Top 10 Rappers
10. Tyler, the Creator
I have a lot of respect for a rapper who writes his own lyrics. I have even more respect for a rapper who writes his own lyrics and directs his own music videos, stars in his own Jackass-type tv show, and has his own clothing line. All while carrying an entire crew of rappers and creators on his back.
Tyler, the Creator's persona is off-the-charts entertaining. Whether he's pissing off interviewers or dissing Dr. Dre in a straight-jacket, Tyler has no shame. And I have a lot of respect for that.
Best line: "Fall back like Lebron's hairline against the Mavericks (he lost)."
A lot of people would put Drake higher on this list. Others wouldn't have him on it at all. Here is my opinion on Drake: he's got a very smooth delivery and amazing punch lines. But he doesn't write his own lyrics. As a rapper, that loses a lot of respect from me.
But Drake's bank account has way more zeros than mine, so he must be doing something right. Frankly, Drake has one of the best flows of any mainstream rapper. Look at it this way: Heath Ledger didn't write his own lines in The Dark Knight. But he killed them, and he owned the character. Say what you will about Drake, he knows how to own a character.
Best Line: "Good weed, white wine/ I come alive in the night time."
8. Meek Mill
Two things can happen when a rapper starts a beef. They can get embarrassed by the rapper they're going at, or they can gain notoriety from the beef. In Meek Mill's case, he embarrassed Drake AND gained notoriety. He may have lost Nicki in the chaos, but honestly it's her loss.
I can't say I listened to Meek Mill before his beef with Drake. But the incident showed he had balls, so I gave him a chance. I wasn't disappointed. Meek goes harder than 90% of the rappers you'll hear on urban radio. He may be mainstream, but he could kill it in a rap battle. Arguably, he has.
Best Line: "If I dont make no money n****, I'm gon' take yo money n****."
7. Nicki Minaj
"You got beat by a girl!" A sexist statement that you'll hear anywhere from an elementary playground to an executive boardroom. If it hasn't been said about Nicki Minaj, it should be. Often. Not only is Nicki the reigning queen of hip-hop. She's one of the best in today's scene. Imagine Michelle Wie competing with Tiger Woods and whoever else plays men's golf.
The average American has only heard Nicki on radio-friendly dance songs like "Starships" and "The Night is Still Young". But the devoted hip-hop listener knows Nicki can spit. Need proof? She killed Bon Iver, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and Kanye West on Kanye's own "Monster". Hey Jay, you got beat by a girl.
Best Line: "And I'll say bride of Chucky is child's play/Just killed another career, it's a mild day."
6. Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly is the only white rapper on this list for a couple reasons. One, I don't consider Eminem new money. And two, MGK CAN SPIT. If you've heard him on the radio, you heard the slowed-down version. But check out his earlier stuff. They don't call him Machine Gun Kelly for nothing.
It takes a couple listens to understand what MGK is saying sometimes because he's rapping so fast. He and Wiz Khalifa did a song together awhile back and honestly Wiz sounded like he had Alzheimer's compared to Kells. Think a white version of Tech N9ne.
Best Line: "Levi's, put your kitty on it/Start grindin' like the Clipse is on it."
5. Big Sean
If you can hold your own on a song with Eminem, you're doing pretty good. Just ask countless rappers Em killed on their own track. Snoop even said in an interview he would never do a song with him for that reason. But Big Sean did it.
The first song I heard Big Sean on was that Maroon 5 "Maps" song on the radio. I remember thinking, "This dude is going hard for a radio song." But the more I listen to Big Sean's verses, the more I'm impressed by his wordplay. Even on his club music, Big throws in some amazing punchlines that the party girls probably fail to even hear much less appreciate. But I don't think his bank account is complaining.
Best Line: "Don, don, don, life, I do this for the crib/The D to Flint who get sick with lead."
4. Dem Atlas
Now, I have to admit, I'm a little partial to this guy because I met him at a concert and have talked to him on Twitter and he is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. If Minnesota hip-hop could ever go mainstream past what Atmosphere has done, Dem Atlas could do it.
Whether he's jumping up and down at a concert or sitting all relaxed in a music video, Dem Atlas makes you feel. Dude can sing well and flow well. Think Drake minus the ego and ghostwriters plus some soul and personality. I saw him with Atmosphere and Brother Ali in Duluth and honestly Dem Atlas impressed me the most. I see nothing but good things for this dude in the future.
Best Line: "See, I see through the looking glass defiant/I stand tall in the midst of giants."
3. J. Cole
J. Cole is smart. Just listen to him in interviews. Or better yet, listen to his music. The thing about music, it makes you feel things that simple conversation can't. And J. Cole puts a whole lot of feeling into his music.
My college had the chance to bring J. Cole to campus awhile back and the rich preppy a-holes chose Gavin Degraw. I didn't go to that concert. I sat in my dorm room crying while blasting J. Cole. My roommate walked in and asked if I was alright. I responded, "Yeah, it's just his music is so moving." My roommate moved out a couple weeks later. But there was some other stuff.
Best Line: "I refuse to bring my boy or my girl in this world/When I ain't got shit to give ‘em."
2. Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco isn't in the forefront of a lot of hip-hop fans' minds like he used to be. Could be because he hates his record label and doesn't want to put his all into his career right now. Or it could be because he called Obama a terrorist.
Regardless, Lupe is one of the best rappers out right now, and in my opinion one of the best ever. I haven't listened to his newer stuff much, although what I have listened to was good. I think the Obama thing kinda soured me. But Lupe got me into lyrical hip-hop and away from the Lil Wayne/T-Pain club garbage of the time. He's one of the few rappers out right now who could piss off America if he wanted to. Just ask Bill O'Reilly.
Best Line: "I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit/Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets."
1. Kendrick Lamar
No explanation necessary.
Just kidding. Kendrick Lamar is the undisputed best lyricist in the game right now. He's on the top of a lot of people's lists and has won a lot of awards for good reasons. Namely, his flow is UNMATCHED. Listening to some of his verses is like watching hours of James McAvoy from Split have a conversation with himself without changing outfits or ever stopping to breathe.
- Killed Eminem on his own song
- Absolutely destroyed an Imagine Dragons song
- Can rap slow, fast, angry, silly, and even backward
- Is arguably the best rapper today and one of the bests of all time
Best Line: "Ah yeah, fuck the judge/I made it past twenty-five, and there I was/A little nappy-headed n**** with the world behind him/Life ain't shit but a fat vagina."
Comment at will.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Chad Allen