Waka Flocka Flame is the sort of of hip-hop artist who doesn’t so much rap or flow as he shouts his ass off. It’s a formula that imbues the Atlanta-based rapper’s songs with a boisterous, visceral appeal—and one that he’s looking to continue with the release of his second studio album, Triple F For Life: Friends, Fans And Family, which will officially drop on New Year’s Eve. But Waka’s not alone in pledging his allegiance to the lowbrow art of shout rap; the following hip-hop gents also excel at vociferating into microphones.
10. Bone Crusher
A marvel of a one-hit howling wonder, Atlanta-based Bone Crusher’s “Never Scared” helped herald in the club dominance of southern rap. Bedded by a cavernous, bass-saturated beat, big Bone’s rap is a speaker-tampering bawl about why you should never mess with him. (Killer Mike and T.I. follow in his wake on the song, with the former warning how his gun has “got permanent PMS.”) Then the death blow comes from the chorus—which is scientifically-proven to induce fights.
9. The Beastie Boys
Mike D, MCA and Ad Rock might have toned their aural assault down a little, but back in their breakout prime the trio delighted into molesting the world’s ears by abrasively shouting their way through anthems like “(You’ve Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” It was a decibel-distressing trick that fit a treat with their first wave of tracks, which often sampled from rock songs, and helped underscore the Beasties’ anti-establishment image. Ad Rock’s impassioned yell of “Drop” on “The New Style” is also a well-sampled example of the shout-rap form.
8. Ja Rule
For a midget who’s made a startling number of soft-edged, poppy rap songs, Ja Rule sure can belt out a holler. “Livin’ It Up,” Ja’s early-2000s club hit, sees the Queens-born rapper combining his raspy vocal chords with a sweet chorus from Case. Proving the allure of a guttural grunt, Ja then leaves the club in the song’s video with two chicks—only to pass out flat on his face.
‘Pac certainly had his more hushed and reserved rap moments, but in the spree that followed his 1995 release from jail he could always be found yelling about something or the other. On his biggest hit of that era, “California Love,” he storms on to the track like a man literally just freed from the bowels of the beast. It’s an enthused performance no doubt aided by the restrictive, Mad Max-style garb Dre forced him to don in the song’s video flick.
6. Busta Rhymes
Bussa Bus’s famed “Dungeon dragon” wail on A Tribe Called Quest’s lauded posse cut “Scenario” is well regards in the annals of shout-rap, and the chorus on his solo break-out song, “Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check),” is awesomely shoutable. But it’s the introductions and outros to his various albums where he really lets his mentalist side out, as he rants and raves about the end of the world (the exact date varies depending on the album’s release). Maybe 2012 will finally be his year.
5. Lil Jon
Atlanta’s crunkmeister general doesn’t even remotely pretend to rap—instead he just yells out base instructions on how to party (often flanked by his slightly more traditional vocalists Big Sam and Lil Bo). It’s a formula that saw him catch worldwide shine in the early 2000s as “Get Low” became a bat mitzvah staple. These days his club-oriented crunk sound doesn’t quite hit like it once did, but his animated yelps still perked up Yelawolf’s breakout hit “Hard White (Up In The Club).”
4. Ol’ Dirty Bastard
ODB’s unhinged nature is the stuff of rap legend, but the unruly “Brooklyn Zoo” alone is enough to secure his place in this list. Each line is delivered with supreme energized aplomb, capped by a staccato chorus that begs to be hollered out loud. In a more just world, Ol’ Dirty would still exist with the simple ambit of roaming the rap world and yelling in the face of wack rappers.
A quartet of rowdy, raspy, shaven-headed rappers from Queens, Onyx came up under Jam Master Jay’s tutelage and scored big by bringing the idea of slam dancing to the hip-hop world with, er, “Slam.” The formula of resolutely East Coast beats and vocal-chord-straining mic techniques stood their charmingly titled debut Bacdafucup in good stead. So grimy!
Backed by the rowdy Ruff Ryders enterprise, DMX’s gruff voice and fondness for making actual dog noises on record helped define an era of New York rap that thrived at rowdy club spot The Tunnel. Over Swizz Beatz’s classically rambunctious beat, “Party Up (Up In Here)” showcases the Dark Man X’s ridiculously energized rap style, while also perfecting a shouty sing-a-along chorus.
Fiyah! Boo-ya! Brrrrr-uk! Yup, Brownsville’s Billy Danze and Lil Fame aren’t just some of the most emotional exponents of shouting into a microphone—the duo’s raps are also punctuated by a smorgasbord of exclamations intended to recreate the sound of various firearms being variously discharged. One single Mash Out Posse anthem can get you swiftly through half an hour on the treadmill, while “Ante Up” remains the loudest, most persuasive ode to robbing people committed to wax. (There’s also a remix that ups the intensity by adding Busta Rhymes, among others, to the mix.) Shout and salute!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 30, 2011