Finding The GOAT (Round 2): LL Cool J vs. Run…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.

As two of Rap’s torch-carriers of the mid-1980s, Run and LL Cool J were both from Queens, both managed by Russell Simmons, and both lovers of aggressive deliveries with uncompromising confidence. In their day, legends swirled about the two MCs wishing to square off, particularly when beats sounded alike and subliminal lines seemed to fit. The truth is the two men continue to run in the same circles, brothers in B-boy arms. However, two of the most iconic voices in Hip-Hop’s march to mainstream must square off for once and for all in the battle to find the GOAT (click to vote).

Voting For Round 2 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets

LL Cool J



LL Cool J (First Round Bye)


In the last 30 years, LL Cool J has been one of the most active and interesting makers of Hip-Hop music. From his aggressive and boom-bap Radio to his sensuous and soulful Mr. Smith, Todd Smith has been gifted in making each album stand apart, while aiming at his two target markets: Hip-Hop Heads and lovers. From the beginning of his Def Jam Records career, LL took his supreme, battle-tested Rap skills and applied them to a range of issues, making fully-formed, thematic albums. With the profile growth, plaques, stardom, and a marquee acting career, LL Cool J consistently took moments on his albums—into the 2010s, to remind all of his lyrically ferocious pedigree.

With seven platinum and four gold albums, no MC has survived the times with the agility of LL Cool J. The self-proclaimed GOAT has more than two volumes of greatest hits, and won two Grammy Awards decades before he would host the honors. This Queens, New York MC shaped the way Rap stars acted, on and off the mic, and the type of confidence and charm it takes to go mainstream without losing core respect. Thirteen albums deep, LL Cool J not only helped keep the lights on at Def Jam for more than 25 years, the Kangol-wearing MC may have the keystone of the Rap genre.

Other Notable Tracks:

“I Need A Beat” (1984)
“I’m Bad” (1987)
“Ill Bomb” (with Funkmaster Flex and Big Kap) (1999)

Run (First Round Winner, Against Whodini’s Ecstasy 87% to 13%)

Has Hip-Hop ever seen stars to the relative magnitude of Run-DMC? The edgier of the two Hollis, Queens MCs, Joseph “Run” Simmons is slick talkin’, uncompromisingly confident, and deft with the wordplay. Run may have come into Hip-Hop as Kurtis Blow’s DJ, but he is one of Rap’s supreme MCs. With a limerick-like delivery at the height of his career, Run made nursery rhymes incredibly cool, especially when the subjects looked to the streets, German sneakers, Reagonomics, and the ills of being def.

In the 1980s, the 1990s, and 2000s, Rev Run, as he’s now crowned, maintained his booming vocals—forever a touchstone of dope. Few MCs before Run-DMC used production as effectively at stating their point. Simmons’ diaphragm is a versatile instrument, and used with care in complementing his partner, DMC. Calling out the suckas, celebrating his iconic (and dearly missed) DJ (Jam Master Jay), and nimbly explaining why it was tricky to be one of Rap’s first international superstars, Run is a living, breathing icon. Nearly 10 years removed from an album, Russell Simmon’s brother remains Rap royalty, with eight LPs of ruling scripture.

Other Notable Songs:

“Peter Piper” (with Run-DMC) (1986)
“Down With The King” (with Run-DMC) (1993)
“I Used To Think I Was Run” (2005)

So…who you got?

Related: Check Out The Finding The GOAT Round 2 Ballots & Round 2 Results