Finding The GOAT (Round 4): KRS-One vs. Guru…Who You Got?

We have now reached the critical Round 4 in the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). With 21 MCs remaining (with the largest winning margin, Rakim receives a bye for the round), things are really coming down to 10 match-ups, leading AFH’s bracket-style series towards its closing rounds. With more than 35 years of MCs taken into consideration, parsed into generational brackets, Round 4 will mark the last series of peer-based battles. In this elite class, only 10 rappers will go on to join Rakim in Round 5. Also, as with Round 3, the winner by the biggest margin in Round 4 will receive a bye in Round 5. Each battle in Round 4 will include full mixes showcasing the enormous talents of each MC. Who stays, and goes on? Only you can decide.

From the late 1980s into the 2000s, KRS-One and Guru proved to be Hip-Hop survivalists, running in the same circles in the journey. Recording classic albums out of neighboring rooms in D&D Studios in Manhattan, “Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Every One” and “Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal” were cut from a different cloth. Bringing in Dancehall and Jazz, respectively, these iconic voices helped Hip-Hop’s lineage stay true to the cause. While Guru passed away five years ago this week, KRS-One has slowed his output of released music, focusing on concerts and lectures. However, the classic songs and acclaimed albums stand tall. KRS toppled another respected peer, Public Enemy’s Chuck D in Round 3. Meanwhile, Guru bested Snoop Dogg by a 20% margin in the last round. Which Rap deity moves on to Round 5? (click on one to vote)

Voting For Round 4 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets






(Third Round Winner, Against Chuck D 79% to 21%)
(Second Round Winner, Against Masta Ace 82% to 18%)
(First Round Bye)

It was KRS-One who adapted MC from entertainer into poet, philosopher, and teacher—coining and living the term “edutainment.” In reality, the Bronx, New Yorker born Larry “Kris” Parker is self-taught, a onetime homeless youth who channeled his aggression and outsized charisma into the competitive battlefield of Hip-Hop. From his introduction, Blastmasta stepped to pioneers like Grandmaster Melle Mel (“I’m Still #1), before squaring off against contemporaries including MC Shan and Marley Marl (“The Bridge Is Over”), and challenging the intentions of classes of rappers to come (“Ova Here”).

The founder of H.E.A.L., Stop The Violence and the Temple Of Hip-Hop has stood tall as a critical link in Hip-Hop’s lineage. From Boogie Down Productions to his solo career, KRS has been able to uphold an improvisational, park-jam style, still dropping quotably insightful commentary three decades after his debut. His delivery consistently points to Rap’s roots in Dancehall, and preserving the elements of the culture. With emphatic cadences, uncompromising sincerity, and a litany of “blueprints,” the Teacha is Hip-Hop’s poet laureate.

The Best Of KRS-One mix by DJ Mudfoot.

Other Notable Songs:

“I’m Still #1” (with Boogie Down Productions) (1988)
“Self-Destruction” (with the Stop The Violence Movement)
“Outta Here” (1993)




(Third Round Winner, Against Snoop Dogg 60% to 40%)
(Second Round Winner, Against J Dilla 72% to 28%)
(First Round Winner, Against Main Source’s Large Professor 88% to 12%)

“It’s mostly the voice,” Guru once reflected about himself. With a smoky delivery, Guru stood apart since his late 1980s introduction to the Hip-Hop masses. A Boston, Massachusetts native, Guru brought his wisdom, his strong Jazz influence, and his voracious reading with him in a relocation to Brooklyn, New York (as chronicled on “The P.L.A.N.E.T.“). That unique sense of self translated beautifully into Gang Starr, the unit, that with partner, DJ Premier, created a perfect balance of street-savvy, gun-totin’ strength, with calming, righteous knowledge. On the microphone, Guru often spoke slowly and clearly, more about substance than style. However, as Gang Starr’s sounds evolved with the message, Keith Elam found a place on the Rap map that was all his own. He sprinkled in songs about authenticity, work ethic, and discipline, making the verses and meaning timeless, and worthy of repeat listens.

On the solo side, Guru continued to bridge that gap with his Jazzmatazz concept, exploring Hip-Hop and Spoken Word set against a plethora of musical styles over more than four albums. A messenger MC to the fullest, the dearly missed Guru manifested his words in more than 20 years of great music.

Guru: Eternal Legend mix by September 7 & DJ Numbawun.

Other Notable Songs:

“Words I Manifest (Remix)” (with Gang Starr) (1989)
“Transit Ride” (with Branford Marsalis)
“Now You’re Mine” (1994)

So…who you got?

Related: Check Out The Finding The GOAT Ballots & Results