We Reminisce / Apr 28, 2010 / 1:00 pm

Random Question of the Day

Where does LL Cool J rank among the greatest rappers of all-time?

Imagine what goes through the mind of a 1980′s hip-hop head should they intake a couple of hours of pop culture on a random weeknight.

You’ve got Ice-T playing a cop on TV. Ice Cube is writing sitcoms and getting the Tyler Perry treatment from a very corny network. Will Smith is starring in blockbusters and serious dramatic movies while pulling in $20 million a pop. Queen Latifah is starring in romantic comedies and makeup commercials. Pepa is trying to catch a man on a reality show. And Flavor Flav is, well, have you seen this sh*t?

This all hit me the other night when I caught a few minutes of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” the navy/detective show starring LL Cool J. Just like with every other Golden Era rapper who’s doing things today we wouldn’t have imagined back then, I’m not hating on LL getting his money. It’s just strange watching the guy who defined bad-ass cool in the ’80s cracking one-liners with Chris O’Donnell.

A full-time actor and part-time fashion/fitness mogul these days, LL’s most recent album (Exit 13) was released in 2008. And he cut a single in ’09 inspired by his show called “NCIS: No Crew Is Superior.” But honestly, LL has been mostly irrelevant in the rap game for about five or six years.

Which makes it tough to convince young kids today that LL might actually be the greatest rapper of all-time. Think about it: Raw rhyming talent, ability to craft songs, versatility in pop and street rap, longevity, battle stripes … how many MC’s can match his resume? First ballot Hall of Famer without a question, do you think LL Cool J is the Michael Jordan of the rap game? Is he the G.O.A.T.?

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  • Big T

    Holy shit… did you just call LL Cool J an MC?? Get the fuck outta here with that garbage.

  • K

    due to his sucres out side of Hip hop poeple tend to forget how nice he was. Dropped his first album when he was what 16/17 right not any BS teenie bS either he was going hard and was one of thest at the time. Ll is def top ten wouldn’t say the best tho. To me best is between Pac or Nas depending on the week

  • NTstateOFmind

    I applaud his longevity, but youre right- he hasn’t been relevant for a good minute. If anything, hes probably the Juwan Howard of the rap game… he just needs to walk away already.

  • Dan

    hhahahahahahahahah

  • BC

    Ranks right behind Will Smith

  • jeremy

    wrong on so many levels…

  • LakeShow84

    Only reason he evens cracks top 10 is because of his longevity..

    Kinda like Brett Favre.. as a matter of fact there you go..

    Dude is the Brett Favre of HipHop..

    Greatest?? shame on you AB..

    IM BAD was hard though.. that was my ringtone for almost 3 straight years when i was around 18..

    ‘And im notorious ill crush you like a jelly bean’

    lol

  • The Other Aj

    it’s obvious #1-4 don’t know rap. LL was a beast on the mic until the late 90′s (remember when he destroyed cannibus?) LL Cool J is top ten, but def not the GOAT. To many other cats that could eat him up lyrically…

  • fallinup

    Austin… no. He’s not GOAT by a long shot. I could understand the argument of top ten. He was easily the first rapper to go main stream. The first rapper to attract more ladies than men. (Remember “I Need Love”? hahaha). LL made his own niche. And did it his way.

    I’d call him the casual rap fan’s GOAT. Because back in the day… he’s the only one (if not one of very few) that was playing on the airwaves.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    If you’re saying LL isn’t the G.O.A.T., tell me who is…

    #1 for me is Biggie. Because he was only around to put out two real albums, he excelled in every category I mentioned above except longevity, so I see where he wouldn’t be #1 for a lot of people. But BIG’s prime happened to coincide with my coming-of-age era.

    #2, Ice Cube. Has everything I mentioned before, plus he can be political and still make good music. Another guy I was raised on.

    After that it’s admittedly hard to separate “best” from “favorite,” but being as objective as I can, I still put LL in the top five or six.

  • life-p

    I kinda like the Brett Farve comparison. I’m grew up listening to LL. I’m 35 so my perspective may be a little broader. He was relevant in the 80s, 90s and 2000s…how many cats can say that? He has the plaques if your standard is platinum/gold records. He has the mic skills if your standards are lyrical. He has the songs if your standards are storytelling. His place in the history of Rap is secure as one of the best who ever did it. Should be considered a top 10 guy…no doubt.

