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Stigmata Let's Sing with Popeye The rapper was signed to Kanye's G. Music label the previous year and appeared on The College Dropout. Produced primarily by Kanye West with an assist from the recently deceased J. Dilla, Common's Be received 4. It also became the rapper's second gold album, selling aroundunits.
The album featured a cut called "Best Rapper Alive," which seemed like another empty boast, but Wayne wasn't being cocky—he just realized his arrival before the rest of us did. After Tha Carter IIWeezy started his absolutely ridiculous run, highlighted by Dedication 2 and his joint album with Birdman, Like Father, Like Sonboth of which featured some of the best rapping of his soon-to-be illustrious career.
More importantly, his mastery on the mic gave him the confidence to feel his way through any beat and interact with it as he saw fit. Once he started experimenting with more and more styles, the results were fascinating. With confidence came comfort, and with comfort Wayne's personality shined through as he talked more about his love of SportsCentermotorcycles, and all things New Orleans.
His rhymes made him famous, but his "Murder the adults and let the kids get adopted" approach to fame made him a superstar. Despite his great output sinceT. Prior to King he often leaned too far into the streets—despite his penchant for Billboard hits, songs like "You Don't Know Me" didn't quite cross over the way they should have. His later hits like "Live Your Life" were massive but leaned too far into pop territory.
But 's "What You Know" struck the perfect balance, as did his album King. Still, even if T. Whatever it lacked in commercial appeal, Hell Hath No Fury made up for in cold, mechanical raps. Pusha iced every one of his bars with detached debauchery and delivered them like he was about to hawk a loogie. The keys had opened doors, and suddenly King Push had hit the coke rap zenith.
He might have been a newcomer, but as his impressive debut proved, h e could tell engrossing stories with pinpoint precision, adjust his cadence ever so slightly to give his words greater weight, and still sell a modest amount of records. He not only kicked first-rate rhymes but pushed an image of a rapper more akin to Kanye than 50 Cent. A trend that would soon gain more momentum. Kanye West's career had been building toward this moment all along. Bythe stars had aligned and Yeezy became the epicenter of hip-hop, both sonically and artistically.
Despite releasing two stellar albums in andhe was seen as a great producer and great songmaker but never a great MC. During the years when the rap zeitgeist was playing limbo with coke rappers, mixtape runs, and ringtone rap, Yeezy raised the bar up and got his bars up.
His humor was still present as he spit the most Kanye line ever: "I'm like the fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary. No longer did he flub verses with over exposition. Whatever his words lacked in humility they made up for in maturity. His vocal performance was now poised and patient, characteristics best seen on cuts like " Flashing Lights ," where he employed a delicate nuance to his rhymes where a younger Kanye might have gone for a ham-fisted approach.
Beyond his flow, 'Ye dropped his best songs ever, " Can't Tell Me Nothing ," and finally found what he always sorely lacked: a true street anthem. With " Stronger ," Yeezy scored arguably his biggest hit ever, another testament to his crossover appeal and made Yeezy an early adapter to EDM.
Still, it felt like this was happening right under our noses. When Kanye got into a highly publicized sales battle with 50 Cent, many believed he stood no chance against Curtis.
Little did they realize 50's antics were starting to feel like an old Biggie line: "Fuck that beef shit, that shit is played out. The album outsold 50's Curtis by a wide margin and not only proved Kanye was a cultural force but one who wasn't willing to settle.
The guy that executives once told to stick to producing was now the Best Rapper Alive. Kanye must have realized it, too. As much as people think Kanye is obsessed with himself, in truth he's always been obsessed with challenging himself. That might have something to do with why, as soon as people finally accepted his rapping, he abandoned it to move on to singing.
We only say that because otherwise Weezy killed it in '07, releasing about songs. The easy put down would have been "it was quantity over quality," but that's the thing about Wayne in his prime: Nearly everything he did was quality. There was always one random line or burst of flow that was worth hearing. The highlight was his spectacular double disc mixtape Da Drought 3which found Wayne blacking out over one instrumental after another. Jay Z was having a resurgence of sorts as well.
