–by Quincy Tejani, Music Connoisseur–
A friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that he thinks we have entered the second golden age of hip-hop. He compared the rap artists of today to those so widely revered in the mid-90’s (Tupac, Biggie, Nas). Although I can’t say whether I have made up my mind whether I agree with him or not, one thing is abundantly clear… we are currently witnessing a very special time in hip-hop history. In celebration of this thought, I’ve decided to take a look at 10 artists that are helping to keep the game so fresh and exciting year in and year out. Here is a list of what I believe to be the top hip-hop artists of this decade so far.
10. Freddie Gibbs
Back in 2014 Gibbs released what has been one of the most critically acclaimed rap albums of this millennium, Pinata. This coupled with his critically acclaimed second studio album Shadow of a Doubt proves that Gibbs is generating at an extremely high level.
Not only has Future released two no. 1 albums in a row but his 3rd LP DS2 was acclaimed by critics across the board. In fact, music publication Complex named it the 2nd best album of 2015 on their year end publication.
The first of three members of Black Hippie included on this list, Ab-Soul has released 3 great albums this decade alone. What I like about Soul is that he has a genuinely unique sound to his music. Every time I hear one of his tracks I immediately know it’s him.
7. SchoolBoy Q
First of all, this guy’s name is Quincy so I really couldn’t help but include him (I jest). Q just released his best album yet (Blank Face LP) and I am so excited to hear what he has for us next.
6. Earl Sweatshirt
Although he may not be the most immediately recognizable member of his old crew Odd Future, he has definitely been the most consistent. His latest Lp release I Don’t Like Shit: I Don’t Go Outside received various accolades from critics and was included on many year end lists.
5. J. Cole
Cole has released 3 albums this decade and they’ve all gone number 1. Although his Lp’s are not always praised by critics like most of the other rappers’ releases on this list, one thing that cannot be denied is his incredible flow and ability to make people care about what he says.
4. Danny Brown
Brown’s latest release Atrocity Exhibition is definitely the album that did it for me. His previous releases always struck me as over-indulgent but he really nailed it on this one. I must admit that Brown’s future is bright and that every hip-hop lover should be incredibly excited about this guy moving forward.
I like Drake. There I said it. Yes, his singles are a little silly and yes, his albums are a little bit long but he’s got an addicting flow and a long string of acclaimed albums (before he released Views that is). In my opinion he is currently the least important of the three most important artists in the game.
2. Kanye West
The Life of Pablo was good. It wasn’t Ye’s best by any means but it also wasn’t even close to being bad enough to shake West’s legacy. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus are two of the best albums released this decade so far, full stop.
1. Kendrick Lamar
King Kendrick. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is my favourite hip-hop album of all time and To Pimp A Butterfly is probably my second favourite. Lamar is the poet of our generation and until he does wrong, Kendrick can do no wrong.
Let me think what you know of my list in the comments section…
Quincy Tejani is the co-founder of The Violet Wave and is also editor of music. When he’s not listening to or writing about music you can probably find him walking through the forests of Ontario or questioning the inner workings of the universe. He also never turns down a cold Pabst… never.
Facebook: The Violet Wave