The fifty greatest rap groups of all time: 50-26
40. Slum Village
Slum Village has seen many permutations, and, unfortunately, its two most talented members, the late, great J Dilla and Elzhi, never got the chance to work with each other. As a beatmaker, J Dilla is one of the most influential ever. He had a talent for taking samples way out of context, even fragments of unrecognizable words, stripping them down to their barest emotional state, and building an atmosphere around them. Slum Village released its best work, Fantastic, Vol. 2, while Dilla was still known as Jay Dee and before they recruited Elzhi.
39. Jurassic 5
Taking cues from the Cold Crush Brothers, a group from way back, Jurassic 5 are almost like the barbershop quintet of the rap world, the way their distinct voices blend together to form a textured sound that's oh-so-pleasant to listen to. The rappers are also skilled individually, lyrically, but especially rhythmically, anchored by Chali 2na's smooth baritone.
D.I.T.C. -- which stands for Diggin' in the Crates, the practice of unearthing uncommon or unconventional records for sampling -- never got exposure in accordance with their level of talent, but their lineup is a veritable All-Star team of '90s talent: Big L, Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, Buckwild, Diamond D. Unfortunately, Big L, arguably their most talented lyricist, died before their self-titled debut release, which probably explains how this group didn't absolutely explode.
Blackalicious's best known track is rightfully "Alphabet Aerobics," a massively alliterative exercise whose demonstration of breath control is exceeded in impressiveness only by its literary ambition. But Blackalicious is no one-trick pony; thanks to rich and distinctive production by Chief Xcel and technically impressive lyrics by Gift of Gab, Blackalicious has released three equally impressive albums.
On one of their skits off of their landmark To The Death album, an interviewer asks the duo if their music promotes positive outlooks among their listeners to which they laugh hysterically and say shortly, "Next question." To M.O.P., limiting the scope of their music to simple positivity would betray the dark, unforgiving world they not only experience, but relish. Their violent tendencies come out not only in their very explicit lyrics, but in their assuming, kinetic voices.