Finding The GOAT (Round 2): Kanye West vs. Ja Rule…Who You Got?
We have reached the second round in 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 “playoffs style.” Since Fall 2014, and 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.
Once Def Jam label-mates, Kanye West and Ja Rule have never really run in the same circles. That being said, both of these artists have succeeded in crossing into the mainstream with vastly different messages and styles. Yet, each artist has a litany of hits, plaques, and major appearances. With fame and fortune in the palms of their hands, both ‘Ye and Ja have made bold album decisions, risking it all—to very differing results. Now, you decide, who between them should advance in the competition for the title of the GOAT (click to vote).
Voting For Round 2 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
Kanye West (First Round Bye)
In just over one decade, Kanye West has challenged the status quo of Rap, with an underdog’s story and a Great Dane-sized public persona. Once a Roc-A-Fella Records producer, ‘Ye stepped to the front with College Dropout. The 2004 album, that was initially resisted by members of the Roc family, gave them their biggest cultivated star. Eleven years later, Kanye West knows exactly how to bring all of the pockets of Hip-Hop fans to one commonplace, with a musicality and ability to churn out quoteables.
While Mr. West has never been a master of flow, the MC excels in his ability to give an amplified version of his life to records. With the braggadocio of mentor Jay Z, the relationship woes of Ghostface Killah, the album-to-album experimental progression of Nas and a raw honesty surpassed by no one, Kanye West mystified Hip-Hop. The Chicago, Illinois native was a backpacker’s renaissance in his early days, a farewell to hard-rapping at midstream, and living Pop Art as of late. Along the way, West has consistently given the genre of Rap yearly hallmark albums that vary in tone, theme, sound, and style. Like Dr. Dre, West relies heavily on ensemble in the booth and on the boards. Like no one else in contemporary Hip-Hop, Kanye albums are a collection of singles, studied, quoted, and instant-scripture within the culture.
Other Notable Songs:
“Never Let Me Down” (with Jay Z & J. Ivy) (2004)
“Homecoming” (with Chris Martin) (2007)
“All Of The Lights” (with John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, and Rihanna) (2010)
Guru once rhymed, “It’s mostly the voice, that gets you up.” As Hip-Hop faced a difficult transition in the late ’90s, into the 2000s, Ja Rule was one of the genre’s most recognizable voices. Although his would-be ascent to stardom was closely attached to hit Pop/R&B records with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti, Case, Lil’ Mo, R. Kelly, Bobby Brown, and Christina Milian, Jeffrey Atkins had bars that he honed in his days as a lesser known featured artist, running with the likes of Mic Geronimo, Tragedy Khadafi, and of course, Jay Z and DMX.
Clearly influenced by 2Pac, Ja Rule pushed his voice to sound as scraped and scuffed as the Queens pavement he walked on, and yet he still sounded warm and smoky on radio—for the better part of five years. On one record, R.U.L.E could talk about complicated relationships at a slow and low pace, and on the next, he could hold his own alongside the then-reigning rappers: DMX and Jay Z, who Ja nearly formed a group with. After the multi-platinum success, Ja Rule jerked the wheel. While his high-profile beef/feud with 50 Cent was at a boil, the MC immersed his sound as the antithesis of the G-Unit popularity, looking into the crowd with Blood In My Eye. Notably, he held firm at upholding the “New York” sound (even if the especially hard beat was provided by Miami’s Cool & Dre). Then, with label and legal drama, Murder Inc’s flagship artist went away. However, more than 15 years after Heads got their first taste, the MC remains a steadfast reminder of the hardcore ’90s sounds and a confrontational, military-minded MC that was able to maintain his core, while becoming a mainstream, reality TV, commercial darling.
Other Notable Tracks:
So…who you got?