Thank you to all that entered! Here is the winning post:

I’m sorry I can’t pick one. I have to say, out of all of them I have to say these acts had a big influence on me: Nas, Common, The Roots, Ice Cube, and Tech N9ne. And I’ll break them down.

Nas — Illmatic was pretty much like Rakim on steroids. It was listening to Paid In Full 4.0 at the time. Hearing his effortless flow on “The World Is Yours”, “Half Time”, and “Represent” was enough to seal the deal with me. I learned how important it is to be smooth with content on the mic.

Common — He acted a fool on “Can I Borrow A Dollar” which I loved. But when Ressurection dropped, I heard a lyricist who was digging deep down in his subject matter. Not only clever with comedic wordplay but also had a knack for painting a picture of pain. And soon, developing into a well-rounded artist.

The Roots — It was unheard of at the time to hear a live band do hip hop when they dropped. The video for “Disortion To Static” screwed with my head that I had to rewind it a few times on BET to even catch it was a band. They’ve shown one of the most important things in hip hop that go beyond just the beat and lyrics is something that gives you longevity. And thats constantly being creative. Which they’ve done over and over.

Ice Cube — “Steady Mobbin’” and “No Vaseline” off of “Death Ceritificate” were two songs you’d constantly hear me play in my sister’s car when we’d drive around. Something about Cube story-telling and aggressive approach to rhyming always caught my ear in that era. He was onpoint in NWA, but as soon as “Who’s The Mack?” dropped, you can’t tell me he was on his way to changing the game.

Tech N9ne — The one artist who should’ve blown up a while ago with connections to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Why didn’t he do it when he dropped a track on the Gang Related soundtrack? I’ll never know. One thing I can say, I remember listening to “Anghellic” like crazy and seeing some of his work in the studio on DVD. As an emcee, he has some of the best techniques recording wise I’ve ever seen. And his constantly switches his style and spits some ill lyrics. Completely slept on all around.