  • karizmatic

    LL is definitely in the top 10 perhaps top 5 depending on how you rate them.

    I have a whole theory about this and LL is a tweener for me
    He’s basically the bridge between the old school and I guess what you would call the middle school or the golden age at this point

    After the Legends
    Rakim
    Big Daddy Kane
    KRS

    you got the guys I consider the best

    Nas
    Pac
    Big

    LL is somewhere between the legends and the top guys, been around long enough now to be a legend, but not quite that elite, he’s probably top 5 maybe number 4 behind Nas Pac and Big

  • http://myspace.com/40sand9s loc

    Damnnn,

    some hate in here. No LL Cool J is not the GOAT, but he is top 10. Maybe not my personal favorite top 10, but for longevity, sales, influence, etc. he is the man.

    he essentially defined the smooth rappin, talkin to the ladies songs. you know, those songs that are on EVERY rap album to try and sell, for the past 20 years.

    His last album worth a damn was GOAT, and his last single I can even think of or heard in a club was the one with J Lo with the bambaata sample.

    If not LL top 10, no order.

    1.) 2pac
    2.) Cube
    3.) Andre
    4.) Nas
    5.) Jay-Z
    6.) Rakim
    7.) KRS
    8.) Scarface
    9.) Biggie
    10.) Eminem

    It would be real tough to take any of those MCs off the list for LL, and still so many missing! Kane, melle mel, ace, snoop, and justin bieber. Its fucking tough.

  • GILBERT G.

    LL COOL J IS THE G.O.A.T. HE STARTED IN 1984 …BEFORE MOST CURRENT RAPPERS WERE EVEN BORN OR UNDERSTOOD RAP. BUT LETS TAKE HIS LONGEVITY OUT OF THIS DISCUSSION. LETS LOOK AT HIS RESUME’….HE HAS BATTLED MORE RAPPERS ON WAX AND WON EVERY TIME. NOT EVEN JAY-Z CAN SAY THAT (remember Nas ripped him up). HE HAS MANY AWARDS TO BE PROUD OF INCLUDING MULTIPLE GRAMMY’S. HE HAS SUCCESS IN BATTLE RAP,POP RAP, RAP LOVE BALLADS….ON AND ON AND ON (changed the rap game forever). HIS LYRICS ARE SOME OF THE HOTTEST EVER RECORDED. HE HAS RAPPERS LIKE EMINEM, NELLY, LUDACRIS AND MORE THAT IDOLIZED HIM. I CAN GO ON AND ON BUT DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND LEARN YOUR HISTORY OF HIP HOP AND UNDERSTAND THAT LL COOL WAS THE BLUEPRINT TO SUCCESS IN THAT INDUSTRY. A BLUEPRINT THAT ALL YOUR SO CALLED GOATS HAVE FOLLOWED. SO REMEMBER LL COOL J ….GREATEST OF ALL TIMES !!!!!!!!

  • fallinup

    #1 for me. Personally. Is Snoop. (Lyrics, game changer, media mogul, and longevity.)
    #2 Pac
    #3 Ice Cube
    #4 Biggie
    #5 And probably Jay Z considering how he’s been dominating the past 10 years or so.

    Honestly though, we gotta start setting up a criteria for judging GOAT. We could discuss this for years. :)

  • fallinup

    As far as cross over appeal. And establishing a fan base in an era when rap was just coming of age. I could easily give GOAT to LL. With Will Smith coming in a close 2nd.

    Not to sound racist or anything… but the white folks (MTV crowd) knew and loved LL. Not so much so with the urban crowd after his initial break through. At least that’s how I saw it back in the day.

  • bsteezy3

    Like it or not, you have to put LL in the top 5, simply because of his longevity. In an industry where you’re hot this half of the year, gone next year for the next “hot” act, dude has been doing this for 25+ years! How can you not respect that?? Some you teens posting on here just wouldnt’ understand it because you were learning your ABC’s when he already had albums under his belt. Now I’m not the biggest LL fan, but I was when I was a kid! He put out the hits…and now he has transitioned to movies/TV (like Ice Cube). Honestly, if the late great 2Pac was alive, I think he’d be like LL and Ice Cube…

  • Student Of The Game

    Tupac is the G.O.A.T. no need for explanation.