After seemingly losing a step after retiring and coming back with the disappointing Kingdom ComeJay got inspired by the film American Gangster and dropped an album of the same name. He wasn't rapping about anything he hadn't rapped about 10 years before, but the fact that he found yet another way to say something we'd already heard and make it compelling remains one of his most under-appreciated achievements.
Still, you couldn't shake the feeling that every time he dropped a verse it became the most talked about 16 of any given moment. Lil Wayne's commercial, creative and cultural ascent reached its peak inthe year he became a true crossover star and, without question, the greatest rapper alive. It had been two years since his last album, but Weezy had flooded the industry, releasing a succession of hot street tapes and guest verses.
First, his guest verses: Lil Wayne was a scene-stealing rap star, making his mark on T. But it was his work as a solo artist that made the biggest mark. His radio single, the Static Major—assisted "Lollipop," topped the pop charts, went five times platinum, and helped drive Carter III to 2.
Officer" reached No. By this point Weezy's claim to be the greatest living rapper on Tha Carter II no longer seemed nearly so audacious. Despite taking a "break" from official releases, his album went three times platinum, opening at No.
It became the rapper's best-selling album to that point. It was the first to reach 1 million in sales since The Massacre. As impressive as the numbers were, though, what Desperate Like The Rest Of Them - Some Kind Of Hate - Undisputed (Vinyl Lil Wayne the greatest rapper alive in transcended popularity. He had broadened what was thought possible for a rapper. The boundaries of the genre were pushed to their logical breaking point.
He was still rapping, retaining his innate cleverness and style, but had such intoxicated confidence that he didn't need to live by the formal limitations adhered to by lesser MCs. And then, not content to rest on his laurels, he released Dedication 3another mixtape with DJ Drama, before the year let out. Despite the relative flop of T. The album, Paper Trailincluded two more major singles including another No.
It was his second No. He also appeared on Usher's "Love in This Club," which would also find the top spot. He didn't regain the widespread commercial appeal that he had on his debut record, but the album was a creative success, particularly after the disappointment of 's The Inspiration. Kanye West had a fairly low-key year inbut in the wake of Graduation 's release, he remained one of hip-hop's biggest stars. His final single from Graduation"Homecoming," was released, and he began working on his tortured melodic album s and Heartbreak.
But as a rapper, he kept the flame alive with a series of hugely popular guest verses, appearing on Estelle's "American Boy," Young Jeezy's "Put On," and T.
In the wake of Lil Wayne's utter domination ofwas, to say the least, a rebuilding year. Kanye had become an Auto-Tune performance artist. Lil Wayne began pushing his Young Money crew, and into the void came a rush of rookie artists from across the spectrum.
Amidst all the confusion, a veteran stepped up and released the biggest single of his career. When you're the best rapper alive, and you release your most successful single ever, it's hard for the mantle not to fall to you. Hov also proved that he'd retained his nimble technical abilities; love it or hate it, he was still the most envied rapper in hip-hop.
Part of that was a result of his business moves. After appearing at the president's inauguration, Jay crossed over in a way no rapper had previously, unless you count Eazy-E's visit to the White House. But after all is said and done it all comes down to the music. While his first single, "D. Death of Auto-Tune " had some chart success despite its obvious failings as prophecyits follow-up singles were two of the biggest of Jay's career.
Then the monster that was "Empire State of Mind" took over, becoming Jay's biggest-ever hit and sitting atop the Billboard charts for five consecutive weeks. There are few acts able to retain that level of success this deep into a career, but for Jay, even in the twilight era, consistency has been his trademark. Drake, meanwhile, had begun to LP) signs that he was really about to be that successful. Rounding out the honorable mentions is Gucci Mane, easily the most prolific artist on this list.
He rose up from his rabble-rousing grassroots, flooding the market without over-saturating it, releasing a handful of mixtapes that are now considered classics, including Writings on the Wall and Burrrprint: The Movie 3Dwhile his singles "Wasted" and "Lemonade" had considerable chart traction. Can we get much higher? InKanye West made a triumphant return to rapping full time. Lost in the hype of his post-Swiftgate comeback was the fact that Kanye wasn't just the best rapper alive but also the best rapper he's ever been.
