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Selection Monday: The DJBooth March Madness Rapper Tournament Begins


Which one seed will get knocked out first? Who will be this year's Cinderella story? How many buzzer beaters will we see? 

That feeling of "anything can happen" is why March Madness is the greatest, and why a few weeks ago I told Nathan that we should do our own March Madness tournament...except for rappers. His immediate reaction was that putting together something like that would be insane, but then I reminded him that insane is kind of our thing, and so here we are, launching the first ever DJBooth March Madness Rapper Tournament

Here's how it's going down:

We're going to attempt to determine the greatest rapper alive (as in alive, not dead) with a nod to their overall career but an emphasis on the here and now, and to do it we're going to mirror the NCAA Tournament as closely as possible. As the real tournament progresses so to will ours. Each matchup, whether it be Kentucky vs. Wisconsin or Drake vs. Eminem, will happen in real time. We're announcing the 64 rappers who have made the tourney the day after Selection Sunday, we'll announce the winner the day after the championship game (April 6) and hit every landmark in-between (first round, Sweet 16, etc.). 

Speaking of which - enough intro, let's get to tourney field. Unlike the real tournament, we don't have RPI algorithms, analytics or conference championships to guide us. This is music, not math, so while we tried to objectively consider things like lyricisim, popularity, and influence, ultimately our super scientific selection process involved the DJBooth team jumping on a conference call and screaming at each other until, a couple hours later, we had a list of 64 rappers that no one was 100% happy with, which we considered a good sign. I hate that DMX and Ice Cube aren't here, Ab-Soul's inclusion was hotly debated, but in the end there are only so many slots. 

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Crucially, in the spirit of mirroring the actual tournament, we tried to get a wide range of rappers in here; a tournament that spans geography, styles and eras is the most interesting tournament. Migos might get bounced in the first round, or they might make a surpisingly deep run and find themselves face-to-face with JAY Z, just like #14 Nebraska might lose to #2 Notre Dame in the first round, or might find itself in the Elite 8 battling Kentucky. It's happened before, that uncertainty is exactly what makes March Madness so great, and that's why our tournament looks the way it does. Mad your favorite rapper isn't here? You probably have decent case, go drown your sorrows with Colorado State.

If by the end of this run you've celebrated some victories with joyous abandon and furiously cursed at us for other match-ups, we'll have accomplished our mission. It's called March Madness, not March Sensible Agreeement. Enough talk. It's time to unveil the bracket. We'll be back again on Wednesday with the results of the first round. And so it starts: 

The Full List

  • #1 Jay Z
  • #1 Kanye West
  • #1 Drake
  • #1 Kendrick Lamar
  • #2 Eminem
  • #2 Common
  • #2 Nas
  • #2 KRS-One
  • #3 Andre 3000
  • #3 Mos Def
  • #3 Black Thought
  • #3 Rakim
  • #4 Lupe Fiasco
  • #4 Big Boi
  • #4 J. Cole
  • #4 Big K.R.I.T.
  • #5 Killer Mike
  • #5 Ghostface Killah
  • #5 Talib Kweli
  • #5 Bun B
  • #6 Snoop Dogg
  • #6 T.I.
  • #6 Big Daddy Kane
  • #6 ScHoolboy Q
  • #7 Pusha T
  • #7 Scarface
  • #7 Raekwon
  • #7 Game
  • #8 Lil Wayne
  • #8 Jay Electronica
  • #8 Chance the Rapper
  • #8 Rick Ross
  • #9 Young Jeezy
  • #9 Childish Gambino
  • #9 50 Cent
  • #9 Ludacris
  • #10 Q-Tip
  • #10 Pharoahe Monch
  • #10 Tech N9ne
  • #10 Lauryn Hill
  • #11 A$AP Rocky
  • #11 Freddie Gibbs
  • #11 Danny Brown
  • #11 Brother Ali
  • #12 Big Sean
  • #12 Royce da 5'9"
  • #12 Mac Miller
  • #12 MF Doom
  • #13 Rapsody 
  • #13 Logic 
  • #13 Crooked I
  • #13 Missy Elliott
  • #14 Atmosphere
  • #14 Wale
  • #14 Busta Rhymes
  • #14 Cam'ron
  • #15 E-40
  • #15 Gucci Mane
  • #15 Jean Grae
  • #15 Currensy
  • #16 Joey Bada$$
  • #16 Migos
  • #16 Kid Cudi
  • #16 Black Milk

UPDATE: Black Milk won his play-in game versus Oddisee.

Not gonna lie, I'm pretty excited for that Lupe vs. Logic match-up in the first round, and I swear that putting Chance the Rapper and his mentor Childish Gambino up against each other was a completely fortuitous accident. March Madness really is the greatest. 

[This is a DJBooth #Squad endeavor by Nathan S., Lucas and Yoh.]



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