well rakim may have revolutionized the rhyme game, but GZA was huge part of a group that revolutionized rap music completely. wu-tang is on another level when it comes to being unique. nothing else is like the wu and nothing else will ever compare to the wu.
have you ever heard RZA on the gravediggaz album 6 feet deep? his style is different then it is on wu albums, you might like it.
Eric B. and Rakim revolutioned hip-hop more overall then Wu IMO, you constantly hear samples from their songs and his lines being bit in hip hop now, not so much for wu tang.
2pac is, I can relate to a lot of his songs...songs like Dear Mama will never be duplicated. I can't give you a reason why 2pac is the best, I personally hate having arguments about music...you're simply an arrogant person if you want to ARGUE about which rapper or musician is better, everyone have their own preference....you can make a point about a certain rapper, but you can't claim that you're right about him being better.
Rakim and Pac are very close, lyrically Rakim is the best rapper of all-time (by my preference)...I can think of at least 5 lyricists that are better then Pac but his overall package is what makes him the best, IMO. His voice, lyrics, personality, flow was top notch...he changed hip hop like no other artist, if you care to dispute that...wait 30 years, I'm sure Pac will still be remembered by many, while Big and Rakim won't.
Rakim is like the "Jim Brown" of hip hop per se. He is the standard by which other rappers are compared to. You can't say that about any other artist.
Maybe if you're 35, kids today don't even know who he is...I ask a hip hop head today about Rakim, they say "Yeah I heard of him."
And it's not just one coicidence, it's most of the people I know...I don't understand how he can be the "standard" when so many people don't even know him today. And I was carefully reading this thread, I think he's getting overrated...he's terrific, but you guys are acting like this man is so much above rappers like Bid Daddy Kane, Slick Rick or KRS One...which isn't true, I would put him behind Pac personally.
Longevity does not necessarily translate to greatness. If he had somehow managed to remain relevant, then he might have a case. Argument goes to LL. If he had made an impact and produced classics that years later people still talk about, he could be considered. Argument goes to Tupac. If he had even managed commercial rap success or dominated sales for any lengthy amount of time while also holding the title as undisputed?
There might even be foundation for that claim. But he can do neither. He was before his time. I think expectations for him nowadays are much too high and in trying to keep up with today's young artists he's failed to find his niche and has struggled lyrically.