Currently active Greatest of All Time?

So I’ve had this topic bouncing around in my head for months as an interesting thought experiment. It’s time I shared it with the class.

Mozart. Bach. Michael Jackson. Beethoven. Louie Armstrong. These are just a few names of musicians and composers that can easily come to mind when you imagine the greatest and most influential of all time. The best to ever do it. The ones we read about in the history textbooks. Who are the musicians/bands of today that will be in history books in 2123? Here’s the (ever-growing) list of people still alive as of this post that I think make the cut.

This is in no particular order

  • Yoko Kanno

She’s a musical genius and everyone knows it. She’s penned so many classic themes for anime that she made the cut a long time ago.

  • Hiroyuki Sawano


Sawano is the new age Yoko Kanno in my books. Done some brilliant work for Aldnoah ZERO, Gundam, and Attack on Titan.

  • Nobuo Uematsu

His name will always be synonymous with Final Fantasy and One-Winged Angel, but Uematsu was churning out bangers before and after. The Man With The Machine Gun and The People Fight Further being some songs that loop endlessly in my mind.

  • Aphex Twin (+aliases)


The father of electronic music, as far as I’m concerned. This man is also a certified genius. Disappeared for over a decade after he dropped an album so complex it took fans just that long to catch up, and then continues to drop heat without missing a step. All of his aliases are fire too - my favorite of them being The Tuss, and Rushup Edge being one of my favorite EPs of all time.

  • Shiina Ringo

Absolutely massive career spanning so many genres it would make your head swirl. KZK forever the GOAT, but her first three albums are what usually gets the most praise concerning the solo career. Tokyo Jihen is successful too, no doubt due to her being the face.

  • Dir en grey


Love em or hate em, ya can’t go two feet without hearing about them, so they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. They’ll be the perfect example of a band spanning multiple styles and genres without restriction.

  • Yoshiki

The father of visual kei, along with DYNAMITE TOMMY, and one of the last true entertainment personalities left in visual kei. Probably one of the oldest still active musicians in the scene too, so his run is equally as impressive. X JAPAN already left their mark long ago and we’re still talking about them, even if we did get blue-balled with the album. Now that we have The Last Rockstars, we know he’s not done yet.

  • The Alchemist


This man creates the most fire beats in hip hop. Constantly innovative and prolific. He’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper and producer.

  • Marty O’Donnell

Hum in Halo theme

  • Bathory

To pioneer one genre of metal is a great feat. To create two? That’s incredible. To do it largely as a one-man band? Well, that’s just Bathory. Hail Quorthon!

Y’all got any more?


The Alchemist is a weird choice for a GOAT in hip-hop when RZA, Dre and Premier are still alive. Heck, I even have Ye over him. I think there is a difference between having just fire beats and being able change/influence the soundscape of a genre.


I don’t really like Ye. His music never resonated with me even before he went off the deep end. He’ll be talked about in a century I’m sure, but under what context is what’s up for debate.

Also my list wasn’t exhaustive. I ran outta time. Feel free to add some more!

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There was a massive tournament to name the GOAT in 3 categories in Hip-Hop: Rapper, Producer and Group. Similar to what is going on the community channel recently but was open publicly.

Found it after some research looking back:

  1. Eminem crowned GOAT rapper:

I personally don’t mind this result but there was lot push back from this result. Off the top of my head since there were fantastic breakdowns and arguments: “Can’t have a white-guy take top spot”, “He doesn’t have a classic album”, “He only led the votes since he is popular with the masses”, “He isn’t really hip-hop”. Some of the arguments held but some don’t for obvious reasons.

I would have preferred Rakim to be crowned GOAT but I don’t mind this selection as the same arguments I would apply to Ra (Influence, revolutionize rap skills, great discography) would also apply to Em but Em did it on a much larger and visible scale to push hip-hop forward.

  1. DJ Premier crowned GOAT producer:

My man beat our Pete Rock, RZA and Dilla.

“Preemo won all of his four previous challenges by at least 65%, while Dilla Dog bested Dr. Dre by a margin of just less than 10% before arriving in the championship.” DJ Premier won his bout with DiIlla 63-37

Dilla beating out Dre, Madlib, Q-Tip and DOOM. RZA beating out Alchemist and Havoc. Lots of those guys still alive, RIP DOOM.

I think this was a deserving title. His style is easily recognizable and banging.

The one thing I think make Premier production so good is how it makes the rappers actually want to shine. Easily one of the most sought after producers and I rarely hear the rappers sound terrible on a Premier beat.

RZA is my GOAT personally due the next category below but Premier is up there.

  1. Wu-Tang Clan crowned GOAT group:

I will fight anybody that says otherwise.

Yes ATCQ and Outkast are some all time greats but this damn group spawned so many artists that brought on so many classic albums and had a style that just cannot be replicated. You will get groups like ATCQ and Outkast in modern day hip-hop but I don’t think we will ever get a group like the Wu-Tang Clan ever again. Four to five out of the 9 members are all time greats on their own artistically.

Which kinda brings me to the next category that I think should have been made back then but wasn’t:

  1. GOAT hip-hop artist

This is not just rap and producing separately like the other categories above but having the ability to do both masterfully and anything else that warrants artistry.

To me this would have been easily been an MF DOOM award if he were still alive. However, since we want someone active, I have Ye, Oddisee, Roc Marciano, Brownsville Ka, Havoc, Q-Tip, Prince Paul, Inspectah Deck as candidates

I lean hard to Ye winning this one. I am not the biggest fan of his music overall. I still love his earlier works but not much the weirder ones even though I get what kind of sounds he was going for. His influence in the soundscape is easily recognizable in modern day hip-hop and his style of lyricism drew ire early in his career but is now one of the most used styles in hip-hop.

K I am done on hip-hop. I am hoping to see what everybody else has on other genres


Paul McCartney is an easy answer, still one of the best bass players to have ever done it. David Sylvian of Japan too, Kate Bush, Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music. For DIY rock and indie rock as a whole, I’m gonna say Martin Newell as well (Cleaners from Venus). He’s a one man solo project who’s been doing it forever practically, still sounds the same as he did when he was young. Bjork is a genius in her own right as well, weird art-pop music owes a lot to her and Kate Bush. Brian Eno too! There’s just so many great people still alive.


Queen of plagiarism too (click the video, it’s a playlist)


yah love me some yoko kanno but even my friend who worked with her was just like “oh yeah, she stole tons, would search for obscure stuff too to steal.”
that kind of stuff makes me just view her as a good producer not as some GOAT.

For hip hop Dre and Eminem come to mind.
For rock and pop music it is all kind of obvious, tons of the legends are still kicking it.
Sadly we could have more people pushed up to that level if they were pushed up by the machine
but we got geniuses like Rosalie Cunningham out here making amazing art but some industry plant bands/artists or some producers that steal stuff gets the moneyz~


I might argue that Korn and BMTH are the GOAT for 2 completely opposite reasons. I found myself enjoying Path of Totality and I’ve become a full on Korn fan again since Serenity of Suffering. You’ve might argue that they’ve been playing the same kind of music fof 30 years but if you listen to their recent albums (especially since the return of Head) there’s alot of a modern influence. The Nothing is one of the best albums that came out from the legacy bands recently (Requiem is third Not as good as Serenity of Suffering. but not as Forgettable as The Paradigm Shift imo) kinda mind blowing how one of the inventors of nu-metal manage to keep their sound fresh for almost 3 decades.

BMTH on the other hand is completely different. they always reinvent themselves and one of the good examples of “Selling Out” (Looking at you Asking Alexandria) they’re the definition of making music for fun and wanted to avoid being stale. I mean listen to Suicide Seasons and then go to Sempiternal… and amo and PostHuman there’s alot of place for new fans to start with BMTH and is still going to listen to their other albums. because they essentially still sounds the same but not that much. (get it?)


Hmmmmm… let’s seeeee…. alright, I’ve got some thoughts!

My personal choices for currently active greats:

  • The greatest overall musician: Prince. Dude mastered every instrument he played, had the showmanship of a supernatural being, covered a dozen musical styles with seeming ease, wrote several albums a year just for the art of it… just the greatest that ever did it, as far as I’m concerned. Not active, obviously, but had to give him a shoutout.

  • Favorite female artist: Bjork. I’ve been infected with the Bjork virus since high school and tried to convert those closest to me to seeing the light. Sometimes it worked, a lot of times it didn’t lol. But “Homogenic” alone, let alone her first four full lengths in general, are just untouchable in their brilliance. Add to the fact her mesmerizing live shows and innovative music videos. One of the most creative minds in popular music of the last 30 years, I’d say.

  • Mike Patton. When I first got into avant-garde music as a high schooler, Mike Patton was the jumping point with Mr. Bungle. The thing is that Mike is very… very eclectic as an artist, so much so that there’s probably half of his stuff that is too out there even for me. But as a pure artist, he’s practically unmatched. FNM and Bungle for me, pretty much.


  • Nas. The greatest emcee to ever do it. Unparalleled storytelling, a timeless flow, some of the greatest beats to be spat on ever (fuck what the naysayers think with the beats). All I’ve gotta say is “Illmatic”.

  • Eminem. While his material over the last decade or so has been material for mockery (“tHat’S AN awfuLLy HOT COffee pOt”), there is literally no denying that his first three commercial full lengths were monumental in not just rap, but in the pop consensus. This impact could’ve been felt in particular to those who were there when it occurred, primarily in the growing up stages like me. And it goes sooo far beyond the bullshit “white guy” theory on why he’s so important. He bared his soul and spoke candidly about what was on his mind in the way that mainstream rap never heard before, mixed in with a bit of charming juvenile pitch-black humor for contrast. One of those few artists in rap that I really don’t see any problem with being called a “rap god”.

  • The Cure. Very few bands ever had the brazen creative edge that The Cure had during their golden years which lasted decades. Quite literally all of their albums are distinctly different from each other, and their stuff in the mid 80s anticipated alternative rock to a tee. The Cure are one of those bands who had the balls to be giddy and poppy one second, and soul agonizingly crushing the next, and shined at every second.


  • SOPHIA. Speaking of balls, SOPHIA, arguably speaking, had some of the biggest balls in mainstream visual kei. With each member having a history in traditional gloomy goth visual kei, SOPHIA was more-or-less a throw caution to the wind kinda approach that showed the band dressed up in bright colors and causal clothing several years before it was in vogue. And musically, their music started as bright as their image, before abruptly changing their sound to a lo-fi, art rock kinda one at the peak of their commercial success, risking total commercial suicide, with the outcome working very well for them. Essentially a band of great risk and great reward.

  • Cardiacs. The most recent discovery I made, the impact Cardiacs have had on me musically and artistically speaking is one that I haven’t had since my high school days. The guys moved to the beat of their own drum for their entire duration, regularly facing ridicule and scathing criticism from the majority. Years later though, thankfully, people started to be able to see through the madness that was Cardiacs and at the very least appreciated what they’ve done. Honestly, the main brains of Cardiacs, Tim Smith (RIP hard), is one of the most unsung musical geniuses in modern music history. Another name that’s not active anymore, but had to name drop them because they are so woefully underrated and obscure by the majority.

  • Melt-Banana. The style of Japanese noise pioneers Melt-Banana have been described as many things. Grindcore, hardcore, noise, avant-garde, but I personally have always regarded them as a noise punk band. Indeed, Melt-Banana are one of the oddest yet most beloved bands to emerge from the underground Japanese noise scene, regularly touring the world, a feat that most Japanese artists still do not do. Between frontwoman Yakko’s cartoony high pitch squeaky vocals and madman guitarist Agata’s unorthodox crazy shredding, there’s enough insanity to satisfy the world round.

  • Twiztid. Stuck in the shadow of ICP for the first 16 years or so of their existence, more eyes have been on Twiztid now than ever as an independent act, which makes me as a long time fan happy and proud to see. Underneath the makeup and horror themes some may find a bit not to their taste lie some of the most underrated emcees in underground rap, especially one-half of the group Jamie Madrox. Since beginning their own thing, Twiztid’s old work has also thankfully been reevaluated by many and hailed as underground masterpieces, more specifically their street-oriented magnum opus 1997 debut “Mostasteless”.


  • The Birthday Massacre. One of the all time great goth bands that formed within the last 25 years, TBM had a gold streak that lasted over a decade, whimsically combining dreaminess and uneasiness, with a strong euphoric punch. I’ve been a huge fan since I was 12 and they’ve been just rising in popularity since, which makes me proud as a somewhat old school fan. I will admit that they kinda hit a creative block for a few years, as it’s a remarkable feat in itself for a band to constantly be around and in a golden period for a decade. They seem back on their feet now though, with their latest being one of their best in several years I’d say. Definitely one of the most solid relatively straightforward active bands on here.


  • cali≠gari. If you see a theme of quirky artists making the list, that was not intentional lol. cali≠gari are what I call the godfathers of experimental VK, doing this officially since all the way back in 1993. It took them years to develop a following, but when it happened, the guys were all the rage by the new millennium for their noisy, radical sound. They were one of my first ever VK bands, and being that it coincided with my seeking of out there music, they immediately resonated with the growing art nerd within me. Today, 30 years later after their official creation, cali≠gari continue to be arguably the most cutting edge band in VK, regularly flirting with the unexpected and kicking conceived norms within the scene square in the teeth.

  • DIR EN GREY. Yup… gotta put in the obvious. Even though their last few albums don’t really do it for me, there’s no denying the absolute solid gold they released on a pretty regular basis for 15 years straight or so.

  • LUNA SEA. I mean… it’s motherfuckin LUNA SEA.

  • GLAY. For a band that’s been around since 1988 when they were high schoolers, that’s one point in their favor. Add in that they created some of the most iconic music in Japanese history and still manage to hit it out the park once in a while a decade past their supposed heyday? You’ve got yourself a rarity in the name of GLAY. Long live GLAY. I hope they perform “Glorious” up until their 90s.

  • L’arc-en-Ciel. One of the biggest visual kei breakthrough success stories of all time in the vein of GLAY and LUNA SEA, L’arc separated themselves from the competition with a constant barrage of well crafted atmospheric alternative rock with strong pop tinges, later blending the two elements together so strongly they became one. Their accomplishments inside the music industry as an international whole is remarkable, including their stint where the sold out Madison Square Garden back in 2012. While they don’t really drop a lot of new music these days, when they do, there’s always a strong chance that it’ll be a kicker. Quality over quantity, I suppose.

  • Mr.Children. Put it simply, with all the list of accomplishments they’ve done since their formation, let alone their incredibly inspiring backstory when they were struggling musicians, all of that makes Misuchiru more than qualified to be on a greatest active list. But also their music, which is a gorgeous and often scenic take on the much loved pop rock sound, is still as fresh as it was way back when the mania surrounding them started big time in 1994. There’s a reason why Mr.Children have been regarded as one of the leading Japanese rock bands for the past near 30 years counting.

  • Ulfuls (ウルフルズ). I remember first finding out about these guys shortly around the time I first discovered visual kei (two completely different worlds lol), and being blown away by their bombastic energy and especially the vocals of frontman Tortoise Matsumoto. Ulfuls wear their influences on their sleeves, strongly influenced by soul music from the 60s (their name actually originates from a bastardized romanization of the word “soulful”), while giving it an alternative rock twist. Sprinkle in a quirky sense of humor and the end result is an absolute delight that is all their own.

  • NEW ROTE’KA (ニューロティカ). Speaking of a band with a great sense of humor, NEW ROTE’KA is a band I also discovered around the same time as Ulfuls, except while I really liked Ulfuls, I adored NEW ROTE’KA and their insanely catchy style of punk that has concocted some of the greatest tracks in the country’s genre. NEW ROTE’KA have the distinction of being one of, if not the, most hard working punk bands in Japan, only taking a 3 year break in the mid 90s during their 39 year run, which was really just a slight rebranding with a sound change and the singer didn’t rock clown makeup. But yeah, I’ll always adore them, and I really hope to see them live someday. After all, there aren’t too many Japanese bands I have a beanie of! Actually… I don’t own any beanies from a Japanese band besides NEW ROTE’KA. More Japanese bands should make beanies, damnit.

  • Bad Brains. Hands down the best hardcore band ever, Bad Brains is and has been since practically their inception been in a league of their own. Frontman HR’s early antics while performing on stage is a thing of lore, and you can look them up back in the day to see for yourself and be wowed by the ultimate punk frontman. While it’s debatable if Bad Brains are still around (HR is a goddamn nutcase, and guitarist Dr. Know has some medical problems), they haven’t ruled out any future activities, so I’ll put them on here too.


  • The Residents. The true gods of avant-garde music, The Residents have been constantly releasing music since the early 70s and have been active overall since 1969, making them one of the longest running bands I know of. Their usage of effect manipulation dates back to the early 70s, with one of the earliest examples being the delightfully bizarre cover for their debut “Meet The Residents”, which parodies one of the biggest bands ever. Offering a sound that has literally crossed into every border of music at some point, The Residents are a long-running curiosity project that seeks innovation, and even after all this time, they always seem to strike an untouched nerve.

…. Sorry, went on a bit of a tangent lol. But yeah, these are some names I’d put on the “greatest” list.


Paradigm Shift holds a special place in my heart because it was first new album they dropped since I became a fan around the time The Path of Totality came out. Korn occupy very interesting space both musically and in terms of their legacy.
I would point out Slipknot as one of the GOAT because they still keep to be popular. But I think in the long run Korn won especially for me

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electronic - pet shop boys
rock - the rolling stones
punk - green day
hip-hop - the roots
rap - jay-z
r b - alicia keyes
pop - bruno mars
blues - bob dylan
g- funk - g-unit
progressive - kendrick lamar
folk - wilco
country - kris kristofferson
indie - yo la tengo
jazz - angles 9
avant garde - king crimson
baroque - the beach boys
gloom/goth- tsol

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