Being an emcee is something that not everyone can do. Even if you consider yourself a Rapper that does not mean that you are an emcee, an emcee is a lyricist (B Dot). A lyricist is someone with a large vocabulary which usually means that the emcee is very intelligent. This isn’t taking anything away from the Rapper as they may be intelligent people who have made the conscious decision not to appear as such but to me that isn’t very smart. Some of the greatest emcees are highly educated people who may have excelled in the traditional classroom setting, or educated in their home by their parent(s), or from educating themselves. The bottom line is they read and they read thought provoking books which in turn increases a person’s vocabulary. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” –Dr. Seuss. LL Cool J made a habit of reading the dictionary however the problem now is that dictionaries aren’t as readily accessible as they once were. Dictionaries aren’t even what they once were as they continue to incorporate slang terms and abbreviations in their alphabetized reference log. Yes, dictionaries are everywhere and if you simply type in any word into that Google search bar you’ll get the definition immediately. Simply put, not everyone has access to technology in 2016.
I’m sorry that your favorite Rapper does not write his own rhymes. If someone asks you who your favorite Rapper is, tell them who your favorite emcee is. If you want to give Biggie, Tupac, Nas, and Jay the G.O.A.T. exemption that’s fine but you cannot forget those who came before them that are also on that exemption list; Grandmaster Caz, Rakim, Slick Rick, or LL Cool J. Listen to how these emcees speak in general. You can tell by listening to Joe Budden speak in conversation that he has an extensive vocabulary. When certain Rappers speak they speak as if they did not finish eighth grade or barely made it out of high school period. Gucci Mane received a scholarship to Georgia Perimeter College where he studied computer programming and you can’t get that without the grades to back it up. School isn’t for everyone but if you want to be a Rap genius than you have to have the aptitude to do so. You have to be smart enough to know how to change with the times. You have to read contracts, teleprompters, or even possibly the rhymes your ghostwriter wrote. Honestly if you need a ghostwriter the rhymes you’re getting probably can’t be that complex.
If you log on to Rap Genius and type in certain songs by certain Rappers you can clearly read the nonsense. A real Rap genius studies the greats and attempts to become one. The greats have always studied the greats that came before them in an effort to become one themselves. Vince Staples is nice but I’m not sure he cares enough about the game to study the greats unless someone he looks to for guidance makes the suggestion. J. Cole studied, Kendrick studied, and Drake studied but Drake can never be designated as a G.O.A.T. because of that one time. It may have only been one time but that’s just the one time that we know of. A Rap genius studies the credits and the thank you notes of an album but you can’t really do that anymore because of the streaming/digital age we have moved into. J. Cole even puts his written lyrics into his album inserts. *Cues Mary J. Blige* Don’t need no annotation, duplication in this industry.