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When the legendary Kool Moe Dee released his sophomore album, How Ya Like Me Now, in 1987, he also included a rap report card which rated himself and 24 of his rhyming peers.

Included on the inner sleeve of the album, Moe Dee’s report card broke down the 25 rappers in the following categories:

  • vocabulary
  • articulation
  • creativity
  • originality
  • versatility
  • voice
  • records
  • stage presence
  • sticking to themes
  • innovating rhythms

The report card ranked the rappers from A+ to C and featured some of the greatest rappers of all time; from old school legends such as Grandmaster Caz and Kurtis Blow, to Moe Dee’s contemporaries such as MC Shan and Rakim.

“I listen to everything that comes out–and I mean everything– so I figured that I’d make a pretty good critic,” Moe Dee explained to The Los Angeles Times shortly after releasing the report card. “It’s all a matter of knowing your competition. The idea of a report card wasn’t meant to be insulting. I try to have good relations with all my rivals.”

Out of all the rappers, Moe Dee gave himself, Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz an A+. LL Cool J, T La Rock, Rakim and KRS-One followed with an A score. A few rappers got graded a B+, including Doug E. Fresh, Whodini, UTFO and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, while others such as MC Shan, Public Enemy and Ultramagnetic MCs received a B. Only the Beastie Boys were unfortunate enough to receive a C out of all the artists.

25. Beastie Boys

Albums released at that time: Licensed to Ill (1986)

Score: 70 – C

Kool Moe Dee: They’re pretty awful. I gave them a lot of 6’s. They don’t have any vocabulary and they try to make up for their lack of originality by screaming and yelling. Besides, our tour followed theirs and wherever we went, we couldn’t get into hotels or restaurants ‘cause the Beasties had been there two weeks before and gotten into trouble.

Kool Moe Grades Rappers: Give Him A+ | The Los Angeles Times

24. Boogie Boys

Albums released at that time: City Life (1985), Survival of the Freshest (1986)

Score: 77 – C+

23. Public Enemy

Albums released at that time: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)

Score: 80 – B

22. Ultramagnetic MCs

Albums released at that time: Singles – “To Give You Love”, “Make You Shake”, “Ego Trippin'”, “Ego Bits”, “Funky Potion”

Score: 80 – B

21. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Albums released at that time: The Message (1982)

Score: 81 – B

20. The Fat Boys

Albums released at that time: Fat Boys (1984), The Fat Boys Are Back (1985), Big & Beautiful (1986), Crushin’ (1987)

Score: 81 – B

19. Kurtis Blow

Albums released at that time: Kurtis Blow (1980), Deuce (1981), Tough (1982), The Best Rapper on the Scene (1983), Ego Trip (1984), America (1985), Kingdom Blow (1986)

Score: 81 – B

18. Stetsasonic

Albums released at that time: On Fire (1986)

Score: 82 – B

17. Run-D.M.C.

Albums released at that time: Run-D.M.C. (1984), King of Rock (1985), Raising Hell (1986)

Score: 82 – B

Kool Moe Dee: They definitely have this aura about ‘em–they’ve converted the whole rap world. But they don’t impress me lyrically at all. They’re very predictable–you always know just what they’re gonna say next.

Kool Moe Grades Rappers: Give Him A+ | The Los Angeles Times

16. Just-Ice

Albums released at that time: Back to the Old School (1986), Kool & Deadly (1987)

Score: 82 – B

15. Spoonie Gee

Albums released at that time: The Godfather of Rap (1987)

Score: 82 – B

14. Heavy D & the Boyz

Albums released at that time: Living Large (1987)

Score: 83 – B

13. Biz Markie

Albums released at that time: Singles – “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz”

Score: 83 – B

12. MC Shan

Albums released at that time: Down by Law (1987)

Score: 83 – B

11. Whodini

Albums released at that time: Whodini (1983), Escape (1984), Back in Black (1986), Open Sesame (1987)

Score: 86 B+

10. Doug E. Fresh

Albums released at that time: Oh, My God! (1986)

Score: 86 – B+

9. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

Albums released at that time: Rock the House (1987)

Score: 88 – B+

8. UTFO

Albums released at that time: UTFO (1985), Skeezer Pleezer (1986)

Score: 89 – B+

7. KRS-One

Albums released at that time: Criminal Minded (1987)

Score: 90 A

6. T La Rock

Albums released at that time: Lyrical King (From the Boogie Down Bronx) (1987)

Score: 90 – A

5. LL Cool J

Albums released at that time: Radio (1985), Bigger and Deffer (1987)

Score: 90 – A

Kool Moe Dee: When you break him down, he’s a very good rapper. However, on his last record, he really went overboard capitalizing on his popularity. He kept bragging on himself over and over to the point of subliminal hypnotism. It was as if you were thinking of the best rapper, you’d be forced to think of him.

Kool Moe Grades Rappers: Give Him A+ | The Los Angeles Times

4. Rakim

Albums released at that time: Paid in Full (1987)

Score: 91 – A

Kool Moe Dee: He’s one of my favorites from the New School of rappers–he gets a 10 for creativity. He’s real articulate, he uses syncopation well and doesn’t harp on all the boasting stuff–he does what he has to do and just gets it done. I saw him the other day on 125th Street and he was real humble. I asked him how he was doing over at Def-Jam (his record label). And he just said: ‘Hey, I’m still learning.’

Kool Moe Grades Rappers: Give Him A+ | The Los Angeles Times

3. Grandmaster Caz

Albums released at that time: N/A

Score: 94 – A+

2. Melle Mel

Albums released at that time: The Message (with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) (1982), Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five (1984), Stepping Off (as Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five) (1985)

Score: 95 – A+

1. Kool Moe Dee

Albums released at that time: The Treacherous Three (1984), Kool Moe Dee (1986)

Score: 95 – A+

1 comment
  1. Yes!! Kool moe Dee was my favorite artist back it the days. I love this breakdown. I miss these artists because today music sux. Not completely we do get a few gems every now and then, but for everything else it sux

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