Jay-Z_Biggie

The Science Behind The “Top 5 Dead or Alive”: Breaking Down the DNA of Your D.O.A.

“Top 5, dead or alive, and that’s just off one LP.” – Jadakiss

Everywhere we turn these days, there’s a list. David Letterman is famous for his Top 10 list, as Johnny Carson made famous before him. It would seem that so more lists are being pumped out, than articles. Whether it’s a top 10 of Lebron James dunks, or the top 10 times Hex Murda said “No” on Twitter, there’s no doubt this trend isn’t going anywhere.

But ultimately, if you’re Hip-Hop, there’s only one list that matter. And that is your “Top 5 Dead or Alive”. The “Top 5 Dead or Alive” comprises of a group of MCs who made the deepest impact on our lives. Our Top 5 DOA is our Hip-Hop DNA. It is our passion, our reference point. One thing it is NOT is who you believe are the five, best MCs ever. Especially if your favorite MC is left off your list.

Here are some of the unspoken jewels surrounding the list: Only ‘5’ matters. Don’t tell us a thing about your #8 MC. Nobody cares. Your credibility is on the line through your ‘5’. So yes, friendships begin and end on your ‘5’. Because the MCs on your list say everything about you.

The science behind your list reflects your influences, talking points, lyrical region of choice, decade of choice, age bracket (depending on your favorite artist and when their last high point was), and in some cases, which version of an artist you prefer. For example, you have the Backpack version of Kanye West and the Luxury Rap version. You could miss me with the Luxury Rap version, but hey, he’s not in my Top 5 anyway.

I’ll use my Top 5 as an example to breakdown.

  1. Chuck D
  2. Eminem
  3. DMX
  4. Nas
  5. Redman

Below are the three categories we’ll breakdown our ‘5’ into: the type of list, the region, and the era.

The Science behind my list is: Technicians List > Northeast > ’90s

First of all, when I told Chuck D that he was still in my Top 5, #1 to be exact, he went on a 15-minute spiel about why he shouldn’t be after 20 years. He made an excellent argument about how eras change, environments change, movements change, and how all those things should lead to change in my ‘5’. He was right. But when it was all said and done, Chuck D’s lyrics and presence made the largest impact on the person I am today. Read my work, and tell me that it doesn’t defy the status quo just as Chuck D has.

My Top 5 DOA is a “Technicians List”. From top to bottom, minus what some would call “Pause Worthy” lyrics from DMX, it’s built on the pen. Any one of my picks could step into a cipher and stop everything. Excluding Eminem, my list is “Northeast” heavy; 3 from NYC (two from Queens), and who I feel is Jersey’s greatest MC to date, Redman (a slot I feel Joe Budden will someday take). Eminem is on record for owing a lot to Redman as a lyrical inspiration (Ludacris as well). No one on my list entered the industry after 2000. Four on my list entered in the ’90s (Chuck D, the Golden Era). I’m analytical, passionate, and very direct about my message.

Become familiar with our AHH staff through their Top 5 lists. And in the comments, share your ‘5’, and what the MCs on your list mean to you:

AHH Contributor Octavia Bostick, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Big L
  2. Ice Cube
  3. DMX
  4. Tupac Shakur
  5. Nas

The Science behind Octavia’s list is: Influential List > Northeast > ’90s

AHH Senior Staff Writer Tim Sanchez, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Eminem
  2. Ice Cube
  3. Rakim
  4. Big Daddy Kane
  5. KRS-ONE

The Science behind Tim’s list is: Founders List > Northeast > Golden Era

AHH Reviews Editor Leon Sullen, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Scarface
  2. Eminem
  3. The Notorious B.I.G.
  4. Andre 3000
  5. Jay-Z

The Science behind Leon’s list is: Storytellers List > Hybrid Region > ’90s

AHH Contributor Jocelyn Chavis, Top 5 DOA:

  1. The Notorious B.I.G.
  2. Ghostface Killah
  3. Nas
  4. Tupac Shakur
  5. Beanie Siegel

The Science behind Jocelyn’s list is: Storytellers List > Northeast > ’90s

AHH Video Correspondent Gina Torres, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Jay-Z
  2. Nas
  3. The Notorious B.I.G.
  4. Kanye West
  5. Drake

