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.
Nearly 20 years apart, two major movements started in Atlanta and Miami. In the 1990s, producers/artists Organized Noize began cultivating a crew of MCs with distinct styles, flows, and subject matters. Along with singers and poets, this collective became the Dungeon Family, who began in a basement and took their talents to the top of the charts and mainstream consciousness—from OutKast to Gnarls Barkley.
Years later, Rick Ross assembled a talented team around him at Maybach Music Group. Ross chose artists who, like him, had been in the industry but were due for greater recognition. His collective would pull from around the country, including Meek Mill and Wale, and make collaborations that felt like these artists had known each other for decades.
In both crews, those relationships still endure as the music continues to be made. However, MMG and DF must face off in a Round 1 matchup where only one of these great crews can go forth.
Maybach Music Group
Rick Ross named his company after a luxury sedan where the whole crew could ride in comfort and style. Starting with Ross’ first album, “Port of Miami,” he brought his squad, the Triple C’s, with him. The Carol City Cartel included an over-the-top charismatic artist named Gunplay, who has been integral to the MMG movement since the onset.
However, beginning with the “Self-Made, Vol. 1” compilation, Maybach Music Group retooled with at least some future stars in tow. Meek Mill stepped out in a big way with the eardrum-grabbing Ross collaboration “I’m A Boss,” which became the Philly rapper’s earliest song to go platinum. Meek joined Washington, D.C.’s Wale and Ross on “Fitted Cap,” another MMG highlight. These artists sounded great together on a superb production.
Like the crew’s founder, both Wale and Meek had spent time in the industry before their eventual breakthroughs. This bond defied geography, as MMG used its acclaimed “Self Made” series to establish natural hit-making chemistry across its crew—which grew to include Moroccan-born French Montana and Ohio’s Stalley.
Wale and Meek each scored several multi-platinum singles on their ensuing albums and received Grammy nominations. This crew was built for the long term. In 2019, Ross and Meek maintained their palpable chemistry on “What’s Free” from Meek’s JAY-Z assisted Championships," and Ross and Wale traded features on their respective 2021 albums. MMG became a badge of honor during the 2010s, and Rick Ross possessed an eye for talent as incredible as his ear for beats.
A collective of artists descended Rico Wade’s mother’s basement steps. While in that studio, dubbed “The Dungeon,” these creatives would make music that elevated the culture. Rico, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown formed Organized Noize in Atlanta. That production outfit would eventually mentor and develop a crop of teenage talent, including Andre 3000, Big Boi, CeeLo, Khujo Goodie, T-Mo, Big Gipp, Witchdoctor, and Cool Breeze. Thus, the Dungeon Family was born.
Albums like “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” “Soul Food,” and “ATLiens” featured intermingling ensembles of talent, making incredibly soulful, honest, and otherworldly songs to represent “The Dirty South.” Songs like “Git Up, Git Out,” “Watch For The Hook,” and “Thought Process” present a crew with distinct voices who join arms in pushing the envelope. In 2001, as OutKast had become chart-topping superstars, the Dungeon Family reconvened for “Even in Darkness, involving Killer Mike, Backbone, and others.
Three years later, Organized Noise’s Sleepy Brown made “The Way You Move” with Big Boi from OutKast’s Grammy “Album Of The Year”-winning “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Big Boi included his Dungeon Family crew in two installments of his “Got Purp?” compilation series. Nearly 20 years after that, the Dungeon Family maintains its chemistry, including reunion concerts and Big Boi purchasing the basement studio where his career took shape. Future, Rico Wade’s cousin, has often credited his time witnessing this unit work as inspiration for his solo success. Some of the most colorful and exciting music in hip hop history came from the Dungeon—a place where artists could truly feel free.
In this celebration of hip hop and all of its talented crews, your vote decides the winner.
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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.