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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.
The championship matchup is between two crews with roots in the 1980s, towering growth in the early 1990s, and everlasting impact since. From their logos to their music to their videos, Wu-Tang Clan and the Death Row Family are two of the most recognized brands in all of hip hop.
In this celebration of hip hop and all of its talented crews, your vote decides the winner, so click the box below to vote now!
Who’s The GOAT? Wu-Tang Clan vs. Death Row Family | Round 5
Players on both squads remain all-stars over 30 years after their 1992 genesis. Like so many faceoffs in this tournament, these two crews have history. There were reports in several books on Death Row—including Ronin Ro’s “Have Gun Will Travel"—that Suge Knight unsuccessfully attempted to bring the burgeoning Wu to Death Row in the mid-1990s. By 1996, Method Man joined Tupac and Tha Dogg Pound on “Got My Mind Made Up” from the diamond-certified “All Eyez On Me.”
However, that song—also featuring Redman—omitted a recorded verse from Inspectah Deck. While the Death Row squad was the commercial juggernaut out of the gate in the early 1990s, Wu-Tang eventually found sales and mainstream recognition to match their critical acclaim and certified hip-hop approval. Members from these crews continued to work together on an onslaught of collaborations, with Kurupt even forming a group with Killah Priest, along with Canibus and Ras Kass.
Tha Dogg Pound MC also deliberately announced that Wu-Tang was family during a diss track aimed at other prominent East Coast crews. Then, in the mid-2000s, Raekwon signed with Dr. Dre (at Aftermath) to begin work on what eventually became his lauded “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Vol. II” album. Each of these squads has endured losses, including the passing of core figures like ‘Pac and O.D.B. To get to this round, Wu-Tang bested four amazing crews in Dreamville, Juice Crew, Ruff Ryders, and G.O.O.D. Music,in that order. For Death Row, they defeated Hieroglyphics, N.W.A. & The Posse, TDE, and YMCMB to reach this top stage. The love between the DR family and the W is real, and lasting—long after any awkwardness in the past. Will Wu-Tang bring the ruckus, or will Death Row remain untouchable?
- Defeated Dreamville in Round 1
- Defeated Juice Crew in Round 2
- Defeated Ruff Ryders in Round 3
- Defeated G.O.O.D. Music in Round 4
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.
DEATH ROW FAMILY
- Defeated Hieroglyphics in Round 1
- Defeated N.W.A. & The Posse in Round 2
- Defeated TDE in Round 3
- Defeated YMCMB in Round 4
Between 1992 and 1997, being stranded on Death Row was a great thing. Beyond just a label, Dr. Dre’s third crew (after World Class Wreckin’ Crew and N.W.A.) offered a clean slate creatively and a breeding ground for ill MCs needing the doctor’s treatment. In this space, Dre and his cohorts used the G-Funk sound to take authentic-minded gangsta rap to the mainstream. This ensemble was fresh and distinct. Snoop Doggy Dogg possessed a smooth delivery and a conversational flow, while The Narrator RBX sounded sinister and robotic. The Lady Of Rage exuded confidence on the mic, making her a standout, and Tha Dogg Pound quickly proved themselves as stars far beyond Snoop’s affiliates.
This movement also included off-label stars like Dre’s half-brother Warren G and DJ Quik. Dre’s “The Chronic” was a hot box of ensemble talent, a motif that carried over to “Doggystyle.” Songs like “Stranded On Death Row,” “Lyrical Gangbang,” and the vinyl rarity “Puffin’ On Blunts And Drankin’ Tanqueray” were domineering posse cuts with artists who brandished their Row affiliation like a fraternity and rapped together with explosive chemistry. Soundtracks offered places for collaboration and fellowship, including with Tupac Shakur, who joined the squad upon his 1995 prison release.
Five years into his career, Tupac shifted his sound and message to mesh with the Death Row ethos—evident in songs like “California Love” and “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” Death Row albums and compilations topped the pop charts seven times during the 1990s. With Snoop Dogg recently acquiring Death Row, he’s been putting the gang back together—and everybody’s celebratin’.
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