The second installment of #UCFSFF‘s Top 5 Dead Or Alive feature is dedicated to Nas‘ birthplace Queensbridge. The Project located in the borough of Queens in New York City has been a breeding ground for Hip Hop artists since the 1980s. Some of Hip Hop’s biggest and most influential pioneers were raised in this gritty housing estate. XXL columnist Brendan Frederick once wrote, “the Bridge has produced the highest per-capita talent of any ’hood.” We subjectively give our opinion on the Top 5 rappers out of the Bridge looking at their success, influence and legacy.
No. 5: CORMEGA
Known for his lyricism, Cormega is one of the generation of rappers from the early 90′s like Nas and Mobb Deep who help shaped the sound of New York Hip Hop. He was in prison from 1991 to 1995 but was shouted out on Nas‘ ‘Illmatic‘ album on a track called ‘One Love‘ which brought the hip hop fans attention to his name. His release from prison saw him record a track called ‘Affirmative Action‘ with rap super group ‘The Firm‘, his performance on the track got him a deal with Def Jam. He recorded an album and was replaced by another Queensbridge rapper for ‘The Firm‘ album, his reaction to being dropped from the group and creative differences with his management and the label meant his album ‘The Testament‘ was shelved. In the 2000s he went on to release independent albums and got the rights to release ‘The Testament‘. His collaborations and independent albums has made him a cult underground rapper with a global fan base.
No. 4: ROXANNE SHANTE
The first lady of Queensbridge is also one of the first females to get recognition for her flow and wordplay in Hip Hop. The Juice Crew member got her break recording a diss track answering UFTO called ‘The Real Roxanne‘. One of the reasons she was so highly regarded was because of her ability to freestyle songs on the spot. Roxanne had a string of singles in the 1980s and released two albums at the end of the decade before taking a hiatus from recording. She was not only a pioneering MC for females but also raised the bar of lyricism and freestyling for the next generation of female rapper artists.
No. 3: MOBB DEEP (HAVOC & PRODIGY)
Havoc and Prodigy were childhood friends who became a cult Hip Hop duo with a resume of classic underground hits and over 3 Million albums sold. From 1992 until the mid 2000s the duo released a string of acclaimed albums with ‘The Infamous‘ being crowned as a classic. The consistency of the group saw them land a groundbreaking 50/50 deal with major record label Jive in 2004 and then sign to 50 Cent‘s G-Unit Records a year later, which helped raise the group’s profile. Prodigy and Havoc have been a pioneering duo who have pushed the underground sound of New York Hip Hop to a global audience helping pave the way for other Queensbridge acts and other Hip Hop taste makers such as producer, The Alchemist. Prodigy is widely regarded as an influential rapper and Havoc as a producer who created the gritty blueprint sound to New York rap music. As individuals they are pioneers but as a group they are legendary!
No. 2: MC SHAN
MC Shan is number 2 for being the pioneering rapper from Bridge. He was the first QB superstar rapper and was part of the legendary Juice Crew (which was founded by his cousin, producer Marley Marl who was also from the same project). His accomplishments in Hip Hop are as renowned as featuring on the international hit ‘Informer‘ by Snow and as culturally important as his legendary rap beef with KRS-One. The Juice Crew were the blueprint for the Hip Hop posse and the South Bronx vs. Queensbridge battle between Shan and KRS-One is a legendary period of Hip Hop. Shan had three solid albums that were released on infamous Cold Chillin’ label, he was the rapper that the following Queenbridge generation looked up to and aspired to be.
No. 1: NAS
Multi-Grammy Nominations, a classic debut, almost 20 years in the business, Nas has done it all in the music industry. In the early 90′s he created a buzz with classic verses on underground cuts and then made a classic Hip Hop album ‘Illmatic‘, many see this album as the rap bible. Since his debut he has dropped inconsistent output with his artistic vision often questioned, he’s beefed with fellow friends, had a public feud with Jay-Z and been through a high profile relationship and marriage with Kelis. He has even recorded a critically acclaimed album with son of Bob Marley, Damien and was a part of New York super group ‘The Firm‘, he has worked with almost every rapper, producer and singer who’s had major success and for all these reasons combined Nasir Jones is number one.
• Craig G
• Tragedy Khadafi
• Capone (of Capone-N-Noreaga)50 Cent, Affirmative Action, Bob Marley, Capone, Cold Chillin', Cormega, Craig G, Damien Marley, Def Jam, G-Unit, Havoc, Illmatic, Informer, Jay-Z, Juice Crew, Kelis, KRS-One, Marley Marl, MC Shan, Mobb Deep, Nas, Nature, One Love, Prodigy, Projects, Queens, Queensbridge, Roxanne Shante, Snow, The Firm, The Infamous, The Real Roxanne, The Testament, Tragedy Khadafi, UFTO, XXL