The Science behind Gina’s list is: Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas List > Northeast > Hybrid Era

AHH Contributor Shad Reed, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Ice Cube
  2. Nas
  3. DMC
  4. Eminem
  5. Tupac Shakur

The Science behind Shad’s list is: Storytellers List > Coast to Coast > Hybrid Era

AHH Co-Founder and CEO Chuck Creekmur, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Jay-Z
  2. Nas
  3. Kool G. Rap
  4. DMC
  5. Chuck D

The Science behind Chuck’s list is: Technicians List > Northeast > Golden Era

AHH Contributor Tawni Fears, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Tupac Shakur
  2. The Notorious B.I.G.
  3. Andre 3000
  4. Jay-Z
  5. Lupe Fiasco

The Science behind Tawni’s List is: StoryTellers List > Hybrid Region > ’90s

AHH Contributor Paul Meara, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Big L
  2. KRS-ONE
  3. Rakim
  4. Nas
  5. The Notorious B.I.G.

The Science behind Paul’s List is: Conscious List > New York > Hybrid Era

AHH Editor-At-Large Seandra Sims, Top 5 DOA:

  1. Rakim
  2. The Notorious B.I.G.
  3. Kool G. Rap
  4. Black Thought
  5. Jay-Z

The Science behind Seandra’s list is: Conscious List > New York > Hybrid Era

Drop your Science below in the comment section!

  • Eli Pinilla

    my top 5….1) nas 2) pac 3) biggie 4) eminem 5) jay z

    My current top 5 new artist…1) big krit 2) kendrick lamar 3) freddie gibbs 4) danny brown 5) tie between asap rocky action bronson

  • 1.) Tupac
    2.) Big L
    3.) Jay-z
    4.) Biggie
    5.)DMX

    • tupac biggie jay z and nas should all be in the number one slot their one of a kind.

      • johnblacksad

        Yeah, that’s Mount Rushmore right there…

      • thuglifefukdapolice

        TUPAC AND NAS YEAS BIGGIE ONLY HAD 2 ALBUMS AND WAS COMMERCIAL JAY Z SOLD OUT

    • thuglifefukdapolice

      BIG L WAS NICE BUT I HE NEVER RAPPED ABOUT ANYTHING HE WAS JUST LIKE CASSIDY GREAT PUNCHLINE RAPPER BUT NO GOOOD SONGS JUST GREAT FREESTYLES AND HOT LINES BUT NO CONTENT OR SUBJECT

  • Inmadopicouroz✓QUEENSᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    this made me laugh at some of u bitches at AHH

  • AHH Staff is borderline retarded… This shyt isn’t up for debate.. Tupac is the Greatest of All Time Period…
    1) 2pac
    2) Biggie
    3) Andre 3000
    4) Nas
    5) Jay-Z
    Rocko is the best rapper out right now….

    • andre 3000 is the shit but where is his classic albums??

      • True… He definitely don’t have a classic album.. All of his classics are Group related (OutKast). But I had to put him on their because his lyrics and wordplay is just off the charts…

  • wutang2012

    nas rakim big daddy kane kool g rap krs one

    • thuglifefukdapolice

      I FEEL U ON THAT BUT BIG DADDY KANE WAS JUST A LADIES MAN HE AINT SAY NO REL SHYT BUT RAKIM THATS THE OG

  • wutang2012

    i have a seperate top five of now and thats KA roc marciano ghostface raekwon and mf doom

  • johnblacksad

    ok… so…

    Hov
    Talib
    Face
    Styles
    Jeezy

    …and that’s with all 9 Wu-Tang members + Cappadonna put aside… of course!

  • aye deshair this was a good read …… i like how you broke down the science of everyones list

  • johnblacksad

    Pac definitely had the biggest direct influence on me tho as a teen… on defining myself and my values… that n!gga held me down for real!

    #Death around the corner
    #Life goes on
    #Only god can judge me
    #How long will they mourn me (“i remember kickin back, you wanted a ‘lac, and going half on a mothafcukin hunned sack, smokin blunt after blunt, and steady drinkin, HUNG AROUND SO MUCH, YOU KNEW WHAT I WAS THINKING” -Big Syke…. <– goosebump sh!t… R.I.P. my best friend!)
    #Lord knows
    #Fcuk the world
    #Krazy
    #Wonda why they call you b!tch
    #Picture me rollin
    #Changes
    etc.

