Former Furious Five member Melle Mel is highly respected by hip-hop as one of the many MCs that helped shape and pioneer the genre when it was an underground, hyper-localised movement with little traction within the five boroughs of New York City during the late 1970s and early-’80s.
The Bronx native (real name Melvin Glover) was the brains behind ‘The Message’ and, as such, was the first hip-hop act to fuse rap with politics. That said, he is still aware of the important figures and MCs that came after him and has some strong opinions about who hip-hop has deemed one of the best MCs.
In an interview with the Art Of Dialogue podcast, Glover brazenly revealed that he believes Busta Rhymes is leagues above Jay-Z lyrically. The comment followed his controversial statement that Eminem is only considered a top-five rapper because he’s white.
During the conversation about the top five rappers, unsurprisingly, Brooklyn emcee Jay-Z appeared. Jay is often deemed “the greatest rapper of all time.” However, Glover refuted this notion and revealed that, when you put Jay-Z’s lyricism on tracks aside, there’s not much he can offer. To highlight this, he referenced Busta Rhymes and spoke about stage presence, kooky character and ability to fuse all of that with yet hard-hitting music.
Speaking about Billboard‘s ‘Greatest Rappers Of All Time’ list, which prompted the discussion, Glover explained his viewpoint stating, “My point is, could he go up against Busta Rhymes? Could Busta take Jay-Z, yes or no? I don’t have no fear of getting on stage with anybody and crossing mics with anybody. Busta’s a hard draw. That would probably be the hardest draw in the game. He got all the intangibles.”
He continued, “It’s a certain thing that Busta got that a lot of MCs don’t got. When he comin’ on that stage, if you out in the crowd, you know something is about to happen. It ain’t just the regular run-of-the-mill ‘I can’t wait for him to do so-and-so song. It’s that magnetism.”
Some could argue that Jay-Z lacks a distinct personality and stage presence in comparison to acts such as Busta Rhymes, Ol Dirty Bastard and DMX. However, lyrically, it’s fair to say he does sit at a high level. You can watch the Art Of Dialogue interview with Melle Mel below.