Neek the Exotic

Production maven Large Professor introduced Neek The Exotic on the 1992 single “Fakin’ The Funk.” Nearly two decades later, the duo’s debut album, “Still On The Hustle,” just arrived in stores. Now that he’s reunited with the legendary Large Pro, Neek The Exotic sat down with us to detail his Top 5 rappers of all time.

5. Nas

“The only reason I put him at Number 5 is that I can’t be biased. This is somebody that we’ve hung out with. We’ve eaten nasty Chinese food together in the projects. This is somebody I know so I don’t want to be biased, but Nas lyrically is incredible.

The only other reason I put him here is that he went out of his zone to me with the [‘Distant Relatives’ album with Damian Marley]. I respect reggae music and I respect the Marleys, but to me, he went out of his zone with that and the other people I named never went out of their zone. They stayed in their lane and kept it where people knew them.

Whereas Nas, he’d been in the game so long and then just all of the sudden you flip and he kept flipping. But his body of work, from ‘Illmatic’ to now, Nas is so gifted. He’s one that paints a picture. It’s like you’re trapped in a maze listening to his music. It’s like you’re right there in the projects when he’s talking about, “Looking out the project window.” His music was for all the ghetto youth, man. All the street kids were listening to Nas when he first came out.

That was that music where you’d be coming out of the projects with your headphones on and your head bobbing coming out of the staircase singing his lines. It was real street and gutter. If it wasn’t for that switch that he did, I would have had Nas at Number 1.I feel that it’s always good to experiment and try new things, but you’ve always got to stay in your lane.”

4. The Notorious B.I.G.

“He was a dude from the streets. He had it in him. He wasn’t playing any games with it. He was serious. He was in the studio all the time and you can hear it in his music. He was one brother I never got to meet, so it’s a little different because I got a chance to meet everybody else that I named.

But his music, he painted a picture like Picasso, man. Not only that, he had so much style with him, so much charisma. He was fly and rocked all the best gear and still was at the top of his game lyrically. When you’d see Biggie, you’d be like, ‘He’s too fly.’ But he was where he was supposed to be, because his lyrics were crazy.

He had that charisma that automatically got the female audience involved. Normally when you’re just talking all that lyrics and stuff, it’s for the dudes. But he had the appeal to have the women just as much as he had the dudes. He was a well, well rounded artist. When I heard the ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ and how he broke down the Commandments in that song, it was unbelievable because there’s not too many artists that can put together songs like that that actually make sense from the beginning to end and have you stuck into it.”

3. Rakim

“When I first heard Rakim talking about putting seven MCs in a line [on ‘My Melody’], I think I rewound that part about a thousand times. He had incredible songs like “Follow The Leader” and ‘Don’t Sweat The Technique.” Rakim, it’s like he had you in space, man. You were like, ‘Is this dude real? Is he really saying this?’

Everybody thought that because he was a Five Percenter [a member of the Five Percent Nation Of Islam] that he was just going to be talking about the Five Percenters, which he could have done. But he didn’t and that’s what made me really get into him.

I followed the Five Percent Nation. I follow everything just so I can know about it, but he never really got deep, deep, deep in his songs. He was just making that great music, like ‘Mahogany.’ Rakim was magnificent.”

2. Kool G. Rap

“He was street. I believe Styles P and people like that follow Kool G. Rap’s map. Kool G. Rap was just raw, man. When I first heard ‘It’s A Demo,’ I didn’t know what to do. Kool G. Rap is one of the deadliest, deadliest MCs in the game, man.

When he made ‘Road To The Riches,’ he used to put you in the stories to where you felt like you were actually a part of it, that you could relate to that or that you’ve been through that. You felt like you were right there on that street corner when he was talking all that. He was a great storyteller.”

1. Kool Moe Dee

“Kool Moe Dee was one of the fiercest lyricists in the game. He got caught up in the battle with LL and all that, but before that and even during that, Kool Moe Dee was one of the top lyricists. I’ll never forget that battle with Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee. That’s what had me like, ‘Wow.’

He was one of those rappers that you thought was reading the dictionary or something. He was using all the big words and his metaphors were crazy. He would put together the stories, like “Go See The Doctor.”

It was crazy. He was basically telling you, ‘Don’t mess with me. I’m Kool Moe Dee.’ He had a style. He used to wear all the slick clothes, the leather suits and all that stuff and be kicking the hard rhymes.”

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker

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