Yeezy reached the height of his technical proficiency. Gone were the pesky lapses of supreme competency where he uttered "Funny when you thought of them but only to you" type lines. Instead it was all genuine wit with rhymes like "Got caught with 30 rocks the cop looked like Alec Baldwin. Ye's G. Friday releases kept him consistently anticipated week to week, and when My Be autiful Dark Twisted Fantasy finally did arrive it was hailed as an instant classic and arguably Kanye's best album.
Instead, he was able to coax inspired performances from Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross, the latter of whom saw his growth as a rapper reach its apex on "Devil in a New Dress. But the nearly flawless Teflon Don — supercharged with the street anthem of the year "B.
Yet, the verse of the year belonged to Nicki Minaj, whose manic energy on "Monster" took her from buzzing to being invited on stage with Jay Z and Kanye West at Yankee Stadium.
Chilling backstage while Jay, 'Ye, and Nicki performed "Monster," a rejuvenated Eminem was returning to the forefront of the rap conversation after kicking his drug habit, abandoning the accents, and dropping the well received Recovery. Bill Simmons once called LeBron James the car wash "everything" package, saying, "You see an athlete get handed the 'everything' package maybe only five times in your life.
When Drake emerged on the scene in he was more than just a rapper with crossover potential—just like LeBron is more than a 6'8" dude with a jump shot—he was a rapper with superstar potential. So Far Gone put Drake on the map in '09, and his debut album, Thank Me Laterwas released in a stacked hip-hop year.
But Drake didn't claim his championship ring until rolled around. After the dust of settled, Drake unceremoniously started rolling out songs on his OVO blog. Every release, from "Dreams Money Can Buy" to "Club Paradise" to "Marvin's Room," instantly became an event—and some of the most discussed songs of the year. So much so that end-of-the-year Best of lists had to leave off Drake cuts, lest he overwhelm the lists by the sheer quantity of his quality output.
Drake was so hot he gave away that year's summer anthem and one of his best songs ever to DJ Khaled "I'm on One" and it didn't even hurt the quality of his album, Take Care. Coming late that year, h is sophomore set showed that Drizzy had many skills but his greatest gift was his ability to internalize his struggles and make them universal.
Call it "emo" if you like, but feeling regret over a lost lover, feeling proud of your accomplishments, and feeling like you're the best but still have 10 years left is what we ought to expect from brash young men.
With Take Care, we finally got to witness the full breadth of his undeniable talent. Suddenly, the throne was no longer for the taking. Similar to 50 Cent inRoss didn't put out a ton of solo material, but his Ashes to Ashes mixtape was released in the closing days of and carried into as he prepped Maybach Music Group's Self Made Vol. Even in an off year, Drake was on one. And even without those songs Drake was still an omnipotent force in hip-hop who dominated the rap conversation.
Jay Z once boasted, "For the right price I can even make yo shit tighter. Drizzy unleashed one monster guest verse after another and gave away Billboard hits that introduced buzzing artists to a wider audience.
Rule of thumb: You're definitely in the Best Rapper Alive conversation if people will listen to any artist's song just because you're on it. And if you can make any song you're on a possible anthem, then you probably are the Best Rapper Alive. To understand his impact, consider that even throwaway lines like "Good ain't good enough" sparked intense debate about perceived shots at G.
More importantly, consider that if Drake had strapped together all his major guest verses and added a couple of strong solo cuts, he would've had a third album better than most rap releases last year. Honorable Mentions: Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross We have no knock against Kendrick Lamar but are obliged to point out that he was relatively quiet for most of before dropping good kid, m.
However, last year more and more fans got hip to his stellar release, Section. Still, most were left wondering if K-Dot could pull off a classic debut. But more on that later. Meanwhile, 2 LP) momentum from 's T. Music's "Mercy" and had Kanye telling him to start charging K for a You know you're having a special year when you not only spit the last verse on the premier posse cut but Kanye is the one who throws up the alley. Not that it really mattered. Ross still ran the rap game with an iron fist and gave us Rich Foreverone of his best overall projects, at the top of the year.
Still, for the first time sinceit felt like Rozay's reach wasn't continually expanding but contracting ever so slightly. Kendrick Lamar spent most of crafting his masterful debut album, good kid, m. The release of good kid cemented Kendrick's status as the Best Rapper Alive and earned comparisons to other legends who jump-started their careers with unforgettable major-label debuts.
