Apparently, the new version of hip-hop’s beloved “top five rappers” debate is the “rap Mount Rushmore” question. Basically, which four rappers would be on your personal Mount Rushmore? It’s a fun hypothetical because not only does it narrow the field, forcing commenters to be even more intentional with their picks, it also comes with a silly visual. Just image Future replacing Teddy Roosevelt or something. Hilarious!
During a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Ja Rule was asked for his take on the rap Mount Rushmore conversation and offered some unconventional picks. He also had some insightful things to say about the debate itself, pointing out how difficult it can be to provide an answer, given how many different eras and styles of rap have come along since 1979.
He demonstrated that difficulty himself; after nailing his first three — Jay-Z, Tupac, and The Notorious B.I.G. — he struggled with the fourth spot, naming a few possibilities. “Either Big Daddy Kane, or Rakim, or [KRS One] because of what they did for the culture and what they meant to the culture,” he posited, before throwing out a curveball. “We never put the ladies in there… MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa.”
“They’re the reason other women picked up a microphone, period,” he explained. “How can you leave them off? You gotta [pick] one of them and put them on there.” He’s right; the current surge of female talent at the forefront of rap in pop culture today is built at least partially on the foundations laid by the original first ladies of rap. They may get overlooked — something that isn’t uncommon even for today’s stars — but their contributions are as critical to rap’s dominance as anyone’s.
You can watch the full interview above.