While no one could bring hip hop to the heights of popularity it reached when Tupac and Notorious B.I.G ruled the industry; the decade of 2010 to 2020 featured a slew of amazing calibre artists that are great in their own right.
Travis Scott’s Astroworld bookended the decade, while Kendrick Lamar quietly piled up Grammy’s in a numerous number of years this hip hop renaissance.
Perhaps the biggest hip-hop development was the continued evolution of the merging of rapping and singing genres. Guys like Drake and Future have magnificently transitioned the hip hop industry to a whole new establishment that’s changed life for artists in hip hop today; creating more independence which creates nightmares that record labels can’t solve thus far.
The newest generation of artists grew up wanting to rap like Jay-z and singing like Usher, resulting in a more dynamic brand of music and a gradual diminishing of lyrical content to say the least.
Without further adieu, here are the Top 5 Rap Artists of 2010:
5. Lil Wayne
We all know what Weezy represents and how many years he put into the industry and the endless hits. Lil Wayne started the 2010s with the release of his tenth album, I Am Not a Human Being, on his 28th birthday, September 27, 2010. The album has sold over 953,000 copies in the U.S, and spawned the successful single “Right Above It”, which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tha Carter IV was later delayed into 2011, after Lil Wayne began recording from scratch after his release from prison. Weezy in his prime was really great doing his word play that he is ever so great for. Weezy is not much of a story teller but he can definitely spit long and loud shout out to Young Money.
Awards: 5 BET awards, 8 BET HipHop Awards, 1 Grammy Awards, 4 Billboard music awards
4. Nicki Minaj
The “Barbie” and Queen of hip hop, Nicki Minaj, arguably ranks herself amongst the all time greatest female hip hop artists of all time. Minaj was unique with her animated rapping style and her unique flow and was a regular member at the top of the billboard list. She often both sings and raps in her songs and combines metaphors, punch lines, and word play into her work. The alter egos are incorporated with her lyrics in British accents or very soft spoken voices. It is impressive, and is what makes her unique. She became one of the greatest artists of all time and helped to reinvigorate the image of female rap artists in the world of hip hop, when she emerged with Young Money Records in 2009.
Awards: 6 American Music Awards, 10 BET Awards, 7 BET Hip Hop Awards, 10 Grammy Award nominations
3. J Cole
Though not the flashiest artist, J Cole’s fundamentally sound lyricism has aged well over the last decade. With an uncanny ability to create story telling on his albums, he is one of the most versatile artists still in the industry today. The acquisition of J Cole on Jay-z’s Roc Nation opened the door for him to get the recognition he deserved allowing him to prove his abilities by out-duelling Drake and Kendrick occasionally on the Billboard 100. As an underrated rapper, he’s quietly entered the upper echelon of hip hop greats.
Awards: 8 BET Awards, 1 Grammy Award, 3 Soul Train Awards, 1 Billboard Awards
Love him or hate him, the hip hop’s Drake is the most polarizing artist in this list. Drake has had one of the most memorable decades in hip hop history. He earned plenty of awards working alongside Lil Wayne and Young Money records before smashing individual record selling records in Wayne’s absence. Drake is a dominating two-way type of artist, routinely exploiting his talent to be a lyricist with impeccable bars and the ability to create his own hooks with any melody and sound.
Awards: 5 American Music Awards, 13 BET Awards, 4 Grammys, 27 Billboard music awards
1. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar has already packed a career’s worth of achievements into his first 10 years in the music industry. Lamar is one of the most versatile and most skilled artists in hip hop, a freak of nature with the gifts of storytelling and dominating a song lyrically with bars. Lamar’s projects are usually concept albums. His third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, incorporates elements of funk, jazz, soul and spoken word poetry. Lamar’s lyrics have been described as “katana-blade sharp” and his flow limber and dexterous. Lamar’s writing usually includes references to racism, black empowerment and social injustice – once compared to a State of Union address by The Guardian. With his lyricism as described as “Shakespearean” by Billboard, Kendrick Lamar tops the list by having content and being musically beyond his years. This is what makes Lamar the best hip hop artist of the 2010s.
Awards: 2 American Music Awards, 7 BET Awards, 19 BET Hip Hop Awards, 6 Billboard Music Awards
So, to close…
The 2010 era came with a lot of fire and they all brought a different and impressive vibe to the culture of hip hop. Leave a comment below with who you think were the Top 5 Rap Artists of the 2010s.