It wasn't just a great album, it was a great conceptual album with a storyline throughout—a Herculean hip-hop feat. As the critical praise poured in and K-Dot fans supported their artist—a music-biz mantra that's more often said than followed—a mainstream audience slowly started to appreciate this West Coast rapper with left-field sensibilities to the point where hip-hop as a whole started looking at him differently.
Kendrick's breakthrough comes at a time when rap fans are inundated with new rappers who overpopulate the blog posts; the few who are worth the time rarely if ever fulfill the promise of their initial offerings. But Kendrick lives up to all the hype. No one thought the analogy was far off. Time for everybody to bow down to King Kendrick Lamar ya bish! Will K-Dot's reign on top be shorter than leprechauns? For Drake, once again the throne is for the taking.
His third album is on the way and songs like "Started From the Bottom" and "5 AM in Toronto" show that he can still turn it on like a light switch whenever he fancies. At the other end of the spectrum is Danny Brown, who has little mainstream recognition but has slowly built himself into a premier underground rapper. Fans continue to catch on to his album, XXXand he keeps slaughtering guest spots. The Nicki Minaj who showed up to was battle-ready.
On her third album, she balanced her talent boasts and sex metaphors with details of her broken relationship and family concerns. And instead of accomplishing that with fake voices and other gimmicks, she did it with varied flows, ranging from sing-song to pummeling, and lines as personal as they were provocative.
She could go as pop as she wants, but for Minaj, it all returns to rap. Throughout the year Drake would swoop in, drop a new song or severaland basically nothing else in hip-hop would matter for the next few days. Drake confidently enjoyed another year of his prime by effortlessly communicating success and its perils with candor and wit.
InYoung Thug went from a rapper to watch out for, to the guy who might have his career derailed before it could even begin, to a full-blown star. To understand Thugger's appeal look no further than his verse on T. However, the stars finally aligned for critical darlings like Run the Jewels thanks to lackluster major label rap releases. If I got it, then tell me I got it, then. The accusation was shocking but more so was the imminent validity.
Instead of copping pleas, Drake more or less copped to the accusations, dropped a laser-sharp diss track, and absorbed the whole incident as validating energy. If Drake was phased, we never saw it. The biggest rap star in the world shrugged a potentially damaging scandal off and added a new layer of invincibility to his armor. And then quite casually, in the midst of an alpha male chest-thumping and questions of his viability, Drake dropped "Hotline Bling," a song that was so undeniably Drake, and took it all the way to No.
Squads turned to woes. Future had a stellar year—but Drake gave him a plaque, on cruise control, no less. As artists push hip-hop to new soundscapes, Drizzy is displaying an efficiency at adapting, co-opting, and refining them for maximum appeal, all while he continues to push his own.
Maybe that explains why, much like Kanye once said of Shawn, with Drake, you only saw the wins this year more than any other. Old foes bowed to him. Potential new ones are LP) twice. The 6ix God ascended to Mount Olympus. Cole On Nov. All it took was a run that stretched back intofeatured three exemplary mixtapes with his closest and best collaborators, a No.
Future had become a monster just as he predicted. Instead all he released was therapeutic id. However, Future made us turn up all year long. The only rapper talked about as much as Drake or Future in was Kendrick Lamar. He followed up his critically acclaimed major-label debut with, well, another critically acclaimed major-label album. Much has been written about To Pimp a Butterfly and the response the album garnered from fans, critics, DJs, and other musicians.
No other album this year made us look into ourselves as deeply or as far outwardly. It questioned nearly everything blackness, whiteness, religion, social responsibilitywhich in turn made us question everything: the role of rappers, the role of rap music, respectability politics, the role of music press, the idea that art can be at once great and distasteful. Unlike the aforementioned three, J.
Cole was rarely talked about this year. Going into the new year, J. To top it all off, he signed a deal with HBO to air a documentary about his momentous tour.
Without dropping a solo project inCole managed to make more moves than nearly everyone save for Drake. Not bad company to be in. With iCheckMovies you can… …keep track of all the movies and TV series you have seen. Make new friends! Here's what everyone has been up to lately. Indecent Desires Forever Rich Thunderbird74 checked The Special 3 minutes ago.
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