25 Live

David Yochum

Kent State students choose the most powerful, charismatic, and inspiring hip-hop and R&B artists of their generation

How can the Daily Kent Stater determine the 25 greatest hip-hop and R&B artists of today’s college generation?

We can’t.

Representing a speck of Kent State, our staff is in no position to argue which hip-hop and R&B artists have influenced an entire campus.

That’s why we surveyed leaders of Black United Students, Spanish and Latino Students Association, Black Graduate Students Association, Black Squirrel Radio, TV2 and students in the Hub to learn which artists have affected the Kent State community.

We asked students to tell us the musicians who inspire them – the musicians that elude charisma, power, respect, sex appeal and personality.

Beyond that, we wanted to know which artists have shown measured success with airplay, sales figures, money, cars, mansions, shoe deals, clothing lines and advertising spots.

And of course, we wanted to know which musicians have had the most endurance, could create the most buzz, sell out the most concerts and still leave fans wanting more.

To determine who deserved to make the top 25 list, more than 40 students and student leaders ranked their 25 favorite hip-hop and R&B artists from a list of nearly 250 choices.

After the students’ rankings were gathered, the Daily Kent Stater then tabulated the results so the musicians with the highest ranking and most points would be considered the greatest of today’s college generation.

(Example: If a person ranked Ludacris as his or her number one artist, Ludacris would then receive 25 points.)

While there will undoubtedly be debates about the results of the survey, one thing was made perfectly clear – Kent State’s musical tastes are as diverse as the campus itself.

(Note: The number to the left of the artist’s name reflects their top 25 ranking. The number to right of the name is the total number of points the artist was given by students.)

25 TLC [101]

– TLC is an abbreviation for group members “T-Boz,” “Left Eye” and “Chilli.”

– TLC is the best-selling female group of all time.

– The group won 1995 Billboard Music Awards for “Artist of the Year,” “R&B Artist of the Year” and “R&B Single of the Year” with “Creep.”

24 KRS – ONE [105]

– Real name Lawrence Krishna Parker.

– Released a 2005 remix of the song “Bin Laden”, which blames U.S. conservatives, the Reagan Doctrine and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

– Has released 18 albums as a solo artist and with Boogie Down Productions.

23 RUN DMC [111]

– Founded by Joseph “DJ Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels and Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell.

– Released debut album in 1984.

– Known for wearing Adidas sneakers without shoelaces.


– Was murdered by gunfire in 1997 by an unidentified man driving in a Chevrolet Impala. His death remains unsolved.

– Became the only singer to have two posthumous No. 1 hits (“Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems”).

– In 2000, the album Life After Death, was certified diamond – the highest RIAA certification awarded to a solo hip-hop album.

21 LIL WAYNE [117]

Out of every hip-hop and R&B artist Muneerah Saleem has listened to in her 18 years, she considers Lil’ Wayne the hottest. “That’s my husband – I’m sorry that’s just how I feel,” said the freshman architecture major, who ranked Lil’ Wayne as her greatest hip-hop and R&B artist.

20 SEAN COMBS [119]

– Other than Sean Combs, also known as Puffy Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy and Diddy.

– First album, Puff Daddy and the Family’s No Way Out, went platinum seven times.

– Won three Grammy awards.

19 LAURYN HILL [119]

– Solo artist and member of The Fugees

– Rolling Stone named the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

“Lauryn Hill raised the bar when it came to women in the real hip hop genre,” said Lauren Welch, sophomore journalism and mass communication major. “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which came out after The Fugees, allowed her to give light to hip-hop. Her lyrics touch hearts and the soulful sounds of Lauryn’s voice can bring you back.”


– Her single “One Sweet Day” holds the record for staying the most weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.

– Had the best selling album of 2005, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

– Was named “Best-selling pop female

artist of the millennium” by the World Music Awards.

17 JAMIE FOXX [129]

– Real name is Eric Marlon Bishop.

