Grammy-award winner Kool Moe Dee’s “rap report cards” written in 1987 and 1999 recently resurfaced online to quite a bit of controversy from hip-hop fans as they review and debate Moe Dee’s list of rap hot takes in the form of letter grades.
The rapper's grading scale was based on ten categories examining emcees' technical and creative skills, including vocabulary, articulation, creativity, originality, versatility, voice, records, stage presence, sticking to themes, and innovation.
Rock the Bells got the chance to speak to Kool Moe Dee himself about the origin of the now notorious rapper report cards and his reasoning behind some of the grades he gave to specific emcees.
One particularly controversial take was Lauryn Hill finishing at the top of her class with a final grade of 97%, giving her the only A+ aside from Biggie, beating out fan favorites like Nas, JAY-Z, and Tupac.
“In the late 90s, Lauryn Hill, JAY-Z, a lot of those people were newcomers at the time,” Kool Moe Dee explains. “JAY-Z, Nas, Lauryn Hill, and DMX were my favorites at the time. But I said, let’s break it down a little bit further, and I was making a point to tell people that Lauryn Hill was a lot better than a lot of emcees at the time, and a lot of people didn't give her the credit.”
When asked about the scores, Moe Dee suggested fans need to consider the time it was written, explaining that artists like JAY-Z would have scored higher or lower depending on the era of their career.
“You can’t substitute time,” Kool Moe Dee suggested. “To know what JAY-Z was doing in ‘98 is totally different from say ‘94 even or 2004.” The Treacherous Three emcee explained that the scores might be lower than fans expect because they are not taking into account the longevity of some of the certain artists.
“If I took the time to re-score it now, it’ll definitely reflect how things turned out,” Kool Moe Dee explains. However, the rapper says he would not re-work the list to avoid drama and hurting emcees' egos.
Another controversial take on the report card was Mystikal’s high rating, as he earned a top five spot on Moe Dee’s list. The rapper explained that Mystikal has always been one of his favorite rappers for his unmatched creativity and lyrical ability.
“I’ve always thought and still feel that Mystikal is one of the most underrated emcees of all time,” Kool Moe Dee declared. “For the most part in hip-hop, it's more New York dominant than anything else. I thought that Mystikal had his own style and articulated it a certain way." Kool Moe Dee goes on to explain he loved the Pharrell-produced hit “Shake Ya Ass” from Mystikal’s 2000 album Let’s Get Ready.
Who is scoring at the top of your hip-hop report card? Keep it locked to Rock the Bells for more hip-hop news.