(COVINGTON, La.) If there was an answer to what is going on in the rap and hip-hop community, it sure would be complex. Music from the genre today is scattered with everything from modern day poets to high school dropouts. Rap is leading the United States in the most streams and listens since 2017, dethroning the rock genre from its dominant reign. I feel like some of the actual lyricists in the rap game today will never be respected by older generations because of the less intelligent artists today.
In my eyes, there are three tiers of rappers today. Tier 3 artists consist of weak lyricism, little to no creativity, and overall bad sound. Tier 2 consists of average lyricism, decent creativity, and solid sound. Tier 1 includes poetic lyricism, astonishing creativity, and an amazing sound. I will rank current rappers today and go into depth with a few artists in each tier.
Tier 3: Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, Tekashi69, Lil Skies, Lil Xan, BlocBoy JB, Gunna, 21 Savage, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Juice WRLD, Trippie Redd, G-Eazy, YBN Nahmir, Tyga
Tier 2: NBA Youngboy, Migos, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, Rich The Kid, Chance The Rapper, Schoolboy Q, Kodak Black, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Ski Mask the Slump God
Tier 1: Kendrick Lamar, Denzel Curry, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Kevin Gates, Future, J. Cole
Yes, I know it is arguable that I have Denzel Curry in tier one, but there is a reason. Curry is the most underrated artist in the rap community today. Curry’s second studio album, TA13OO, blew me off my feet. He divided this album into three different sections: light, grey, and dark. With different sections come different sounds. As the color darkens in each section, the delivery of his lyrics and beats tend to get increasingly aggressive. Curry’s creativity and lyricism really blossom in this album. Denzel’s lyrics are astonishingly quick-witted and intelligent. With the track “SIRENS l Z1RENS”, Curry gives his stance on modern day politics and his frustration of how the black community is being treated in America today. With Denzel’s two studio albums so far I have been thoroughly impressed on his progression. He evolves his sound and style as he continues producing music. I highly recommend checking his work out.
My placement of Drake is based on his past few albums. To be clear, I have not heard of an all-around solid Drake album since If You’re Reading This Its Too Late. Drake, at that time, was unquestionably a tier one rapper. Unfortunately, his recent work on his newest album Scorpion only had a handful of quality songs, as most of the album’s songs felt like filler tracks. The only reason Drake’s albums are so successful is his dominant mainstream sovereignty and his ability to produce catchy singles. Recently, his work has fallen off in terms of quality. That is why I have Drake at tier two. Hopefully, Drake can reverse to his 2010-2013 inspirations and sounds.
Lil Pump is one of the reasons rap is in its current state of turmoil. Lil Pump has started this new wave of “SoundCloud Rap.” SoundCloud rap is most commonly known for these new, raw rappers. Most of my tier three rankings come from this new movement of rappers. Lil Pump produces music that can be compared to third-grade poetry riddled with curse words. His music is not creative, nowhere near as lyrical as his contemporaries, and sounds like every other new SoundCloud artist. His hit “Gucci Gang” really captures how unintelligent and untalented Pump is. Lil Pump is without a doubt tier three due to his capabilities.
There is no telling where the rap genre is heading. It could head in a more lyrical and well-respected style, but at the same time, it could head towards an inconvenient style of rap. I feel like the genre will never be respected still based off of most of the tier three artists. These new rappers are the most popular with the youth, and these atrocious artists skyrocket to the top of the charts due to the young people listening to them because it is hot and new. For people who have not listened to the rap genre before, I stress you do not listen to these tier three artists. They do not represent what rap truly is capable of. I recommend listening to tier one artists because the rappers in this category are very intelligent song makers. If you want to dabble in the rap world, I definitely recommend the artists I have listed because they are truly knowledgeable and talented rappers who understand how to make music.
Personally, I find that Lil Pump is an amazing lyricist, as “Gucci Gang” itself is an incredibly catchy tune, clocking in at only 2 minutes in an industry filled with 4 minute songs. Honestly, Lil Pump does what he wants, which is very punk rock, and his early Soundcloud work shows that he has earned that right as a musician.