The competitiveness we see in hip-hop is nothing new.
Here’s proof: a couple of rapper report cards graded by hip-hop pioneer Kool Moe Dee went viral over the weekend, with hip hop heads arguing about the results.
Thanks to a tweet by U.K. scratch DJ Jimbo Jones this past Sunday (Jan. 8), hip-hop fans and the world at large was reminded or introduced to the very detailed grading system of the 1980's MC, which critiqued the skillsets of hip-hop’s royalty, from Tupac, Jay-Z and DMX, to Lil Kim, Biggie and LL. Cool J.
The first report card was from the inner sleeve of Moe Dee’s How You Like Me Now LP from ‘87 and featured 10 different criteria that were ranked on a scale from one to 10 with an accumulated total at the end.
The categories include vocabulary, articulation, creativity, originality, versatility, voice, records, stage presence, sticking to themes and innovating rhythms.
The first time the report card came out, Kool Moe Dee, of course, was one of the only three MCs to get a perfect grade (the other two were Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz). LL Cool J, T. La Rock, Rakim and KRS-One all received “As” based on vocabulary, articulation, creativity, originality, versatility, voice, records, stage presence, sticking to themes while the Beastie Boys got the lowest overall grade by far with a 70 percent or “C”.
Moe Dee, hilariously, even did some further explaining to his rankings when speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1987, including why he gave Beastie Boys such a low score.
“They’re pretty awful. I gave them a lot of 6’s,” Moe Dee said to the publication. “They don’t have any vocabulary and they try to make up for their lack of originality by screaming and yelling. Besides, our tour followed theirs and wherever we went, we couldn’t get into hotels or restaurants ‘cause the Beasties had been there two weeks before and gotten into trouble.”
“I listen to everything that comes out–and I mean everything– so I figured that I’d make a pretty good critic,” he said. “It’s all a matter of knowing your competition. The idea of a report card wasn’t meant to be insulting. I try to have good relations with all my rivals,” he continued.
Ego Trip, which is made up of Gabe Alvarez, Sacha Jenkins, Elliott Wilson and Brent L. Rollin got Moe Dee to do another list for their Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists, released in 1999.
The commissioning not only put the self-regarded hip-hop critic back to work but gave him the chance to compare a completely different era in hip-hop as the golden era was came to close in the mid-’90s.
In the second iteration of the report card, Moe Dee ranked The Fugees’ Lauryn Hill, Busta Rhymes, Naughty By Nature’s Treach, Method Man, Biggie, Tupac and Mystikal in the “A” category, followed by Big Pun, Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Nas, Ice Cube, The Roots’ Black Thought, Jay-Z and DMX at a “B” or “B+.” The lowest rankings were Too $hort, Master P and Mase who all rounded out the “C” category.
On Monday (Jan. 10), Jimbo Jones responded to all the interactions on his last post in a tweet that read: "It’s crazy how my post has made it to so many places! It’s all love ❤️ All from my ego trip’s book of rap lists (second copy after the first one disintegrated) 😂," he typed.
What do you think of the scores? Should there be another report card? Who should go on it? Here’s some reactions some rappers on the list have had since it’s surfacing.