The Hip Hop ABCs: Letter Y

The alphabetical rap battle series nears its conclusion

It is nearly impossible to get a bunch of passionate hip hop fans to agree on anything. But I tried anyhow, starting with a series of polls on Facebook that aimed to figure out which emcee or group 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. A general consensus was ultimately reached for each and per the request of Music Editor Leilani Polk, I'm bringing the poll results to Ear Buds. Each week, I'll reveal a letter and its "winning" artist, and then I'll re-open the question for further debate. Once we finish the first 26, we'll start it all over again fresh.

Had this artist not killed his own name back in 2011, the Hip Hop ABCs Letter 'M' would have been even tougher to decide upon. That being said, it's not like the Letter 'Y' is devoid of talent. Regardless of how you might feel about them, the YinYang Twins had some major hits. The Youngbloodz and the Young Guns captivated their regions and had success for a short while. And Young MC gave us a timeless classic.

Whether you call him Dante Smith, Mos Def or Yasiin Bey, this Brooklyn native is a beast. Like many of the artists in the Hip Hop ABCs, Bey has transcended the rap game. Unlike most of them, he excelled as an actor during his childhood using the name Dante Beze. Though he has a lot of both, there is no question that Bey has more talent than he has names. He teamed up with Talib Kweli to form Black Star. Their self-titled 1998 debut album was an instant classic that you can still listen from start to finish.

When not impressing hip hop heads on compilation projects like the Lyricist Lounge or with solo efforts such as Black On Both Sides or Ecstatic, Yasiin Bey is delivering powerful performances as a stage and screen actor. He has been nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. But don’t let his smooth acting fool you. Yasiin Bey is the winner of the Hip Hop ABCs for one main reason. Bars!

Did we get it right? Who gets your vote for this letter?

Infinite Skillz is a Hip Hop fan and emcee. Click here to find out more about his music.

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