BY: JABRIL POWER
For a young rapper, there’s nothing more challenging than being accepted by the older hip-hop heads.
To be quite honest, older hip-hop fans that lived through most, if not all, of hip-hop’s development tend to value the art form more and aren’t easily impressed by the latest trends, rap styles and content.
As a listener of all types of music, even I’ll acknowledge there aren’t many rappers out right now who are really impressive. It is my belief this is the age of hip-hop most rappers’ skill levels range from OK to just plain bad.
Assuming that older hip-hop heads are even interested or opened-minded enough to listen to some younger, not yet established, talented rap artists, I’ve compiled a list of young rappers every older hip-hop head should care about. The following rappers are loosely ordered from least skillful to most skillful, but don’t take the order to heart because all included are worthy of mention.
Now, let’s give credit where it’s needed.
10. Big K.R.I.T., 26
This country rapper surely has country pride. He uses his southern accent to his advantage and separates himself from the rest of the crowd. You can really tell the guy appreciates a good overall album experience, great production and soulful sounds. Don’t sleep on this guy because he’s got skills.
9. Yelawolf, 33
Signed to Shady Records, this white rapper from Alabama isn’t one to overlook. He definitely pays respect to classic hip-hop with pure, raw lyricism. He has his own style and doesn’t really seem concerned with current fads in music, but instead he focuses on intricate delivery, creative wordplay and impeccable, captivating storytelling.
8. Wale, 28
Wordplay ‘Le is no stranger to focusing on pure lyricism. Wale has songs where bar after bar is just pure creativity and impressive vocabulary. I feel like Wale is kind of underrated when it comes to being acknowledged as a lyrical powerhouse. He’s got that flow that’s just made for a cypher- very fluid.
7. Joey Bada$$, 18
Joey doesn’t have an album under his belt yet, but this young MC is definitely respected in the realm of hip-hop music. He put out the well-received mixtape 1999, and there’s bound to be something for new hip-hop listeners and old heads alike. If you’re a big East Coast fan, Bada$$ breathes new soul into hip-hop with refreshing New York accent and flow that compliments rappers MF DOOM- and ATCQ-like beats.
6. J. Cole, 28
Jermaine Cole isn’t the most exciting rapper out of the bunch, but no one can help denying he’s really good. Not only is he a solid rapper, who genuinely cares about featuring worthwhile subject matter, but he is also a very good producer. This man is one of the few who actually values the art over all else, and everything usually follows in Cole’s favor.
5.Earl Sweatshirt, 19
Silly name, right? Well, his skills are anything but. At 16 years old, he was being compared to NAS when he was in his younger years. Yeah, he’s that good. Not to say he’s on Nas’ level at any point in the God MC’s career, but Sweatshirt is definitely the future of good hip-hop. I think people are really counting on this young MC to bring some really raw bars back into rapping. Sweatshirt will have you painting some of the most abstract and craziest mental pictures, and he does it better than most people with more experience. Also, he’s part of Tyler, the Creator’s camp. Check him out.
4.Tyler, the Creator, 22
Tyler, the Creator is definitely not able to compete lyrically with all these rappers, but I feel he’s getting to their level. He really has some of the best artistic direction and social commentary out of a lot of the artists in this group, which is really saying a lot. He may be the hardest to accept as a rapper, but this is only because he’s the sort of the rebel artist our parents hoped we wouldn’t listen to. Tyler, the Creator and his group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All are definitely a carefree rap group, but there is more to them. These groups have a very entertaining video catalogue, and though they’re very dark and grim, the guys are influenced by the likes of Pharrell, DOOM and The Neptunes. Tyler is definitely original, and without a doubt, this is a start. I love this guy’s work.
3. Chance the Rapper, 19
One of the best out of Chi-Town in quite some time is Chance the Rapper. Energetic, creative, lyrical and influential best describes Chance the Rapper and are the qualities we like to see in a young rapper. He is one who seems to stay true and takes notes from some of the best, which is why I support his unique and wild style 100 percent.
2. Ab-Soul, 26
Ab-Soul is a part of the same camp as Kendrick Lamar. TDE, their independent label, is full of soulful sounds, complex song topics and everything revolving around just picking the human brain. Ab-Soul would be, in my opinion, the most “spiritual” one out of the label signees. He is no stranger to incorporated ancient wisdoms and educational experiences most won’t find a in high school textbooks. A lot of the music is grounded in themes of revolution and higher levels of enlightenment. Check out Soul if you are into the “smarter” rapper.
1. Kendrick Lamar, 25
Of course, you couldn’t have this list without Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick hasn’t made anything short of amazing ever since abandoning his former rap name, K.Dot and adopting his full birth name for his hip-hop endeavors. I would be willing to say Kendrick is so talented and his cadence is so creative that he’s easily the best new rapper since rapper Lupe Fiasco. His work is truly impeccable, and if you look at any artist’s work on this list, I’d look at his. No one can deny this man’s skills and greatness.