Top Five Clique Rappers Who Rode Their Crew To Fame

Continuing a run of reasonably amusing variations on the top five discussion that is so crucial to hip hop, let us run down the five emcees who only enjoy recognition because of the clique they claim(ed). This is not a list of top-notch clique rappers, but the ones who only enjoyed success because of who they affiliated with.

Fugees’ groundbreaking The Score LP cover art, 1996.

5) Pras — Fugees: Facts being facts, Pras and Wyclef did little but hold Ms. Lauryn Hill back. This edited mix of Fugees’ The Score consisting of only Lauryn’s verses is times over times better than the original LP because you don’t need to fast forward. ‘Clef’s mistake was giving his cousin a job involving holding a microphone.

2Pac and The Outlawz

4) Outlawz — 2Pac & The Outlawz: Pac’s verses on “Hit ’Em Up” and any other song with or without an Outlaw on it are timeless, crucial, and impactful. Any Outlaw verse is forgettable, dated, and limp by comparison. Hussein Fatal, who died in July of 2015, Kadafi and E.D.I. Mean are the key Outlawz and it is difficult to say what that really means. Perhaps a close listen to the Outlawz early 2010’s mixtapes, Killuminati 2K10 and 2K11 or the 2011 LP Perfect Timing would change opinions since Pac is long gone but, no. Shakur is a legend and the Outlawz were in the presence of someone too great for them to catch any of the magic for their own.

The Firm album art, 1997.

3) Nature — The Firm: After Cormega got out of jail in the mid-1990s, he jumped on Nas’ “Affirmative Action” which, upon listening with hindsight, is the first Firm track. In the end, it turned out to be the first and last for Cormega as hip hop politics resulted in ‘Mega being off the Firm LP, unceremoniously replaced with Nature. A one-off release, The Firm consisted of Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and, for whatever it’s worth, Nature. AZ is criminally underrated, Foxy was alright, and Nas is a Top Five candidate, but Nature was a scab filling in for Cormega after the latter got his emcees’ union card pulled and himself went back underground.

Big Sean’s video for “Blessings” from Dark Sky Paradise, 2015.

2) Big Sean — G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer— Not a clique, per se, but Kanye’s 2012 label compilation featured most of his signees, from Big Sean to Pusha T and Cyhi The Prince (who has gone on record asking ‘Ye why his solo LP hasn’t come out). Sean has the unfortunate displeasure of “Control”, a track left off his proper album, which had features from Jay Electronica and Kendrick, both of whom laid down great verses but the latter of whom megaton bombed hip hop with the most talked-about verse of 2013. Even on Dark Sky Paradise, Sean ended up plagued with Drake’s hook on “Blessings” which is most well-known for Stephen Curry’s daughter, Riley’s, press conferences. Quote Big Sean without using a hashtag, I dare you.

Guide Gudda, all red everything before fire academy class.
  1. Gudda Gudda — Young Money — First thing’s first, Wayne was the fireman. Gudda doesn’t need to do photo shoots with an axe. Whereas Curren$y left YMCMB and went to Atlantic/Def Jam where he recently released Canal Street Confidential, Gudda has remained (detrimentally, if Curren$y’s success upon departure is any indicator) quite loyal to Lil’ Wayne and Young Money, but has yet to release a proper LP of his own. I heard Gudda last on No Ceilings, which is the last time I heard Wayne and listened, incidentally.

What about you, readers and fans of hip hop? Who you got?

Be sure to check out Journeymen Rappers and the series of articles on the birth and golden age of hip hop by this author. Follow the author on Medium and Twitter @anygiventues.