3. Special Ed
Age of Debut: 15
“No, I’m not a God, but my word is bond/I got the knowledge, wisdom, understanding…mess with me, I break your hand, stop your heart, take your breath with the diagnose of death/Remove your brain from your skull, make ya dumb, make ya dull/Sew you up and cut your hair, put you in a science fair/Tell ‘em that your name is John/Make you a phenomenon/ Freak of nature, make em hate ya, not a girl will ever date ya.” (“The Bush,” 1989)
Skill Set: Besides his pretty boy looks, there was nothing cute about Special Ed’s nasty rhyme prowess. The assertive West Indian MC seemed wise beyond his years on his 1989 Youngest In Charge debut. Ed’s witty wordplay (what other 15-year-old would boast ridiculous lines like, “Gotta treaty with Tahiti, cuz I own a percent”?). Even fellow Brooklyn lyricist Jay-Z had to give it up to the criminally underrated rapper on his 2009 Big Apple anthem “Empire State of Mind”: “I gotta plug Special Ed, ‘I got it made.” Respect.
2. MC Lyte
Age of Debut: 16
Youngest In Charge Verse: “You shoulda won applause as a Rakim sound-alike/Here’s a Milkbone, a sign of recognition/Don’t turn away, I think you should listen close/Don’t boast, you said you wasn’t braggin’/You fuckin liar, you’re chasing a chuckwagon.” (“10% Diss,” 1988)
Skill Set: Long before Lyte was crowned the greatest female MC of all-time, in 1986 she was an unknown, cocky little girl from Brooklyn with enough balls to crash the older male dominated hip hop club. Back then, points were not given for simply being just good enough for a female rapper. So, MC Lyte made it her business to show and prove. Her sneering rap battle with rival rapper Antoinette has become the proverbial stuff of legend. But it was her landmark introduction Lyte As A Rock (1988) to rap fans on tracks like “Paper Thin” that made it known her skills were no mere child’s play.