The Top Ten Rap Artists of the Decade

By: Akim Hudson

Disclaimer: The term “best” is subjective, so if you disagree with the list, it is completely expected and justified. Also, the list is in no order and has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with influence on the culture of hip-hop. 

  1. Drake

    drake-euphoria-premiere-2019-billboard-1548.jpg
    PC:Billboard
  • In 2009, Drake made everyone aware that he wasn’t emerging, but he was here. His critically acclaimed mixtape, So Far Gone, was the beginning of Drake’s mainstream career. After the release of that mixtape, there was no looking back for Drizzy. Throughout this decade he released an array of albums that all have went platinum within days upon its release. Drake exudes an aura much greater than being a rapper, in fact, he was one of the originators of the era of rap singing. Drake is a true hybrid and became a household name, his fame and notoriety are ubiquitous, and is clearly a top ten rapper of this decade.  

Notable Discography: Take Care (2011, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album of the Year), Nothing Was The Same (2013, Grammy Nominated), If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album of the Year).  

  1. Kendrick Lamar 

    kendrick lamar
    PC:Forbes
  • The one and only King Kendrick, Kung-Fu Kenny, a true wordsmith whose pen is unmatched by many rappers,not just of his era, but all time. In 2011, Lamar released the mixtape, Section.80. with tracks that indicated the motifs of the rest of his discography up to date. Lamar, with Aftermath Records by Dr. Dre released his debut album, good kid m.A.A.d city. With tracks like “Sing About Me”, “I’m Dying of Thirst” that detailed the multifaceted institutionalization of Black people within the United States. It was an instant classic that consists of little to no skips, each track potent in great diction, multiple perspectives, subjectivity, and vulnerability. In 2015, Lamar went on to drop To Pimp A Butterfly. This is my personal favorite K. Dot album. He described it as an album to lift the black artists and not the whack artist. TPAB was one of the more intricate albums of its time, along with each track is snippets of a poem that Lamar wrote, that concludes after the final track “Mortal Man”, in which he had a discourse about revolution and reform, Marxism-like reflections on socioeconomics with the late great Tupac Shakur. His last release came in 2017, the Pulitzer Prize winning album, DAMN. Not much to say about this masterpiece. A detailed introspection of oneself again, an insightful elaboration about the trauma of blacks in the United States, and so forth. Lamar is amongst the most respected in hip-hop history and has many years of dominance left in the tank.  
  • Notable Discography: good kid m.A.A.d city  (2011, Grammy Nominated for Rap Album of the Year, Grammy Nominated for Album of the Year), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album), DAMN. (2017, Pulitzer Prize winner, Grammy Award for Best Rap Album).  
  1. J. Cole

    01-j-cole-feb-2018-billboard-1548
    PC: Billboard
  • The one and only Jermaine Cole, perhaps the most vulnerable, versatile, and one of two skilled rappers of his era, yet criminally underrated. To be honest, although he is my favorite rapper out now. Cole starts the decade with Cole World: The Sideline Story in 2011. Ambition was the main theme of this album, and the audience can feel the young bright-eyed ambition of Cole on the majority of tracks on this album. By 2013, Cole released my favorite, Born Sinner which was really Cole’s coming out party. That chip on his shoulder grew bigger, Cole was ready to wage war with the legends with this release. Cole and Lamar’s comparisons were one of the biggest enigmas of the decade to me. They go hand and hand, but Lamar only had more accolade than Cole. The amazing feature that Cole accomplished this decade, was three consecutive platinum selling albums with no features, but he had nothing to show for this amazing feat. Cole was snubbed every year from winning a Grammy. He has a chance to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album with his collaboration album, Revenge Of The Dreamers III. Cole is amongst the best rappers of the decade due to his ability to do everything your favorite rapper can do, but just a bit better.  

Notable Discography: Born Sinner(2013), 2014 Forest Hills Drive(2014), 4 Your Eyez Only (2016), KOD(2018).  

