Finding The GOAT (Round 2): Black Thought vs. Beanie Sigel…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.

South Philadelphia’s two largest scale contributions to Hip-Hop meet in Round 2 with followings that could fill the Spectrum, the Link, and Veterans Stadium. Black Thought topped a tour de force in Wu-Tang Clansmen Raekwon in Round 1, by nearly 15%. The Roots front man meets State Property front Beanie Sigel, who defeated his band mate Freeway by more than triple the votes. Now, these Things Fall Apart collaborators face off to see who reigns over the City of Brotherly Love. With die-hard fans in tow, classic singles, acclaimed albums, and a streak of consistency, who goes forth (click one to vote)?

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

Black Thought


Beanie Sigel

Black Thought (First Round Winner, Against Raekwon 57% to 43%)


In a 20-plus-year career, with songs ranging from jam band stream of consciousness to ferocious battle-style verses to introspective commentary, is anybody as diverse as Black Thought? Tariq Trotter is a ’90s MC with ’80s timing and delivery, and a 2000s-style connection with his city and emotions. Philadelphia-raised and long accepted through his work in New York City, Black Thought is totally different than the norm—and he even uses microphones unlike his peers to remind Heads. Despite grumblings and a handful of records and a mixtape, Thought has never released a solo album. Instead, The Roots’ front man (also an Okay Player and Money Making Jam Boy) has been a team player, gifted at bending genre, sharing stages, and as he does on nearly every weeknight of the year—blending his skills with anyone’s sound. With a number of heralded albums and songs, this is a purist’s MC with unfathomable endurance, on the mic and in his career.

Like so many vocalists to bands, Black Thought is tireless at making songs, conceptualizing ideas, and perhaps more than any MC in Hip-Hop history, performing. As a rapper and singer, Thought’s contributions through The Roots are deeply understated, as one of the true showmen in the genre and culture has forever kept the party moving with an approach that honors the greats.

Other Notable Tracks:

“Thought @ Work” (with The Roots) (2002)
“Cause I’m Black” (with Styles P) (2008)
“75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction)” (with The Roots) (2007)

Beanie Sigel (First Round Winner, Against Freeway 78% to 22%)


During a time when Gangsta Rap was out of vogue, Philadelphia’s Beanie Sigel entered the scene as Roc-A-Fella Records’ enforcer. B. Sig’ verses spoke from a place of the hustling have-nots, with an undisputed sincerity. Not a fast rapper, Sigel’s ability to express himself, and hit a pocket of Rap has made him one of the most respected voices of the early-to-mid-2000s. Like Ol’ Dirty Bastard or 2Pac, Beanie’s real-life collided with his raps, only adding to their rawness and realness, at a time when most rappers were plausibly decorated fiction writers.

In his first three albums, Beanie Sigel’s loose temper, brutal honesty, and entrenched Philadelphia vernacular, perspective and demeanor made Roc-A-Fella a force to be feared on the charts, on stage, and in the clubs. Although Beanie carried out elements found in the music of his mentor, Jay Z, as well as longtime collaborator, Scarface, Beans made hits on his own, and was successful in launching a pack of unconventional Rap stars. The Broad Street Bully embodied his city in the 2000s, and even as he stretches to make another enduring album, many argue that Dwight Grant is still one of the 215’s all-time greatest.

Other Notable Songs:

“The Truth” (2000)
“So What You Saying” (with Memphis Bleek) (2001)
“Feel It In The Air” (with Melissa Jay) (2005)

So…who you got?

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