Finding The GOAT (Round 4): The Notorious B.I.G. vs. Andre 3000…Who You Got?
We have reached the final match up in Round 4 of the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). With 21 MCs remaining (with the largest winning margin, Rakim received a bye for the round), things came 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 marked 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. Voting for Round 4 will close at 5pm EST on Sunday, April 26. Who stays, and goes on? Only you can decide.
At the intersection of style and substance, The Notorious B.I.G. and Andre 3000 are kings. These MCs have captivated the mainstream since roughly the same time, in the early 1990s. Each made classic albums, cultivated proteges, and helped peers make hits out of thin air. For The Notorious B.I.G., his life and career were cut short after less than five years of work. For Andre 3000, much of the last decade has been reduced by recluse. Both artists are beloved outliers, with legacies only enhanced by nostalgia, and desire for more music. Both MCs refused to stay stagnant, and grew while they had the masses’ faith. From Michael Jackson to M.O.P., Gwen Stefani to Slim Calhoun, these artists blended in any environment, and showed the possibility in Rap lyrics and delivery. In the final battle of Round 4, who goes forth, the King of New York or the King of the South? (click one to vote)
Voting For Round 4 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie Smalls (a/k/a The Notorious B.I.G.) redefined what a Hip-Hop star looked like and sounded like, when he released his classic 1994 debut, Ready To Die. In one place, B.I.G. combined fully-executed concept, lyricism, storytelling, and Pop-minded sensibilities. At the height of the music video era, Biggie became a superstar without ever tucking in his supreme MC abilities, that he chiseled from five years of battling on Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn’s Fulton Street. With two solo and one Junior M.A.F.I.A. studio albums in his brief career, Biggie has the sales to match his over-arching influence on the culture and the craft of rapping.
Although his verses employed humor, depravity, embarrassment, braggadocio, and more—the main theme is sincerity. Whether he was in the mindset of an ostracized youth, a stressed-out corner-boy, or a Frank White-like mafioso, Christopher Wallace was a master of method-acting-rapping, ’cause he’d seemingly lived it all. He stood at the zeitgeist for what a generation wanted, grew up with, and the hurdles they were up against. Whether rapping alongside Sadat X, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, or R.A. The Rugged Man, Big Poppa got in where he fit in—and the likable underdog with the over-achieving rhyme patterns and straight-forward street wisdom remains loved by all.
Outkast’s Andre 3000 joins Nas and The Notorious B.I.G. as one of the everlasting breakthrough artists of 1994. As a teenager at the time, Andre Benjamin quickly proved to be a source of insightful verses that are as much syncopated Spoken Word as they’re simply raps. The Atlanta, Georgia native is a poet who—to quote Khalil Gibran—”composes what life proses.” That very gift has made 3 Stacks a beacon to pimps, players, poets, philosophers, and preachers alike—in the same couplets and stanzas. His musings form enduring verses on the subjects of competition, sex, racism, exes, and simply hangin’ out, the Southern way.
In the course of his career, the MC (who also produces hit records for himself and others) has operated near-exclusively in the guise of Outkast. However, even without an album in nearly a decade, Andre 3000 has challenged his own silence with sporadic, highly-penetrating songs and mere 16-bar appearances. Whether he’s making the next ‘Kast moment, or simply having fun on a DJ Unk ringtone-hit remix, 3000 is able to make even the most fickle fan a listener. His catalog of songs largely feel like new, insightful commentary that stands tall, whether 1994, 2004, or 2014. He has classic albums, the upper-echelon of sales figures, and has made hits, whether working with Gwen Stefani or Devin The Dude. With a rich vocal tone amidst a Dirty South cadence, ‘Dre still has a clarity and adjustable flow that no one can mimic. Although he is never short on self-confidence, the quietest giant in the search for GOAT may be Andre 3000. Sometimes the best is the one who never claims to be.
So…who you got?