Nathan S. 's avatar

Who Had the Best Voice in Hip-Hop History?

Posted by Nathan S. on 07/03/13 | Filed under Debates, RH Nation Answers
This has come up in the comment section a few times now, so I thought for the new "Question of the Week" we'd really dig into one of the most important, but least talked about, topics in hip-hop, voice.

Unlike every other aspect of rapping - flow, lyricism, personality/charisma - emcees have the least amount of control over their voice. Like Lebron's vertical or Rick Ross' man titties Usain Bolt's speed, voice is something you can tweak slightly, but is largely out of your control. You're either born with it, or you're not. A great voice can elevate an average rapper into a superstar, or keep an incredible lyricist on average status. Voice can make or break careers, and you're either born with it, or you're not.

When really talking about "Who Had the Best Voice in Hip-Hop History?", the deeper level we have to consider is the match between the rapper, and the voice. A lot of people find Chance the Rapper's nasally voice annoying, but it fits his off-filter, weird style perfectly. On the flip side, Young Jeezy's "I just ate some gravel" voice wouldn't work with Chance's style, but it's perfect for hustle rap. (Side note: Do rapper consciously, or subconsciously, develop their styles to fit their voice? You'd have to imagine so.)

It's also important to remember that, as hard as it may be, we have to consider voice in and of itself, and not attach it to how we feel about the emcee on the whole. Case in point, I don't think anyone would argue that Kanye's one of the best emcees of the last decade, but how good is his voice? If anything, I'd say he's overcome his average voice. On that train of thought, I think Tupac has a great voice, it definitely worked for him (tough, but not too rugged), but did he really have an elite voice? If that same voice was rapping J-Kwon's lines, would it still sounds as dope?

Ok, so let me stop skirting the issue and get into my specific picks. As always, I'm sure RefineHype Nation will come up with some selections that will make me go, "Damnit, I really should have thought about that," but right now it really comes down to Biggie and Young Jeezy for me. Biggie's voice just sounded so fucking luxurious and cool, but was also threatening enough to make his harder songs truly hit. But....if I'm really being honest, as you've probably already figured out from the picture above, when I think voice and voice alone, the first name that comes to mind is Young Jeezy. I could listen to that man read a college economics textbook and it'd make me want to go slap my grandma in the face:

Alright RefinedHype Nation, have at it. I'm stoked to see what y'all come up with - "Who Had the Best Voice in Hip-Hop History?"

p.s. - Quick note, I mean any rapper ever, living or dead. There's no way for me to non-awkwardly say who had/has the best voice.

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