  • Promoman

    Undeniably a top 10 rapper. If you’re going to introduce anybody to rap or hip-hop, LL has to be mentioned.

  • Bizz

    Why do some people think he ripped Canibus and won? LL put out 1 track, which then got smashed by Rip The Jacker, and 2nd Round K.O. is one of the best dis tracks of all time. Yes LL is a 1st ballot hall of famer, but he’s not the GOAT, and he damn sure didn’t beat Canibus.

  • isotope

    Bizz pretty much said what I was going to say

  • Michorizo

    LL was legit…I like him more now than I did back in the days. Not sure why. Radio, Jack the Ripper, Bad … all sick jams. No need to rank, just enjoy.

  • GILBERT G.

    BIZZ AND ISOTOPE …AGAIN PLEASE LEARN YOUR HISTORY …WHEN YOU SAY SOMETIME PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT FIRST ….. WHEN IT COMES TO THE BATTLE OD LL COOL J AND CANNIBUS IT ALL STARTED WITH “4321″….WHERE LL LEFT HIS BLASTING VERSE OF CANNIBUS AND RIPPED HIM FOR WHAT LL FELT WAS A DISS TO HIM ON CANNIBUS’S PART OF THE ORIGINAL TRACK….LET THE FUED BEGIN !!! FOR THE RECORD HE FOLLOWED UP HIS DISTRUCTION OF CANNIBUS WITH “THE RIPPER STRIKES BACK” “RASTA IMPOSTER” (dissing both cannibus and wyclef) THEN KNOCKING HIM OUT FOR GOOD WITH “BACK WHERE I BELONG”. THATS THE REAL HISTORY…. AND TO REALLY MAKE THINGS WORSE LISTEN TO CANNIBUS BACKING DOWN ON THERE PHONE CALL…. HE NEVER WANTED TO STEP IN THE RING WITH LL !!!!

  • Large

    LL hasn’t been relevant since late 90s, maybe REAL EARLY 00s. And even then, we’re talking Doin’ It, and “my hat is like a shark fin”… C’mon.

    Nas’ demo came out in 91, landing him among the top rappers for almost 20 YEARS.

    BIG, if not taken so early, was on track to be G.O.A.T. without any argument or question.

    Jay’s resume has locked down G.O.A.T. status for him. With Pac, Nas and BIG following closely.

    Jay has released no less than 3 CLASSIC albums (arguably 4 or 5) and sold countless copies of everything else over the last 15+. Rocawear, 40/40, Nets. Even when he’s doing other stuff, it’s still hip-hop.

    No argument.

  • M Intellect

    Errm…

    The one angle LL could have is longevity but Jay-Z and Nas both smash him for longevity because even though dude was about before them, he left relevancy after the Canibus battle in ’01 and those two cats are still relevant now.

    As far as I’m concerned, B.I.G is GOAT. Even though his career is like a paralell of Bo Jackson’s, his albums are certified, timeless classics and could still be played in 2020 and be appreciated.

  • dapro

    LL is not my personal fave but outta respect he lands in the top 10. For reasons already mentioned-longevity, success, flow, appeal

    As for LL crushing Can-I-Bus, in the words of Sho-nuff “ni*** please”

    2nd Round KO was a classic, lyrically he ripped LL but Canibus didn’t have the money or team behind him to market him effectively

    As for GOAT status off the top of my head I can think of at least 5 mcs better in no particular order

    Rakim
    BIG
    Nas
    Pac
    Scarface

    not mentioning

    3000
    Ice Cube
    Jay
    Kool G

    Lyrically LL was probably a 6.5, he dropped lines early but later in his career he became Nelly before Nelly arrived

  • JBaller

    Forget OREOs, Eat Cool J Cookies, I’m Bad!

    That shit still cracks me up!

  • Michorizo

    Fat Lip from Pharcyde was pretty sick too

  • GILBERT G.

    M INTELLECT, HERE IS ANOTHER THAT DOESNT KNOW HIS HIP HOP HISTORY OR MATH? JAY-Z/NAS BOTH “SMASH” HIM WITH LONGEVITY, REALLY? LETS EXPLORE THAT SHALL WE ? LL COOL J STARTED HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER IN 1984 WHEN HE DROPPED “I NEED A BEAT” AND WE WILL BASE IT ON WHAT YOU SAY THAT HE WAS RELEVANT TILL 2001 HMMMM THATS 17YRS.OF RELEVANCY ! NOW FOR JAY-Z, HE STARTED HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER IN 1996(reasonable doubt) TILL NOW, THATS 14YRS AND NAS STARTED HIS IN 1994(illmatic) TILL NOW (if you say he is STILL relavent)THATS 16YRS! AGAIN LL ON TOP !! HE IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE G.O.A.T.

