Ah yes, the list that generated enough tweets in the Seattle hip-hop community to trend the other day has reached its conclusion with the release of the #1 video above. For those unaware, D-Money of Juice Radio put together this project inspired by the MTV “Hottest MC” debate where he asked several media figures in the Seattle/Tacoma area to submit lists of their top 15 “freshest MC’s.” The panel was comprised of myself, Casey Carter, Sara from Fresh N Def, Sermon from Sermon’s Domain, DJ SupaSam, DJ Swervewon, Josh Rizeberg, and DJ Iceman. A final slot was reserved for fan votes collected on Juice Radio’s website and you can view the entire list and the accompanying videos here.
We were told to construct the list using specific criteria focusing on solo MC’s (not groups or singers) and their accomplishments within the past year. The various categories we were instructed to key on ranged from sales/downloads to radio play, from concert draws to media recognition, and every variable you can think of in between. In the end, even with the criteria, the idea was to make picks based on who we felt were the overall “freshest” in the NW, which is obviously subjective to each individual. Not surprisingly, we had fairly different lists, and also not surprisingly, it was revealed during the course of our discussion that some of the panel did not follow the criteria or fully understand it. What’s a hip-hop list without some controversy from the very start (and the inability to do the most basic tasks correctly)?
The format allowed for the panel to bump up artists if we were convinced during our discussion that they had been voted to an incorrect slot. Personally, I would have preferred the panel to simply fill out their lists accurately from the jump and then we could stick with where someone was voted. If you’re deemed knowledgeable enough to be on the panel, you should be able to construct a good list and defend your picks without getting swayed during the discussion to vote someone up or down. That said, when Macklemore was revealed as #3 on the list, I was happy we’d have a chance to vote him to his correct position at #1 because it’s clear that with the criteria we were told to use, nobody has excelled more than him in the past year. It’s not even debatable in my opinion.
I was disappointed that the list didn’t unanimously have him at #1 to begin with, but I can’t speak for the selections of any other panel member. All I know is that only 6 of the 15 artists I selected made the final list (though they only revealed the top 10, so I suppose 5 were never going to make it). Of those, I think the most startling omissions were Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown) and Ish (aka Palaceer Lazaro of Shabazz Palaces). To conclude a “Freshest In The NW” list without two of our most successful and influential artists, who continue to release great music to widespread critical and consumer acclaim, seems like a travesty.
Regardless, it seems the list accomplished what it set out to do, which was to generate conversation about all the talent we have in the Northwest. Were there things I would do differently if this were my project? Absolutely, starting with the fact that I would never do it to begin with. However, this is Juice Radio’s creation and I enjoyed giving my two cents in the discussion.
That said, I’m troubled by the reactions of many people, mainly because they seem to be attacking the idea that this is some sort of definitive list. Of course it’s NOT a definitive list! I thought that would have been common sense, but yet again, for the 24823948239423424th time in my life, I’ve overestimated the intelligence and comprehension levels of the general public (though if I continue to do that, it’s really more my fault than theirs). Individual lists are fine, but it’s the idea that combining a group of lists, from anyone, somehow transforms these individual opinions to fact that is completely absurd. I assumed everyone would understand that, but I was wrong.
I hope you enjoyed the debate and the videos, but I’d advise you do yourself a favor and don’t take it too seriously. Then again, that’s also just my opinion…