    R.I.P. Soldier Pac! Will thank you myself when i see ya!

    • thuglifefukdapolice

      NICCA YOU ARE NOT NO TUPAC FAN IF ALL YOU HEARD WAS THUG LIFE TO MAKEVELI IF YOU NEVER HEARD TUPACOLYPSE NOW SONGS LIKE SOULJA STORY /PART TIME MOTHA/ WHEN MY HOMIES CALL /TRAPPED/ REBEL OF THE UNDERGROUND/WORDS OF WISDOM/YOUNG BLACK MALE OR THE ALBUM STRICTLY 4 MY NICCAS GO SHOOT YOURSELF KEEP PAC OUT YOUR MOUTH

      • firehawk17

        yo son i feel you lol… get em…if you gonna talk about pac..you gotta talk about the first albums too.. soulja story was powerful.. and the interlude..your right all day homie

      • johnblacksad

        ya’ll n!ggaz buggin… maybe i should have quoted the Humpty Hump Dance and made ya’ll n!ggaz happy!

      • firehawk17

        nah homie… aint gotta make me happy.. just sayin his early stuff was just as great.. he has songs that people dont talk about that are great we always hear people mention dear mama, and keep ya head up etc.. but you never hear people say Who do you believe in?… great song or soulja story

      • johnblacksad

        Why you actin all sensitive just because i ain’t mentioned his first 2 albums?!! F.O.H. nicca! I started with Pac with Thug Life… and maybe i should feel sorry for not being born earlier but i don’t… I listened to 2Pacalypse & Stricltly after Makaveli so if you have a problem with that, you go shoot your wack azz self!

        I didn’t wanna fake it like i grew up on those sounds when i know damn well i caught up on them later… and you know what?! I still prefer the tracks i’ve mentioned… Me against the world >>>>>>>> X,Y,Z, etc…. fukk whatchu think and go shoot yourself again if you don’t like it!

  • johnblacksad

    Hov…

    “if you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is wack”

    sorry…

    no dis to nobody’s list…

  • ATGreat

    Influential:
    1) Tupac
    2) Nas
    3) Jay-z
    4) Lil wayne
    5) 50 Cent

    • firehawk17

      lil wayne has had a personal impact but not on hiphop.. well wait his label has had a impact but he himself hasnt changed the culture of hiphop in any way..

  • johnblacksad

    “If lyrics sold, truth be told, i’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli” -Jay-Z

    “screamin you got pull, when the only pull you got is the wool over your eyes,
    getting knowledge in jail like a blessing in disguise” -Talib Kweli

  • Suava

    1.Biggie
    2.Jay-z
    3.50 cent
    4.jada
    5.Gucci

  • Ugh… Its whatever

  • Soulgasm

    “AHH Video Correspondent Gina Torres” needs to be fired….IMMEDIATELY!!! Actually, she’s cool… but just stick to video. #DidSheSayDrake???

  • $23862384

    everybody know the the top five emcee’s is 1. RIAK (youtube him)2.lil b 3.the nigga on that rebecca black song friday 4.nick cannon and 5.Shea Davis(youtube him)

    • Terrance Harris

      lmbao

  • Terrance Harris

    5. Jada-Never slips on a verse
    4. Common-Has like 6 classic albums
    3. Kool G Rap- Originated the East coast street flow
    2. Nas- Illmatic (Enough said)
    1. Pac- I just saw him in Cuba. He said what up.

    • firehawk17

      common can snap when he wants but what holds him back is the conflict between his ability and his beliefs.. people call has great go directly to illmatic. a great artist no doubt and a legend but overrated… Jada is snaps almost every time.. but a lil overrated..

  • andrewdavis1415

    Wow, first im amazed that Lupe or even Drake made this list. Seriously? All-time, Drake? Drake’s had two albums under his belt atleast wait till he puts like 4 or 5(I know Biggie only had 1 but it was a classic dat displayed great skills plus his life was cut short). To me also, DMX was all hype but lyrically wud use some of the easiest rhyme schemes…. My top5:
    1.Eminem
    2.2pac
    3.Biggie
    4.Jay-Z
    5.Nas
    -Based off Lyricism, Impact,Album sales & classic albums/records.
    -Hov wud be higher but he bit some of Biggie’s style as the whole”king of NY” image & his hit record “Bonnie Clyde” bites heavily from Pac’s song, me and my girlfriend. Lost some respect for him for that one.

