Top 5 Rappers in the past 5 Years
This list will only include each rappers work from 2010 to 2015. Nothing before then, so I’ll get this out of the way now. There is no Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, or Andre 3000. There is no dispute that these rappers have already been solidified in the rap hall of fame. But this is a list regarding growing popularity, frequency of output, variety in features, and overall quality of work over the past five years.
Honorable Mentions: Big Sean, Kanye West, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifia, and Meek Mill
Notable Mixtapes: More About Nothing, 11.1.11, Folarin
Notable Albums: The Gifted, The Album About Nothing
Notable Singles: Pretty girls, That Way, No hands, Lotus Flower Bomb, Bad, The Matrimony
I’ll be honest; I am a big Wale fan. He’s one of my favorite rappers. But he just barely beat out the competition and made the cut at number 5. Big Sean is steadily climbing. While I’m not the biggest fan of Ross or Wiz, I can’t ignore the waves they make in the hip hop community. And if Kanye West can give us quality, unique, epic sound on his 2015 SWISH album, then I will have to bump Wale off. He and Big Sean were the closest push for me. I wasn’t a big Fan of Yeezus so that didn’t help Kanye for me, even though his other two works MBDTF and Watch the Throne collaboration are classics. That’s still one and a half great drops over the five years. With some features sprinkled in. But enough about the competition, I will give Wale credit of owning some of my personal favorite mixtapes on this list. Those songs get infinite replay and showcase his ability to talk about nothing, while talking about everything at the same time. Ambition wasn’t what it was hyped up to be, but he did solid work on this last two projects. The Album About Nothing is the closest thing of the uniqueness that he gives you on his mixtapes. If Wale can continue to give us witty rhymes, subject matter, and his unique sound he could very well climb this list. But the rappers in front of him don’t seem to be slowing down at all.
4. J. Cole
Notable Mixtapes: Friday Night Lights, Truly Yours series
Notable Albums: Cole World: The Sideline Story, Born Sinner, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Notable Singles: Work Out, Can’t Get Enough, Power Trip, Crooked Smile
Jermaine Cole! I always feel a special connection to J.Cole’s work given that he is a North Carolina native like myself. J.Cole’s heat index is climbing strong and he’s still sticking to the core of who he is. His mixtape drops over the past couple of years are solid and his album each got better. His last album should go platinum this year with no market production. He’s really beginning to be able to just sale off of his name which is the next step of greatness. J.Cole also makes music that mean something which helps them stand the test of time. He definitely stands out whenever he lends his vocals or rapping ability on features. I don’t know what’s next for J. Cole regarding new music, but as long as he stays innovative and true to what got him this far, it’ll be a Cole World.
3. Nicki Minaj
Notable Mixtapes: NA
Notable Albums: Pink Friday, Pink Friday Roman Reloaded, Pink Print
Notable Singles: Moment for Life, Did it On’em, Bottoms Up, Fly, Monster, Anaconda, Only, Feeling Myself
Nicki Minaj has the most marketability and ability to cross music genres than anyone on this list. I tried to only include her singles where she raps, but if I included her pop hits I have to add another five to ten songs. She has the ability to make pop hits with Jessie J, rap alongside Kanye, and could probably makes some waves in country music if she wanted to. But focusing on her rap talent she is a Woman amongst boys. She has bars, she has swag, she has the ability to adjust her style to fit perfectly and stand out on any beat. There is no other current female rapper out right now that is on her level and I say that without any hesitation. She can easily hang with your favorite rapper and probably will outshine them if they don’t come correct. With much respect to the past female rappers, she’s on a path to being the best to do it without a Y chromosome. Nicki is that legit.
Notable Mixtapes: If You’re Reading This then its Too Late
Notable Albums: Thank me Later, Take Care, Nothing Was the Same
Notable Singles: Over, Headlines, Make Me Proud, The motto, Started from the Bottom, All Me, I’m on One,
“Most number ones ever, how long did it really take me?” That verse sums up Drake’s massive catapult in to fame after his hit mixtape turned EP “So Far Gone”. Which was not included on this list as it came out in 2009. But drake has only risen higher with each album he’s dropped and feature he destroys. Each of his albums got better, excluding his last drop which he technically categorized as a mixtape. Still it produced enough buys and buzz to probably go platinum. Drake is probably the best artist when it comes to harmonizing on hooks and delivering bars in his verses. Many other rappers try this to varying degrees of success, but no one does it as well as Drake. With his album “Views from the 6” dropping this year, it is very possible that his star power grows even stronger. He could knock the number 1 guy on this list off the top spot by sheer force. But we will wait and see. Either way I don’t expect to be disappointed, because he hasn’t let us down yet. So smart money is on him producing another strong album with catchy hooks and lyrics that stay in your head all day.
1. Kendrick Lamar
Notable Mixtapes: Overly Dedicated
Notable Albums: Section .80, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, To Pimp a Butterfly
Notable Singles: Swimming Pools, Don’t Kill My Vibe, Control, I, King Kunta, Bad Blood
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth is the best active rapper right now. And the thing that makes him so unique is that more than any other rapper on this list, you feel like you are getting the real him when he raps on a track. This is most likely due to the fact that he isn’t afraid to tackle heavy subject matter. Race, Politics, Drugs, Gang impact, environment development, and women empowerment, are just a few subjects that Kendrick seems to tackle earnestly. It’s an anomaly that someone can make a song about the negative impacts of drinking too much alcohol (Swimming pools), but it become an anthem people want to drink and party to. That just shows his level of talent. He makes songs that mean something and at the same time continues to grow in public popularity.Now a days it seems like you are either 2 Chainz making only radio hits or Lupe trying to rap introspectively but with only a small following (compared to others on this list). And it’s no surprise that with this level of talent he has managed to produce two classic albums. Will he continue to rise to take a place with the greats? Only time will tell. But in the past five years…Kendrick Lamar has emerged as the top guy to listen to.
-T.G . Wright-