Finding The GOAT (Round 3): Dr. Dre vs. Erick Sermon…Who You Got?

We have reached the third round in the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). With 42 MCs remaining, 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. In a twist, the MC to win by the biggest margin in Round 3 will receive a bye for Round 4.

Dr. Dre and Erick Sermon’s musical similarities are strikingly similar. While only one is treading the billionaire line, both of these MC/producers have been Hip-Hop mainstays for approximately 30 years. Whether independent or maneuvering multi-million dollar deals, these artists have always found a way to impact the culture, hold the steering wheel of sonic direction, and reinvent themselves through those around them through the eras. Perhaps each man is better known for his work behind the boards, yet as rappers, both Dre and E-Double have presented verses that are memorized by heart, reaching well beyond the traditional base of Heads. In their thirties, forties, and even (in the case of the Doc) their fifties, these artists defy the belief that Hip-Hop is strictly a young man’s game. Rather, the durability, evolution, and staying power of these two men are as strong as any in the genre. So who stays longer in the Finding The GOAT… search? You decide. (click one to vote)

Voting For Round 3 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets

Dr. Dre


Erick Sermon


Dr. Dre

(Second Round Winner, Against E-40 58% to 42%)
(First Round Winner, Against Diamond D 61% to 39%)

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:

“100 Miles And Runnin'” (with N.W.A.) (1990)
“Deep Cover” (with Snoop Doggy Dogg) (1992)
“Natural Born Killaz” (with Ice Cube) (1994)



Erick Sermon

(Second Round Winner, Against De La Soul’s Trugoy 64% to 36%)
(First Round Winner, Against Biz Markie 79% to 21%)

Before Large Professor, Lord Finesse, and the Dr. Dre that we know about today, Erick Sermon was a supreme producer who could tear down his own beats. Alongside Parrish Smith, E-Double is a comical, pop culture-savvy MC who has a raspy, bigger than life delivery in making EPMD a gold-certified independent Rap crew. More than 25 years later, on his own, in the group, with Def Squad, and everything in between, the Green-Eyed Bandit has delivered fundamental rhyme skills into the new millennium.

Erick Sermon’s delivery comes from the show-and-prove ’80s. While it was always “business,” Sermon forever seemed to be having fun on the microphone, as he bragged about his skills, keeping “Jane” at bay, and his unwavering love of “music.” With a nasal delivery and effortless cadence, Sermon proved to be a major influence on The Notorious B.I.G., in addition to his tangible mentorship of Redman, Keith Murray, Method Man, and the earliest days of Rick Ross. A true microphone commander, the ‘E’ forever used a soft approach, never shuttering his self-confidence. However, against the didactic contemporaries, Erick’s sermons have always been palpable, easily digestible reminders of what pedigree he comes from. A keeper of the funk, a bringer of the bounce, and a gifted giver of the gab, this timeless Hip-Hop voice may make the fisherman hat a crown.

Notable Tracks:

“It’s My Thing” (with EPMD) (1988)
“Why Not” (with Slick Rick) (2000)
“Music” (with Marvin Gaye) (2001)

So…who you got?

Related: Check Out The Finding The GOAT Round 3 Ballots & Round 3 Results