Retrospective Roundtable: The Mt. Rushmore of Music

Mount Rushmore. The top four of all time. We sat down and gave out our top 4 artists from any genre of all time, along with why. Some of us have different artists, some of us have the same. Take a read and join the conversation with your own Mt. Rushmore of music.


*Michael Jackson

-The King of Pop. The God. The BEST all-around artist, dancer, and entertainer of all time, hands down. He continues to touch our souls with music even posthumously. Hell, I damn near cry everytime I hear him now considering what he has been through. This man is the inspiration to countless artists then and now. He has many classic albums and hits and possibly the greatest album of all time, Thriller. (I agree). It's also unfortunate his legacy takes a hit in the public eye because of his scandals and strange behavior. But I believe his character was assassinated and he was ultimately because he knew too much. And we all know what happens to those who know TOO much...


-The "1B" to Michael's "1A". The Purple One. The Symbol. He is the best vocalist/multi-instrumentalist of all time. No one can play AND sing like him. He had the best run for any artist in any decade. The 80s were his musical playground and he gave music a new face. Purple Rain and Sign O' The Times are amongst the best albums ever crafted. No one pushed the envelope like Prince. He was too intelligent, raunchy and weird to ignore. He continues to be an inspiration for me musically even in the smallest ways. Check my song "Euphoria" on my first album, Have Mercy. It's Prince-inspired definitely. It's one of the best songs I made to this day even.

*Jimi Hendrix

-The Electric God. The best guitarist of all time. One of the many inspirations to Andre 3000 and Prince, whom he paved a way for. Hendrix is the king of rock and he would still be killing these clowns on the strings today. Bob Dylan performs Jimi's rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" and thats HIS song. Hendrix is the king, enough said.

*Andre 3000

-You can see the pattern in my list here, there are common attributes that Prince, Jimi Hendrix and Andre 3000 share. I struggled between him and Nas really but 3 Stax gets the nod. He was the sole reason why I started this music shit. True and I wrote rhymes in middle school being heavily influenced by him and Big Boi....but mainly Andre(laughs). He is arguably the most versatile rapper of all time. His rapping and fashion style was bizarre to many at first but I always admired him. Now all of a sudden, everybody swear they love Andre now. This man has helped me get through my adolescence with his intricate, deep, odd verses. It's significant to point out that Andre is the only hip hop artist on my Rushmore as well. Putting him in damn good company.


*The Notorious B.I.G.

-Everything he spit was instant gold. Great lyrics, possibly the greatest flow with an ear for brilliant beats and great storytelling ability.


-Armed with thought provoking lyrics, he told his story and made you live it with him. Some of the greatest lines to ever come out of rap music.


-He told his life with no censorship and he brings his poetic side into his lyrics. To me, he was light years ahead of his time and set the standard for rappers.

*Jay Z

-He is non stop...he's probably the oldest rapper to STILL be making albums that top charts. Jay's lyrics are brilliant as well as his beats and flow and adaptability to changes in the genre.


*Marian Anderson

-I had MJ here. And, I believe MJ is still the Greatest of All-Time. But, he ALWAYS gets his props. And, without Marion Anderson breaking color barriers, I have to wonder where some of our favorite female artists would be. Many artists owe a lot to her and I think it's time she gets her just due. She was operatic (obviously), which you could argue she, in some ways, paved the way for the Arethas, the MJBs, and so on.

*David Ruffin

-I originally had Marvin Gaye here off the strength of Here My Dear. But then I went back and evaluated Ruffin. Ruffin's sound and approach evolved more fluidly, to me, than Marvin. Somewhat blasphemous, I know. But, he went from doo-wop, to soul, to rock, to disco, to disco-soul, to 80s R&B, all without batting an eye (even though you could argue his addiction problems were an eye...but it was back in the day. Everyone was on something). Plus, like Marvin, his influence is still heard throughout music and he had a hand in the evolution of soul. If I could combine Marvin and David's faces into one, I would. But...since it's only 4 faces? David.

*Andre 3000

-The only reason why I didn't say KRIT here is because he's, while crafting his own legend, still somewhat "new." And besides, without 3 Stacks, there's no Young Krizzle, Third Coast Representer. André out an eye on the South. Big Boi had the more aggressive flow and, at times, the better lyrics. However, Andre wins out because of his crossover appeal. "Hey Ya" is a song that even old white women were singing along to, because it was catchy. However, the song's subject matter is dark and "Matrimony"-levels of analysis about marriage and being young...without getting to Wale levels of rambling.

*Kurt Cobain

-"..and ask Kurt Cobain why, cause I need to know/ why he stopped when he had such a long way to go," Big KRIT opined om "The Vent." Since discovering Cobain's music, I've often found myself asking the same question. Now, Cobain wasn't the greatest singer. His guitar skills are somewhat overrated. And his songwriting features more non sequitur transitions than "Mixtape Wayne." So why put a guy who wasn't the greatest of all time in the mix? Because those flaws are what made him great. He wasn't polished. He, in some ways, represented what your average Joe would probably be like if they got famous overnight. His vocals speak to listeners as they're often haunting and aggressive while still having "I'm singing in the shower. I hope no one hears me" humanity to them. And he touched on "real-world issues" without being blunt about his subject matter, subverting what it meant to be an activist. Or maybe I just don't know what he meant when he said "yeah!," and that's part of the glory.


*Michael Jackson

-The King of Pop. MJ was my ultimate influence for music as a child and I loved his albums. Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, Off The Wall, his solo work as a child and teen, his Jackson 5 work as well. Michael could do no wrong and his music remains timeless to this very day. The GOAT.


-As a hip hop artist myself, there was no one other than Nas that influenced and inspired me. He is the GOAT hip hop artist with plenty of classics under his belt and my all time favorite album "It Was Written". Over the years, Nas has maintained his status as one of the best lyricists ever, if not THE BEST. Putting Nas on my list was a no-brainer. I debated Andre 3000 on my list as well, but Nas is in a different class and with a different legacy.


-Admittedly, I wanted to put Stevie Wonder on the list here, but being honest with myself, I couldn't. Prince is a huge influence on me musically and his vocal range and talent is too much to ignore. He created two of my favorite albums in Purple Rain and Sign O' The Times, but managed to keep his relevance up as well through his last few albums. One of the all time greats.

*Marvin Gaye

-On a personal level, I relate to Marvin more than any other artist I have listed. There is a Marvin album for any mood I am it seems. I want to relax with a lovely lady and enjoy the night? Pop on his Let's Get It On album. Thinking about life and the world we live in? What's Going On. Dealing with a breakup? Here, My Dear. The list goes on. Marvin created classics and I identify with his music the most. He easily makes my Mt. Rushmore list and is the most relatable artist ever to me.



*Ghostface Killah



-My Mt. Rushmore of artists are Nas, Maxwell, Ghostface, and Usher. Pretty unorthodox, but each artist has got me through a lot of challenging times through their music. Nas and Ghostface gave my imagination stories that I'll never forget. While Usher and Maxwell described my inner feelings about love and women. Not to say that Nas and Ghost didn't do it, but R&B love songs are more powerful than rap love songs. The Lost Tapes, BlackSummersNight, Ironman, and Confessions are definitely in my top five albums ever. They gave me songs that made me rap along and sing my heart out. Those 4 artists are who I'll always listen to. Not just for entertainment or because I love music, but because their music is something that I treasure because I can face reality and escape it a little when I listen to my Mt. Rushmore.



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