Finding The GOAT (Round 2): DMX vs. Fabolous…Who You Got?

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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.

At the turn of the millennium, DMX and Fabolous kept New York City Hip-Hop refreshed in vastly different ways. While X’s style is rugged, impulsive, and emotional, Fab’ is smooth, calm, and steadfast. From polar parts of the city’s MTA map, these two men came up around musical movements, only to eventually take the leads within their camps. Both MCs leveled formidable competition in Round 1 (50 Cent and Rick Ross, respectively) only to look each other in the eye. So which artist, and which sound stands taller in Hip-Hop’s grand scheme? Who is the GOAT between the two (click to vote)?

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

DMX

or

Fabolous

DMX (First Round Winner, Against 50 Cent 67% to 33%)

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In the days following the tragic murders of 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G., while Nas, Jay Z, AZ, and others vied for the crown of East Coast Hip-Hop, no relative newcomer made a harder, faster, and more ferocious fight for the throne than DMX. Not a rookie at all, the Yonkers, New Yorker had spent the decade rhyming, a previous battle-tested beneficiary of major label deals, seemingly treated every track like a battle, even if with himself.

DMX was the perfect late ’90s vessel to suggest a rawness “up top” on the Rap map, while his backdrop played into “down bottom.” Moreover, X’s message inspired others. Although the artist’s legal issues, and unmovable chip on his shoulder towards labels, peers, and the industry were stationary, DMX worked with nearly everybody, bridging a factioned, territorial climate in the genre. Clearly walking as the alpha-dog, Earl Simmons commanded his message, and helped accelerate the labels and industry to the pace of the would-be Internet culture. It was DMX who, alive, could release two #1 albums in the same year. It was DMX who could follow singles deemed too raw for radio and video with crossover tracks. With X in the lead, he opened the doors for not only friend-turned-foe Ja Rule, but also helped ONYX gain renaissance, and create diversified lanes for his crew-mates The LOX, Eve, Drag-On, and Swizz. Few artists in “the shiny suit era” (which arguably X’s success marked the end of) had the perceived authenticity, unpredictability, and tangibility as DMX.

Other Notable Tracks:

“Murdergram” (with Jay Z & Ja Rule) (1998)
“Slippin'” (1999)
“Put ‘Em Up” (2010)

Fabolous (First Round Winner, Against Rick Ross 69% to 31%)

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Ushered into Rap through one of the reigning mixtape kings, DJ Clue, Fabolous represents the bridge from Hip-Hop’s shiny suit era into the digital dominance. The Brooklyn MC has been touted as one of the best rappers on the charts for more than a decade, and few have the hit-making ability as the Elektra-turned-Def Jam star. A counter to the raspy, aggressive deliveries of his late ’90s contemporaries like DMX, The LOX, and Ja Rule, Fab’ embodied a smoothness, both in delivery and subject matters. With unquestionable ties to BK blocks, the Street Fam artist has never been big on touting his reputation, instead making hits that crossed into R&B, making him arguably the one to carry LL Cool J’s torch–successfully engaging a female audience, while maintaining respectful male fans. Often employing a slow flow in the Ma$e wheelhouse (an early ‘Loso collaborator), Fab’ also specialized in carrying on the punchline tradition that was at a pinnacle in the late ’90s, care of Big L, Papoose, and Skillz.

While his beats often dabble with slower, softer music, Fab’ carries a hardcore set of tools into the booth. He mixes clever wordplay, storytelling, and top-shelf songwriting. With two platinum albums, and two additional gold LPs, Fabolous has weathered the storm, and the changes of the music industry, simply by studying the masters, and making a lane for himself.

Other Notable Songs:

“That’s The Way” (with DJ Clue, Ma$e & Foxy Brown) (1998)
“Breathe” (2004)
“You Be Killin’ Em” (with Ryan Leslie) (2010)

So…who you got?

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