Finding The GOAT (Round 4): LL Cool J vs. Redman…Who You Got?

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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.

In the 1980s, LL Cool J helped make Def Jam Records possible. In the 1990s, Redman helped make the very same label endure through its toughest times. Label-mates for for nearly 20 years, LL Cool J and Redman are two storied collaborators who have very different styles. LL is big on polish, crisp lyrics, and a vast repertoire that is B-Boy certified, and loved by the ladies. Like one of his famed albums, Redman is much more “muddy.” The Brick City MC thumbs his nose to conventions, embracing humor and psychedelia in lieu of groomed lyrics and straightforward styles. For Funk Doctor, the repertoire has always been a free-for-all, and through three decades, fans loved the unpredictability, disregard for acceptance, and sincere spit of the MC. Both of these rappers are true originals, and pillars of endurance to a genre known for its ephemera. Both artists have been landslide winners against stiff peer competition. Now, as contemporaries a few years apart, the MC who influenced classes of other MCs, and your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper square off. (click one to vote)

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

LL Cool J




LL Cool J

(Third Round Winner, Against Run-DMC’s DMC 80% to 20%)
(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.

I’m Bad: The Best Of LL Cool J mix by DJ King Nade

Other Notable Tracks:

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




(Third Round Winner, Against Phife Dawg 80% to 20%)
(Second Round Winner, Against Ol’ Dirty Bastard 75% to 25%)
(First Round Winner, Against The D.O.C. 88% to 12%)

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.

“Best Of Redman Lunchtime Mix (April 17, 2014)” by DJ Mister Cee

Notable Tracks:

“How To Roll A Blunt” (1992)
“Rockafella (R.I.P)” (1994)
“Da Rockwilder” (with Method Man) (1999)

So…who you got?

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