For this list, I named the MCs who had song writing ability AND 16 bar skill. Basically, you have to prove adept at making songs and when the beat comes of, being able to wow the crowd with technique. A lot of contributing factors were taken into accountability here. Beat selection, cadence, poise, and subject matter. This is my list, my very educated and researched opinion. The list is in no particular order, but here it is:
Wiz Khalifa. Wiz is easily one of the best song writers out right now. From Prince of The City 1 to Kush and Orange Juice. Wiz has proved to be one of the most creative MCs in the game right now. Subject matter – not so much, but his flow, wordplay, delivery, cadence, Wiz has it down pat. Would I put him over a lot of niggas in a battle? No, but I bet you he can hold his own. All the real Steel City alum can co-sign that. The only thing that holds Wiz back from being bigger than he is is his boring ass weed smoke, more money than you rhymes.
Wiz Khalifa: This Plane
Sha-King. Sha reminds me of what use to make me go home and write bars. Sha is the last of the Pro Ricans, right here in Pittsburgh. His rhyme schemes are mad intricate and the knowledge packed into his bars could easily drown a fish when he spits. Next to one other MC on this list, I think Sha has the best delivery in the city. Better than Dominos. Have you heard “Power”?! My only real criticism is that he is in a specific lane that may not be for every one …
Varsity Squad. Yes, I’m naming them as one entity. Jon Quest is dope. Bottom line. However, his monotone delivery can really get boring. Quest has increasing poise with a great ear for beats. Yeh, that factors in. Beedie has the best delivery in Pittsburgh. He can sound ill on anything, even though the wordplay could run on like a run away slave. Beedie still has every thing from image to cipher presence an MC trying to make it should have.
Jon Quest: Last Word
Roscoe Wiki. I knew 5 years ago Roscoe would be successful. I used to call him Little Lupe. I watched him at 14-15 mow down grown men in the Jump Off TV Pittsburgh battles. Then I witnessed the genesis of one of the most talented artists in Pittsburgh. Slaves Of The Mind, and Space Love, show cased lyrical prowess, pen game, and production and vocal quality. There’s been a lot of talk, Roscoe this, Roscoe that, where’s he going, where’s he at? His current work with Common Wealth Family is a bit contra to what he started off as, but it’s still dope shit. Take it from me, you don’t wanna sound clash him nothing.
Roscoe Wiki: Space Ship
APEX. What started off as 4 are now 2. You think that would of worked for Onyx? Pre-Sense and Aris are the most well rounded group in Pittsburgh. While neither one are absolute pen juggernauts, they have song writing ability and fantastic production. They can step up and spit 16s but that’s not what you want when you listen to them, you want music. That’s what you get, good music.
Apex: 1 More Time
Boaz. Bo Bey aka Brother Mouzone I mean, come on, what more can you ask for? No one spits that street shit like Bo, no one. Bo actually has knowledge of the game, he’s lyrical, he’s grimy, he’s conscious. He’s easily PGH’s Nas. Of late, Bo has fallen victim to the hustler lane, he’s iller than that and some of his beats have suffered, but he still represents. I heard Bo is in the streets too deep though, which could be a huge problem if he wants to progress his career.
Boaz: Steel City
Mac Miller. Mac is kinda like Pittsburgh’s Drake. The privileged Jewish yute every one knew rapped but didn’t know how ill he was until it was too late. Mac has great rhymes, he’s really dope lyrically. And he can freestyle his ass off, that’s rare now days. Mac’s also kind of Pittsburgh’s Asher Roth … more so the latter. His subject matter is really one dimensional but he has a lane to occupy and some of his shit is phenomenally dope, other tunes, not so much.
Mac Miller: Nikes On My Feet
Charon Don. Charon encompasses the quintessential Pittsburgh MC. Just as much as I named Boaz, Charon is the Mos Def to Bo Bey’s Biggie. Do your PGH hip hop knowledge, please. At first, Charon was just an ill rhymer, but the brother makes ill songs. He’s pretty versatile as well, but his comfort zone is just straight spitting. His first CD with Huggy as Hands Down was kinda iffy to me … but Art Of Life … maaan. Wiz also had a killer, dominating verse on there as well.
Charon Don: The Truth
Jasiri X. Furious Styles, the original one. Jasiri is a mix of Dead Prez and Chuck D all in a Allen Payne looking package. Lyrically, I don’t think any one is iller than him in the city, save one. Jasiri IS THE political rapper, so that’s kind of the paradigm he resides in. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t sniff around this tree looking for “Around The Way Girl” or “10 Crack Commandments”. Jasiri does bring a balance to the force that is all but absent in today’s game. For what he does, his songs are just as dope as Wiz’ and Mac’s just the other side of the coin.
Jasiri X: The Only Color That Matters Is Green
Ems The Gawd aka Kid A. The most lyrical MC in this city with the most unassuming moniker. Kid A has had the lyrical title in his reach since Ron Noodles was ripping through ciphers and the brother is only 24. Freestyle ability and breath control make the MC formally known as EMS a force to be reckoned with, though a lack of material is the only thing that really keeps him away from being more highly regarded. A also has a shaky angle when it comes to song writing quality.
Kid A: Find God
Honourable mention starts here. For one reason or another they weren’t top 10 overall, but very, very talented MCs.
Divine Seven. Sev has the most philosophical rhymes and really great flow, but sometimes his monotone delivery can really take away from his super over the top wordplay.
Divine Seven feat. Varsity Squad: Shadow Loungin
Living Proofe. Proof has DOPE bars, sometimes his rhyme scheme can be a bit clumsy but his increasing amount of material really shows a lot of impressive substance and improvement.
Living Proofe: Rise
Real Deal. Real Deal is an ill battle MC with hot punchlines and a cipher presence like king kong, but a terrible ear for beats and when you put him on a beat, he has a very, very off delivery he almost sound out of place on a song.
Real Deal: Real Deal vs. Ex-L
J. Sands of Lone Catalysts. J edged out Masai from Formula 412/Strict Flow based off the fact I think Sands has a better ear for beats and his patterns are a little more attention grabbing.
J. Sands: Manifest