Finding The GOAT (Final 4): Eminem vs. Big Daddy Kane…Who You Got?
Update: Polls have now closed
There are now only 4 MCs remaining in the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). Both Nas and The Notorious B.I.G. were dismissed at the winning hands of Tupac (even if it took a second, certified ballot in the Nas battle—thanks to some cheaters). Since the elimination, bracket-style tournament was launched in September of 2014, including more than 200 overall MCs, there have been six completed rounds, featuring contenders from all eras of Hip-Hop, including Wild Card series (with optional write-in’s). The 4 remaining MCs have been undefeated, and have been ranked according to their average margins of victory over the past rounds. The MC with the greatest average margin of victory is seeded at #1, the one with the narrowest average margin of victory is seeded at #4. The temperature’s rising, and the debates are getting hot.
#2 Eminem takes on #3 Big Daddy Kane in another definitive “Finding The GOAT” battle. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Big Daddy Kane was undoubtedly at the top of the class in influencing Eminem, as confirmed in his The Way That I Am memoir. The confidence, wit, and intricate wordplay of Kane’s music is a strong element in Eminem’s work—especially his groundbreaking Slim Shady-era material. Notably, Kane did not cite Eminem in his own Top 5 MC list, but undoubtedly recognizes the talent, and extension of the lyrical foundation. Both Grammy Award winners, different stories are told in sales, with Kane’s lack of a platinum album, compared to Em’s diamond-crusted certifications. Each artist has dealt with extended periods away from music, and both creatives tend to tap into the underground anytime they seek inspiration to come back. Fiercely competitive voices who owe their careers to reputations in grassroots MC battles, these Rap Gods have more in common than Heads may realize. Without Big Daddy Kane, could their be an Eminem? Are numbers and hits the real measure of an MC? From resources available to the role of nostalgia, this is a powder-keg of a debate. When it comes to voting, even if you’re a “Stan,” there “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’.” (click on one and click vote)
(Fifth Round Winner, Against Busta Rhymes 81% to 19%)
(Fourth Round Winner, Against DMX 79% to 21%)
(Third Round Winner, Against Talib Kweli 71% to 29%)
(Second Round Winner, Against Xzibit 87% to 13%)
(First Round Bye)
Eminem may be the MC who single-handedly ended one of Hip-Hop’s laziest eras for lyrics upon his late 1990s arrival. Self-deprecating, impassioned, and wildly imaginative, Marshall Mathers came in through Rap’s screen door as an underground Hip-Hop MC running with The Outsidaz, DJ Spinna, and SKAM2?. However, it was Em’s three-ring battle performances and uncanny ability to freestyle top-quality verses that landed his tape on Dr. Dre’s desk. Once there, Slim Shady combined his hardcore Hip-Hop past with big budget videos, A-list guests, and masterful conceptual production to make him a diamond-selling icon that seemingly was the genre’s biggest superstar since 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.
Eminem’s career touches upon all facets of Hip-Hop, from battling, to true school, to Gangsta Rap, and everything in between. Arguably, Em has the most innovative flow since the late 1980s, with the ability to rhyme fast, slow, and in between on the same track. Like a percussion instrument, Marshall’s gift of gab employs syncopation and a pinball rhyme style to complement the elaborate content. In his writing, Eminem can be brutally honest about himself and others, while also being whimsical, harshly critical of the world at large, and wildly entertaining in social commentary. He is Lenny Bruce, Mike Tyson, and Masta Ace in one modern man. With classic, cohesive albums, Academy Award-winning (and Grammy Award-winning) songs, and a style that’s the envy of all of Eminem’s Rap peers, predecessors, and pupils, how could he not be the GOAT?
Big Daddy Kane
(Fifth Round Bye – Through Largest Round 4 Win Margin)
(Fourth Round Winner, Against Erick Sermon 82% to 18%)
(Third Round Winner, Against Kool G Rap, 65% to 35%)
(Second Round Winner, Against Kool Keith 79% to 21%)
(First Round Bye)
In terms of commanding mic controlling, Big Daddy Kane staked his claim early. The Brooklyn, New Yorker emerged in the mid-1980s battle-scene carrying a unique balance of lethal confidence and unaffected smoothness. Antonio Hardy is able to rap extremely fast, making a nonstop case for his supremacy as an MC. After linking with Marley Marl’s Juice Crew, King Asiatic began work on 1988’s Long Live The Kane, one of the highest-regarded Hip-Hop albums of all-time. Big Daddy was a master at blending audiences, by offering something for lyric-seekers, routine lovers, ’70s R&B fans, as well as those simply thriving upon vibe. Arguably more so than other elite GOATs, Big Daddy Kane took a gold-certified style, and adapted and tooled with it on each LP, from the seductive (Taste Of Chocolate) to the hardcore B-boy (Looks Like A Job For…). Never a Top 10-selling artist, Big Daddy Kane is a stone in the sand reminder that skills may be the tortoise to the hare, and artists can reach sales benchmarks simply based upon quality.
Following 1998’s Veteranz’ Day, Big Daddy Kane has shunned solo albums for more than 15 years—leading some to question his ability to command an album in the new millennium. However, as evidenced in the Dave Chappelle’s Block Party music documentary, Kane’s live show—which he offers regularly—dwarfs his Rap peers, 20 years his junior. The confidence, moves and finesse remain in tact. In critical guest spots ranging from Big L to Little Brother, Kane teases Heads with deft lyrics that are to the level he produced in the ’80s and ’90s. Like a champ with the belt, Big Daddy Kane walks uncontested—a GOAT in his own, and the minds of legions of others. In history, weighted upon influence, album-making, and pinnacle star-power, Big Daddy Kane just might be the original, and perhaps the only GOAT.
So…who you got?