Last year, I got really into discovering the legacy of Bob Marley and The Wailers. And much like The Beatles, I love Marley not only for the amazing music but also for having a very inspirational career. There are the undeniable Reggae classics like “Jammin” “Is This Love” “Turn Your Lights Down Low” and (my favourite) “Waiting in Vain”, and aside from the singles Marley delivered some truly amazing albums in “Natty Dread” “Burnin” and the epic “Exodus”. What I think is amazing about his career is that for one, he basically carried the whole Reggae genre on his shoulders and introduced it to the masses in the U.S. and Worldwide which in turn inspired dozens of artists in very different genres. Though he did have his fun songs, Marley also was very politically driven and used his music to let the world hear the voice of the oppressed in Jamaica, which actually translated quite well in the U.S. during the 1970’s. And I think the most admirable thing about Marley’s too short career was that he used his music to make a change. He used his music, his image, his celebrity and fame, and his power to make positive changes in his community. In videos and in different biographies, it seemed like he actually put his community above himself and was never really selfish or let his success go to his head and make him forget about what’s really important. A truly inspirational genius.
You don’t even really have to dig too deep into Stevie’s musical catalogue to know that this man is incredibly talented. His lyrics are beyond amazing, and of course he has a great voice. One of the highest regarded musicians of all time, with all the gold award trophies to prove it. If you do happen to dig deeper, which I did last year, you will realize that Stevie is one of the more diverse artists in our history. Of course he was part of the Motown machine in the 1960’s, he truly emerged in the 1970’s. And listening to any of those albums, “Music on My Mind” “Innervisions” “Songs in the Key of Life”, you will see he never boxed himself into one genre. He experimented with Country, Reggae, Pop, Funk, R&B even Rap in the early 80’s. A risk taker who loves music, and has contributed some of the most well crafted music of all time.
8. Kanye West
This guy is well on his way to topping my list if he keeps going the way he’s been the last four albums. I think I can personally relate to his music more than any other artist on this list. I love the fact that he’s not the stereotypical Rapper of today, he’s Himself and not scared of it. He wasn’t scared to rhyme about working at the Gap on his first album instead of pretending he was a drug dealer or something like that. Things like that make me respect him on a personal level, and his music and how it just keeps getting better and better each album makes me respect him on that artistic level. He… like Prince… is always forward thinking, original and creative, gives you something outside of the norm but is still accessible to the masses. Genius!
9. Missy Elliott/Timbaland (tie)
Don’t really know what I can say that hasn’t already been said about these two. They are just so far left and do their Own thing, and always have. The most unique, creative hip hop artists since they both were introduced on the scene. Admittedly, they both have fallen off considerably. Timbaland mainly because he keeps producing the same types of tracks over and over. And Missy only because she’s been gone so long. I still will love them for the great music they gave me from 1996-2002ish…
I honestly don’t know where to start when it comes to talking about these ATLiens Outkast. Who really knows what’s going on with them at the present moment, but they have consistently produced some of the best Hip Hop albums of all time. In fact if you ask me, “Aquemini” and “The Love Below/Speakerboxxx” are two (or three) of the best albums Period. Simply put, they have had an incredible career. The two very different personalities of Big Boi and Andre 3000 work well on their own (as best evidenced in the aforementioned double album, and even on their most recent and underrated “Idlewild” album) but are just as good and sometimes better together. And what seemingly might be taken as gimmickry (Andre 3000’s bizarre fashion sense, Big Boi’s obsession with booty in his videos) to hide minimal talents, is completely not the case with this duo because from their beginning they proved they have the skills in both delivery and their writing and production. I hope there is at least one last album from the pair, and i’d have no doubt that it would be another classic.