Finding The GOAT (Round 2): E-40 vs. Dr. Dre…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.
Two West Coast pioneers come to a head in Round 2. E-40 and Dr. Dre each sizeably beat two formidable opponents in Round 1 to have a Southern California vs. Northern California showdown. These two artists have been Hip-Hop mainstays for more than 55 combined years, with a litany of plaques, accomplishments, and hit records. While Dre made a B-line for the mainstream since his days with N.W.A., possibly becoming Rap music’s first billionaire, E-40 has stayed a hometown hero, who has crossed over several times, in multiple decades, but decidedly stayed rich in his soil. One sold a company to Apple, the other owns a series of Fat Burger chains and has a line of wines. They may do it on different levels, but both of these ’60s babies do it incredibly well. Looking exclusively at their skills as MC entertainers, this one may require some extra thought (click one to vote):
Voting For Round 2 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
The old adage, “I came to the fork in the road, and went straight” certainly applies to the career of E-40. By most standards, the Vallejo, California MC is among the most innovative, original, and nimble lyricists in Hip-Hop history, and he’s been successful at it for more than 20 years. The seemingly ageless rapper, 40 Water’s geographical disadvantage, and his loyalty to the sound and production he’s favored may have hamstrung the vocational vocalist. However, even without mainstream radio and video support, the Sick Wid It Records CEO (B-Legit, Celly Cel, Turf Talk) has garnered a plethora of plaques, and remains a serious sales juggernaut in the 2010s.
In terms of content, Charlie Hustle plays all the positions. A gangsta rapper at the core, albums like Federal and The Mailman are archetypal releases that were years ahead of their time in profiling drug sales, leeching objects of lust, and a series of anthems about cars. With The Click’s history dating back to the mid-1980s, 40 Water’s ability to brag and boast (as “Mr. Flamboyant”) are top-notch. With 22 official solo releases, not to mention collaborative works, group albums, and a conveyer belt of guest appearances, the Water has never stagnated or gone still. Instead, Earl Stevens stays passing Go, collecting at every corner. Perhaps what is E-40’s greatest attribute has been his ability to evolve. From The Click’s earliest dookie-rope chain days to 40’s Jive Records run in the mid-to-late ’90s, and into the Hyphy movement in the early 2000s, 40 has always been there. His content and evolving slang has never wavered, even while the production and presentation has grown with the catalog.
Other Notable Songs:
For more than 30 years, Dr. Dre has kept our heads ringin’ with beats and verses. Although Dre has sought out skilled writers for many of his messages (The D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, Eminem), nobody can deny that the Compton, California uber-star has been skilled at delivering rhymes that have been cemented as memorable street scripture. A DJ first, Andre Young understands the recipes and nuances of a hit record, sonically and lyrically, across genre. In making his music cinematic, Dre has clearly, succinctly, and cleverly kicked rhymes that were digestible to far-reaching audiences, but certified by Heads who had championed him since the N.W.A. days.
Working alongside lyrical titans like Ice Cube and MC Ren early in his career, along with Eazy-E’s bigtop antics and booming voice, Dre refused to shrink or step aside. With a smooth vocal tone and nimble deliveries, Dre never came across as a weakened link in any of his crews. In fact, Dre’s contributions alongside Cube, Snoop, Eminem, Xzibit, and Kurupt have never been dwarfed. Dre holds his own, and his verses are straightforward, sincere messages, whether about the Crenshaw District, Dre’s late brother, or how the Aftermath Entertainment founder counts his (b)illions. If every MC’s goal is to control the mic and make a record unforgettable, on rapping alone, is Dre not a mountain-GOAT?
Other Notable Songs:
So…who you got?