1990’s Hip-Hop/Rap Tournament: The Finals

Fittingly for a tournament that was almost entirely chalk for the first few rounds before going absolutely bugshit in the Round of 8, our Final Four kept the weirdness going with the loss of heavy tournament favorite Wu-Tang Clan.

Outkast 25, Wu-Tang Clan 15

Beastie Boys 20, Missy Elliott 18

Wu’s loss here means that all four of this tournament’s 1-seeds have now been sent home, leaving two 2-seeds to battle it out in the finals. It’s an interesting match-up. Both groups released three proper albums during the decade. Both had their greatest commercial success outside of the decade (Licensed to Ill for the Beasties in 1986, Speakerboxx/The Love Below for ‘Kast in 2003), as well as their greatest critical success (1989’s Paul’s Boutique, 2000’s Stankonia*). Both groups augmented their core membership with a host of critical collaborators (Rick Rubin, The Dust Brothers, and Money Mark among others for the Beastie Boys, while Organized Noise, The Dungeon Family, and MR DJ are all integral to Outkast’s story).

*These days, Aquemeni is probably the consensus pick as Outkast’s masterpiece, but Stankonia represents the moment when mainstream critics really got wise to the fact that there were geniuses at work here. Or something like that. I’m going for narratives here, people!

Alright, so there you have it. The Finals. It’s all been leading to this…


How they got here: defeated Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, MF DOOM, Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, and Wu-Tang Clan.

90’s Work: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994), ATLiens (1996), Aquemini (1998). Special mention to 1997’s “In Due Time”, a non-LP single that came out on the Soul Food soundtrack.

Beastie Boys

How they got here: defeated Goodie Mob, Fugees, Salt-N-Pepa, A Tribe Called Quest, and Missy Elliott.

90’s Work: Check Your Head (1992), Ill Communication (1994), Hello Nasty (1998), plus a handful of EPs and non -album singles.

Finals close 12/8 at 8pm ET.