Finding The GOAT: Masta Ace vs. Bumpy Knuckles…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 are survivors, who have roots in the 1980s, but arguably made their finest music in the current millennium: Masta Ace and Bumpy Knuckles (a/k/a Freddie Foxxx) (click on one to vote). Both of these men harvested and honed their MC abilities in the 12″ days of the old school, before signing major label deals, fiddling with their sound, and eventually dominating in the independent era. These two masters of ceremony give it all they have, with a lot to show for it, staying more active and respected than some of their well-heeled peers.

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

Masta Ace


Bumpy Knuckles

While Masta Ace has nearly a dozen projects, including his groups, Bumpy Knuckles has a more contained discography, given a limited decade in the ’90s. However, with the Internet, re-releases, and a host of collaborative projects, both of these men have nearly 30 years of music to choose from, featuring various moods, styles, messages, and flows. Read these histories and cast your vote.

Masta Ace


For more than 25 years, Brownsville, Brooklyn’s Masta Ace has epitomized versatility as an MC. As one of the younger Juice Crew members, Duval Clear used his bendable cadences and prodigious insights to string together his verses with ease. Due to his conversational-styled flow, Ace has been able to not only succeed at concept songs, later in his career, Ace made narrative, thematic albums at a time when Hip-Hop was stuck in a la carte music-making.

Never a household name, Ace has been an MC’s MC, whether it was greatly influencing Eminem and D12, or being personally recruited by Spike Lee for a lineup of the Crooklyn Dodgers. Ace’s career is as interesting as any, and yet the EMC-focused rapper rarely relies on his Juice Crew credentials, his Masta Ace Inc. successes, or his salad days to serve up fresh audio meals. Timeless and ageless it seems, Masta Ace hits his every verse with a rookie’s energy and a veteran’s discernment. In addition to his role on archetypal posse cut, Marley Marl’s “The Symphony,” Masta Ace boasts heralded albums like 2001’s Disposable Arts. Without a plaque, Ace carries his medals of fan and peer support instead.

Other Notable Songs:

“Music Man” (1990)
“Acknowledge” (2001)
“Twothousand40” (with Kid Tsunami) (2013)

Bumpy Knuckles


Whether you call him Freddie Foxxx or you call him Bumpy Knuckles, this Long Island, New York MC hit the Hip-Hop scene like a TKO jab back in the 1980s. After years leading his Supreme Force crew, Foxxx became an associate of Eric B.’s, who helped the MC/producer grab an MCA Records deal, releasing Freddie Foxxx Is Here back in 1989. After a warmly-received debut, Foxxx’s street-savvy wisdom, hard-edged deliveries would take shape in the 1990s, a decade in which he did not release an album. After lethal contributing verses to Boogie Down Productions, Flavor Unit, and Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Foxxx had Heads waiting for more, his sophomore album was put on pause, seemingly indefinitely. That’s when this motorcycle-ridin’, amateur boxing, former pimp took the industry by force.

Following some late ’90s appearances on acclaimed New York Rap albums like O.C.’s Jewelz and Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth, Foxxx would emerge as “Bumpy Knuckles.” This MC had the markings of a man unafraid to swing on challengers off the mic. On the mic, he was the same, as 2000’s Industry Shakedown was an indictment on the major label system, culture vultures, and lax rappers in the spotlight. With anger, fury, and 15 years of dues paid, Bumpy Knuckles was the ultimate Rap Robin Hood, with scorching beats by Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Alchemist, and Diamond D. In the 2000s, Bumpy maintained this level of quality, following suit with 2003’s The Konexion. Since, Bump has focused on his production too, and delivered an onslaught of albums, including collaborative works with KRS-One and Preemo. A beacon of bold bars, ravenous deliveries, and O.G. lessons, Bumpy is the self-proclaimed “king of the underground sound.”

Other Notable Songs:

“Rev. Glock” (1994)
“Win The G” (with O.C.) (1997)
“P.A.I.N.E. (Pressure At Industry Niggas Expense)” (2003)

So…who you got?

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