Finding The GOAT: Spice 1 vs. MJG…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 artists to compete in the bracket are innovators and influencers who thrived without much radio, video, or major label support. Spice 1 and MJG both helped plant their city’s flags on the Hip-Hop map with cinematic, very inventive raps, and 20-plus-year consistency. Both are active, championed by superstar peers, and still living a life that they offered year after year, album after album, no matter the amplitude, for decades. Read these under-sung histories, dabble with the catalog, and cast your vote.
In the realm of Gangsta Rap, Spice 1 has been downright uncompromising. A Bay area pillar (by way of Texas) with nearly 25 years of rapping, Robert Green recreated the streets with Cormac McCarthy-like detail in his songs about murder, psychosis, and always putting the G-code first. Raised in the ’80s, Spice has delivered his rhymes with an old school ear for impeccable timing, charisma, and style, even if he’s largely been relegated to a world of smoking blunts and smoking guns over the course of five acclaimed albums, with plenty more for the diehard Heads.
Spice’s music has always made him a regional star, handcuffed by content and explicit details from most radio and video. However, for the Hughes Brothers’ Menace II Society film, a commentary on the violence and motives of the early ’90s West Coast ghettos, it was “Trigga Gots No Heart” that said it all in a complementary soundtrack moment. A close associate to both Tupac Shakur and MC Eiht, Spice (an apt acronym for Sex Pistols Indo Cash Entertainment) was an early protege of Too Short. With limited exposure in the 1990s, Spice’s music garnered him a multitude of gold plaques, simply by being authentic, skillful Gangsta Rap. Since going back into the underground, Spice 1 has been less visible in the last 10 years, but highly consistent.
Other Notable Tracks:
Like UGK in Port Arthur, Texas, Eightball & MJG has more than 20 years of music that has displayed its tremendous influence with time. The longtime Suave House Records artists (who later had paperwork with Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy, and T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records) are innovators to the possibilities of southern Hip-Hop, and standards in establishing the Memphis, Tennessee scene.
MJG in particular created a careful balance of aggressive lyrics and boisterous deliveries, with a penchant for subdued, “pimp-tight” production. Marlon Jermaine Goodwin (thus the stage name) took what he witnessed in powerful rhyme styles from Run-DMC, Boogie Down Productions, and Geto Boys, and made music that was distinctively his (and Eightball’s) own. With nearly two dozen albums, MJG proved to be a regional star, inventive with his songwriting that repositioned the everyday life in a Soul City into outer space. It is that dichotomy of imagination and straightforward reality Rap that made ‘Ball & ‘G so influential, and never stagnated after 30 years running together as a unit.
Through artists like Big K.R.I.T., G-Side, and Playaz Circle, MJG’s style and trial of influence has been uncovered (just as crosstown band Three 6 Mafia has enjoyed). With that, MJ’ has innovated further, and found the ability to supply his source to those its affected, working now as much as ever, both in solo and group capacity.
Other Notable Tracks:
“Space Age Pimpin'” (with Eightball & MJG and Nina Creque) (1995)
“Throw Your Hands Up” (with Eightball & MJG and Outkast) (1999)
“Worldwide” (with Eightball & MJG) (2007)(with Eightball & MJG) (2007)
So…who you got?
Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets