Jake Bolger’s 10 hip hop artists of the decade

The past 17 years have brought about plenty of incredible music, especially in the genre of hip hop. According to studies, hip hop is the second most popular genre of music, right behind rock. These 10 artists have released some of the best hip hop music of the 21st century.

10. The Weekend

The Weeknd is a Canadian singer and songwriter who has risen in popularity in recent years. His 2015 album The Beauty Behind the Madness attracted tons of attention, while his most recent album Starboy is his most popular work to date. He says his music is inspired by the likes of Michael Jackson, R. Kelley, and Prince. He has released many great songs, and his career as a musician has only just begun.

9. Migos

Migos is a hip hop trio from Atlanta who have blown up over the past year following the release of their second studio album, titled Culture. They were formed in 2009 by Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff, and the three aspired to reach stardom from the beginning of their careers. They have been prevalent on the Billboard Hot 100 and other music similar music charts since 2013, but have topped all charts in recent months.

8. Drake

The actor turned rapper Drake is one of the most popular artists right now. In 2007, he left his acting career to pursue music, and later released his first mixtape titled Room for Improvement. Since then, he has released five mixtapes and four studio albums. These projects have featured songs which solidified him as a icon, such as his song “One Dance”, which received over one billion plays on the music streaming platform Spotify. Drake has truly become one of the best hip hop artists of this decade.

7. Childish Gambino

Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, is an American actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, rapper, DJ, singer, and songwriter. However, he is best known for his music and acting careers. He gained massive amounts of attention through his acting skills, and then later amazed fans of his acting with his musical talent. He has been featured in films such as Spider Man: Homecoming and the NBC sitcom Community. His music is extremely artistic, and is fundamentally rap with a large pop influence. He has released three albums, seven mixtapes, and two EP’s since his debut mixtape in 2008.

6. Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper is a Chicago rapper, actor, philanthropist, and producer, who has had wildly successful careers in many of those occupations. He has released several mixtapes, but no studio albums. However, his most recent mixtape Coloring Book  had incredible production quality and could have very well been an album. In 2016 it earned him three Grammy Awards, including best rap album. Chance the Rapper is an incredibly talented artist.

5. Logic

Logic is a Baltimore rapper who has become an icon over the past three years. Although all of his music prior to this release was incredible, his second studio album The Incredible True Story, released in November 2015, helped him achieve his current level of popularity. He has been writing songs and releasing mixtapes since early 2009. Logic doesn’t have a distinct style to his music, but is versatile enough to pull off anything from R&B style singing, in songs such as City of Stars, to a hardcore rap song, such as Stainless, Gang Related, or Now. Throughout his career, he has evolved from a underground rapper to a mainstream hip hop artist with several songs having more of a pop twist to them.

4. J Cole

J. Cole is a very popular rapper who gained his initial popularity following the release of his mixtape The Come Up, and has since released four studio albums. However, J. Cole began his career as a studio producer, producing instrumentals which he says he later used as a backdrop for his own music. As a child, he was inspired by the likes of Tupac, Nas, and Eminem, giving him a more fluid and narrative style of rapping.

3. Travis Scott

Travis Scott is well known for his upbeat, hype music. Although he is placed at number three for this list, he is my favorite hip hop artist. His music is widely known for its use of ad-libs and uptempo beats, classifying his music as party oriented. Although much of his music is thunderous and often unique, it has a deftly produced and mesmerizing characteristic to it. He gained a wide following after the release of his second mixtape titled Days Before Rodeo, which was soon followed by his first album, titled Rodeo, which released in September 2015. A year later, his second album, titled Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was released, gaining him even more widespread popularity. Since that release, he has been working on an album which is expected to release soon and be titled AstroWorld.

2. Kanye West

Kanye West is among the most famous rappers and personalities of this decade. He has managed to create a streetwear fashion empire through his Yeezy line, along with being one of the most respected rappers of all time. His music often uses jazz and soul inspired samples, but many of his songs maintain a more modern, digital feel. He is a versatile musician who has managed to make a fortune off of his persona.

1. Kendrick Lamar

Over the past decade, the Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar has become a pop culture icon and among the best hip hop artists of all time. Many of his songs are written in a way which tells a story through a creative and entertaining manner, while being catchy and melodic at the same time. With the recent release of his album DAMN., Kendrick has gained an even larger following. This is due to the more playful, polished, and poetic nature of the album. Kendrick Lamar is on track to be placed among the greatest rappers in history.