Finding The GOAT Group: Eric B. & Rakim vs. Gang Starr. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’ annual competition series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry (which has been determined), including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each match-up, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot count.
In many ways, Gang Starr was modeled after Eric B. & Rakim. Both MC/DJ combinations elevated the culture through continually updating their formulas. In the ’90s, Rakim would eventually work with Guru and DJ Premier. While Eric and Ra’ have half of the discography as Preemo and Gu’, they enjoyed an almost immediate commercial success that eluded their opponent for a decade. Both duos are sacred in the eyes of many Hip-Hop Heads, especially after Guru’s 2010 passing. The last match-up of the Sweet 16 may not prove to be an easy one for voters. Make your opinion count and get your voice heard by making your selection below.
Eric B. & Rakim
Eric Barrier and William “Rakim” Griffin, Jr. may have set the standard for all others to follow as far as MC/DJ tandems. Upon 1987’s Paid In Full, the Queens-Long Island link elevated the rhyme schemes, expanded the subject matters, and brought along advanced sounds to set Rap music on a journey into innovation. In just five years and four albums, this mighty pair impressed the Hip-Hop scene with a plethora of hits. They released four albums in five years, evolving well with the times. In 1992, following Don’t Sweat The Technique, the pair split both creatively and in business. In the last year, the group is back intact and getting paid in full on the road. Time will tell if E and Ra’ will make their first music together in more than 25 years, but the catalog speaks for itself.
A DJ/producer from Prairie View, Texas and an MC from Boston, Massachusetts moved to New York, and that’s where Gang Starr would take its most critical strides. Releasing six albums between 1989 and 2003, this duo’s legacy is solidified as one of Hip-Hop’s most influential and cult-respected groups. Several iterations of DJ Premier’s production style helped define New York’s sound in the ’90s and 2000s with his way of chopping samples, creating elaborate chord progressions, and scratching choruses for emphasis. Guru had a unique approach to MC’ing that still stands out to this day, spitting sharply constructed rhymes in a calm, all-knowing spoken-word type of cadence. The voice and the hands made beautiful, cutting-edge music. Together, the duo was able to shine in the underground and influenced generations of artists. After focusing on individual endeavors in the mid-2000s, their chapter came to a close with Guru’s untimely passing in 2010, but their legacy remains timeless, as DJ Premier continues to be an in-demand producer decades after his debut.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.