  1. Meek Mill

    171110135413-meek-mill-large-169
    PC:CNN
  • King of Philly, Meek Milly. More than likely faced the most adversity than any other rapper this decade, but that isn’t why he is amongst the top ten. Meek Mill is from humble beginnings, but always divulges “f*ck being humble”, due to how everyone turned their back on him during his times of somber and melancholy. In 2011, Meek Mill lands a hit single “I’m A Boss” featuring his record label owner, Rick Ross. Along with “I’m A Boss”, drops Dreamchasers, one of four fan favorite mixtapes which gave hip-hop fans the nostalgia of gangsta rap from the 90’s and 2000’s. Then fans got a double whammy, Dreamchasers 2 and “Dreams and Nightmares” both released within 2012. The intro to “Dreams and Nightmares” is still Meek’s anthem and perhaps song of the decade. Meek’s legal issues is the highlight of his career, going in and out of jail frequently throughout the decade, each time dropping quality music upon his release. The most notable album upon his release was Championships, the 2018 release has been revered by the masses as his best album, hence why it is Grammy nominated. Since Meek’s release he has become the poster child for prison reform and unjust incarceration. Meek is on a roll still and has shown no signs of slowing down. We all love an underdog, and hope Meek can continue to stay on track.

Notable Discography: DC4 (2016), Dreamchasers(2011), Dreamchasers 2(2012), Dreamchasers 3(2014), Dreams and Nightmares(2012), Dreams Worth More Than Money(2015), Wins and Losses(2017), Championships(2018) 

  1. Nicki Minaj
    nicki-minaj-mg-2019-vu-billboard-1548
    PC: Billboard
  • The Barbie herself, perhaps the most dominant female figure in hip-hop history. Minaj came to fame under Young Money by Lil Wayne. Her debut, Pink Friday won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, on her debut she earned a Grammy, impressive for anyone, but since there hasn’t been a woman in hip-hop history to accomplish such a feat adds on to the magnitude of the highest merit in music. Her album sales are the highest of any female in hip-hop history as well, 100 million units overall. Some may believe she is the greatest female emcee, I beg to differ, I say MC Lyte, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. The Barbie started a wave that produced talents such as Cardi B, who now has the torch.  

Notable Discography: Pink Friday, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Pinkprint.  

  1. Future

    Future
    PC:Pitchfork
  • Hendrix, the father of all mumble rapping, Percocet popping, lean sipping, dread headed trap rappers. Only thing I need to discuss in Future’s decade, was his undefeated run, lasting from 2014-2018. Look at the discography in that span, Honest (2014), Monster (2015), 56 Nights (2015), Beast Mode( 2015), Dirty Sprite 2 (2015), What A Time To Be Alive (2015), Purple Reign (2016),  Evol (2016), FUTURE (2017), HENDRXX (2017). This sort of eminence speaks for itself.  
  1. Chief Keef
    170127-chief-keef-mn-1215_37682896f5e99cdb48fce75398b2c9d9.fit-760w.jpg
    PC: NBC News 
  • Chief Sosa, The Godfather of drill music. Straight out of Chicago, Keef birthed a new genre of hip hop. On the surface, the subject matter may be the same as the typical gangsta rap, but this was more of a gang banging type of rap. a Rap derived from the gang culture within Southside Chicago. 2012 Keef blew up and took the rap game by storm. He opened the door for G Herbo, Lil Durk, Lil Bibby, Lil Reese, and other Chicago rappers of the modern day. 

Notable Discography: Finally Rich(2012) 

     8. Lil Uzi Vert

iHeartRadio Music Festival, Daytime Village, Las Vegas, USA - 22 Sep 2018
PC: Rolling Stone 
  • There wasn’t anywhere you can go in the summer of 2016 where you didn’t hear Uzi knocking from someone’s speaker. Luv is Rage had everyone in a frenzy, his melodic flow of music is irresistible to dance and vibe to. The magnitude of Uzi’s star power was utterly ridiculous. When he was going through label issues, millions of people were in anticipation of a “Free Uzi”. Anytime he released a new song the masses would be enthralled just from his presence alone. I consider Uzi to be a predecessor to Future and Young Thug. 2020 should be a good year for Uzi, gaining momentum from his latest release “Futsal Shuffle 2020”.  

