Lonzo Ball is catching heat for his Twitter post stating his Top Five Rappers of All-Time.
Here we go again. Another Top Five Rapper debate. Another chance for all of the old get-off-my-lawn, prune-juice-drinking, stuck-in-the-80s people to kick and scream about the rappers of yesteryear. So let me break down his list. Keep in mind: he was born in 1997.
1. Lil’ Wayne
Weezy has been a Hip-Hop star for over two decades and an icon for half of it. Wayne is one of the most influential rappers of all-time. His punchlines, flow and cadence became hallmarks that many others, including Drake, tried to mimic and put their own spin on. One of the main reasons he was able to break through to a wide range of listeners is because, like a patchwork quilt, he could take bits and pieces from every sound from LA to D.C. and blend it together masterfully. Lil’ Wayne, along with 50 Cent, was able to elevate the mixtape scene into a national spotlight, paving the way for today’s booming independent Hip-Hop scene. Wayne’s best work came in 2008 with Tha Carter III. Lonzo was eleven years old at the time and could have grabbed his attention at an important age.
What Future lacks in lyricism and substance of content, he makes up for in consistency and charisma. As a byproduct of Lil’ Wayne’s success, Future has made himself a household name in an era where attention spans are shorter than Chicago summers (if you are from Chicago, you understand). He gives off an authentic energy, none of his music feels forced where you think he is trying too hard to chase radio spins, and he is well-versed in the current lingo of millennials. Plus, he is adaptable enough where he can mesh well with nearly any musician you put him in a booth with, from Kanye to Kelly Rowland to Rick Ross to Rae Sremmurd. Maybe even Jimi Hendrix himself. It is very easy to see why Lonzo would gravitate towards his music.
When Lonzo was a child, I could easily see LaVar bumping some DMX when they were in the car together, going and coming from basketball practice. DMX brought unmatched aggression to mainstream Hip-Hop. His barks and growls and snarls were so unique, and eerily mesmerizing, it elevated him commercially over others who may have been better lyricist than him. While able to hold his own lyrically, X’s music was known for its high octane energy, thanks in large part to producers like Swizz Beatz and P.K. DMX can still be seen in many athletes’ workout playlists.
4. 50 Cent
Fifty kicked down the door and stole America’s eardrums in 2003, when Lonzo was six. Fifty was never a lyrical whiz, but his cadence and flow were so infectious. His numerous hits were all over the airwaves. You couldn’t avoid hearing his music even if you wanted to. From ‘03-’07, the production on his albums was top-notch. He ruled the Billboard charts and the streets with an iron fist. He helped revolutionize the mixtape game. The rapid succession in which his music came out was like no other at the time and (though he probably wouldn’t admit it) a source of great inspiration for Lil’ Wayne. 50 Cent’s entrepreneurial spirit also may have caught the eye of Lonzo.
A little surprised he was not ranked a little higher, it is perfectly reasonable that Pac is on the list. Even though Pac had passed already when Lonzo was born, his music still permeated the West Coast scene. 2Pac’s influences on Hip-Hop are obvious. He paved the way for the culture to progress the way it has (for better or for worse). In fact, a Top Five list may be entirely invalid if it did not have Pac somewhere in it. 2Pac was a symbol of masculine strength, which may have resonated strongly with LaVar and passed on to ‘Zo.
Stating that the list is vacuous just because it does not contain Eminem, or Biggie, or Jay, or Kanye, or Rakim is ludicrous. These are artists, while extremely influential, appealed largely to the East Coast and middle America. West Coast Hip-Hop has always had an eclectic funk that separated it from everything else. Wayne, Future, DMX, Fif and Pac’s music stand out.
Considering he is a nineteen year-old, Lonzo Ball’s Top Five list is somewhat impressive.