In recognition of hip hop’s 50th anniversary, BET Digital, in partnership with Ambrosia For Heads, is celebrating the culture by hosting a bracket-style competition that allows you to determine hip hop’s greatest crew.
Rather than having “experts” tell you who is the greatest of all time, this is your opportunity to collectively make that decision. After giving the opportunity to any and all fans to provide feedback on which crews should be included, 32 collectives from different regions, styles, and generations have been selected—all vying for that #1 spot. When the final battle is over and the last vote is cast, you will have determined who is your Greatest Rap Crew of All Time.
Roughly a quarter-century apart, Wu-Tang Clan and Dreamville each found success without conforming to convention. Both of these crews came from unlikely places—New York City’s overlooked borough of Staten Island and Fayetteville, North Carolina. From there, these squads assembled talent from other places to become forces to be reckoned with. In recent years, the respect has been there—JID has collaborated with Method Man, while J. Cole’s production has sampled Wu.
These crews have used their early foothold to build a platform for other talented and deserving artists. Even if their origin stories are hundreds of miles apart, Wu-Tang and Dreamville come together for a round 1 matchup where only one can prevail.
In the early 1990s, a band of rap outcasts united to take the sound of hip hop to a new frontier of ruggedness. Wu-Tang Clan is a nine-member core group that includes RZA, GZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, and U-God. However, the larger Wu-Tang family tree features branches such as Cappadonna, Killah Priest, Shyheim, and other lyricists and producers. This unit has shaped culture through classic albums, indelible songs, and one of the most recognizable brand logos of the last 30 years. A bonafide classic group debut in 1993, “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” laid the foundation for Wu to win without chasing radio or trends.
Ensuing crew-driven albums, including Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..,” GZA’s “Liquid Swords,” and Ghostface’s “Ironman” are just some of the drops that achieved platinum plaques and critical praise. The success and acclaim were not exclusive to the core members, as evident in the gold certifications of Cappadonna’s “The Pillage” and Wu-Tang Killa Bees’ “The Swarm.” The Wu emphasized its depth and range on the platinum single and near-million-dollar video “Triumph.” Since the 2000s, Wu-Tang’s creative swords have remained sharp even during group hiatuses. This squad maintains an onslaught of crew-involved music and touring while taking its brand to new places, like telling its story on film and television. Through it all, for the last 30 years, Wu-Tang has never ceased bringing da’ ruckus.
For the last decade, J. Cole's Dreamville crew has become a tour de force in hip hop. As Cole has ascended to become one of the genre's most gifted MCs and thinkers, he has assembled a diverse roster with one common bond: creativity and skill. JID, Bas, EARTHGANG, Lute, Cozz, and Omen represent different cities—from Chicago to Queens, South Central Los Angeles to Charlotte, and beyond.
Unlike many crews, its leader has rarely used his acclaimed albums to showcase the collective. Instead, Cole has delivered ear-grabbing features on his affiliates' albums and used compilations like the “Revenge Of The Dreamers” series, festivals, and touring to convey a crew vibe that feels anything but manufactured. One collective entry, the chart-topping “ROTD3,” was created over a 10-day, invitation-only, recording session in Georgia. Songs like the Grammy-nominated "Down Bad" presented a lyrical firing squad of Bas, JID, Cole, and EARTHGANG in peak form. In 2023, the “Creed III Soundtrack” demonstrated how this crew could tag-team a thematic compilation with style and precision.
Even before Cole was in the picture, the dynamic EARTHGANG and JID collaborated on albums, bringing that spirit to Dreamville in the late 2010s. As Cole has ascended to become one of the world's biggest rappers, JID has proven that he aims to be on a similar path with acclaimed albums and incredible flows. Bas and Lute each have platinum singles under their belt. Like J. Cole's late 2000s journey, Dreamville has taken obscure, hand-picked artists and shown why hip hop wins when true talent gets the chance it deserves.
In this celebration of hip hop and all of its talented crews, your vote decides the winner, so vote below.
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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID OUTSIDE OF THE 50 U.S. & D.C. AND WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C. who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Ends at 12:00 p.m. ET on May 1, 2023. Official Rules: bet.com/grcoat-official-rules Sponsor: Black Entertainment Television.