Finding The GOAT (Round 2): Rakim vs. Kool Moe Dee…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.

Both Rakim and Kool Moe Dee helped bridge Hip-Hop from its original form into the present day. Thanks to the Treacherous Three MC’s, Moe Dee would become a profound influence on Rakim’s style and persona. Rakim, in turn, would go on to influence an entire generation of MCs. Each New York MC captured the zeitgeist of the Hip-Hop movement and their city with uncompromisingly confident, informed rhymes that never shied from creative invention. From the ’80s, into the ’90s, and still active in the 2000s, these two rappers transcend the title, simply as Rap icons. After Moe Dee bulldozed over another MC pioneer in Kurtis Blow in Round 1, this Round 2 face-off is one of the biggest yet (click to vote):

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



Kool Moe Dee

Rakim (First Round Bye)


Rakim Allah is revered as one of the “most high” among MCs. A Long Island, New York native, Rakim made noise as a high school lyrical phenom, that had the five boroughs abuzz in the mid-1980s. By ’86, he would cross paths with an aspiring record executive, Eric Barrier, and form the heralded duo, Eric B. & Rakim. On funky tracks (many Rakim alleges he produced), the MC displayed a flow that was deeply progressive in the era of the boom-bap. From his earliest singles, William Griffin, Jr. had a malleable cadence that allowed him to break into multi-syllabic rhyming bars, and a style that was presented more as conversation than an onslaught of statements. Within that delivery, Rakim’s writing was founded upon pride, B-boy style, and the desire to be “paid in a full.”

In the next 30 years, Rakim has won over the masses time and time again. On four albums within Eric B. & Rakim, the MC grabbed platinum and gold plaques, served the people with quoteable hit singles, and maintained a supreme stage show. On his own by the early ’90s, the MC became a rare commodity, only sporadically releasing songs and albums over the last 20 years. Whether alongside Jay Z, Kanye West, or Nas, Rakim has proven that he cannot be eclipsed or overshadowed, on the mic or in the history books. Along the way, Rakim rarely relied on cursing, controversy, or crudeness to take something from “in the ghetto” and help make it truly universal.

Other Notable Tracks:

“Microphone Fiend” (with Eric B. & Rakim) (1988)
“Don’t Sweat The Technique” (with Eric B. & Rakim) (1992)
“Waiting For The World To End” (1999)

Kool Moe Dee (First Round Winner, Against Kurtis Blow 73% to 27%)


Kool Moe Dee was highly present as the first national and international Rap records were being pressed. An integral member of The Treacherous Three, the Manhattan-born Mohandas Dewese was known as one of Rap’s first hay-maker MCs, vying for top spot all the time, among his peers. Barely into his twenties, Moe Dee accosted Busy Bee in a legendary changing of the guard, before famously entering a long-standing rivalry with LL Cool J, that lasted into the 1990s.

Kool’s attitude, and commanding lyrics set a tone into the 1980s. One of the first artists that was part of an acclaimed group to successfully transition solo, Kool was influential and heavily ahead of his time. Working out of genre (from The Isley Brothers to Zebrahead to Regina Belle), Moe Dee always showed those who studied him what Rap was truly capable of. Always charged in the booth, the sunglasses-donning MC’s approach was pushing hard rhymes over catchy beats. Perhaps like his peers, Kool Moe Dee is at his best on stage. Built around showmanship, the artist who helped bring Hip-Hop to the Grammy stage remains actively doing concerts, even if his recording output has waned. Today, as he was on albums for nearly 15 years, Kool Moe Dee is nothing to mess with, and an emblematic artist who carried the torch, produced hits, and made it look cool to Rap.

Other Notable Tracks:

“Yes We Can-Can” (with Treacherous Three) (1984)
“How Ya Like Me Now” (1987)
“I Go To Work” (1989)

So…who you got?

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