What up yall. In the tradition of Willie Lynch, Hip-Hop has always been a music and culture that defines itself largely by region. You have east coast rap, west coast rap, Midwestern rap and southern rap. The South, in the United States, is defined as the area south of the Mason Dixon line (including Maryland), and as far west as Texas. Over the past 10-15 years The South has come under fire from some for the dumbing down of hip-hop music. While the Bling-bling era was literally introduced by southern rappers, East Coast rap was just as guilty of the materialism and artless music that came out of that era. The truth is a good portion of the more honest, retrospective, and “deep” music I’ve ever heard has been from emcees from down bottom. A lot of folks hear a southern drawl and assume ignorance and most time that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is in the spirit of that drawl and the git up git out attitude I present the top 10 southern emcees.
10. Big K.R.I.T. – I first heard KRIT live at Rock the Bells in NY (irony), he went on right on before Slaughterhouse who I was actually waiting to see. I had just got a text from the homie Yoni saying to check out dude and he was right. Had a dope show, dope presence, and he had something to say. KRIT is part of the new movement of young emcees (including Kendrick Lamar & J Cole) not being afraid to be who they are, not feeling the need to be tough Tony, and combining that with skill. That earns Big King Remembered In Time a spot on this list.
9. Skillz – Quite possibly the greatest ghostwriter in hip hop history. He’s written for such great as Sean P Diddy Combs and Will Smith. Not to mention he’s a pretty dope rapper in his own right. One year he was not included in the BET Cypher and he made his own video over the beat…needless to say he made the cut the next year. Number 9, formerly mad, got bars.
8. Big Boi – One half of one of the illest duos in history, Daddy Phat Stacks, is a legend. Sir Louscious Left Foot has been holding down the south and Georgia in particular since the early 90s. He has 2 dope albums and I don’t even need to get in the ‘Kast catalog. #8 is cooler than a polar bears toenails…and dumb nice.
7. Cee-Lo – A lot of folks are going to scoff at the face a. I rated him higher than Big Boi and b. I have Cee-Lo on a rapper list. Well, let me tell you why your opinion is wrong. Not only did he prove he was the best and most important member of the Goodie Mob on the records, the lack of Cee-Lo on a Goodie Mob joint proved they NEED him. His appearance on Common’s G.O.D. (Gainings One’s Definition) proves he can rap with the best and outshine them at times. His bar game is crazy and slept on.
6. T.I. – The self proclaimed Kaing of the south definitely has an argument. He’s been on joint where he out shined Jay-Z. He can give you the trap rap or the introspective bars. If he could just make better decisions and stay home he may have been higher on this list.
5. Ludacris – Yes, good old Luda is my #6, the rapper not the actor. There aren’t many Emcees that can hold their own lyrically with Mr. Bridges here. He’s given us plenty of dope albums, lot of ill punchlines. He’s one of the exceptions that can hold down a track with Slaughterhouse but still make the club bangers, a jack of all trades.
4. Phonte – Another Jack of all trades singing and rapping, has 2 classics under his belt as one half of Littler Brother and his own dope solo joint. The North Carolina emcee has been around since 2003 and has a Grammy nomination under his belt and the skills to pay the bills. He is your favorite rappers favorite rapper, and mine too.
3. Scarface – Uncle Face has longevity, skill and a catalog big enough to fill a whole iPod. It took the Fix to make me believe. His voice and presence on a track is incredible. He holds Houston down to the fullest. The former head of Def Jam South is definitely one of the kings of the south.
2. Bun B – As one half of UGK he has classic joints. In my humble opinion there isn’t a southern emcee that has better features other than maybe #1. Big Pimpin’ is a classic record. International Players Anthem is CRAZY. But the one song that got him on the list and med him one of the illest southern emcees ever is Strangers (Paranoid) by Reflection Eternal. I believe it was Jay –Z who said “if skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably B lyrically Talib Kweli”. Well #2 had the “skills” to get Kweli on his own joint, impressive.
And the dopest southern emcee of all time is…
1. Andre 3000 – Three stacks, Andre Ben, whatever it is you call him you have to include, Grammy Award winning, multiple classic album having, singing, instrument playing wordsmith. He has done songs with several of the emcees on this list and even my all-time any region list and has smashed em all. This guy has a mean habit of laying dormant for a while and coming off the bench and droppin 50. Look what he did on the T.I. record. Who’s messin’ with Andre Benjamin? Down South…NOBODY, if you think someone is better…Your Opinion Is Wrong. Peace