A few days ago as I was listening to Black Moon's first album "Enta Da Stage" I began to reminisce about a heated debate that my friends and I had back in high school over who was a better collection of emcees overall and who would win in a head to head battle -- Wu-Tang Clan or Boot Camp Clik (BCC). Having been a rap fan since the mid 80's and having heard my fair share of great rap battles up to now, whether it was LL Cool J vs Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J vs Canibus, Jay-Z vs Nas, or Boogie Down Productions vs Juice Crew or Rocafella vs D-Block, in Hip-Hop, individual emcees and crews have always been put to the lyrical test and often times, fans chose sides and picked the winner. Unfortunately, for the loser, oftentimes, their careers never recovered.
I hate hypothetical questions and 'what if' scenarios but for the sake of nostalgia, I'm going there. Back in the mid to late 90's two of the most respected rap collectives were (and still are) the Wu, who singlehandedly changed rap as a whole on so many levels and the BCC, who personified East Coast rap with members such as Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, OGC, and Smif-n-Wessun. Both the Wu and BCC had individual members who could stand on their own as solo artists but as collectives, both crews were like Voltron formed to bring the East Coast back to prominence, along with other groups like Mobb Deep and Capone-N-Noreaga. Just listen to 'Cession At Da Doghillee', 'Sound Bwoy Bureill', 'Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka' or 'Headz Ain't Reddee' from BCC and then listen to the Wu's 'Semi Automatic: Full Rap Metal Jacket', 'Daytona 500', 'Da Mystery of Chessboxin' and 'Protect Ya Neck' and honestly tell me that some of the best bars in rap during that time weren't spit in those tracks. Lyrically, there will never be another pair of rap collectives as strong as the Wu or BCC.
Me and my boys used to ride around Southeast Raleigh after school on the way to Crabtree Valley Mall or Bojangles listening to the latest from the Wu or BCC arguing about who was better between the two collectives and why. My favorite hypothetical battle back then was between GZA and Rock aka Rockness Monsta; my boy Bakari's favorite hypothetical battle was between Starang Wondah and Method Man. Everyone else had their favorite and least favorite emcee in the bunch but there were no real weak links in either group. Both crews have endured the many changes in the music industry over the past twenty years and still make great music but any Hip-Hop purist and fan of the two collectives will tell you that both the Wu and BBC were at their best over the sample based beats that the RZA and Beatminerz provided back in the 90's, though creatively, legally and financially, it's not realistic to expect that sound today.
We'll never know who would win if Ghostface Killah went at Sean Price or if Inspectah Deck went at Buckshot, but it would have been great to hear them go back and forth at each other, not to indulge in beef but for lyrical competitiveness and for us fans so that we'll have something to argue about at the neighborhood cookout or at the barbershop like we did with Nas and Jay-Z. - CB.