Notable Discography: Luv Is Rage, Luv Is Rage 2, Uzi vs. The World, The Perfect Luv Tape 

  1. Kanye West 
    kanye-west-nov-7-2019-g-billboard-1548
    PC: Billboard
  • Yeezy is a top five producer ever, and one of the greatest musical geniuses ever. To kick the decade off, Ye dropped My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, arguably album of the decade. Literally with no skips, great production, lyrics and subject matter. Yeezy himself may not have directly dominated the 2010’s, but his eminence did. He influenced every facet of hip-hop from production and auto-tune, to fashion and subject matter. Not to mention that he released The Life of Pablo, Watch The Throne, Cruel Summer, Ye, and produced many hits this decade. I didn’t like Yeezus, but it has been believed to be one of his better albums. Ye will continue his legendary career in the next decade.

Notable Discography: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), Yeezus (2013), The Life of Pablo (2016), Jesus Is King (2019).  

  1. Tyler, The Creator

    Tyler, the Creator-GettyImages-1054565656
    PC:Pitchfork
  • Tyler, The  He bolstered emo rap into the mainstream audience early on in his career, bringing a no holds barred style of authenticity. His subject matter was matched by no other and was fairly controversial at one point in his career. In his debut album, Goblin in 2011 detailing the dark introspective thoughts of Tyler. He was rather explosive and quarrelsome, with his“horror core” style of music. But he would evolve into a vulnerable and romantic type. His two latest releases, Flower Boy and IGOR, depicted the growth of Tyler, and IGOR is Grammy nominated. His musical genius is only expanding and gaining fortitude and versatility. He created Odd Future, and empire that fell apart but in its prime was in a class of their own and have been dubbed the modern-day Wu-Tang. Tyler is still very young and will continue to drop classics.  

Notable Discography: Goblin (2011), Wolf (2013), Cherry Bomb (2015), Flower Boy (2017), IGOR (2019).  

 

Honorable Mention: A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Young Thug, 21 Savage, Pusha T, Jay-Z, Chance The Rapper, Migos (disqualifies because they are a group), Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Kodak Black, Freddie Gibbs, A Boogie, Tory Lanez.  

 

Album review: Drake’s “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”

By Sean Lynch

[Image courtesy of rollingstone.com]

Drake turned the entire rap world on its head when he surprised everyone with the release of his new mixtape  If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Many fans were expecting Drake’s planned album Views From The 6, but were stunned when they found that If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late  had dropped on iTunes Thursday instead.

Twitter users were sent into a frenzy when they realized he had dropped If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Drake was trending on Twitter through the hashtag #IfYoureReadingThisItsTooLate, and the mixtape made waves over social media. Drake had originally dropped the album on iTunes, but it quickly carried over to OVO’s Soundcloud. As of today the album is only available on iTunes as it was pulled from OVO’s Soundcloud.

Continue reading “Album review: Drake’s “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late””

Review: Kid Ink’s Full Speed

By Sean Lynch 

[Image courtesy of albumjams.com]

Kid Ink has come back in full force after the release of his second studio album My Own Lane. After My Own Lane came out to rave reviews, Ink looked to continuing his success through the release of Full Speed, and is continuing his transition from Rap to a R&B/Dance Rap style. The album is charged with animated beats and energy unmatched by few other albums.

The album is stacked with a ton of featured artists including R.Kelly, Migos, Trey Songz and Chris Brown. Ink built up his reputation with his last album so he utilized it by building this star-studded ensemble for Full Speed. This strong supporting ensemble helps out Ink by making the album stronger than it actually is because without the help, the album would not be the same.

”What it Feels Like” is an energetic and vibrant song that thrives on blaring trumpets and the drum machine in its background beat. For a track without any featured artists, Ink includes some of his better vocals on the track because it is not auto-tuned and it shows off his natural voice.

“Body Language” is another song that is animated through its beat. Ink has some of his better lyrics on this album, and it shows in this song. Usher actually takes over most of the singing duties in “Body Language” and does a great job keeping the energy going. Other songs that are worth a listen include “Dolo,” “Hotel” and “Every City We Go”. “Hotel” is definitely made better with the use of Chris Brown. Coming off a Grammy nomination for best R&B song for “New Flame”, Brown shows why he is going to continue his success in 2015 with his soft but powerful vocals leading “Hotel” forward.

Full Speed is a very dance oriented album. The bouncy beats and catchy hooks will keep you dancing all day. Kid Ink gets more credibility than he deserves on the album because of the strong group of collaborators that he built up on, but Ink still has some great raps within the album. If you are looking for something to really get your party going, then you would really enjoy this album.

