Finding The GOAT (Round 3): Jay-Z vs. MF DOOM…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.

Jay-Z and MF DOOM are two MCs who were both active in Hip-Hop as far back as the late ’80s. However, both find their greatest strides somewhere between 1996 and 2006. For Jay, the rugged independent started Roc-A-Fella Records and countered the industry and then-trending G-Funk and Hardcore Hip-Hop movements with a 1996 debut album that since became the archetype for street poetry, in essence a hybrid of grit and cashmere. For DOOM, a major label act in the early 1990s, it took the sudden death of his twin brother, bouts with homelessness and addiction to reinvent himself, and make tremendous (presumably therapeutic) strides in lyricism. By the 2000s, both of these MCs were in the top of their classes—Jay, a multi-platinum artist and a mogul. For DOOM, he became a nomadic creative, making an onslaught of experimental projects with labels and peers, reaching the charts through elevated consistency. Finding The GOAT gets interesting, as the wild card winner upset his Round 2 match-up in Elzhi. Meanwhile, Jay weathered a tighter race with AZ, who had actually knocked out Ms. Lauryn Hill in Round 1. In the march to 20 remaining MCs in Round 4, both of these cult-championed monsters will not be there. Who stays, and who goes? You decide. (click one to vote)

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






(Second Round Winner, Against AZ 61% to 39%)
(First Round Bye)

An MC on wax since the 1980s, Jay Z took a journey through the decades to become what is arguably the voice of Rap music for the millennium. Brooklyn, New York’s Shawn Carter is the perfect blend of delivery and content. Moreover, both of those attributes have been dynamic in a career that began as a battle-savvy MC with a Fu-Schnicken-like stutter style, before becoming a slow, conversational MC who chronicled his rise as a street figure in the shadows of the Marcy Houses. Later in his career, Jay condensed his many styles into one, on a truly seminal (short-lived) farewell, The Black Album. Does any Hip-Hop artist have more classic albums, or a wide-reaching debate of his own magnum opus than Jay?

With his business acumen, power moves, and figurehead set aside, on the microphone, the paperless MC took subliminal songwriting to new plateaus, whether he was carefully avoiding self-incrimination or simply refusing to give challengers a name-drop. A protege of Jaz-O and Big Daddy Kane, Jay Z not only hung in there during at least four eras of Rap, he thrived—with his own team and independence in place. The self-proclaimed “God MC” has the impact, the sales, and the versatile catalog throughout the last 25 years that make him an irrefutable GOAT contender. Jay’s upholding the MC tenets along with his advancement of the craft of rapping have forever changed the game.

Other Notable Tracks:

“Dead Presidents II” (1996)
“Where I’m From” (featuring DJ Premier) (1997)
“This Life Forever” (1999)




(Second Round Winner, Against Elzhi 66% to 34%)
(Winner Of Wild Card Round With 45% of the Vote Out Of A Field Of 20 MCs)

Although DOOM’s Zev Love X era helped set the 1990s off, pain, homelessness, depression, addiction, and the loss of his KMD band-mate and real-life brother Subroc made a villain MC. Seeking refuge in art, Metal Face DOOM (a guard against the reminders of his identical twin brother) became among the most gifted MCs of the period. A product of the underground, Daniel Dumile kicked stream of consciousness lyrics, far-reaching oddball references, and bendable flows to a new level on releases like the cult-carried Operation Doomsday. With that niche, MF DOOM resurrected himself figuratively and commercially, staying busy, and rapping away as much pain as possible on a string of lyrically-advanced, oft-self-produced releases that brought new meaning to “spit.”

MF DOOM helped pioneer a stream of consciousness-informed style, with wit, far-reaching similes, and vulnerabilities. From an Elektra Records hopeful to a Fondle ‘Em vinyl-only artist to a charting MC, DOOM’s career is a testament to persistence, reinvention, and creativity above all else. With a style as unique as his image, this wordsmith is revered as one of the 25-year masters of ceremony in Hip-Hop.

Other Notable Tracks:

“What A Niggy Know” (with KMD) (1994)
“?” (with Kurious Jorge) (1997)
“Rock Co. Kane Flow” (with De La Soul) (2004)

So…who you got?

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