The other day Lucas and I got to talking about hip-hop - because what else is there to talk about? - and
we got to circling around one question: if you had to pick one rapper to represent you, who would it be? In other words, who's your
rapper? Now, to be clear, we're not talking about
in the sense of a rapper would win a semi-apocalyptic battle to the death,
. More like, if you could pick any rapper to represent your "
" in front of the world, who would it be?
We're talking about someone who's not just talented, but someone whose message you support, someone you'd be willing to stand behind without hesitation or qualification. Someone whose music inspires you to live a better life. Someone whose music you bump in the car
someone you'd trust to give your children life advice. If you decided to become a rapper, this person would be everything you aspire to become.
I like this question because it forced me to look at the artists I listen to in a different way. If pressed, Ghostface Killah is my "favorite" rapper of all-time, but with all due respect to Tony Starks, there's no way he's my
pick. I love the man for writing "Run", but I wouldn't be a big fan of Ghost giving my daughter life advice (unless I want her to start
So who is my
rapper pick? It's a great question, so great that I couldn't just keep it to myself and invited some friends to answer as well.
DJ Z - Common
If I had to select one rap artist to represent me in both my professional and personal life, I'd select Common. Undoubtedly, the artist/actor/humanitarian, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., is one of the most respected emcees in the game. My rationale doesn't start and end with just his ability to craft memorable, timeless records, but for the way he represents his city (Chicago) and the way he gives back to the community (Common Ground Foundation). I would trust him to successfully fulfill many, if not all of the daily tasks and responsibilities I maintain, from helping to take care of my mother to selecting new artists for feature at DJBooth. Selecting Common would simply be common sense.
DJ Z is the editor-in-chief of DJBooth.net. This is
Pigeons & Planes - Tupac
Technical rap skills are cool, but while styles pop up, evolve, and fade away, the spirit of an artist is timeless. And you can't fuck with 2Pac's spirit. It's hard to agree with everything Pac did or said because his life was full of contradictions, but he was human and his intentions were good. While most rappers aim to be the hottest in the game, if only for a brief moment, 2Pac had his sights on greater things. There's a quote from
where Pac says, “I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” Every time I see that, I feel like I have an obligation to at least try to impact the world. Then I listen to "Hit Em Up" and I wanna kill someone. Thug life.
Pigeons & Planes is an
. This is
Dharmic X - Immortal Technique
As an Indian-American kid growing up in the city of Boston, hip-hop was inclusive, and yet at the same time, there was something exclusive to it. As an inherently African-American (and Latino) culture, the narrative arc and family dynamic of most rappers was something I could not completely claim as my own, even though certain aspects resonated with me in a much stronger fashion than the story of Middle Class "white" America. But the story came full circle the night I heard "
" by Immortal Technique for the first time. "I'm from where people pray to the gods of their conquerors/[...]Destroyed our culture and said that you civilized us/Raped our women and when we were born, you despised us." This was my world. This was my story. But Immortal Technique didn't just extend an arm into the world of hip-hop; he also saved my life. Listening to "Dance With The Devil" in the darkness at home didn't just send chills up my spine, it also made me give up on a life of petty theft that was on the verge of escalating into something very, very ugly. Listening to "Cause Of Death" and "Bin Laden" sharpened my resolve to fully understand the world we live in and the politics that guided it. And "Point of No Return" inspired me to get off my ass and power through my last years of high school. He once said, "Fuck fans... I got soldier supporters." I am a testament to that fact. There is no other rapper that could represent me.
Dharmic X is a dope hip-hop writer (often for RefinedHype) and podcast/radio host. This is
Nathan S. (aka me) - Big K.R.I.T.
A few weeks ago I ran a
, and while I huffed and puffed my way through 13 miles, I kept "King Remembered in Time" on repeat. The race started before dawn, and through the mysterious workings of the cosmos, I came up over a hill right as the sun was rising and "
" began to play. "Good Lord it feels good to shine," said K.R.I.T., and he was right. Simply being alive did feel amazing, and for four years now, K.R.I.T.'s been a constant voice in my head reminding me to hold fast to what I truly value, to push through any obstacles, and to remember to enjoy the shit out of life while I'm at it. Now that's a man I'm down to represent to the fullest, and I'd be proud to have represent me.
Again, I love this question not just because it made me think about my pick, but because it's fascinating to read who others pick. As well as I know DJ Z, I wasn't entirely sure who his Hunger Games rapper would be, and as soon as he said Common, it made perfect sense. So there, we've kicked it off, now it's your turn. Who you got?
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth, the proprietor of RefinedHype, and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome.