There’s no question that Kool Moe Dee undeniably amplified the essence of the lyrical game during his reign in the 80s and beyond. The sharp-tongued emcee, born Mohandas Dewese, was known for his compelling rhymes and confident swagger, setting the scene on fire with his audacious wordplay and deft storytelling. From his early formation with the pioneering hip-hop crew, Treacherous Three, to his extensive solo career, Kool Moe Dee proved himself to be an indomitable and visceral force within the hip-hop landscape.
Take records like “Knowledge Is King” and “How Kool Can One Blackman Be,” tracks where his intellectual hustle is bright, baring his lyrical dexterity and wit. Or his remarkable collaboration with Chuck D and KRS-One on “Rise ‘N’ Shine” that further mythologized his storied career. Yet, it’s perhaps with tracks like the popular “Wild Wild West” and the combative “I Go to Work” where his bravado really shines, cementing his status as a hip-hop heavyweight. Each song is a testament to the dynamism and range of his artistic prowess, encapsulating his career’s twists and turns. His music, filled with a complex tapestry of sounds and words, embodies the spirit and authenticity that makes hip-hop so universally respected and cherished.
So let’s get into it. From the fiery “To The Beat Y’all” to the unforgettable “Wild Wild West,” here’s 20 of the Best Kool Moe Dee Songs Ranked from Worst to Best.
20. To The Beat Y’All
“To The Beat Y’All” lands at the rear end of our list for Kool Moe Dee’s top tunes. The track, while exhibiting Moe Dee’s signature lyrical prowess, lacks the dynamism and energy seen in his later, more successful records. Still, it’s a nod to the roots of hip-hop with its stripped-down beat and Moe Dee’s nimble wordplay. The record is a testament to his early days in the game, revealing glimpses of the refined, incisive lyricism that would later become his trademark. It’s a raw, unpolished gem in the discography of an artist who would go on to become a titan of the genre.
19. Rock You
“Rock You”, that’s the slapper that lands in the 27th spot on our list. Though some might argue it ain’t Kool Moe Dee’s finest hour, I’d say it showcases his rhythmic prowess with that pulsating groove. It may lack the depth of storytelling he’s known for, but it still got that Moe Dee flavor. While the beat follows a tried and true formula, the track’s true strength lies in the lyricist’s unmistakable swagger and wittiness. It may not leave the deepest impression, but it’s the kind of cut that brings the party to life, representing the lighter side of his discography. Not his magnum opus, but proof that even middling Moe Dee is better than many emcees’ best work.
18. 50 Ways
Rolling in at the 22nd spot on our list is Kool Moe Dee’s “50 Ways” – a cut that’s anything but faint of heart. Steering clear of superficial gloss, it unapologetically serves up a rich narrative clothed in raw authenticity that is Kool Moe Dee’s signature. This track takes us into Dee’s world, unveiling the struggles and triumphs of the streets in his unmistakable lyrical style. While it doesn’t quite have the cultural heft of some of his other tracks, “50 Ways” stands as a testament to Dee’s commitment to unfiltered storytelling. Though it’s stationed near the tail end of our list, it’s far from a flop — it’s strategic, it’s real, and it’s undeniably hip-hop.
17. Get The Picture
Alright, next up we got “Get The Picture,” and I ain’t gonna front, it’s slidin’ in at number 20 on our list. Now, don’t get it twisted, Kool Moe Dee was still flexing his lyrical prowess on this joint and his penmanship always stays on point. But when we talk about top tier Kool Moe Dee, some tracks just got more juice. The beat was a little soft, didn’t hit as hard as some of the brother’s other joints, leaving the flow feeling a bit disjointed. It’s still got its shine though, with a clear message for the heads out there to wake up and capture the bigger picture. Even when Kool Moe Dee ain’t at his best, he’s still out here schooling cats.
16. I’m Hittin’ Hard
“I’m Hittin’ Hard” slides in at number 20 on our countdown, and true heads know this ain’t no head scratcher. This track found Kool Moe Dee flexing his lyrical biceps, proving his strength in the rap game. Hittin’ hard like the title suggests, the song is an array of punchlines that left opponents sprawled out on the canvas. The beat is thunderous, combining heavy bass with Moe Dee’s acrobatic wordplay. However, introspective it ain’t. This was Moe Dee in battle mode, and while he was undeniably good at it, some might say he was even better when he cast his gaze inwards, hence its lower ranking on this list.
15. Way Way Back
“Way Way Back” is a gem where Kool Moe Dee’s old school roots are on full display. Fueled by funk-infused beats, the track showcases Dee’s smooth flow and penchant for clever wordplay. The song’s nostalgic narrative is a testament to hip-hop’s evolution, tracing its trajectory from the backroom battles to the global phenomenon it is today. However, despite the lyrical firepower, the production quality falls flat when compared to other, more polished, offerings from Dee. It’s a raw reminder of hip-hop’s early days, but not necessarily a standout in Dee’s discography. As we say in the culture, it’s sturdy but lacks the freshest kicks on the block.
14. Funke Wisdom
25. “Funke Wisdom” – Kool Moe Dee was always one to drop knowledge on the mic but with “Funke Wisdom,” the title track off his fourth album, the man was on a schooling mission. The track showcases Moe Dee at his most conscious, dishing out life lessons and painting a vivid depiction of the world around him. Yet, the song falls short due to the somewhat flat production that doesn’t deliver enough punch to match the rapper’s potent rhymes. It’s a solid cut on its own but when weighed against the heavy hitters in Moe Dee’s catalog, it doesn’t quite make the grade. A prime case of a great MC in need of a killer beat.
13. All Night Long
An undeniable gem in Kool Moe Dee’s discography, accurately showcasing his talents as a cunning lyrical mastermind. It’s a potent exhibition of Kool Moe Dee’s both tactful and tactless wordplay, capitalizing on his audacious flow and unrivaled storytelling capabilities. The beat knocks, punctuating Moe Dee’s word schemes, making this a head-nod anthem for the golden era’s fanatics. Despite it not achieving the same mainstream attention as other tracks in his catalogue, “All Night Long” deserves its spot in the pantheon of his greatest works due to its unadulterated hip-hop essence. This joint is a testament to Moe Dee’s contribution in cementing hip-hop’s foundation, showcasing the themes of street knowledge and personal responsibility that marked his ethos.
12. How You Like Me Now
This re-imagined cut of Kool Moe Dee’s seminal track ain’t no joke. It still carries the heavyweight punch of Dee’s audacious lyrical prowess, yet it feels like a glossed-over rendition of his original rawness. It maintains its powerful lampoon of the flashy rap scene of the time, while also acting as a self-congratulatory victory lap for Dee. It’s a critical piece in the puzzle of understanding Moe Dee’s ethos, but truth be told, this re-recording feels a wee bit polished and lacks the grit of the original. It’s still a banger, no doubt, but it’s an echo of its former robust self.
11. Knowledge Is King
Ain’t just a track, it’s a manifesto. Released in ’89 off the album with the same name, Moe Dee established himself not just as a rapper with an uncanny command of the English language but as a scholar and critic of the streets. He flipped the script, rhymes became textbooks, lessons delivered in 16 bars – that’s the essence of this cuts. Backed by a Teddy Riley production, you got that New Jack Swing vibe meshed with furious lyricism. But it ain’t all beats and rhymes, the legacy of this track is in its title. Spitting facts over fiction, Kool Moe Dee was redefining what it meant to be ‘hard’ in hip-hop.
The emphatic lyrical style is on full display; it’s like he’s laying down a manifesto for all those who were sleeping on his capabilities. “Notis” was a declaration that Kool Moe Dee wasn’t just another emcee, but a bona fide poet of the streets. His rhymes, as complex as they are, are a testament to his ability to communicate weighty concepts with a cool demeanor and an assured flow. Nonetheless, this track didn’t enjoy the same pop appeal as some of his other hits, and maybe that’s why it’s somewhat underappreciated. Yet, for the purist, “Notis” reveals an essential aspect of Kool Moe Dee’s articulation prowess.
9. How Kool Can One Blackman Be
One of those tracks that truly embodies Kool Moe Dee’s lyrical prowess. The Treacherous Three veteran uses his mic as a tool to question societal norms and discrimination, proving why he was such a game-changer in the hip-hop scene. The song’s raw energy combined with hard-hitting lyrics unveils a level of intellectual depth that few in the genre master. Yes, it’s a banger, but it’s also a testament to Kool’s ability to craft thought-provoking rhymes on the fly. While it’s not quite on par with the paradigm-shifting impact of his best work, it’s still a solid listen that showcases Kool Moe Dee’s capacity to blend vibrant beats with compelling storytelling. No question, Kool Moe Dee was an emcee who could truly rock the mic right.
8. Rise ‘N’ Shine (feat. Chuck D. & KRS-One)
This joint ain’t just Kool Moe Dee spittin’ hot fire, it’s a holy trinity of hip-hop’s Old Testament prophets: Kool Moe Dee, Chuck D, and KRS-One. They all hop on the track and it’s like a lyrical explosion, know what I’m sayin’? Each verse is a sermon, preachin’ truth and callin’ for unity in the game. This track really showcases Kool Moe Dee’s versatility too – he’s goin’ toe-to-toe with two of the greats and he more than holds his own. This ain’t a solo mission – it’s a collaborative masterpiece. All that said, it ain’t Kool Moe Dee’s strongest – but that’s like saying a diamond ain’t as hard as a diamond drill – we’re talkin’ high levels here.
