Join the rap battle of the century as we pit the greatest rap crews of all time against each other. Will your favorite crew come out on top? BET Digital is proud to launch a tournament-style competition with Ambrosia For Heads, who serves as a content partner, to let fans debate and determine the Greatest Rap Crew. Rather than having “experts” tell you who is the greatest of all time, this is your opportunity to collectively make that decision.
Crews are part of hip hop’s foundation and date back to the origins of the culture. Groups like the Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, and The Funky 4 +1, knocked down the doors for all after them. Their place in history is cemented, beyond reproach, and exists beyond the era of early hip hop recordings. For crews that followed these pioneers, we offer this competition as a way for fans to determine who else belongs in hip hop’s pantheon of collectives.
Hip hop is competitive by nature, and so are its fans and followers. This competitive spirit has cut across regions, with each geographic area cultivating its own style, sound, slang, and identity. It has also spanned eras, with each generation that followed often thinking it outshone those from the past…and vice versa.
The Greatest Rap Crews competition will allow those debates to flourish while providing important hip hop history and context to frame the discussions. It is the digital extension of conversations that have been had in barber shops and beauty salons across the country for decades. That said, this competition is created with the utmost respect and appreciation for all of the great hip hop collectives. Each is deserving of G.O.A.T. status, and this is meant to be the ultimate celebration of their collective greatness.
Thirty-two crews will be chosen to compete for the title of "Greatest Rap Crew." Over the next few days, we will take your feedback over social media into consideration in making these selections. Make your voices loud and clear on Twitter and Instagram by mentioning the crews you believe to be most deserving of consideration, along with the hashtag #BETGreatestRapCrew.
You'll have until April 26th to do so, at which time we will compile the results, determine the top 32, and begin the tournament on May 1st.
In recognition of hip hop’s upcoming 50th birthday, the final selections will be intended to bring together generations of hip hop fans, representing crews that recorded music in five different decades. Once the competition begins, make sure to cast your vote for every battle.
EDITOR's NOTE: Register for the sweepstakes for a chance to win the grand prize of two (2) tickets to the 2023 BET Awards, two (2) round-trip airline tickets, and a 2-night hotel stay on June 25. Up your chances to win by voting weekly.
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.
So, What Exactly Is A Rap "Crew"?
For guidance, as you begin to cast your votes, keep in mind how we define the word “crew.” For this competition, a “crew” is a collective of artists or groups (3 or more) bound by a common cause that is bigger than the individuals or separate factions involved.
This can take many forms, including an overlapping purpose, a familial record label, a unifying figure, a shared philosophy, or more. To be a part of a crew, artists typically have certain hallmarks—they work together on multiple songs, rep a shared logo or brand, reference their collective frequently, hail from the same region, and/or make music with the same producers. The definition of crews is not precise, but hip hop fans know a crew when they see one.
Some acts belong to multiple crews, as is the nature of movements within hip hop. For instance, in history, The LOX have been a vital part of the Bad Boy Family (including appearing on reunion tours), even though they have also represented Ruff Ryders. Ice Cube was part of N.W.A. & The Posse before his role in other crews, including Westside Connection.
Additionally, many crews have evolved over time, with members coming and going, sometimes in peace and sometimes in discord. We will be inclusive of all past members, even if some have gone their separate ways (e.g., The Game and G-Unit). Also, since this is a hip hop-focused competition, singers in crews will not be included, though they may have played prominent roles. For example, Frank Ocean and The Internet would not be included with Odd Future.
Lastly, there are also some instances where crews that were part of the same “family tree” may be combined. For example, while Junior M.A.F.I.A. was its own separate crew, it would be included as part of the Bad Boy Family. Similarly, State Property would be considered part of the Roc-A-Fella family. This will be done to be inclusive of as many crews as possible and in order to make for even more compelling battles.
What Happens After The Crews Are Selected?
Once the crews are selected, they will be placed into regions:
- “East Coast”
- “Dirty South”
- “West Coast”
This is done in order to create a four-part bracket system for the tournament. We will endeavor to place each crew in its actual region in order to facilitate conversations about who holds the “best of” title in each geographic location. In select cases, however, we may need to place crews in brackets outside of their geographic regions, in order to maintain diversity and balance.
In order to help provide a clear sense of what constitutes a crew and what does not constitute a crew, at the bottom of this article are two examples of crews from each region.
Native Tongues: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Jungle Brothers, Monie Love, Black Sheep, Chi Ali
Roc-A-Fella: Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, Freeway, Kanye West, Amil, Peedi Crakk, Young Chris, Neef Buck, Omillio Sparks, Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey
Shady: Eminem, Proof, Bizarre, Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, D12, Obie Trice, G-Unit (50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, Tony Yayo, The Game), Stat Quo
G.O.O.D. Music: Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha-T, Kid Cudi, Cyhi The Prynce, Common, Consequence, Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def), 2 Chainz
TDE: Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Isaiah Rashad, Reason
NWA & The Posse: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella, The D.O.C., Above The Law
Quality Control: Migos, Lil Baby, City Girls, Lil Yachty
Dungeon Family: Andre 3000, Big Boi, Cee-Lo Green, Big Gipp, Khujo, T-Mo, Rico Wade, Sleepy Brown, Ray Murray, Killer Mike, Big Rube, Cool Breeze, Future, Witchdoctor
Remember, you will have until midnight (ET) on April 26th to make your opinion heard on which 32 crews should be included in the quest to determine hip hop’s Greatest Rap Crew of All Time. After that, visit BET.com on May 1st and every day after to see who made the cut in each region, cast your votes for that day’s battles, and have an opportunity to win prizes, including tickets to the 2023 BET Awards.