All hail the mighty
" creator just dropped an excellent piece over on Grantland,
. I'm pretty sure you can guess what it's about.
It's a fantastic piece precisely because it demands that any hip-hop head in the vicinity immediately engage in a heated debate about various rappers' strengths and weaknesses, which is exactly what Lucas and I have been doing for a solid day now. There was just no way I
make this the new "
", so here we go...
First, as always, some ground rules here. We're talking a straight up, one time, one-on-one fight here, so posse, bodyguards, entourages, gang affiliations. etc. aren't a factor. Also, no guns (
) allowed, just good ol' fashioned fisticuffs, although we do have to take into account a rapper's ability to adapt to his environment. For example, did DMX learn some technique in prison where you strangle a man with his own socks? The fact that it's even a question for DMX, while sock strangulation would never even occur to Drake, has to be a factor.
Second, while this is obviously an insanely hypothetical question, we are weighing in real world examples. LL Cool J
, while Yung Berg did
approximately 97 times. That matters.
Allright, let's get to it. This isn't really a list or a rank, in the strictest sense. What we wanted to do is lay out the full spectrum, from rappers you'd be terrified to fight to rappers you wouldn't mind fighting at all. From there, we can figure out where every other rapper alive fights in. Speaking of which, while it's fascinating to think about how scared you'd be to fight Bigge (I want to say...not very?) for consistency's sake, we're going alive rappers only. And obviously you're fighting the rapper as they are now. So steroids Busta Rhymes not skinny Busta Rhymes, a newly sober Danny Brown not a wasted Danny Brown, etc.
I'll let Lucas take it from here...
From Most to Least Scared Of
The other day I was at a Tech N9ne, Freddie Gibbs, and Jarren Benton show, with Tech as the headliner. There was one fan who kept talking and hollering about Tech throughout Jarren's set; it got to the point where Jarren even acknowledged the moron. I thought to myself, "Freddie may murder that guy if he talks during his set". Sure enough, the guy didn't stop talking and Freddie was borderline ready to throw down; instead he gave the guy a healthy dose of the middle finger and rapped in his face. Still, I got to thinking, Gibbs might just be the most intimidating emcee around. First off, he is a real fucking gangsta. There are very few thug emcees who I actually think are real thugs, but Gibbs is one of them, and all of his thuggery would definitely give him an advantage in a fight. I am not sure of his exact height, but I'd say its a little over 6 feet because when I met him, he was just a tad taller than me He is strong but not imposing; his real power comes from his gangstaness. Also he has some Army expierence which means he could probably kill you with a shoelace and some chewing gum. Dude would beat you into a pulp, find you at the hospital and beat you again, then go beat the crap out of your family and steal your dog. Absolutely ruthless.
Like Gibbs, Game is an imposing figure who has some serious clout when it comes to thuggery. While he isn't as intimidating as Gibbs personality wise, he is more of a physical specimen; Game is 6'4", essentially an NBA shooting guard. Feel like he is a little more forgiving than Gibbs, but I might be wrong on that; he obviously loves picking a fight. Look at that video above, the guy is on the ground and Game is just pelting him with kidney shots. Ruthless.
LL Cool J
LL just might be the most jacked, physically-gifted emcee around. He is 6'2" and 210 pounds of pure, muscle; would you wanna fight
? The toughest emcee, probably not, but I don't care how tough a 6'2" middle linebacker is, I'm not fighting them. The only reason I didn't put him at the top was because he's the kind of guy who would send you to the ground and then leave it alone; Game and Gibbs wouldn't stop until you are dead.
Did you ever see that episode of Hey Arnold where he had to fight Harold and instead of actually hitting him,
That's what I feel like a fight with Danny Brown would be. Dude would do some crazy ass shit and would get in your head before the fight actually began; like take a bite of a glass bottle or send himself through a table; shit that would have you worried. If you actually got to fighting, I don't thin there's any way Danny fights fair or traditionally. Groin punches, spit, biting, poking you in the eye, I guarantee you Danny would do it. I know he's sober now, but if he popped a few pills it would be game over; they must give him power, like Popeye with spinach or some shit. He is tall at 6'3", but dude must weight like 100 pounds, and the drugs have to have taken a toll on his strength and stamina. Still, that wildcard/unknown factor is too intimidating for my liking.
J.Cole is about as middle of the road as you can be. Personality wise, he's about as intimidating as a chipmunk, but I also don't think he'd be a push over. Dude is 6'3"and must weight around 200 (give or take a few); that is a big dude. He doesn't seem like the best fighter or a guy that's going to be vicious, but he is a big dude. and that has to count for something. Ultimately, given Cole vs. your average guy in America, I'm leaning Cole, but it's close.
