Finding The GOAT: Pusha T vs. Joell Ortiz…Who You Got?

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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 are known for running with high-profile crews, and a fundamental solo approach on the side: Pusha T and Joell Ortiz (click on one to vote). Although the sales may not equate to the respect levels, these two MCs have fervor, love of the culture, and an abundance of stories.

Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets

Pusha T


Joell Ortiz

Each of these artists has suffered industry stand-stills at different career points, and resiliently bounced back on his own terms. Two giants on the mic that stand tall show down against each other in this space. Read, listen and vote.

Pusha T


Since the introduction of The Clipse, Pusha T (along with blood brother and band-mate No Malice) were championed as MCs from an elite class. In the 2000s Gangsta Rap renaissance, Pusha Ton combined razor-sharp deliveries with picturesque accounts of his street exploits. When MCs and rappers were being segregated for subject matters as much as skills, Pusha T stepped on notions of what a signed, D-boy MC could sound like, making audiences take notice. The Virginia Beach MC combined Southern style with memories of the Hip-Hop he heard in the Bronx as a child, making albums like Lord Willin’ and Hell Hath No Fury rather unique listens.

Facing industry hurdles, King Push used his hustler’s intuition. He, Mal, Ab-Liva and Sandman formed the Re-Up Gang and dominated the mid-2000s mixtape scene. Terrence Thornton approached the microphone with a one-versus-all industry approach, and in tune, ruffled the feathers of Lil Wayne, Drake, Consequence, and others along the way. Since teaming with Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music, T took his high-profile debut, My Name Is My Name, and stirred the pot with hard-nosed brag-rap. With an advanced delivery, Pusha T has gone into the future, looking backwards at the attitudes, messages, and machismo that made Rap what it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For 15 years, the VA mainstay has been a champion of bars, worthy of GOAT status.

Other Notable Songs:

“Monopoly” (with Re-Up Gang) (2005)
“Street Wars” (with Vinnie Paz, Block McCloud and Clipse) (2010)
“Numbers On The Boards” (2013)

Joell Ortiz


Joell Ortiz has prepared a deeply-authentic New York City experience in his verses for more than 15 years. The Brooklyn, New York native’s career began on 12″ singles in the last glory days of Rawkus Records. With a unique cadence and brassy vocal tone, Ortiz’s ability to depict an Everyman lifestyle, on the edge of the law, has made him relateable to so many. Prior to Joell’s solo debut, Dr. Dre courted the artist formerly known as Jo-Ell Quickman to Aftermath Entertainment. When the deal failed to produce fruit, Ortiz’s grind made his own path through records that had minimalistic production, and blitzkrieg rhymes.

In just three albums, Joell’s proved to be a sustainable underground act. Meanwhile, now under the tutelage of Eminem, Jo’s Slaughterhouse crew and he have achieved a much-deserved level of mainstream success. From Em to Dre, Showbiz to Alchemist, DJ Premier to Just Blaze, Hip-Hop’s elite producers have clamored to work with the deft MC who flips words with precision, stuffed with accounts of an under-sung NYC. Both self-confident and self-deprecating, Joell’s catalog has been built to last, and with a career that’s truly taken form in just seven years, this GOAT is running up the hill.

Other Notable Songs:

“Move On” (with Slaughterhouse and The Kickdrums) (2009)
“Battle Cry” (with Just Blaze) (2010)
“Nissan, Honda, Chevy” (with Jim Jones) (2010)

So…who you got?

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