I know some people might consider this idiotic and pointless and not respect it at all, a white person like myself commmenting and adding my 2 cents in on one of the most discussed on-going debates in hip-hop, but I think my argument and opinion on who the current Top 5 in the game are is justified and well backed up, so here goes.
I'm gonna go one by one through candidates, most of which I took from the argument going on at Sickamore's blog, based on lyrical ability, flow, and content, for the Top 5 spots and list why or why they don't make my list. This is mostly based on RELEVANCE, cause to me the Top 5 is constantly changing and shifting almost daily, with each new hot verse, single, and record sale being a possible reason for one rapper to drop out and another to step in. Keep in mind this isn't a "greatest of all time" list, but a list of the Top 5 RIGHT NOW. No retired, dead, stagnant, inactive, or hibernating rappers included. So let the analysis begin....
Jay-Z - He's retired, even though he ain't acting like it as of late. His guest spots haven't impressed me much anyways so to me he is still basically retired. I'm sure after his next one drops in Late '06/Early '07 he will reclaim his just spot at the top.
Nas - Hasn't done shit lately. I'm waiting until his next one which is coming out probably after Jay's has dropped for Def Jam.
Andre 3000 - After hearing the horrible album that is Idlewild, no way. He used to be good years ago, but lately it seems he has given up on hip-hop and doing shit that not even white people like anymore like they did with "Love Below".
Big Boi - He's good to me but not Top 5 good. I really hope after the shit that is Idlewild, he loses Dre and drops a real solo showing what he can do.
Pusha T - To me this dude is the best 1/2 of a duo that is killing it with the mixtapes and is getting screwed by those "crackas at Jive" on their sophomore release. "Lord Willin" to me was awesome and underrated by the industry. I still love to jam that album and they started the whole rapping about coke trend that is so big today. To me even though there are now tons of copycats, noone does it like they do still. Best rap group right now but not top 5, maybe if he had more solo work.
T.I. - This self-proclaimed "King of the South" to me isn't even the best in the South (see Luda) so that right there brings him down in the rankings. Plus I can't stand his voice and his cockiness that doesn't seemed justified either by rhymes or stature. Maybe I am wrong here and am too biased against him but I don't put him top 5 and think he is too overrated. Just shows if you call yourself the "King" enough times, enough idiots are going to jump on the band wagon and believe it. I've been listening to this dude since he was T.I.P. and still think he is as shitty now as he was back then, he just has more hype and people believing his lame ass and unwarranted title.
Ludacris - After hearing his latest mixtape songs including "War With God" and the fact that he has maintained such high quality on all his albums, I put him top 5. And if you don't believe me now then just wait til his new one drops. I'm calling classic on this one.
Killer Mike - Ever since his first appearance on 'Kast's "Whole World" I thought he was sick, however I was tricked into buying his solo album and it wasn't anything special to me. He def has potential but has yet to truly do his best work I feel.
Mase - With Bad Boy he was unstoppable and dropped some classic rhymes but nowadays not so much. I feel his best is past him. Not a current Top 5.
Ghostface - Basically same argument as Mase. See "Fishscale" if you think differently. That isn't classic "Top 5" shit there.
50 Cent - Now that he's on top commerically he isn't hungry anymore. Doubt his next one will be anything classic and unless he is really threatened, he doesn't have to work hard anymore to get rich. He's the best businessman in the business but not Top 5.
Young Buck - He's aight but nothing special. If you think he's Top 5 then I think you are just a G-Unit rider.
Lloyd Banks - Same as above.
Snoop Dogg - It's sad to me what has happened to Snoop through the years. Went from one of the best in the game to sad excuse for a rapper. He's a joke to me now. Def not Top 5.
Lil Wayne - Alot of people disagree but the proof is in the pudding (flows). You got a classic album in Carter 2 and probably 2 more albums worth of awesome appearances on mixtapes and other people's records. And for all the people saying he's got a ghostwriter, thats just all BS. If Gillie really was right then why does his shit suck so bad? He's just looking for attention and Wayne shouldn't even stoop down to his level and respond.
Joe Budden - He's got the skills but his last album wasn't great to me. He could be Top 5 with the next album but not right now.
Lupe Fiasco - I would say I haven't heard enough to know if the buzz is warranted but I've heard the leak like everyone else and this dude is forreal. I would put him Top 5 but I feel it might be a bit premature. I don't see anything stopping this kid in years to come though and I wanna hear more.
Chamillionaire - Although you could say I am biased because I am from the H and he went to my HS, but I think he is Top 5. He can rhyme with the best of them and his last album was crazygood. He also can rhyme fast or slow and rhyme about ballin or serious shit. Basically he can cover all the angles with skill if he needs to and not many rappers can do that today.
Eminem - Hasn't dropped anything in forever. Not relevant enough to be Top 5 and his last album sucked. I fear he might of taken so many drugs that he has lost it but hopefully he will come back with some fire on the highly anticipated Shady mixtape that has yet to drop or his next album if there ever is one.
The Game - When provoked he goes off and represents for the West like noone else has as of late. And luckily for him he is being provoked from all sides so he has reason to show his best. I think 50 and G-Unit is helping him out more than hurting him because which each diss they throw at him he comes back even hotter. I think Doctor's Advocate will be classic like his last one and I put him Top 5.
Scarface - Not relevant anymore and sadly I heard he won't drop anything ever again. Hope it ain't true 'Face.
Bun B - Being from the H I wanna put him on the Top 5 really bad but just can't do it. I liked his solo but it wasn't good enough for me from what I was expecting and had too many guest spots I felt. Maybe on the new UGK this year he will show some crazy skills.
Redman - A legend but not relevant anymore and his past albums have been lackluster.
Kanye West - He is good but I don't buy into all the hype people give him with album's of the year and all the Grammy's. His ego is way too big and he isn't Top 5 to me although he is the best producer in the game right now until Dr. Dre drops. #1 producer but not Top 5 rapper.
Beanie Sigel - Good but not good enough. Also too one-dimensional for me to put him Top 5.
Fabolous - To me he is always fire on the mixtapes but weak on commerical releases. Maybe next album he can come hard and be more consistent.
Juelz Santana - Okay this is probably where a lot of people are going to hate but I put this dude Top 5. He comes with a very different yet awesome flow and I feel that his last album was horribly underrated. I can jam that thing all the way through almost and think its one of the best of last year. Maybe its the white dude in me but I think he is sick and he has been killing the mixtapes along with Weezy lately. That new "Blow" tape they did is insane and I can't wait for "I Can't Feel My Face" to drop.
Cam'ron - Good but his last album flopped and wasn't that impressive. Dude is getting too old and Juelz overshadows him.
Jadakiss - Great but not relevant lately. Also his last album didn't impress me much. In general I think D-Block is overrated and needs to step it up a notch.
Styles P - See Jadakiss above.
Cassidy - Might be good on the mixtapes and battles but he can't deliver commerically on an album where it counts. Too much of a myth and not enough to back it up in the stores.
Kurupt - Aight but nothing special. I sort of just listed him for the West Coast people.
Ice Cube - Never was Top 5 and never will be although he is real ass fuck and to me had one of the best rap albums this year, which isn't really saying much so far.
E-40 - Maybe if coming up with unique lingo mattered a lot in this but other than that he's just average.
DMX - I wanted to love his new album so bad. I mean he killed it on the "Touch It Remix" and had me hyped for the album but when I got it I was badly dissappointed. One of my all time fav's but def not Top 5 right now.
Papoose - Sick rapper, killed the "Touch It Remix" as well and kills the mixtapes but needs to drop a commerical album and show his skills there in the marketplace badly. After he drops an album he is a possible Top 5.
Saigon - Same as Papoose, although I think Pap is better.
Common - I know he's really good and all the backpackers/underground fans love him, but I'm a white suburban kid and I find him to be boring and to be Top 5 you cannot be boring, cause then you don't stand out.
Talib Kweli - Same as Common.
Mos Def - Same as Common and Talib.
So there you go. The long analysis is done. I think I provided good points for 'em all but its all opinion when it comes down to it so whatever. Also I don't think much about the order of the Top 5 because to me that is just splitting hairs and once you are Top 5 you are basically just a Top 5 to me but I'll try to rank anyways.
My Top 5:
1. Lil Wayne
3. The Game
5. Juelz Santana