– Released the albums Peep This and Unpredictable 11 years apart.

– Is one of only five performers to have a No. 1 Billboard single and an Oscar for best actor/actress.

16 MARY J. BLIGE [136]

– Won six Grammy Awards and has been nominated 23 times.

“Mary J. Blige is different because she came from nothing to having everything and still hasn’t forgotten where she came from,” said Ted Trimm, vice president of SALSA. “She has grown as an artist from her early stuff with Sean Combs to now receiving Grammys and performing duets. Her talent is so raw and powerful – how could she not make the top 25?”

15 50 CENT [141]

– Has the same birthday (July 6) as President George W. Bush.

– Was shot outside his grandmother’s house in the face, hand and legs in 2000.

– Started G-Unit Records by signing artists Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck.

14 DR. DRE [144]

– “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” ranked #419 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

– Produced Snoop Dogg’s most successful album, Doggystyle.

– His first solo album, The Chronic, went platinum three times.

13 SNOOP DOGG [145]

– His mother nicknamed him “Snoopy” as a child.

– 1995 Source Awards “artist of the year.”

– Is co-creator of “Chronic Candy” – a candy that tastes like marijuana.


– Her album Janet sold more than 15 million copies.

– Won nine Billboard Awards in 1990 for Rhythm Nation 1814.

– Co-starred with Tupac Shakur in the movie Poetic Justice.

11 BOYZ II MEN [176]

– Band is originally from Philadelphia.

– Since its 1991 debut, the group has sold more than 30 million albums.

– Group member Mike McCary left Boyz II Men in 2003 because of back problems caused by scoliosis.

10 NAS [181]

Preston Mitchum, academic affairs senator, was shocked to see Nas at number 10 in the “Daily Kent Stater 25 Live.”

“Since the death of Tupac and Biggie, nobody has really stepped up and talked about revolutionary things that actually matter (like Nas),” Mitchum said. “In general, Nas is providing the hip-hop game.”

Generally regarded as one of hip-hop’s intellectuals, Nas’ debut album, Illmatic, was the first rap album to be awarded five mics (out of five) for its revolutionary content.

Along with Nas, some consider Kanye West a hip-hop revolutionary with songs such as “Jesus Walks.” But Mitchum made it clear that West couldn’t be placed in the same category as the legends.

“Kanye’s arrogance bothers me a lot,” Mitchum said. “If you’re good you’re good, but he knows he’s good.”


How can an R&B artist who has only released two albums be ranked in the top 10 greatest hip-hop and R&B artists of our generation?

“You have to look at the caliber of the albums,” said BUS president Sasha Parker. “She’s not a pop star like Britney Spears or Beyonce. She doesn’t have that fabricated music. The music she writes is hers – she designs it from start to finish.”

Helped by her piano talent, Keyes has had four No. I singles on the Billboard charts since 2001.

8 T.I. [190]

“I think he is talented, I think he has great lyrics, but at the end of the day all his rhymes sound the same,” said BUS president Sasha Parker. “He raps about trappin’, making money and getting girls.”

T.I., who released his first album in October 2001, has had hits such as “What You Know,” “Why You Wanna,” “Motivation” and “Rubberband Man” that elaborate on the three dimensional lifestyle Parker described.

So why is the rapper popular if his lyrics aren’t diverse?

“That (lifestyle) mentality sells,” Parker said.


The Jackson 5. The moonwalk. Thriller. Neverland ranch.

It seems “The King of Pop” has been famous and influential for almost everything, but Genet Gebremariam’s collection of Michael Jackson albums helped her decide where “The King” fell on her “Daily Kent Stater 25 Live” list.

“He’s the all-time best – No. I,” she said.

As for Jackson’s musical accomplishments and awards, nobody would disagree that those lists are extensive.

