The Hip Hop ABCs: Letter A; vote on Letter B

The alphabetical rap battles continue.

Over a year ago, Infinite Skillz ran a series of Facebook polls asking friends, peers and overall passionate hip hop fans which emcee or group they felt was the best in the game as driven by the letters of the alphabet. No specific rubric or criteria was given; just a simple request for answers to the question, "Who is the best emcee or hip hop group beginning with the letter 'A'?; 'B'?; 'C'?; 'D'?..." and so on. The responses were immediate and spurred some pretty spirited discussions, so per my request, he brought the results of his polls to Ear Buds, revealing the letter and its "winning" artist here over the course of the past many months.

We made our way, A through Z, and after revealing the winner (Zulu Nation), we kicked off a new poll for the Letter A.

Now, I don't want to assume that the winner of Letter Z, Zulu Nation, affected the outcome of the win for Letter A, but certainly being reminded of Afrika Bambaataa's greatness in the last post for Z didn't hurt his odds of claiming Best Hip Hop Artist beginning with the Letter A.

Here's a few bulletpoints for your reading convenience; vote for Letter B at the bottom of this post...

—As Skillz mentioned in the previous Hip Hop ABCs post, Afrika Bambaataa founded The Universal Zulu Nation, which expanded hip hop culture while spreading a message of peace, unity and fun and giving former and prospective gang members an alternative to violence; the now-international organization continues its harmonious agenda to this day.

—Bambaataa is widely referred to as 'Godfather of Hip Hop,' which is saying something about his street cred, not to mention his legacy and influence. But the dude continues to back it up with action. Most recently, he and fellow genre pioneers Grandmaster Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, and Grand Wizard Theodore set the plans in motion to open a Universal Hip Hop Museum inside the Bronx's Kingsbridge Armory by 2017. The goal of the UHHM is to expose hip hop’s historical and cultural roots through interactive displays, exhibits and memorabilia, and touchstones like graffiti art, break dancing, and DJing. “Many people have a misconception of what Hip Hop is,” Bambaataa — the museum’s chairman — has commented. “When they say 'hip hop,' they only say it’s the rapper, and there’s a whole culture and movement behind it.”

—Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force were alot more like P-Funk than you might imagine replete with wacked-out costumes, and Bambaataa was far more focused on fusion rather than rap with a sound that called on funk, disco and electronic music ala 1982 classic “Planet Rock” (which sampled Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express") and more politically-inclined “Renegades of Funk” (re-imagined most memorably by Rage Against the Machine on their 2000 covers album).

—"Planet Rock" has been sampled hundreds of times by everyone from LL Cool J to Lana Del Rey to LCD Soundsystem. Take a listen below and you will be immediately brought back. If you're old enough to be brought back, that is. If not, you'll probably recognize it from whatever artist you know who sampled it...

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Now' it's time to re-open the ABCs debate for the letter 'B'. We'll reveal the new winner next week after your votes come in... You have until Sunday, March 1, to cast your vote. Will last year's champion hold their title? You be the judge.

Vote below. Don't see the artist you think is best on here? Vote 'Other' & write it in the comments...


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