Bronx Hip Hop Legends

Being that Hip Hop originated in the Bronx, you can bet that there are too many legendary MCs from the Bronx to cover in one post, including some of the most seminal pioneers of the genre. Here are a few of the most legendary.

Grandmaster Caz, the original Casanova, chillin at the club

Perhaps the most important of all Bronx MCs, Grandmaster Caz was one of the earliest and most influential MCs of Hip Hop history, he was rapping way back in 1974, five years before the first Hip Hop record had been recorded. He has been cited by Big Daddy Kane, Lord Finesse, and even Ice-T as being one of their biggest influences.  His charisma, charm, humor, and boisterously braggadocios style became the bread and butter of many MCs that followed in his footsteps. He ghost wrote Big Bank Hank’s verse on the 1979 classic Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang, which was the first Hip Hop song to become a smash hit (If you don’t count The Fatback Band’s “King Tim III”). It’s also one of the most important songs in all of Hip Hop history, and it holds up well to this day.

The Cold Crush Brothers. Ready for the throw down

In addition to being a talented solo artist, he was the stand out member of “The Cold Crush Brothers”, one of the greatest Hip Hop groups of all time. They were known for doing flashy routines in which they would trade bars with each other when they weren’t singing and rapping the choruses in unison. The group’s energy, boisterous delivery, slick lyrics, and over the top presentation left an impression that no audience could resist, and no MC could duplicate. But, many, many MCs tried .

Grand Master Caz, Rocking the mic and the turntables

Grandmaster Melle Mel

Grandmaster Melle Mel getting fierce

Melle Mel is often credited as the first conscious MC. He served as the blue print for other conscious Hip Hop artists such as KRS-ONE and Public Enemy. He was also one of the fiercest battle rappers of his day, along with Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz. He was a member of Grandmaster Flash’s group, The Furious Five, and he served as the lead MC of that group. Flash was often portrayed as the front man of the group, as before Hip Hop records began to take off, the DJ was considered the star, however this began to change with the popularization of Hip Hop records and the evolution of the art of MCing. As the lyircs became more advanced, and people were able to listen to them at home, in their cars, on a boom box ect. The MC tended to be more instantly recognizable than the DJ on any given recording. It’s a bit unfortunate that Grandmaster Melle Mel’s most famous song “The Message” by “Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five” isn’t credited to “Grandmaster Melle Mel And The Furious Five”. Namely because Flash did not contribute anything musical nor lyrical to the song whatsoever, not even a scratch or an adlib. Melle Mel went in hard for five entire verses that were permeated with fearless social commentary, only for Flash to be listed as the recording artist. Despite this,  the product was one of the greatest Hip Hop songs of all time, and it served as the foundation of many conscious MCs to come.

Slick Rick

Slick Rick The Ruler, The greatest Hip Hop story teller

Out of the next wave of MCs to come out of the Bronx, Slick Rick may have had the most personality. Rather than focusing on consciousness, or boisteress bragging, Slick Rick came off very low key and smooth, and he focused on telling stories. He managed to articulate stories with a stylized delivery and colorful words that held the audience in suspence. He could make a mundane tale seem like an amazing adventure, whilst all the while sounding laid back and understated. The English accent, humongous gold chains, and rings, and of course the signature eye patch made Slick Rick’s persona stand out even more. His collaboration with Dougie Fresh, Lodi Dodi, put both performers on the map as two of Hip Hop’s greatest entertainers,  although it took a few years for Slick Rick to follow Lodi Dodi up with an album, Def Jam finally singed Rick in 1986, and his clssic Debut “The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick” came out in 1988. Slick Rick was a huge influence on all Hip Hop story tellers that came after him, including Just-Ice, Redman, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Outkast, just to name a few.


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