7. They Want Money
The cut that lays bare Kool Moe Dee’s critique of the music industry’s insatiable cash lust. This joint is far from Kool’s typical stylistic approach, trading lyrical complexity for a more transparent message. The critique, though lacking his usual depth, still hits hard. It’s a bold statement on the pitfalls of fame and fortune, and the greed that drives the game. It falls short of Moe Dee’s best output, lyrically, but the sheer audacity of serving up raw truth elevates it. “They Want Money” is an intersection of social commentary and defiant truth-telling that deserves its spot in Moe Dee’s catalog.
6. Death Blow
A heavyweight battle track that signifies everything Kool Moe Dee’s stance in the rap game represents. A veritable lyrical pugilist, Dee spit venomous rhymes with a gusto that bulldozed right through the pop-infused rap landscape of the late ’80s. The track is a brutal dis aimed squarely at rap rival LL Cool J, with Dee asserting his lyrical supremacy in no uncertain terms. Although many would argue the beef was detrimental to Dee’s career momentum, no one can deny that “Death Blow” packs a punch that resonates even today, confirming Kool Moe Dee’s place as one of hip-hop’s fiercest competitors. “Death Blow” carries the unyielding spirit of the rap battles of the golden age, a testament to Kool Moe Dee’s authentic, unapologetic MC capabilities.
5. Let’s Go
Kool Moe Dee drips with 80’s nostalgia, bringing you knee-deep into the golden era of hip-hop. Chock full of that classic drum machine and synth heavy production, it’s a kinetic banger that’s got Kool Moe Dee spittin’ raw lyrics at a non-stop pace. As layered and complex as a Rubik’s Cube, this track pulls no punches in showcasing Dee’s lyrical dexterity; he rides the beat like he’s on the A train uptown. While it isn’t often mentioned in water-cooler convos about his best work, “Let’s Go” serves as a prime example of his unyielding energy and timeless appeal. It’s the kind of track that makes you want to rock a Kangol and Adidas sweatsuit, and just groove.
4. No Respect
This track is a testament to Kool Moe Dee’s unmatched lyrical prowess and his ability to lay down truths without fear or compromise. Dee takes the mic to flip the script on the haters and reinforces his relevance in the game. The track’s aggressive beat is intertwined with Moe Dee’s defiant lyrics, creating an unapologetic anthem for anybody who’s ever felt undercut or unappreciated. The song also underscores a recurring theme in hip-hop culture—the constant struggle for respect and recognition. Dee’s “No Respect” is a monument inside the extensive archive of golden-era rap.
3. Wild Wild West
Ain’t nothin’ out here wilder than Kool Moe Dee, y’all. This track ain’t just a throwback to the cowboy days, but an old-school hip-hop anthem that flipped the script on mainstream ideas of what rap could be. Kool Moe Dee used that funky beat to tell tales of partying in the rough streets, injecting humor and witticisms. However, as much as this track is celebrated for its originality, it ain’t the best demonstration of Kool’s lyrical prowess or his ability to ignite cultural conversations. It’s a fun track, no doubt about it, but compared to Kool’s other joints, it’s far from his tightest work.
2. I Go To Work
Nothing short of a 9 to 5 grind anthem, no cap. Kool Moe Dee comes through on this track with that blue-collar energy, lyrically constructing verses with the precision of a skilled craftsman. No half-stepping here, each metaphor and simile he lays down is like a brick in the wall of this audio edifice. The song itself is slick, laced with a groove that’ll have your head bobbing before the first hook. The Harlem lyricist does work, indeed, and leaves no doubt about his prowess behind the mic. However, while it’s a testament to his lyrical dexterity, it falls short of the top spot on our list.
1. How Ya Like Me Now
Now this is a jam that needs no introduction. This track is a pivotal cut from Kool Moe Dee’s discography and it packs a punch that’ll leave you dazed. Moe Dee’s verbal dexterity is in full swing here, sharp as a razor blade and twice as deadly, his words cutting through the beat like a hot knife through butter. Not just a catchy tune, this song is a bold statement, a declaration of Moe Dee’s untouchable talent and swagger in the game. If you know your hip-hop history, you know this track sparked one of the genre’s notorious beefs with LL Cool J. But strip away the controversy, and what you’re left with is an undeniably dope track that’s earned its place in hip-hop’s hall of fame. “How Ya Like Me Now” encompasses what Kool Moe Dee is all about: unapologetic, trailblazing, and fiercely lyrical. It’s deservedly high up on the list.