Does A 5-Mic Rating Matter Anymore?
To this day, I still remember reading Shortie‘s (known today as Miss Info) 5-mic review of Nas‘ Illmatic in The Source and being totally satisfied when I finally heard the classic album. She was right—it was that damn good. Ice Cube‘s Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Outkast‘s Aquemini, A Tribe Called Quest‘s The Low End Theory, Brand Nubian‘s One For All, De La Soul‘s De La Soul Is Dead and Jay-Z‘s The Blueprint were all albums which deserved the much lauded rating. But ever since Lil Kim received 5-mics for the (in my humblest of humble opinions) craptastic The Naked Truth, the 5-mics have lost their luster.
Bun B received the classic rating from The Source for his recently released Trill OG and while I’m happy to see Bun being recognized by the magazine, the rating seems symbolic more than anything else. Is Trill OG a really good Bun B album? Absolutely. But I also thought II Trill and Trill were both just as good—if not better—than Trill OG. To me, it feels like the 5-mics were more of a lifetime achievement award rather than a recognition of a particular piece of work. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Scarface‘s The Fix received a 5-mic rating even though The Diary was considered a superior work. It seems the magazine was making up for its mistakes and recognizing Scarface’s significance to hip-hop when nobody else was really doing it.
Bun B will always be one of the most underappreciated emcees of all time, so it is good to see him finally being recognized for his talent. However, I’m not too sure the 5-mics are the way to go. The rating has already been diluted thanks to Dave Mays and Benzino allowing Lil Kim (who shouldn’t be allowed to think about holding 5-mics) to get the classic rating.
No other hip-hop publication has had a rating system as recognized as The Source‘s 5 mics. XXL‘s rating doesn’t come close. But with the state of music today and the fact the magazine has fallen from grace since the Benzino era, 5-mics just don’t have the same impact anymore. As a matter of fact, it may be the magazine’s desperate reach for relevancy again by recognizing an artist who should have been praised long ago.
This shouldn’t change how anybody feels about Bun B and Trill OG. I consider it this his “Denzel Washington Moment.” Training Day was far from Mr. Washington’s best work, but the fact he won an Oscar for the film should still be applauded. It was historic but we all know he should have won the award for his amazing performance in Malcolm X or The Hurricane. We’ll still celebrate the accomplishment and know exactly what it is—long overdue.