6 USHER [201]

“Usher has made hit after hit after hit, but on the same hand, if I had Usher high on a top R&B list, Mariah Carey needs to be above him,” said Rory Geraghty, Black Squirrel Radio programming and urban music director. “Mariah Carey blows him out of the water as far as a career – how many No. I’s has she had?”

At the same time, the baby-faced Usher has won five Grammy Awards and became a role model for the next generation of R&B performers.

Though teen sensation Chris Brown did not make the “Daily Kent Stater 25 Live” list, Geraghty joked he could be Usher’s clone.

“(Chris Brown) is really good – he can sing, he can dance – he’s young.”

5 AALIYAH [204]

Killed in an August 2001 plane crash, Aaliyah is still remembered by students for her looks, dance moves, acting career, and hit songs such as “Are You That Somebody.”

“Aaliyah was pretty prominent when I was brought up – she was someone I was used to seeing,” said Chris Smith, programming coordinator for Black Graduate Students Association. “She always was working with Timberland and a variety of people.”

While many have begun comparing 21-year-old R&B artist Ciara to Aaliyah, Smith doesn’t think the two can be compared.

“(Aaliyah) and Ciara are two different styles,” Smith said. “People just want to compare so they can have something to measure Ciara’s progress against. Aaliyah was more attractive, though.”

4 EMINEM [225]

“Eminem has taken what everyone thought was impossible and made it possible – as in a white rapper that can seriously do his thing,” said Micah Manus, Black Squirrel Radio general manager.

Arguably the most successful white rapper in history, Manus said people thought Eminem was a joke at first, even though he was associated with producing legend Dr. Dre.

However, deep tracks such as “Stan” were ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the Greatest 500 Songs of All Time, and have earned Eminem respect.

“The first couple songs he releases from his albums are pop, but to get the real Eminem you have to listen to him on other people’s songs or the songs they don’t play

on the radio,” Manus said.

3 BEYONCE [278]

“It seems like every song she comes out with ends up being a hit,” said Kaitlyn Lionti, TV2 assistant news director. “And she’s classy – she doesn’t dress promiscuous.”

Beyonce, former lead singer of Destiny’s Child, is also a model and actor, starring alongside the likes of Mike Meyers in “Austin Power Goldmember” and Steve Martin in “The Pink Panther.”

Perhaps another reason Beyonce was the highest ranking female on the “Daily Kent Stater 25 Live” list is that many agree with the messages in her songs, such as the one in “Irreplaceable,” a hit that reached number one on the Billboard top singles chart last December.

“People can relate to her,” Lionti said. “I think that’s one of the reasons Beyonce is popular.”

2 JAY-Z [327]

Why does freshman psychology major, Andrew Tudor rank Jay-Z ahead of Nas when he thinks about the greatest hip-hop artists of our generation?

“Nas only has three good albums and he had three that were bad,” Tudor explained. “Jay-Z had about eight albums that were better than Nas.”

While Jay-Z has been more commercially successful (CEO of Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella records, Rocawear) than his old New York rival, Tudor wouldn’t put “Jigga” ahead of Nas if he were ranking hip-hop artists based on substance.

“Lyrically, it would probably be between Nas and Eminem in terms of the best,” Tudor said.

1 TUPAC [469]

Rumor has it he is in a New Mexico prison.

Or he is a teacher in Washington state.

Or maybe Tupac really is stuck in the minds of students as the best hip-hop talent of our generation.

“Tupac is the greatest, dead or alive,” freshman exploratory major Autumn Jones said.

For an artist who has been deceased for a decade, Tupac and his West Coast style still influence students at Kent State enough for them to consider him the greatest hip-hop and R&B artist of our college generation.

He is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best selling hip-hop artist, with over 75 million albums sold, and was voted by a Vibe reader poll as the greatest rapper of all time.

Tupac received the most votes in the “Daily Kent Stater 25 Live” survey, by beating out the closest competitor by almost 150 points.

Contact entertainment reporter David Yochum at [email protected].