Editorials

The Best Rapper Alive, Every Year Since 2000 Part 2

A Hip Hop Head is someone that embodies the Hip Hop culture usually consisting of an avid interest or participation in Hip Hop Music. Each head has their opinion which creates leg room for major arguments especially if the heads are very knowledgeable. Debates are often sparked when one mischievous soul declaims their Favorite Rapper. Your favorite rapper is a personal preference, one that requires the most subjective defenses. We decided to compile a Best Rapper Alive list, Every Year Since 2000, a comprehensive look back at every year of rap and which MC moved the crowd the most. So the question remains: Who got the props?

2007: Kanye West

Kanye West Tracklist official

Kanye West’s career had been building toward this moment all along. By 2007, the stars had aligned and Yeezy became the epicenter of hip-hop, both sonically and artistically. Despite releasing two stellar albums in 2004 and 2005, he 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.

2008: Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne1-608x650

Lil Wayne’s commercial, creative and cultural ascent reached its peak in 2008, the 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.

2009: Jay Z

Jay Z1

In the wake of Lil Wayne’s utter domination of 2008, 2009 was, 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.

2010: Kanye West

Kanye Cudi dance

Can we get much higher? In 2010, Kanye 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.”

2011: Drake

Drakes beard

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.” Drake is like the LeBron of rap (albeit with more hair), and he can seemingly do anything: rap, sing, craft projects, create a soundscape, and drop meme-worthy lines.

2012: Drake

Drake meek diss

Even in an off year, Drake was on one. Take Care dropped late in 2011, so Drizzy was able to ride excellent singles like “HYFR,” “Take Care,” and “The Motto” in 2012, which made him a consensus pick for Best Rapper Alive honors by themselves. And even without those songs Drake was still an omnipotent force in hip-hop who dominated the rap conversation.

2013: Kendrick Lamar

kendrick-lamar-promo

Kendrick Lamar spent most of 2012 crafting his masterful debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, before dropping it toward the end of the year. 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.

2014: Nicki Minaj

nicki-minaj-instagram

“Now it’s me in my time, it’s just me in my prime.” That was the lie Nicki Minaj sold listeners on“I’m the Best,” the opening song on her 2010 debut album, Pink Friday. She was unmistakably good at the time, dropping one of the year’s best, if not the best, verses on Kanye West’s“Monster.” But Pink Friday was not a “mixtape Nicki” album, some one-note exercise in rappity-rap that could silence those who questioned her right to exist alongside her Cash Money brethren. Pink Friday … Roman Reloaded wasn’t that either, nor was The Re-Up, and even The Pinkprint refused to stay in a rap-only lane. Yet if by the end of 2014 you were still dissatisfied with Minaj’s rap output, still caught up waiting for the return of the mixtape messiah, then you just weren’t listening.

2015: Drake

Drake stage

“I need acknowledgment. If I got it, then tell me I got it, then.” Well, Drake, as far as 2015 is concerned, you had it. Those bars come from a song on What A Time To Be Alive, the second surprise “mixtape” he dropped this year via Apple, with whom he closed a deal that netted him a reported $19 million haul and a bi-weekly radio show streamed to dozens of countries. It’s been a blockbuster year for the Boy for sure. And that’s without mentioning the rap beef that completely dominated the culture for a week and a half last summer and served as the centerpiece for quite possibly the biggest year of his career.

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