With the annual frustration over MTV’s popularity chart fresh in our memory, we decided we could bemoan the state of things as they are, or take it upon ourselves to prove we could do it better. And so The Bloggerati was born, a collective of several disparate music sites who share a love for rap forming like Voltron to cast their votes* and create a list based not on who holds the ephemeral status of hottest, but who, in our opinion as music bloggers, deserves the title of rap champ based on their output in the past year.
Honorable mentions go out to Danny Brown, Ab-Soul, 2 Chainz, Joey Bada$$ and ASAP Rocky were narrowly edged out of the list.
1. Kendrick Lamar
One good thing about rap in 2013: the guy on top of the game is as talented as he is popular. Kendrick’s current rule is hard to ignore or argue with, seeing how excellently structured, emotionally engaging and simply banging his album was. Compton has a new legend in the game and the Top Dawg wordsmith is undeniably rap’s top dog.
Divorce albums hold a special place in pop music history, and it’s a testament to rap’s maturation that it now has one too. Lucky for us, it’s made by one of the very best rappers alive and stands among his greatest records. Life Is Good is grown man rap of the highest caliber. Combined with a slew of showstealing guest performances, Nas has once again secured a space in the upper echelons of rap.
3. Action Bronson
The man who spins yarns of cheap hookers and expensive food, with plenty of smoke breaks in between, has catapulted his way into the game of rap with a nearly unending torrent of material. Of course, that quantity wouldn’t mean a thing without quality, but the levels of those two stay equally high, wether spitting solo over intoxicating loops or spitting with his Outdoorsmen fam.
4. Freddie Gibbs
Gangsta Gibbs left Jeezy’s CTE imprint but hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down his grind, on the contrary rather. With the critically acclaimed #BFK tape still finding regular play, his upcoming album with Madlib is one of the most anticipated releases amongst a diverse swath of rap fans. Draw a Venn diagram of rap listeners of varying plumage and Freddie Gibbs will be the one laughing in the middle cross-section. What makes it even more impressive is that he gained that position without any form of compromise to his sound.
5. Killer Mike
“Hardcore G-shit” is how the ATLien describes his style on his EL-P produced album R.A.P. Music, which is not just the greatest record of his career, but one of the greatest rap records of the past several years. Many had suspected for a long time that the man who combined the southern drawl of UGK with the confrontational politics of Ice Cube was capable of pulling off amazing things and over the past year, he more than delivered on his promise. Mike’s voice boomed louder than it ever did, and reverberates still.
6. Pusha T
With snow-driven lyrics colder than ice the G.O.O.D. Music lieutenant and one half of The Clipse known as Pusha T was the shining sun of Kanye’s Cruel Summer. Dropping heaters on the web and wetting appetites with a well-received mixtape, Pusha’s next official album is poised to take over the game, if he manages to deliver on increasingly high expectations. Then again, he’s one of the two guys who created some of their best material waiting on an album that kept getting pushed back, and then delivered a new school classic to beat. The Thornton boys aren’t exactly known to buckle under pressure.
Mo’ money mo’ moping seemed to be the modus operandi for Drake for a long time, and though he hasn’t exactly sad goodbye to his slouching tendencies yet, he thankfully has perfected his celebratory vibe songs like ‘Started From The Bottom.’ Surprisingly holding his ground against a beefing Common, who came across as increasingly bitter, Aubrey proved to friend and foe that he’s here to stay. Congratulations Drizzy, you’re on top. Now crack a smile every once in a while, it even makes your songs sound better.
8. Roc Marciano
The cinematic slang wizard paints pictures out of words like few others. Roc Marciano builds on mood and character, creating tracks caught between ’70s blaxploitation and ’90s NY rap. You’d be mistaken in calling it nostalgic rap revivalism though, Roc Marciano works with familiar elements but makes much more than a mere pastiche of thing you’ve already heard. With understated cool and a smooth flow, he builds a world wholly his own.
9. Kanye West
Together with his ‘Big brother,’ Yeezy traveled the world for a stadium tour of a grandiosity usually reserved for bands like U2 or The Rolling Stones. And while his solo-output might not have been as big as in previous years, he managed to grab headlines worldwide nearly every time he touched a mic. With his own brand bigger than ever, he successfully turned the public’s eye toward his G.O.O.D. Music team, scoring them a hit record and a deal with Def Jam. With several of them now waiting in the wings with hotly anticipated material we can safely say “Yeezy taught you well.”
10. Big K.R.I.T.
While K.R.I.T.’s official debut album wasn’t bad by any means, it wasn’t as fantastic as some expected it to be either. The superior level of quality his previously released free tapes presented was what people had come to expect of him, but it’d hard to fault him for that when he released one of those with 4evaNaDay only a few months before his debut release as well. With two solid releases in a single year Big K.R.I.T. not only delivered plenty to enjoy, he rocked a joint with the legendary B.B. King too. How many rappers can put a co-sign by ‘The King of Blues’ on their resumé? I rest my case.
Peep the individual ballots of the Trubians below. Under those you can check the vaious members of The Bloggerati and their respective ballots on their sites as well.
|Nashon Landrum||Aaron J. McKrell||Jaap van der Doelen||Rizoh|
|Kendrick Lamar||Kendrick Lamar||Kendrick Lamar||Kendrick Lamar|
|Action Bronson||Lecrae||Freddie Gibbs||Freddie Gibbs|
|Kanye West||Big K.R.I.T.||Danny Brown||Pusha T|
|Pusha T||J. Cole||Roc Marciano||Nas|
|Nas||T.I.||Killer Mike||Killer Mike|
|Earl Sweatshirt||Joey Bada$$||Nas||Meek Mill|
|Ab-Soul||Brotha Lynch Hung||Action Bronson||A$AP Rocky|
|Joey Bada$$||Nas||Ab-Soul||Danny Brown|
|Drake||Pusha T||Joey Bada$$||Action Bronson|
|Big K.R.I.T.||50 Cent||Sean Price||Big K.R.I.T.|
The Bloggerati Consists Of:
- Jeff Weiss (Passion of the Weiss)
- Mobb Deen (Passion of the Weiss)
- Khal (Rock The Dub / Do Androids Dance?)
- Broken Cool
- Justin Tinsley (The Smoking Section)
- Big Ghostfase (Big Ghost Chronicles)
- Ivan Rott (Hip Hop Is Read)
- Arasia Magnetic (Former Exexutive Editor KevinNottingham.com)
- Hardeep Aujla (The Word Is Bond)
- Dart Adams (Bastard Swordsman / Hip-Hop Wired / Producers I Know / The Urban Daily)
- Danny Veekens (The Find Mag)
- William Ketchum III (Speech is my Hammer / HipHopDX)
- Brando Caldwell (Managing Editor Day and a Dream)
- Brad Gilmore (Day and a Dream)
- Monica Jones (Day and a Dream)
- Cecilia Smith (Day and a Dream)
- Aaron McKrell (The Rap Up)
- Nahshon Landrum (The Rap Up)
- Jaap van der Doelen (Managing Editor The Rap Up)
- Henry “Rizoh” Adaso (The Rap Up Founder / Editor Rap.About.com)
* To make sure the list represents some consensus we’ve first tallied every mention of a rapper on the individual lists, and when mentions were tied added their ranking in the individual lists to the mix to determine their ranking in the collaborative list.