Finding The GOAT (Round 3): Redman vs. Phife Dawg…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.
Early 1990s contemporaries, Redman and Phife Dawg both used skills obtained from their veteran forefathers and applied them to enduring, colorful careers. While Red’ tied into Def Squad and his hit-making tandem with Method Man, Phife operated largely within the perimeters of A Tribe Called Quest, until the early 2000s. Thus, comparing their work can be a bit of a challenge, but both MCs injected humor, far-reaching references, and silly word-flips into the Hip-Hop Head lexicon for 25 years, each. Without always a guaranteed single, Redman’s been incredibly precise in reaching gold and platinum through nearly every release he carried out in his first 20 years. With Tribe, Mutty Ranks had three platinum and two gold LPs, before his own independent solo effort that followed. These men are forever tied to some of the most fun found on wax. Round 3 promises to be the stiffest competition for each contender yet, and this may be another match-up that could truly tip the scale either way. (click one to vote)
Voting For Round 3 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
For more than 20 years, Redman has thrived in the major label system making unwavering, unadulterated, and uncompromising Hip-Hop. One of the New Jersey pioneers, Newark, New Jersey’s Reggie Noble is the tallest EPMD product—and one of the few 2010s touchstones to the first wave of Def Jam Records. Although he carried the wit, pop culture references, and Funk-inspired qualities of his mentor, Erick Sermon, Funk Doc has been his own entity, a master of cohesive album-making who always seemed disinterested with hit singles.
From pepped up albums like Doc’s Da Name 2000 and Malpractice to dim inner-journeys like Dare Iz A Darkside and Muddy Waters, to old school homages El Nino, Redman is a true artist. The MC/producer never loses the beat, and seems fully intent on sounding like nobody before him, or after him. One of Hip-Hop’s nice-guy personas has been nothing nice on wax since 1992, with a raucous delivery that’s stayed the course no matter Rap’s changing trends du jour. With a massive catalog, Redman joins his affiliates in Wu-Tang Clan as an ageless face, voice, and style in Hip-Hop. In the ’90s and 2000s, when things were too synthetic, too prim and proper, or too shiny, Reggie Noble was the stalwart to muddy them up. An MC’s MC, this is a true artist who has found the mainstream through being himself on and off the record.
Like some other GOAT contenders, Phife Dawg has thrived within a group that has inevitably placed him more in the shadows, despite amazing lyrical efforts. Especially on A Tribe Called Quest’s first three albums, the “five foot assassin” has been nothing short of amazing, combining wit, aspiration, humility, and skilled wordplay in his extensive raps.
A product of A.T.C.Q’s strong Jazz influence, Phife (like Q-Tip) carried a free-form approach to delivery. Throughout a verse, the altered speed, meter, and flow shifted seamlessly, which made for such an interesting listen. Additionally, Phife’s verses remain at the zeitgeist of their era—particularly on The Low End Theory. In the early ’90s, the pop culture references are spot-on, time capsules that Heads travel back to, remembering an untouchable era in music, in New York, in fashion and society. Similarly, Phife checked in with verses at the later part of the decade that suggest the many transformations, from less innocent times, to the absence of love, peace, and fellowship within Hip-Hop. By the early 2000s, before taking a lengthy hiatus from Rap, Diggy also showed a blueprint to the underground, on how to make moving, low profile Hip-Hop that upheld the standard of quality. Phife is an integral, oft-underplayed ingredient to Tribe’s status as one of the GOAT groups, so why wouldn’t he be a solo contender in his own right?
Other Notable Tracks:
So…who you got?