Finding The GOAT: Guru vs. Large Professor…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 MCs to square-off were Wild Pitch Records label-mates beginning the 1990s. Guru and Large Professor (click on one to vote) expanded the subject matters of Hip-Hop, making songs about love, loss, the streets, cornball peers, and more. These two artists applied the tenants of Rap from when they started, and carried it into the 2000s. Masters of ceremonies, these men have been street-wise, heart-felt mentors to legions of artists and millions of fans.
Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
Two MCs who are also credited with monster productions, Guru and Large Pro are undeniably lovers of Hip-Hop culture to the fullest. These men brought elements of other genres into Hip-Hop, suggesting a universal, timeless relativity, which remains equally true of their subject matters. These MCs made it cool to be deep, but never left the street element at home in their catalog. Musical, wise, tangible, these are giants in the mental, and savvy mic controllers. Read these quite different backgrounds and histories, listen to their music and cast your vote.
“It’s mostly the voice,” Guru once reflected about himself. With a smoky delivery, Guru stood apart since his late 1980s introduction to the Hip-Hop masses. A Boston, Massachusetts native, Guru brought his wisdom, his strong Jazz influence, and his voracious reading with him in a relocation to Brooklyn, New York (as chronicled on “The P.L.A.N.E.T.“). That unique sense of self translated beautifully into Gang Starr, the unit, that with partner, DJ Premier, created a perfect balance of street-savvy, gun-totin’ strength, with calming, righteous knowledge.
On the microphone, Guru often spoke slowly and clearly, more about substance than style. However, as Gang Starr’s sounds evolved with the message, Keith Elam found a place on the Rap map that was all his own. He sprinkled in songs about authenticity, work ethic, and discipline, making the verses and meaning timeless, and worthy of repeat listens.
Strong on records, Guru brought his smooth, calm, all-knowing energy brilliantly to stage. Gang Starr would become a vessel of Hip-Hop to non-traditional Rap consumers, touring with Rage Against The Machine as well as Jazz acts. On the solo side, Guru continued to bridge that gap with his Jazzmatazz concept, exploring Hip-Hop and Spoken Word set against a plethora of musical styles over more than four albums. A messenger MC to the fullest, the dearly missed Guru manifested his words in more than 20 years of great music.
Other Notable Songs:
Arguably one of Hip-Hop’s GOAT producers, Large Professor also is a contender in the MC category. The Queens, New Yorker made a classic album with relatively unknown studio group Main Source, and along the way, birthed the careers of Nas, Akinyele, and others. Large Pro provided intellect and street knowledge, often delivering raps with a hard-edged cadence and stiff presentation, while covering matters of the heart and mind.
On songs like “Looking At The Front Door” and “Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball,” Extra P took ideas like breaking up and police brutality and made songs that banged for those simply in search of a dope beat and a catchy chorus. Like many great artists, Paul Mitchell’s raps work on a surface and a much deeper level, reeling in interest and lasting effect. Sadly, after the politics of leaving his group, Large Professor’s solo debut, The LP, was never formally released as planned by Geffen Records in 1996. Bootlegged, and then later brought to release, the work was undoubtedly elite, but sadly a footnote in a career that needed the tipping point, and a time in Rap where Heads needed the knowledge and artistry.
A true Hip-Hop triple-threat, Extra P rhymes, DJs, and produces the track—something that translates to a fundamentally dope live show. Additionally, Large remains a trusted adviser to the likes of Nas, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Cormega and countless others. A quiet giant, a shy genius, this is an artist who has been consistent, honest, and incredibly innovative.
Other Notable Songs:
So…who you got?