The following rappers have all been, at one point, among the best in the game. They were each considered to be the cream of the crop, but even the finest cream goes bad eventually. Sadly, these MCs are all arguably well past their prime, and although we love them and it pains us to say it, they need to hang it up. Continue on to see which rappers we think need to put the mic down.
10. Kool Keith If you're not surprised that Kool Keith is still around and making music, you probably have no idea who he is. Well, at one point, he was one of the most influential and forward thinking MCs around, but while others have carried his torch into the new century, he seems contented dicking around as if he was still in the '90s. Yes, he remains weird and unconventional, but the boundaries of rap have expanded well beyond where he's operating, and if he's not pushing boundaries, then he's not doing what he does best.
9. Ice Cube Ice Cube is talented enough to have been hugely successful in both the arenas of music and film, and he has been stubborn enough to more than wear out his welcome in both fields. To be fair, he's actually made some pretty good music into the 21st Century, but 2010's I Am the West wasn't very good at all. And we could forgive the bad music if he showed some god damned acting range. Seriously, Ice Cube, how many Fridays must there be?!
8. Dr. Dre You're probably saying, "What? Dr. Dre hasn't put out an album since 1999. He's long past retired." No! Until Dre releases a P.S.A. declaring that Detox is never coming out, he owes us that goddamned album. It's like the infinite jest for Christ's sake. Just admit that the project is dead so that we can all move on with our lives! And Schoolboy Q? You're not helping. "Detox is like a mix away," my ass.
7. Eminem Sure, he's still insanely popular, and he can definitely still rhyme, but his album game is waaay off. If you think the pulled punchlines of Recovery were a crowning anything, then you don't remember The Eminem Show well enough. If the frustratingly overwrought Relapse was your shit, you're probably just pining for the long lost days of the Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers LPs. It's barely even worth mentioning the forgettable Bad Meets Evil project. Even Encore puts these new entries to shame.
6. Jay Z Jay Z has called himself the Mike Jordan of the mic recordin', which, though it is a bit of a stretch in terms of dominance and influence of the rap game, is quite accurate in terms of false retirements and refusal to quit. With the release of the more than underwhelming Magna Carta...Holy Grail, the Zed Master is clearly in the Wizards phase of his career. Can he rap? I guess so. Should he rap? Certainly not.
5. 50 Cent 50 Cent has gotten rich -- incredibly rich. So there's not much reason for him to keep trying, and certainly not die trying. The great thing about young 50 is how hungry he was. The best 50 track ever is still "How to Rob" because he just did not give a fuck. And do you remember the dopeness that was "Hate It or Love It"? Where has that dude been? Pumping himself full of Vitamin Water, that's where. Some folks have been praising 50's recent mixtapes, but c'mon, they're nothing special.
4. Prodigy There's no need to even say how awesome Mobb Deep was -- that's a well known fact. But even after the split of the Mobb, Prodigy carved out a decent name as a solo act with H.N.I.C. Two sequels and an oddly titled Bumpy Johnson Album later, Prodigy needs to call it a day. If you listen closely, some nights, you can still hear the ghost of Prodigy touring the country, cashing in on a name that carries less and less weight.
3. Lil Wayne I don't care what anyone says. Lil Wayne was a beast back in the day. The first three Carters and Da Drought series were pretty unfuckwittable. Nowadays? Not so much. Somehow, that hasn't stopped him from remaining right near the top of the game with his already gold I Am Not A Human Being II, but one look at his current wordplay shows just how far Tunechi has fallen.
2. Snoop Dogg Does this really even require explanation? Is there anybody who thinks that Snoop Dogg's transition to Lionhood has been successful? It's also hard to argue that he didn't need some sort of shock therapy as his rap career was on its last breath; he hasn't had an album fit for a rap legend since 2006's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. Even if he does somehow regain his flow, I don't think the rap world will ever fully forgive him for the atrocities committed on "California Gurls."
1. LL Cool J How fuckin' old are you LL Cool J? Seriously. He recently released a track called "NCIS: No Crew is Superior," and it is about his experiences as NCIS character Sam Hanna. That's real. That's not an Onion headline. If that's not a cue to gracefully put the microphone down, I don't know what is. But silly concepts aside, LL Cool J is just a weak rapper nowadays. Somebody's mama could literally knock him out.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.