Finding The GOAT: The Fresh Prince vs. DMC…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 brought Rap to its universal appeal: The Fresh Prince and DMC (click on one to vote). These two nice-guys of Hip-Hop used their charms and refined talents to deliver messages to the masses, in gold and platinum form. Both of these rappers from a similar era took everyday circumstances and rhymed them back to the folks living them, with accentuated style and flare. These masters of ceremony elevated the audience of the culture, and became icons of much more than just music.
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Each of these MCs amplified the Hip-Hop style, message, and art-form of rapping. With differing images, both artists made their message easy to relate to, whether you wanted to be king, or were simply love-bitten, caught up in a crazy circumstance. Hit records, immortalized tours, innovative approaches, and the complete package color both of these artists’ histories. Read about these two legendary artists, listen to their music and cast your vote.
The Fresh Prince
Universally known to the world now as Will Smith, The Fresh Prince’s beginnings were laced with charm, charisma, and all-inclusive subject matters. Originally an accessory to DJ Jazzy Jeff’s turntablism and production, the West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania MC took an extremely different approach to songwriting than neighboring Schoolly D and Steady B. The Fresh Prince, for the most part, kept a clean court. Songs like “Girls Ain’t Nothin’ But Trouble” and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” were straightforward records that required no radio edits. Production contained television references, and the raps were slow and low, featuring the digestible diction that The Fresh Prince would ultimately bring to his monster NBC hit sitcom.
Scattered within the hit singles and his historic Grammy Award win (the first ever for Hip-Hop), The Fresh Prince earned the respect of his peers with a gliding wordplay, crisp microphone clarity, and strong storytelling. Records like “Brand New Funk” showcased Will’s rapping skills, while “Summertime” channeled Rakim. The Fresh Prince seized every moment with strong doses of energy, still playing the part of a Rap star that felt like one of us—with a broad definition of “us,” from young Heads, to casual Rap fans living outside of the city, to regular B-boys and B-girls.
Following five albums (three gold, one platinum, and one triple-platinum) with DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Fresh Prince hit his decade-mark with the microphone rapping under his government name, a name that was now permanently burned in lights. A rapper who successfully brought his personality to television, Will Smith would rap with nods to his film roles and Hollywood personalities. The skills remained, as the plaques poured in. Although he was reaching as big of an audience as Eminem, Dr. Dre and Jay Z, The Fresh Prince always maintained his humility—blazing a trail that will last through the “willenniums.”
Other Notable Songs:
“Rock The House (Live at Union Square, New York)” (with DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) (1986)
“Boom! Shake The Room” (with DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) (1993)
“So Fresh” (with Slick Rick & Biz Markie) (1999)
With rhyme partner Run and DJ Jam Master Jay, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels changed the sound, face, and possibility of Rap music in the 1980s. While Run’s persona had the sharp cadence, arrogant timbre, and a knack for storytelling, DMC had booming vocals, a versatile delivery, and a truly unique style. For all of the Rock references in Run-DMC to match their genre-fusing production, DMC hit the mic like a guitar hero. The perceived friendly one of the group, D MC was nothing nice on the mic, as he ousted suckas, chronicled the stresses of street life, or made getting a college degree incredibly fresh for the early 1980s.
Through seven albums, DMC was the ultimate band mate. He and Run thrived simply by complementing each other, in style and approach as well as in air-tight rhyme routines. Darryl masterfully transitioned the late 1970s nursery rhyme-style deliveries into punchier, more evolved presentation. “Here We Go – Live At The Funhouse” and “Mary, Mary” four years later show the progression, still within the framework. Using his voice truly as an instrument, DMC remains one of Rap’s truest trend-setters. Smooth with a hard delivery, this MC helped bring Rap’s cool-factor to arena status. On stage, on record, and especially in videos and photos, Darryl McDaniels will always be a king.
Other Notable Songs:
So…who you got?