  • bill bixby

    No one gives a shit about what you think or lack of experience with the shift key, GILBERT G. Take your LL Cool J dick sucking lips back to Beat Street.

    And another thing, Fab Five Freddy… learn how to use a goddamn question mark correctly too.

  • GILBERT G.

    Hey Bill Bixby you gonna go hulk on me and turn green,
    did I hurt your feelings when I jumped on the scene ?
    I’m not sucking Cool J’s d**k, im sure you agree, but we both know you’ve had a d**k so deep that it tickled your spleen.
    Don’t step to a man with that lil boy verse,
    If thats the best you got ….damn i’ll get the hearst.
    I have no need to lie, I buried so many make you wanna cry. Layin low to catch you slippin so I can run on,
    matter of fact, you not on my level, I throw my son on.
    Mission is complete, Technique is unique, defeat the rythme weak, with mine you knee deep !!! Do you really want to do this kid ????

  • bill bixby

    hahaha… what. was. that.

    No wonder you ride LL’s dick.

    I at least commend you on your mastery of the shift key. kudos.

  • GILBERT G.

    Didn’t think so! (your smarter then I thought)

  • bill bixby

    haha… hey Ed Lover…this here be a basketball blog.

    Plus you’re flow is weak. And it’s spelled “hearse”.

  • LL COOL J

    good try GILBERT G but bill bixby just bodied u wit out having to spit a rhyme!!!

    and really #25??? snoop over pac??? pac is dead n he’s got more legit longevity than snoop LOL

    DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK

  • sh!tfaced

    I’ll start calling LL Cool J GOAT:
    …if you call Robert Parish GOAT.
    …if you call Don Nelson GOAT.
    …call Holyfield GOAT.
    …call Chris Chelios GOAT.
    …call Jamie Moyer GOAT.
    …call Barry Bonds GOAT-CHEAT.

    I’ll give you that last one. LOL

    Just because one had longevity doesn’t mean they should be considered for GOAT status. The only GOAT rapper status I’d prolly give to LL is managing not to get shot after all these years…

  • weng santos

    No particular order.

    1. Biggie
    2. Eminem
    3. Tupac
    4. Diddy (how’s that for success outside hip-hop?)
    5. LL Cool J
    6. Nas
    7. Dre
    8. Snoop
    9. Ice Cube
    10. Kanye (I don’t like him, but he’s got the x-over appeal)

  • JAY

    In my opinion there is no such thing as the GOAT in hip hop. There are just too many to pay homage to. LL is one of those guys.

    And to #37. Take Diddy of your list. That’s f*ckin crazy. If you’re talking the urban music business, sure. But not greatest rappers. That’s just disrespectful.
    and Kanye?!?! You’ve lost your effin mind. We’re talking ALL-TIME not since 2005. So what if he has crossover appeal!? Andre 3000, Lauryn Hill, Lil Wayne, Raekwon, Ghostface (i could go on) rank higher than those two bums as far as greatest rappers go. I’m sure you consider yourself a hip-hop head but you’re definitely not if you’re pulling those names off the top of your head.

  • GILBERT G.

    Jay well put !!!! Nice mention on some of those other great rappers.

  • Nasty NaS

    #37
    Hey Weng Santos, imma ether you like I ethered Jay-Z for putting Diddy above me!!! I mean come on mannn WTF

  • weng santos

    @ 38 Jay.

    That’s just it. I’m a music-head, not exactly a hip-hop head. I’m looking at it objectively.

    You’re right, the question was greatest rappers, and Diddy’s not really much of a rapper. But one of the categories was longevity. He is always in the sphere of consciousness because of his urban style-music-culture empire, and when people talk about his brands they’re going to refer to him as a rapper/hip-hop artist.

    Good call on Lauryn Hill. I hate Kanye and only put him in because of crossover appeal, but Lauryn Hill will always have more crossover appeal and more hip-hop cred.

  • weng santos

    Oh yeah, forgot about Jay-Z =)

    cool argument =)