Honestly, Drake is a toss up. On the one hand, we all know
and he certainly isn't an imposing figure, but on the other, how much of that reputation is actually true. I think it's still an evenly matched fight, but Drake is far from soft. First off, while not imposing, he does have some height at six feet, and as with any famous person probably works out quite a bit to keep up the appearance. The wildcard here is what the fight is about. If you stole Drake's girl then yeah, he'd probably go off (a la his Chris Brown scrap), but if it was over some stupid shit, he strikes me as the guy who would buy you a beer to smooth over an tensions before he would fight.
Sure he may be a former football player and is not fat by any means (although he isn't exactly jacked), but something tells me he would be a bitch in a fight. Wale strikes me as the kind of guy who would get all hype before the fight to try and itmidate you, but when push comes to shove he would fold faster than a 2-7 off suit poker draw. You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight. Plus who wouldn't want to slap Wale?
Kanye might be tough and scrappy, but he isn't overwhelming physically; in fact, he is pretty doughy. Kanye would be quick to scrap, but when actually scrapping I feel like he is limited. If he had trouble with a camera man who wasn't fighting back, I think he'd have trouble with me, although we all know that if you insult Kim,
. I'm not sleeping on the man, but ultimately I'd be more scared of having him hit me with a four hour monologue about the fashion world than an uppercut.
Now, initially I thought would hate to fight Q - I mean the dude is a gangsta (at least that's what I gathered from
) - and with that raspy, powerful flow, I thought it would translate well to a fight. However, looking at him, he isn't very intimidating. First off, he kind of has a gut and second, while I don't know exactly how tall he is, it's safe to say he isn't much taller than Kendrick (who we all know is short). Height and weight are important factors but really, the main thing here is the lean use. Catch him in a fight after a stint in rehab and yeah, he would probably kill me, but catch him after a lean binge and the dude would be slow, predicable and damn near knocked out already. The guy fell asleep during a radio interview, so what makes you think he can stay awake for a fight? Watching a drunk person try to fight can be a disaster and lean is all the more paralyzing; he would basically be a zombie so as long as you kept moving, there is no way he could even touch you. A leaning ScHoolboy would be a very easy takedown.
A Note From Nathan
: I feel obligated to jump in here since Lucas originally wanted to put Q much higher, but I sold him on the lean use theory.
in the last month has him talking about being happy to be back on lean and taking multiple naps a day. There's a 50% chance Q is leanin at any point in the day, and I don't care if you're Tyson, you're not throwing down off a bottle of codeine.
If this was a gunfight, Keef would be near the top, but since no guns are allowed, I feel pretty confident in saying that I could take him. He's average height and weighs like 90 pounds. He's the skinniest fat person ever. You know's people who think they are strong, but really they are just super skinny show their muscles show? Keef is like that, but still has kind of a gut. Now he is probably 100 times tougher than me, but if we are going on pure size and height I like my chances.
A Note from Nathan
: It never really occured to me until now just how consistently tiny a lot of the new Chicago rappers are. To be clear, if we're including guns, I'm absolutely terrified of all these guys. But in a straight up fight, Lil Durk, Lil Herb, Fredo Santana, there's not a guy over 140 pounds among them. Although Young Chop is a big fella...but Young Chop actually seems pretty nice and laid back.
I was all done and then I remembered Gambino. Dude is a big nerd and nobody is scared of nerds. He's 5'10" and skinny as a rail and is much more of a lover than a fighter. My only concern is that his parents made him take karate or some shit so he could be a secret black belt, but I'm willing to take my chances. Keef would definitely still kick my ass, but I actually think I could take Gambino. Plus he stole my girl Jhene Aiko, so I'd be extra motivated.
And I'm back.
Other Rappers to Consider
: DMX, obviously. X is a real wild card here and we didn't know where to place him. On one hand, he's essentially been in prison since he was a kid, and he's obviously fucking fearless. On the other hand, he's now, let's be honest,
a 44-year-old ex, or current, crackhead
. I really have no idea where to plac ehim. Also, I feel like we need to address Ghostface, Raekwon, 50 Cent, Action Bronson, Asher Roth, Lil B, Mac Miller and about four thousand other rappers.
Let's get this hashed out in the comments below RefinedHype Nation, we're counting on you. Welcome to the best way to waste the rest of your day you've come across in a minute.
[Nathan Slavik is the managing editor of DJBooth.net and RefinedHype. He has a beard.
. Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth and RefinedHype. He does not have a beard.