament-Funkadelic and Sly & The Family Stone. A native of Oakland, California, Shock helped define the Bay area beyond the hustling, pimping, and gangsters on the streets. Along the way, he mentored 2Pac, Saafir, and others.
Like KRS-One with Boogie Down Productions or Brother J with X-Clan, Shock G invested himself into Digital Underground to make the brand-moniker bigger than himself as a front man. Songs like “The Humpty Dance” and “Same Song” transcended the genre to become crossover hits, that while easygoing, maintained deft deliveries and skilled rapping. In more than seven albums, D.U. stayed strong, and was committed to keeping Hip-Hop a party, even as direct family members to the fold were changing the genre’s overall perception.
Although it’s been more than a decade since Shock G has had a notable hit, he continues to mentor, continues to produce, and continues to push boundaries within the confines of genre. The Funkateer has had tremendously underplayed impact on Hip-Hop, from the whimsical to the purpose-driven, the silly to the outcry. Digital Underground was deliberately underground, but take away Shock G from Hip-Hop, and as much as any artist over the last 25 years, the impacted landscape may change beyond comprehension.
“The Humpty Dance” (with Digital Underground) (1990)
“I Got 5 On It Remix” (with Tha Luniz, Michael Marshall, E-40, Spice-1, Mac Mall, Dru Down, & Richie Rich) (1995)
“Knee Deep (Deep As A Mother Funker Remix)” (with Digital Underground & George Clinton) (1996)
So…who you got?
Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets