Finding The GOAT (Round 2): Lil’ Kim vs. Ghostface Killah…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 mid-1990s greats, Lil’ Kim and Ghostface Killah made noise with acclaimed crews, before smashing 1996 with two elite solo debuts. These two extremely self-confident lyricists have been busy ever since, big on thematic albums, and visual aids. Dennis and Kimberly may have exclusive cults of fans, but both MCs have fought to keep the New York City underbelly of the ’80s alive, driven by originality, fashion, and tons of attitude. These two decorated vets don’t bend to anyone, so who moves when the respective artists face off in a battle-bracket (click to vote)?
Voting For Round 2 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
Lil’ Kim (First Round Winner, Against Ma$e 57% to 43%)
From a relative unknown, Brooklyn, New York’s Lil’ Kim went to a double-platinum superstar in less than two years. The First Lady of Junior M.A.F.I.A. brought range to the group’s Conspiracy debut, standing out far more than her male peers. Kimberly Jones became the ultimate Notorious B.I.G. under-study, combining her mentor/lover’s knack for telling rags-to-riches tales that Heads could relate to in one verse, and then aspire to in the next. Moreover, Kim took the mid-1990s female Rap image of Heather B, Lady Of Rage, Bahamadia, and reigning Queen Latifah and MC Lyte, and hyper-sexualized it. Kim applied XXX tactics to her marketing, videos, and “talked like [phone] sex” throughout her Hardcore debut, grabbing multi-platinum plaques in bikinis and underwear. Did this approach make Kim a better rapper? No. However, this allowed the sharp-cadenced MC to grab attention, acceptance, and showcase her musical abilities to one of the biggest audiences ever.
Into the late 1990s and 2000s, Lil’ Kim transitioned from an MC rapping about being a street-chick moving up in the word, to an icon. With cross-over hit records, the Queen B stuffed her Rap abilities into Pop tracks, working to (mostly) unite the female contingency in Rap. Following a prison stay after three straight platinum albums, Kim returned with a controversial five-mic LP in 2005’s The Naked Truth. Whether the badge of honor was truly earned, Kim’s most recent studio LP shed the makeup of Rap’s sex kitten, and delivered her back to J.M. form.
Other Notable Songs:
Ghostface Killah (First Round Winner, Against Kurupt 83% to 17%)
Long touted as one of Hip-Hop’s most original MCs, Ghostface Killah entered the scene with Wu-Tang Clan in 1993. A Staten Island native, Ghost’ unconventionally protected his identity until after music had been released. The dynamically-voiced MC shunned the spotlight, one of his most unique qualities. On the microphone though, the longtime friend of RZA was unafraid—whether admitting the poverty on his youth, his emotions surrounding unrequited love, or breaking rhythms (and plenty of conventions) in kicking a verse.
After being one of Clan’s many great role-players, Ghost played a “co-star” on 1995’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… album, before moving into his own 1996 LP, Ironman. Throughout his first three albums, Killah offered a homogenous blend of Gangsta Rap, relationship songs, and brutally honest reflections about race, childhood, and the bygone New York City in the Giuliani Era. A true slang specialist, Ghostface Killah is an abstract MC, who specifically deals in reality. Although he’s become a reality TV personality in recent years, the star of Stapleton projects has been unwavering in giving Heads the Hip-Hop he wants, with no sugar or compromise.
So…who you got?