The most interesting man in hip-hop: Danny Brown

By Matt Moretti

Danny Brown is an acquired taste.

The first time you see him, you’d probably think he was a drug addict. His hair is flat-ironed straight, and a third of his head is usually shaved completely bald. His front teeth are either gone or broken, and the ones he has left are losing any hint of whiteness. He sold crack in the ghetto of Detroit, and even served time after years of evading warrants. His voice, when he raps, can be high pitched and shrill, but it can also be low and grimy, depending on the song and its’ subject matter.

One could look at Danny or hear an excerpt from a Danny song and think that he is a joke or a gimmick, but Danny is the type of artist that you need to listen to, rather than hear. Rap is often described (not wrongly) as a genre that focuses mainly on the objectification of women, the glorification of drugs and violence and over-the-top braggadocio. And Danny does all of this in his music, except he does it with charm and self-parody. It is rare in rap music for an artist to be so self aware, because one of the reoccurring themes of the genre is a cartoonish sense of cockiness.

His most recent project, XXX, is the one that threw him into the spotlight. It was the perfect summation of the experiences of a troubled drug user. The first half of his free album embraced this dangerous lifestyle. The front of the album includes references about overdosing and abusing drugs (MDMA and Adderall in particular), Danny’s incredibly detailed exploits with the female anatomy, and his confusing relationship with the rap game.

The mood of the album takes a drastic turn on the second half when it becomes clear that Danny’s life is spiraling out of control. The first half of the album is the high of drugs, and the second half is the come down, and the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. His subject matter switches seamlessly from the euphoria of living the life of a rock star, and in the process reveals not only that Danny is more than a hype, party rapper, but that he is a troubled individual.

On the same album as a song all about cunnilingus, there is a song about a college girl who is letting cocaine take over her life (Nosebleed), a song declaring his predisposition to be a party animal to an unhealthy level (DNA), and a few odes to the broken city that Danny calls his home, Detroit.

The climax of the album is its closer, the impeccable, beautifully, disgustingly raw 30. Within its context on the album, it is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard, as Danny switches his flow from the crackling grumble that took over bottom of the album, to a full on emotional scream at times during this outro. Each line reveals more pain he has tried to hide or make up for through drugs, culminating in the closing two lines “The thoughts of no success got a n**** chasing death/ Doing all these drugs in hopes of OD’ing next, Triple X. “

This album is a stellar and powerful piece of work, but it’s only a part of the enigma that is Danny Brown. Watch an interview with Brown on YouTube, and you’ll discover the incredible person that accompanies these raps. His laugh is more of a cackle than anything, and he finds most things funny. He has talked about his love of cats, his fondness of TV personality Kathy Griffin and everything in between.

Watch enough of him, and listen to enough of him (both his features and his past solo work) and you’ll feel a connection with him and his music. This man had appeared on songs of every genre, ranging from electro-pop act Purity Ring, all the way to the polarizing Insane Clown Posse. And he ripped his features for both of those acts, which says a lot about his versatility as an artist. He is a special person; just normal enough to become an integral part of the hip hop scene, and still wild enough to get fellatio on stage from a random female fan.

His new album, Old, can take the 32-year-old rapper from a music blog darling to household name for casual rap fans. The album will be released digitally on the 30th of September, and in stores October 8, and if you consider yourself even the most casual of rap fans, I’m sure this project will be worth your listen. The previously released songs of the album (Old, Dip, and Kush Coma) continue the themes of Brown’s previous work, and he sounds just as polished as ever over unique, maniacal beats from obscure producers of his choice, namely Rustie and SKYWLKR. The beat for Dope Song, a track that Danny has only performed in concert, is sure to bring the house down on any party that it is played at, and when I get to hear the CD quality version of it, it will probably change my life.

Danny Brown could be the most unique rapper in the game, and his sound is not light on the ears at first listen, but the man can rap, and he can do it better than almost everyone that does.

Give his new album a couple listens, and you’ll have the opportunity to hear one of the burgeoning, most talented rappers in the world right now, in what could end up being his magnum opus. If not, at least bless your ears with the opportunity to hear Dope Song. I get hyped just thinking about it.

morettmd13@bonaventure.edu