Finding The GOAT (Round 2): Ol’ Dirty Bastard vs. Redman…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.
From overlapping circles, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Redman brought the unorthodox to the front-and-center. These two MCs studied the ’80s Hip-Hop fundamentals and celebration of fully-formed characters, and created just that in the ’90s and 2000s. With plaques and cult followings behind them, both Reggie and Russell had little regard for radio or the conventions typically associated with media. Instead, they stand as true originals around whom the world maneuvered. After two dominating Round 1 brackets, respectively, the charismatic MCs duel to advance to Round 3.
Voting For Round 2 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
Ol’ Dirty Bastard (First Round Winner, Against M.O.P.’s Lil Fame 77% to 23%)
A true original, Ol’ Dirty Bastard took the traditional rapper playbook and threw it out the window, swerving at 85 miles per hour. A Brooklyn, New York native, the MC first known as Ason Unique formed a mid-’80s crew with RZA and GZA: All In Together. Complementing The Genius’s precise scientific musings, and Prince Rakeem’s imaginative verbal scribbles, Russell Jones honed a style that fused sung vocal melody, rehearsed robotic routines, and an overall disdain for staying inside the lines in his raps. By the time All In Together Now evolved into the Wu-Tang Clan, the re-donned Ol’ Dirty Bastard tailored his role-playing even further. Upon the crew’s introduction, “Protect Ya Neck,” O.D.B. delivered his quick rhymes with instability, a man on the edge of sanity, with great vocal timing, and threatening verbal jabs.
On the solo side, Ol’ Dirty’s evolution was shown between his gritty, stripped down Return To The 36 Chambers 1995 debut and 1999’s polished, mainstream-aimed Nigga Please. A talented singer, despite the vocal imperfections, O.D.B. attracted producers ranging from The Neptunes to Irv Gotti to even Mariah Carey, eager to play with the possibility of Ol’ Dirty. The BK MC carried an authenticity with him, in songwriting, stage presence, and earnest raps that shined in the ever synthetic changing of the millennium. Struggling with addiction for much of his career, Ol’ Dirty passed away 10 years ago this month, a career still unfolding into its full potential. However, with 20 years plugging away at his style, his persona, and his vision, O.D.B. certainly achieved a lot with a little.
Other Notable Songs:
For more than 20 years, Redman has thrived in the major label system making unwavering, unadulterated, and uncompromising Hip-Hop. One of the New Jersey pioneers, Newark’s Reggie Noble is the tallest EPMD product—and one of the few 2010s touchstones to the first wave of Def Jam Records. Although he carried the wit, pop culture references, and Funk-inspired qualities of his mentor, Erick Sermon, Funk Doc has been his own entity, a master of cohesive album-making who always seemed disinterested with hit singles.
From pepped up albums like Doc’s Da Name 2000 and Malpractice to dim inner-journeys like Dare Iz A Darkside and Muddy Waters, to old school homages El Nino, Redman is a true artist. The MC/producer never loses the beat, and seems fully intent on sounding like nobody before him, or after him. One of Hip-Hop’s nice-guy personas has been nothing nice on wax since 1992, with a raucous delivery that’s stayed the course no matter Rap’s changing trends du jour. With a massive catalog, Redman joins his affiliates in Wu-Tang Clan as an ageless face, voice, and style in Hip-Hop. In the ’90s and 2000s, when things were too synthetic, too prim and proper, or too shiny, Reggie Noble was the stalwart to muddy them up. An MC’s MC, this is a true artist who has found the mainstream through being himself on and off the record.
So…who you got?