TOP 5 DEAD OR ALIVE: KuruptDoes life imitate art? Yes, just look at a lot of today’s Rap music! Insistently wishing to uphold the status quo, many Geppetto-like CEOs continue to sign crudely replicated Pinocchio rappers. Fantasy can be fun, but it is time to step away from all these fairy tale artists. Kurupt’s impending […]

TOP 5 DEAD OR ALIVE: KuruptDoes life imitate art? Yes, just look at a lot of today’s Rap music! Insistently wishing to uphold the status quo, many Geppetto-like CEOs continue to sign crudely replicated Pinocchio rappers. Fantasy can be fun, but it is time to step away from all these fairy tale artists. Kurupt’s impending effort, Streetlights should illuminate what it means to be an actual MC when it drops on April 20. Kurupt’s authenticity and lyricism exemplifies what an MC is, and  also determines which MCs he lists on his Top 5 Dead Or Alive.

He explains, “What is an MC—a microphone controller, you understand me—a Master of Ceremony; it’s different than a guy who sells millions and millions of records. That doesn’t make them an MC that makes them a great artist! You got to understand that an MC isn’t the same thing as being a rapper, or being an artist. It’s a whole different ballgame. That’s why you see a lot of East coasters mentioned in my Top 5 MCs, because they created this whole art form we call emceeing. Being an MC is a kind of privilege! We don’t call them rappers, you call them MCs; because, they’re [the] Master of Ceremony. They rock the party, their rhymes are ridiculous…When I’m picking my Top 5 Dead Or Alive, it’s a hard list to get on, because you just got to be a certain caliber of rapper…”

Without further ado, Kurupt’s Top 5 Dead or Alive.                       



Kurupt: At the top of the chart, it’s always the, R—Rakim. His pen game never ceases to amaze me [when] he comes to the mic. Rakim is the blueprint of what an MC is. Whenever you think of an MC, if you need an example, think of Rakim. Everything about Rakim [constitutes] what is an MC. An MC is about being fly, being an MC is about the wordplay, the way that you deliver it, which is your style [and] how you connect your words when you’re rhyming; that’s all about being an MC, you know, all about your style and how articulate you are. Rakim is at the top of the chart on that. That’s where he musically invented this s***. So, that’s why Rakim has always been that to me. Have you had the opportunity to work with him yet?

Kurupt: I’ve never had the opportunity to work with him. I met him a couple of times; that really made my day. Me and the R definitely have to make that happen, us on the mic together. That would be incredible!


I would definitely have to choose KRS One. KRS One always set an example of skills on the mic. And uh, he’s definitely a part of the blueprint of what an MC is, as well. I like to pattern a lot of my rhymes to the R’s—Rakim’s and KRS One’s. Do you have a favorite verse or a favorite album by G Rap that you think folks should study?



Kurupt: I like the album Road To The Riches there’s a song on there called “Men At Work.” It’s ridiculous; his microphone game is ridiculous on that record. Kool G Rap is also a different kind of MC. He had a different style. That’s also one of the main things about being an MC is originality. It’s about coming up with your own style, and concepts, and rhymes, period.

You didn’t steal nobody’s style, back in the day they called that biting. There’s a lot of biting out there nowadays. It’s a different caliber of rappers out there nowadays. You know, I think that the creative part has taken a back seat to the fun of it, you know what I mean. Now it’s more about the fun. Back then it was more about critiquing your style, and it was more about the mic. It’s all good; because, it’s all in the love of Hip-Hop. Getting back to your Top 5, the last MC you named was Kool G Rap, who would be your last two?



Kurupt: I would definitely go with Biggie for my fourth one. Biggie just had a certain style about himself. His wordplay was ridiculous. That’s one of the newer generation MCs, definitely. The older generation, those three right there  [Rakim, KRS One, and Kool G Rap] always set up a base for the newer generation—which a lot of people consider older—but the ‘90’s of  MCs I’d definitely go with Biggie. I have a real screwed up face right now with you naming Biggie. All during the West Coast / East Coast beef you still respected him as an MC?

Kurupt: Of course, the whole problem had nothing to do with his skills. Wow! Now, rounding out your Top 5 who else would you put on there?


Kurupt: My fifth MC, I’d go definitely with the D.O.C. It’s the same as all the rest of him, his skills—how he was on his mic. I think he definitely deserves a little more recognition. You know, I don’t think that people really listen to the D.O.C.’s lyrics. The boy is vicious. I had the opportunity to actually see him work when he was writing rhymes for Dr. Dre when we was doing The Chronic and all those different rhymes he wrote for Dr. Dre. Just to see him move; he had style; it was all about his style. He wouldn’t do the average way of rapping; he would do so much more. He would think of different [and] creative ways to say simple s###. So, I definitely think that he can get more recognition, definitely.

The Sidebar

“So, I stare at the grade—the blueprint—of what an MC is when I’m judging MCs. So, I can’t go to the nowadays before I mention the people who created the blueprint. They still got the skills today, freestyling, and rhyming. Rakim didn’t really freestyle, you know, that’s just another craft—another part—of how high an MCs skills can go. Kris is a freestyler, you know what I mean. G Rap, I really ain’t heard him freestyle. There’s also others who can go on the list.

 Big Daddy Kane was vicious; that’s an MC! Regardless, of how he changed his style later. His blueprint overshadows any other way he rhymes nowadays. That’s why Biggie comes in at four, and the D.O.C. definitely comes in at five. You know and to tell you the truth, there’s no particular order, it doesn’t go Rakim first—this one that one this one that—it’s all five of them, like gumbo, mixed up in one. There isn’t one of them that I like better than the other ones when it comes to this list of MCs. You know, if we go with the Top 5, we gotta go with the top five MCs in the game that ever came into this sport. That’s definitely Rakim, Kool G Rap, KRS One, that’s definitely Biggie Smalls and The D.O.C. I can go on and on.

I consider Ice Cube an MC. He’s a different caliber of an MC. With Cube, what he brings to the table—if you listen to “The N#### You Love To Hate,” and Amerikkka’s Most Wanted—even when he was with N.W.A. he was very articulate on the mic. He wasn’t just rapping. It’s just that he had subject matter, and everybody else their style was different.

There’s a lot of good rappers, and there are younger people who are great MCs as well; like Cassidy. I like Drake; I think Drake is a great MC. You can tell that he’s not just a rapper he’s articulate—he uses his words—the way he connects his rhymes. You know, the list goes on and on and on, and every day there’s a new MC created.”

– Kurupt