Finding The GOAT: Pete Rock vs. J. Dilla…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 in the bracket may be known for thumping beats, but each has lyrics to go: Pete Rock and J. Dilla (click on one to vote). Contemporaries, and two artists who absolutely influenced each other, both of these men know how to bring their own tracks to life. Although not cutthroat MCs by any means, these two may be rightful GOAT impressionists.

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

Pete Rock


J. Dilla

Sadly, J. Dilla passed away in 2006. Through emerging material, and 10 years of releasing at a breakneck pace, the movement lives on. Meanwhile, Pete Rock, now an independent artist after years with Elektra, Loud, and BBE, has been ramping up his own output on the mic. Although the catalogs are different than that of traditional lyricists, these two men are worthy runners in the GOAT rally. Read these histories and cast your vote.

Pete Rock


Known for his production skills first and foremost, Pete Rock has proven himself to be a steadfast MC for more than 20 years. The Mount Vernon, New Yorker began his run with rapping, switching places with partner CL Smooth as something of a novelty on All Souled Out. By the end of the ’90s, P.R. was able to sustain his own albums, holding down tracks free of guests, while also donating his vocal contributions to others. Like fellow producer-MCs Diamond D, Large Professor, and Dr. Dre, Pete Phillips knows how to flex his voice to make even the most mundane bars sound big and meaningful.

Twenty years removed from full projects with CL, Pete Rock’s ability to rap about upholding the daily operation of a Hip-Hop career have made his albums catchy, even if a lot of the Chocolate Boy Wonder’s subject matter is making beats. Smooth with the presentation and a deep vocal tone, Pete Rock’s constant, on the boards, the tables, and the mic is simple: soul.

“The Creator” (with Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth) (1991)
“Tru Master” (with Inspectah Deck and Kurupt) (1999)
“Fakin Jax” (with INI) (1995, released 2003)

J. Dilla


In 10 years, J. Dilla made a lasting impact on Hip-Hop. With his groups, Slum Village and JayLib, the Detroit, Michigan native had peppy, unpredictable beats. On the microphone, James Yancey was much the same. A tremendous song-maker, Dilla had the ability to take songs seemingly about nothing, and make them lasting jewels, with slick wordplay, catchy choruses, and a strong bid of self-confidence. In other moments, on the subjects of big trucks, polyamory, or strong attractions, Jay Dee thrived in concept.

Like his close collaborators Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip, Dilla adapted to groups, as well as stamped out a solo career with direction and devotion. Part of the reason Dilla’s posthumous works are so sought-after and marketable is that the onetime Delicious Vinyl Records artist rarely wasted a moment. His beats influenced some of today’s driving hit-makers, but Dilla’s rhymes may very well be the eternal essence of Detroit’s sound as well.

“Keep It On (This Beat)” (with Slum Village) (1997)
“Players” (with Slum Village) (2000)
Thelonius (with Common & Slum Village) (2000)

So…who you got?

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