Whether it's been b-boys clashing, graf artists battling or MCs matching wits, hip-hop has always been competitive. These days, the MC has taken preeminence, and the crews are more commercial. Often, they manifest as labels, but sometimes they exist less formally as collectives, such as Wu-Tang or Odd Future. But if all these groups of artists were locked in a cage and forced to have it out Battle Royale style, who would be left standing?
12. Taylor Gang Taylor Gang really doesn't stand much of a chance. Wiz Khalifa will probably smoke too much and forget to come, and Juicy J will be off making it rain on strippers. This leaves Ty Dolla $ign, Lola Monroe and Chevy Woods to hold down the fort. Who? Exactly.
11. Pro-Era In three years, maybe Pro-Era will able to match up with some of these other groups, but without Capital Steez, who was a powerful lyricist and personality, Joey Bada$$ is the only one of the crew with any sort of clout off the strength of a few really good mixtapes. There is other talent in the crew, to be sure, as evidenced by the monumental and consistent posse cut "Suspect," but they're not quite ready for the big time.
10. Brick Squad Brick Squad will scare the daylights out of most other rappers, but ultimately, the Squad doesn't have the depth to match the firepower of most of the other crews. Plus, chemistry issues between the label's two strongest rappers, Gucci and Waka Flocka Flame, will limit their potential. Sure, Chief Keef will get in a couple good shots (read again: a couple), and if the fight were all held in the trap, it might be a different story, but Brick Squad would go down relatively quickly.
9. A$AP Mob With a whole mob of underlings, and a strong right-hand man in Ferg, A$AP Rocky would be able to pull most of the strings without lifting a finger. Then, for the real tough customers, he could sip some syrup and be ready for battle like Popeye after spinach. Rocky could go toe-to-toe with most anybody, but could get caught over his head with some of the more conceptual rappers, where he can't match up. He's a heavy hitter, no doubt, but he can't carry this team alone.
8. Maybach Music Group Whatever game gets thrown at MMG, they're going to bring it right back to their number one favorite topic, which is stacking money. Where once was a beautiful poetic flower in Wale is now a lotus flower bomb, which is not necessarily a good thing. But these cats are good at what they do, and they're going to try to get the other rappers to play their game. Meek Mill is probably the biggest threat, as he was bred a battle rapper and just flows nasty. Rick Ross is like a mafia boss... or a sumo wrestler or some other imposing heavyweighted figure. Gunplay and Stalley shouldn't be overlooked, either. French Montana probably should.
7. Odd Future These guys are just going to drop shit on anybody within a 100-yard radius just for fun. It doesn't matter who, it doesn't matter how much more skilled they are -- a rapper that's not afraid to lose is a very dangerous thing. And when they get called out for being idiots and making no sense whatsoever, they have Mr. Frank Ocean to melt the hearts of all doubters. Tyler, The Creator, Earl and Frank will last the longest, obviously, but don't sleep on Hodgy Beats or Domo Genesis, either. The rest are as likely to burn themselves out as anybody else. Even if they could win, OF doesn't give a fuck, and they'd probably just go home early anyway.
6. Young Money Young money is probably the most hated crew in the battle, but it's due to their mastery of the rap game. Overlook Nicki Minaj and Drake if you want, but they'll surprise you when you're not looking. If Drake won't beat you himself, his rabid female fans will. In Tyga and Lil Twist, Young Money's got a cast who will drop hits even if they don't outrap you. And what can you say about Lil Wayne? Well past his prime, and he still won't go away. Beat him and you still probably lost.
5. Wu-Tang The Wu may be past their heyday, but they still have the chops to cut it up with the younger guys. Plus, they're masters of Shaolin Kung Fu and Toad Style, which is immensely strong and immune to nearly any weapon; when used properly, it's almost invincible. With top-to-bottom talent, Wu Tang will easily outlast most of the weaker squads, but the crew won't have the stamina to make it to the very end.
4. Grand Hustle Led by the ever-powerful T.I. and seconded by former OutKast protege, Killer Mike, Grand Hustle could definitely make some noise. They're deep, too, bringing Iggy Azalea (no longer signed but reportedly still in the crew), B.o.B., Travi$ Scott, Chip and Trae the Truth, and with 8Ball & MJG on their side, they'll certainly have the respect of their opponents, even if the duo is too dated to cause much real damage. If the battle were held in the south, Grand Hustle would have a real chance to win, but negating any homefield advantage, the King of the South will likely have to settle.
3. Shady Records This is a tricky one to predict, because you never want to count out a legitimate G.O.A.T. candidate like Eminem, but there are plenty of rappers in the battle that could take down Recovery Eminem. There aren't a lot of MCs in the Shady stable, but they're all good, if slightly inconsistent ones: 50 Cent, Yelawolf and Joe Budden all have the capacity to be great at any given time, and D12 and the rest of Slaughterhouse are nothing to scoff at, either. If Slim Shady shows up, though, this group could be a darkhorse to take it all.
2. G.O.O.D. Music Kanye West is one of the most feared rappers in this skirmish, and while some may doubt his technical chops, ultimately, that's not what determines the worth of a rapper. Pusha T and CyHi the Prynce are still somewhat unknown, so they have the capacity to surprise. Mos Def, on the other hand, is well known and will certainly drop some serious mathematics on fools. Big Sean has the ability to conjure assquakes with his club hits, and he has the upper hand on most modern rappers as the originator of hashtag rap.
1. Black Hippy Consisting only of four members, Black Hippy is one of the smaller crews, but also the most consistently talented. With Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q in tow, there are no weak links, only an especially strong one in Kendrick Lamar. With Kendrick's conscious mind, Ab-Soul's mysticism, Jay Rock's street-toughness and Q's reckless abandon, Black Hippy has the versatility to match-up against any crew. Kendrick is also an exceptional freestyler, so he could readily adapt to attacks from foes. It's hard to see anybody taking down King Kendrick with such a strong supporting cast.
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