EXCLUSIVE: Top 5 Dead Or Alive (Groups): Willie D’s Extended Edition


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“If it wasn’t for RUN-D.M.C. I wouldn’t be rapping, says Willie D, of the classic collective, Geto Boys.  As he continues, reflective nostalgia encompasses his sentiment, “That was the group that influenced me to want to get into the game. I wrote my first rap right after listening to a Run-D.M.C. song; because, I was challenged. Somebody challenged me to say, ‘Hey, man; I think you can’t do that.’ I went in the house and I put my best flow– it  was an imitation of Run-D.M.C. I had put together – and I came out a rapper. And, I have been rapping ever since. That’s the group that’s had the greatest influence on me. If it wasn’t for them then I wouldn’t be in the game.”

Recently, the legendary MC was challenged to deliver his list of Hip-Hop groups that he considers to be the Top 5 Dead Or Alive. Contemplation momentarily snatched his words; the Houston icon paused while he considered arduous the task. “As far as groups, you know, it’s hard to say. It’s a matter of taste. My personal taste for groups – that’s why this Top 5 sh*t, this Top 10 sh*t – is f**ked up. It’s a matter of opinion,” sincerity wrapped his statement. Soon after, Willie D worked to illuminate his decision-making process and added, “It’s a hard thing to do, when you think of influence. I can’t stop at five; I can’t. It’s too many f**king great groups out there that’s made their impact.”

With that, he delivered a respectful nod to both Run-D.M.C. and Boogie Down Productions, who he considers to be just as paramount as the following list of 10 groups which have impacted the genre. These are the chosen few who have earned the distinction of being characterized as the ones to leave a resounding imprint upon the culture. In no particular order, the following groups represent Willie D’s opinion.


Outkast made it cool for rappers to get outside the box and experiment with different sounds, and elements of Hip-Hop.


Think about what I’m saying. How you gonna do a Top 5 and not include Wu-Tang? You can’t; we’re talking influence, we’re talking longevity, we’re talking catalogue. You can’t leave them off that list.


You can’t take N.W.A. off the list, because they kicked the door in for Gangsta Rap.


You can’t take De La Soul off that list. You can’t do that; it ain’t right. The sh*t is not right. You can’t take them off that list.


You can’t take Salt-N-Pepa off the list, because they influence a whole legion of female rappers to get into the game. They stand atop that hill by themselves. There  is no other group, especially girl’s group  that even comes close. You can’t dismiss them.


You can’t take Public Enemy off the list, because they kicked the door in for Conscious Rap.


When you think of substance, longevity, and influence, you can’t leave U.G.K. off a list. You can’t, you can’t – a lot of the cats that are kicking it right now – they were U.G.K. babies. So, you can’t take them off the list. You got to put them in there.


You  can’t keep Mobb Deep off that list!


Even the way that Onyx came in, and they opened up the door for artists – for groups – to start looking at acting. ‘You know what, we might need to take this sh*t a little further than just music. I think I can do this acting sh*t.’


The Geto Boys is in my Top 5. You can’t take us off the list, because we kicked – you know—we opened up the doors, the floodgates for the South. And now the South is the dominate force in Hip-Hop. We were able to strike a balance of being political and being socially conscious.


I can only say that when I think of great artists – well even groups, period, anybody – I think of longevity. I think of catalogue. I think of influence. I think of subject matter; that’s what I think of. What have you done; have long have you done it? What does your catalogue look like? Some people hear a rapper and he comes out one year and he’s the greatest rapper ever. He got two albums and everybody already declared that he’s the greatest rapper ever. 

And I know it’s unpopular to say, but Biggie is not a better rapper to me than 2Pac was. He don’t have the catalogue. Yeah, he was great for two albums – two and a half albums – who knows what he would have done if he could have done 10 more albums. But, when I back him up against 2Pac, there’s zero comparison. There’s no comparison when you look at the catalogue.

It’s like comparing a brand new soft drink to Coca Cola. There’s a brand new soft drink that everybody loves the hell out of, and they’re drinking it; everybody, everywhere! It’s only been on the market for two years, you can’t compare that to Coca Cola, a company that’s been on the market for over 100 plus years, consistently. In my opinion, it’s the greatest f**king drink that’s ever been invented. Coca Cola is better than alcohol to me. It’s better than water; that’s some good as sh*t.

When you compare the two, you think of substance, you think of input, you think of catalogue, you think of longevity. They had about the same about of longevity; both of them died young. But, when you think of catalogue and you think of subject matter – again—subject matter is a matter of taste, in my opinion. Biggie, was more –people like to say lyricist—I don’t like to use that word. If you write a song then you’re a lyricist. Lyricism is code for like a fly dude; somebody that’s fly, and how he uses words and how he puts the words together. Fly, slick, smooth with the words or whatever, I guess that’s their definition of a lyricist. Delivery, they salute the way they deliver their words, or whatever.

It’s two different styles, you know, ‘Pac had – he was deeper – there was much more substance. His catalogue was deeper. Both of them were consistent for the time that they were here. 2Pac had a deeper catalogue and was consistent, and that’s why I consider ‘Pac to be up there standing on top of that mountain like that. – Willie D