This is what rappers sweat for, sacrifice for, this is the moment they dream of. It's every young artist's dream to make it to the championship round of our completely imaginary tournament, and for two very special albums that dream they totally don't actually have is about to come true. It's the Final Four, can you feel the excitement?!
As a quick recap for those who might have missed our selection process, here's the deal. For our second annual DJBooth March Madness Rap Tournament, we're tackling the best new hip-hop album, "new" meaning released in the last five years. In terms of "best" we're weighing commercial success, cultural impact, inherent quality and more - it's a kitchen sink situation. And we select each winner through a highly scientific process that involves myself, Yoh and Lucas getting on the phone and yelling at each other until we either reach a consensus or someone makes a strong enough case to swing one other guy his way. Typically, I also edit together a compilation of all the times Lucas sighs and mutters "fuck this" during the tournament as one of the albums he's pushing for loses. It really is a tradition unlike any other.
And with that, let's get to the results. The updated bracket is below, followed by game by game breakdowns.
Oxymoron vs. Because the Internet: Winner, Oxymoron
Let the record show that Yoh does not support this decision, and I can't blame him at all. At first we tried to make this an entirely objective contest, measure the two albums against each other in terms of commercial success and cultural impact. Both albums sold relatively in the same ballpark and established their respective owners as legitimate artists. After Oxymoron Q became his own star capable of headling world tours without Kendrick, and after Because the Internet it became exceedingly difficult to dismiss Gambino as a "comedy" or niche rapper. Oxy established a new sound in modern west coast gangster rap, and true to its name Because the Internet was a masterful digital release backed by chilling videos and a short film.
We were getting nowhere comparing the two objectively and so the discussion got predictably personal. For Yoh, Because the Internet was the kind of album that told his story, he could see his life in Gambino's trajectory from "weird" Atlanta kid to respected artist. And for me, while I'm far from a pill pusher, Oxy's the kind of album that's soundtracked my life. I've sat in parking lots because I just couldn't bear to cut "Gangsta" short and I get chills listening to "Prescription/Oxymoron" and imagining that's my daughter trying to wake me up.
It came down to Lucas and after some serious deliberation and soul-searching, he went Oxymoron; good thing he recently had that ScHoolboy epiphany. It might not be fair, but this is March Madness, there is no fair, just winners and losers. Oxy advances.
Truth be told this would have made for a great championship game but believe it or not we've played by the rules this entire tournament. Seeding was random and we've taken each round one game at a time, sometimes March Madness just shakes out so the Final Four features the tournament's marquee game.
Let's cut to the chase, here's the deal. Acid Rap is an incredible album, the kind of project that becomes the soundtrack for an entire generation, it's here for a reason. And at the same time, we were all worried about mindlessly advancing GKMC. We'd certainly earn a lot more cool points by insisting that GKMC was over-rated and going with the upset, and truth be told, we were tempted. Especially since an all-TDE championship was sure to bring on calls of dick-riderism.
But we're not in this for the cool points, we're in this for the rap debate, and there's just no debating GKMC's greatness. It really is that incredible of an album. Not only did it launch Kendrick into the stratosphere, not only did it go platinum, but the entire "good kid, m.A.A.d city" concept describes the current state of America. What else is Kendrick himself but a good kid from America's madest city? So yes it's predictable, but Michael Jordan and the '96 Bulls winning a championship was predictable - what could anyone do? They were just the best. They just were. Luckily in real life there's no knock out round, I can continue to listen to Acid Rap on a weekly basis, but here in the tournament GKMC advances because it's the better album. It just is.
Oxymoron vs. GKMC, get Top on the phone, it's going down.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.