    • firehawk17

      your right drake and lupe don’t deserve to be on these list..both are dope artist..

  • Frazier Boi

    1.) NAS

    2.) 2Pac

    3.)Biggie

    4.)Jay-Z

    5.) Raekwon

  • thuglifefukdapolice

    PAC
    NAS
    SCARFACE
    SNOOP
    ICE CUBE

    • firehawk17

      can’t really argue your list man.. thats my point in my post.. it will always come down to personal bias.. your list got legends. although i think Nas’s mystique stems from illmatic.. i think he is overrated but a legend and a great artist

  • thuglifefukdapolice

    MY TOP 5 IS THE BEST NO OTHER ARTIST SSAID REALER ISH THAN MY TOP 5

  • thuglifefukdapolice

    ALL YALL IS ON SOME BULLSHYT

  • kurupt is the only one who biggie said he was the greatest freeystyler he ever heard……the night he served 100 mcs in n.y……how yall forget that? how?

  • 1. NAS
    2. BIGGIE
    3.PAC
    4.JAY Z
    5. MOS DEF

  • water_ur_seeds

    There is no right or wrong for a persons Top 5 DOA, but… A storytellers list without Slick Rick, Raekwon or Masta Ace???

    And Drake on a list???

    My personal list

    2Pac
    Vinnie Paz
    Masta Ace
    G Rap
    Eminem

  • King Flashy TheFirst

    1. Jay-Z
    2. B.I.G
    3. Nas
    4. Kanye West
    5. Ghostface

  • firehawk17

    well the top 5 when asked should be specific… are you asking for the MC’s who had the most impact or just personal top 5.. personal top five has no science to it.. its just personal opinion… and some people’s list holds no logic in their choices aside from personal taste.. as far as impact curtis blow, 2pac, Jay-z, LL and eminem should be on the list without argument..curtis help start it all.. LL took it and ran with it for many years.. Pac came and made his legend.. when he passed DMX and Jay-z took it to another level then eminem and Jay tag teamed the industry till present time.. there are side notes in this last era.. like it or not 50cent was like the 3rd team member in this last era.. when he came..his movement had quite an impact on hip hop.. and his mix tape plan has been a model all artist to date use.. Now, important thing to mention every artist i named was an original artist.. own styles, varying forms of flow and talent.. Carved their own lane.. when you hear them you know its them.. People always throw B.I.G in the conversation it seems out of some unsaid obligation.. this is fact…Lyrically BIG wasn’t the best.. reedman, eminem, Jay z was better..BIG’s delivery was uncanny. He used the syllables in words in his rhyme schemes.. his flow was like a smooth ginsu knife.. sharp and on point. people usual response is well Pac wasnt the best lyrically.. If you are a lyricist or have an appreciation for words and structure meaning then you can understand why the argument can be made for Pac. Very rarely did he have complex rhyme schemes. he was to the point. no unnecessary words to increase the sounds of syllables. but if your a fan of his music the music dictated his flow. but he wrote in allegories and parables.. thats hard to do.. you can connect his verses.. that made him a great lyricist and the emotion he could capture with words.. Most great artist usually can capture emotion in their words. with all that rambling i did for a list looking at impact and skill… Pac, jay z, Eminem, LL, Rakim.. pure wordsmiths list would probably not contain your favorite rapper except eminem. then again wordsmith may have to be defined a bit more clearer. are we talking the ability to flip words and have double meaning and still carry the message of the song. then the previous list could hold up minus LL.. redman has to be there Royce da 5’9.. the science has to be more precise in evaluation because impact would end up trumping 2 MC’s of the same ability but have had different impact on hiphop. So really i think the bias of opinion would eventually trump someone creating a list.. As far as numbers impact and success.. pac, jay z, eminem, and LL are easy picks.. really no argument can be made besides a personal one..guess i’ll stop here lol no absolute answer

  • MiiUziWeighsATon

    Jay Z
    AG (AG and Showbiz)
    Lord Finesse
    Big L
    Beanie Sigel