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What separates the good from the great? A look into GOAT rappers

It has become fashionable to throw around the term GOAT lightly, whether that’s in music, sports, or another field.

Matter of fact, when it comes to internet consumption, many serious happenings are treated as mockeries or made light of when they truly do not deserve to be.

A prime example is Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech. Winning that award took everything in that man’s being to achieve. Yet, the only thing internet trolls focused on was generating memes from his tears and heartfelt sentiments attributed to his single mother. 

music goat
Kevin Durant shares an honorable moment with his mother. (Sue Agrocki, AP)

Kevin Durant will go down in history as one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA game so yes he would be considered in GOAT talks.

Don’t worry, we’re not here to focus on athletes. It was just too strong an example to pass up. Ultimately, we are here to thoroughly appreciate what comprises a legendary artist, and what separates the very good, from the GOAT rappers.

What makes a GOAT in music?

Through and through, a hip hop GOAT is vulnerable.

They are unafraid to confess their shortcomings and share their adversity for the sake of self-progression. It is in these moments that the audience truly becomes aware of the intricacies and specialties that an artist may offer.

Unfortunately, many hip hop artists refuse to go beyond the surface of drugs, guns, money, clothes and acquiring women. Solely, because the majority of out-of-touch/dismissive executives deem this to be popular.

Sure, there is a competitive nature to the sport of rap but the embrace of such hypermasculine and hyper aggressive lyrics contribute to much larger issues as a whole.

“Rap is not intended to be taken seriously, it is merely entertainment.”


Everyone seems to love a braggadocious artist like 50 Cent whom many would consider their GOAT and rightfully so. What everyone seems to overlook is the rigid and narrow version of manhood that he portrays. 

“Cause I hustle baby – this rap sh*t is so easy – I’m getting what you get for a brick to talk greasy.”

(Wanksta, 50 Cent)

The primary element that ails hip hop as a whole is the perpetuation of limited means of expression. What this means is that there are only so many ways that a hip hop artist can reach the masses.

Too often, hip hop deals with violence and degradation, because that’s what the executives decide 

With no regard for decent human existence, many artists fall victim to the label trap. They continue to propagate these indecent lyrics and chalk it up to “business.”

Who cares who it may hurt or what effect it may have because it’s all about the benjamins right?

In reality, these militaristic lyrical styles only generate further preoccupations with violence.

Thus, those who deploy these shallow words only advance the industries’ agenda to promote imagery and tales that exploit the devaluation of black bodies for profit.

A real GOAT in music embraces what it takes to be a true man by taking a hard introspective look inward.

They step outside of that marginalized box and ditch the mindset that they must perform the “hard” role to bolster their credibility. 

Record label executives like Russell Simmons make it extremely hard for a starving artist to succeed. 

Hip hop artists too commonly find themselves at the mercy of their label

Couple the rigidity of executives with all of the out-of-pocket studio fees, lawyer costs, production payments etc. – the only time these artists see any profit is through a signing bonus.

Hence, they must obey the spoonfed formula that the record company forces into mainstream society. That is why it is not far-fetched when Kanye West considers music industry executives as modern-day slaveowners.

Money distorts morals – but not for true GOATS in music

An authentic GOAT does not reinforce negativity because he/she knows there is already too much hatred in this world. Unfortunately, many emcees sacrifice their artistic integrity in exchange for monetary benefit.

Regardless, hip hop as a whole must reject silence and stoicism that contributes to further emotional trauma. These practices have been proven to further the desensitization and normalization of violence in America.

Every connoisseur of the culture must take steps for growth by deciding what is appropriate and utilizing hip hop as a space to further large-scale conversations about race, class, and gender.

A real GOAT like Master P or Nipsey Hussle owns their masters and becomes the sole proprietor of every musical output and endeavor that they labor.

Real rapper GOATS like Kendrick Lamar or Childish Gambino confront the true sources of oppression with valuable lyrical content that rejects the status quo.

A real GOAT like Joey Bada$$ or Talib Kweli uses their platforms for abstract power exertion by productive means.

Real GOATS in music like Kid Cudi, Logic, and Lupe Fiasco create awareness around critical issues such as suicide.

Hip hop does not merely operate in a vacuum. It is an implication of large-scale ailments that continue to harm our youth and cause superstars in the making like Pop Smoke to lose their ability to take precious breaths.

With that, here are my top 7 GOATS in rap.

Ultimately, everyone’s GOATS are subjective. But think about how your favorite really has affected the culture

7) Eminem – His wordplay and intermingling of phrases are unmatched.

6) Busta Rhymes – He reinvents the wheel, is always current, and adapts to inevitable change

5) Jay-Z – Has never fallen off, is the most business-savvy. He is a social justice warrior and mogul in every sense.

4) Big L – The slickest, most flamboyant ruthless rhymer there ever was.

3) Big Pun – His continuous flows are downright unmatchable and is the only Latin artist to ever go 2X platinum.

2) Notorious B.I.G. – Stylistically untouchable, he is a true general, commanding presence, smooth.

1) Tupac Shakur – An undeniable hit-maker, has an undying work ethic, a catalyst, and Black Panther.

To get more wisdom from Tupac, tap in below: