Mental Floss

(4) Beethoven vs. (13) The RZA

Tournament of Genius

(4) Beethoven

We'll yield the floor to the Encyclopedia Britannica on this one: "Widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven dominates a period of musical history as no one else before or since." Despite being famously deaf, Beethoven became the definitive figure in music's transition from the Classical era into more Romantic tendencies. So, yeah, he was pretty good.

(13) The RZA

The Wu-Tang Clan's de facto leader and production guru burst onto the household scene with his eclectic blend of kung fu movie samples and sparse piano loops on the Clan's 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers). After that, his resume is as solid as anyone's in hip-hop: Produced classic Wu solo records like Ghostface Killah's Ironman and Raekwon's masterpiece Only Built 4 Cuban Linx"¦. Provided the original music for Quentin Tarantino's smash Kill Bill. Made a scene-stealing comedic appearance arguing with Bill Murray in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. The man himself said it best: "I be tossin', enforcin' my style is awesome. I'm causin' more Family Feuds than Richard Dawson."

The Breakdown

Beethoven's got the academic prestige, but the RZA has the street cred. Beethoven's got the Ninth Symphony, but the RZA's got Wu-Tang Forever. Beethoven's got a spot in history, but the RZA once wrote a song about shooting Satan. This one's closer than you think.


[See the whole bracket here.]