Kool Moe Dee
By: Douglas Wolk | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Hip Hop, Music


Pity Mohandas Dewese, d/b/a KOOL MOE DEE (born 1962): briefly one of the most popular rappers alive, he’s now mostly remembered for a feud with LL Cool J that the market effectively decided in LL’s favor. (The old-schooler with the wraparound shades got in the best blow, though: the pugnacious B-side “Let’s Go,” in which he subjects Mr. Smith to a torrent of alliterative abuse, ending “laborious louse on the loser’s list/live in limbo, lyrical lapse/low-life with the loud raps.” Whoa.) KMD was maybe the most technically impressive of the first wave of recorded MCs — check out his breath-defying verses on the Treacherous Three’s “New Rap Language” — but his blunt, declamatory party-rocking started to sound like a throwback around the time his career peaked. His 2003 book, There’s a God on the Mic, is a fascinatingly pedantic, wonky breakdown of his favorite MCs, evaluated in 17 categories and ranked. He lists himself as #5 — modestly, but not too modestly — and LL Cool J as #7.


HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc as HiLo Hero | Gil Scott-Heron as HiLo Hero | Slick Rick as HiLo Hero | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels as HiLo Hero | Afrika Bambaataa as HiLo Hero | Biz Markie as HiLo Hero | Eric B as HiLo Hero (forthcoming in November) | U-God as HiLo Hero | Slug as HiLo Hero | Adam Yauch as HiLo Hero | Ghostface Killah as HiLo Hero | DJ Run as HiLo Hero | Flavor Flav as HiLo Hero | Scott La Rock as HiLo Hero | GZA as HiLo Hero | Schoolly D as HiLo Hero | Aesop Rock as HiLo Hero | Notorious B.I.G. as HiLo Hero | Melle Mel as HiLo Hero | Rick Rubin as HiLo Hero | Rakim as HiLo Hero | Ol’ Dirty Bastard as HiLo Hero | Madlib as HiLo Hero | Talib Kweli as HiLo Hero | Danger Mouse as HiLo Hero | Kool Moe Dee as HiLo Hero | Chuck D as HiLo Hero | Dizzee Rascal as HiLo Hero | RZA as HiLo Hero | Cee-Lo Green as HiLo Hero | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Ronnie Biggs

READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–63).



Douglas Wolk, author of Reading Comics and Live at the Apollo, is an arts critic and comics writer in Portland, Oregon. His new book is Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two, with artist Ulises Farinas. Twitter: @douglaswolk