We love when rappers share their picks for the top five rappers. It gives us insights into their influences and creative processes. It often vindicates some of our most deeply held beliefs about the culture and genre. It puts newer or younger fans (sometimes older) onto a broader range of artists to check out. And, of course, it gives us an endless well of fuel for our most cherished Twitter debate, ensuring that we’ll have enough fat to chew on until the sun burns out.
The latest rapper to contribute to the long-running tradition is Lil Wayne, whose list is quite a doozy, containing both the expected picks and some left-field surprises that actually make sense when you consider his own unique approach to the art of rap. Wayne gave his answer in a special edition of What’s Wright? With Nick Wright, a podcast version of the Fox Sports personality’s popular show.
Almost as well known for his affinity for hip-hop as Wayne is for his sports referencing raps, Wright offers his own list (a pretty humdrum collection including the usual picks: Jay-Z, Tupac, Wayne himself, Kanye West, and T.I.), which Wayne says he respects. Then Wayne starts off his own list with a pick that far too few people include for my taste, Missy Elliott. Vindication!
Missy is a pick that makes perfect sense for Wayne — a quirky writer and performer who outright avoids convention and whose influence resonates throughout the industry, even if she rarely gets credit for it. Good one on Wayne for including her. Of course, Jay-Z enters his list (he’s repeatedly said that the Brooklyn rapper is his favorite MC ever). He also credits Biggie and Gucci Mane — another interesting pick, although not wholly unexpected from a Southerner like Wayne. Guwop’s influence throughout the bottom half of the States is undeniable and inextricable. His last pick is pretty mind-blowing though.
He cheats a little by picking a group, but rather than a well-worn, oft-tapped collective like Wu-Tang Clan, Wayne once again shows his Southern roots by choosing Atlanta mainstays Goodie Mob, a four-man band that includes Big Gipp, CeeLo Green, Khujo, and T-Mo. Their debut album, Soul Food,
is considered a classic and as part of the Dungeon Family, they worked extensively with Outkast and Organized Noise, two of the most pivotal groups in Southern rap.
Not a bad list, all things considered. And like I said before, pretty telling when you compare Wayne’s influences to his output. It’s easy to see why he goes against the grain so much and the results so often turn out so well.
Check out Lil Wayne’s full interview with Nick Wright above.