Finding The GOAT (Round 3): LL Cool J vs. DMC…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.

In Round 2, LL Cool J knocked out Run by a sizable margin. In Round 3, Uncle L is out to best both Run-DMC rappers, facing off against DMC. These men are forever tied by fate, two of Russell Simmons’ star pupils, and nearly simultaneously, international Rap stars of the mid-1980s and beyond. In the days of Krush Groove and vying for the “Peter Piper” / “Rock The Bells” samples, the two icons were drenched in friendly competition—as friendly as things could be in those days of the ego-trip. LL has remained more active in the studio than Darryl McDaniels, who was cutting records for several years prior to Radio. For D however, his catalog is largely perceived as iron-clad, pure of some of the “accidental” missteps that have plagued his opposition in the post-Mr. Smith era. It’s a tough decision for many, especially with all things/works considered. Can LL make the GOAT power-move, proving his title to be prophetic? Or will DMC show that Round 4 is his “place to be”? Click one to vote.

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

LL Cool J




LL Cool J

(Second Round Winner, Against Run-DMC’s Run 75% to 25%)
(First Round Bye)

In the last 30 years, LL Cool J has been one of the most active and interesting makers of Hip-Hop music. From his aggressive and boom-bap Radio to his sensuous and soulful Mr. Smith, Todd Smith has been gifted in making each album stand apart, while aiming at his two target markets: Hip-Hop Heads and lovers. From the beginning of his Def Jam Records career, LL took his supreme, battle-tested Rap skills and applied them to a range of issues, making fully-formed, thematic albums. With the profile growth, plaques, stardom, and a marquee acting career, LL Cool J consistently took moments on his albums—into the 2010s, to remind all of his lyrically ferocious pedigree.

With seven platinum and four gold albums, no MC has survived the times with the agility of LL Cool J. The self-proclaimed GOAT has more than two volumes of greatest hits, and won two Grammy Awards decades before he would host the honors. This Queens, New York MC shaped the way Rap stars acted, on and off the mic, and the type of confidence and charm it takes to go mainstream without losing core respect. Thirteen albums deep, LL Cool J not only helped keep the lights on at Def Jam for more than 25 years, the Kangol-wearing MC may have the keystone of the Rap genre.

Other Notable Tracks:

“I Need A Beat” (1984)
“I’m Bad” (1987)
“Ill Bomb” (with Funkmaster Flex and Big Kap) (1999)




(Second Round Winner, Against Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s Grandmaster Melle Mel 56% to 44%)
(First Round Winner, Against The Fresh Prince 67% to 33%)

With rhyme partner Run and DJ Jam Master Jay, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels changed the sound, face, and possibility of Rap music in the 1980s. While Run’s persona had the sharp cadence, arrogant timbre, and a knack for storytelling, DMC had booming vocals, a versatile delivery, and a truly unique style. For all of the Rock references in Run-DMC to match their genre-fusing production, DMC hit the mic like a guitar hero. The perceived friendly one of the group, D MC was nothing nice on the mic, as he ousted suckas, chronicled the stresses of street life, or made getting a college degree incredibly fresh for the early 1980s.

Through seven albums, DMC was the ultimate band mate. He and Run thrived simply by complementing each other, in style and approach as well as in air-tight rhyme routines. Darryl masterfully transitioned the late 1970s nursery rhyme-style deliveries into punchier, more evolved presentation. “Here We Go – Live At The Funhouse” and “Mary, Mary” four years later show the progression, still within the framework. Using his voice truly as an instrument, DMC remains one of Rap’s truest trend-setters. Smooth with a hard delivery, this MC helped bring Rap’s cool-factor to arena status. On stage, on record, and especially in videos and photos, Darryl McDaniels will always be a king.

Other Notable Songs:

“Rock Box” (with Run-DMC) (1984)
“King Of Rock” (with Run-DMC) (1985)
“My Adidas” (with Run-DMC) (1986)

So…who you got?

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