It is nearly impossible to get a bunch of passionate hip-hop fans to agree on anything. But I tried anyhow, starting with a series of polls on Facebook that aimed to figure out which emcee or group was the best in the game as driven by the letters of the alphabet. No specific rubric or criteria was given; just a simple request for answers to the question, "Who is the best emcee or hip-hop group beginning with the letter 'A'?; 'B'?; 'C'?; 'D'?..." and so on. The responses were immediate and spurred some pretty spirited discussions. A general consensus was ultimately reached for each and per the request of Music Editor Leilani Polk, I'm bringing the poll results to Ear Buds. Each week, I'll reveal a letter and its "winning" artist, and then I'll re-open the question for further debate. Once we finish the first 26, we'll start it all over again fresh.
This week we tackle the letter H, where we almost had an upset. Heltah Skeltah aka Sean Price and Rock are microphone bullies who usually play the role of Goliath. Price has penned some of the most consistently aggressive lyrics hip-hop fans have encountered. The other half of this Duck Down duo has one the grimiest voices in the game.
They are part of the Boot Camp Clik, a true supergroup in their own right, but not quite enough to topple these talented titans from the west.
My apologies to Hopsin, who recently showed out at Tampa’s Orpheum, and the late Heavy D, but the letter H goes to the mighty Hieroglyphics crew. They survived Heltah Skeltah’s strong challenge to win by a mere two votes, but they are more than worthy of this top billing. The only thing longer than the Hiero roster is their resume.
Del the Funky Homosapien along with Casual, Domino, Pep Love, DJ Toure, and Souls of Mischief (A-Plus, Opio, Phesto, and Tajai) currently make up this left coast collective from Oakland, California.
As a Virginia kid, I grew up with a heavy East Coast bias and didn’t know much hip hop from Cali outside of Del’s cousin Ice Cube and NWA. The Pharcyde, along with Souls of Mischief’s From 93 'til Infinity, shattered that wall and opened me up to what northern Cali had to offer. Performing with them during their Still Infinity Tour was a definite bucket list moment.
As a young entrepreneur, the Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings model is an impressive example. The label has translated quality music into consistently coveted merchandise, and even has its own holiday.
All hail Hiero!
Infinite Skillz is a hip-hop fan and emcee. Click here to find out more about his music.