Saturday, 11 May 2013

Top 10 Lyricists in the Game

In March, XXL released their popular Top Ten Freshmen list that includes, to them, the rappers to look out for this year. Also, MTV compiles a list of its "Hottest MCs" in the game every year. I personally think the lists they put together aren't reliable because it seems like all they are doing is putting rappers that they think will make them look like a more reliable source onto a list. If it were in my hands, I'd show the rappers that in my opinion are the top lyricists in the game. People need to see which rappers are the ones to look out for when it comes to quality Hip-Hop with substance and meaning. So for the past few days, I was formulating a list that has the top ten rappers I think are the most lyrical who are active and dropping albums soon. This list will be in no particular order as each of these rappers has their own style, flow and content. So without further adieu, I present the Top 10 Lyricists in the Game!

*Note* I really wanted to place EL-P, Killer Mike, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Immortal Technique and other rappers like them on this list. However, they only drop music every once in a while (With EL-P dropping albums every 5 years) so I don't wanna place them when they could potentially not put out music any time soon. They are however top lyricists that you guys should check out! I want this list to have rappers active and dropping albums soon.

10-  Elzhi:
Also known as "Detroit's Best Kept Secret", Elzhi has proven the strength of his lyrical ability to everyone in the Hip-Hop community. With the release of Elmatic, everyone (including myself) started paying attention to Elzhi waiting for his next release. Not only did he make each song and the whole album his own in the process, but he was able to incorporate his own life story into his music. His version of One Love is to me better than Nas's and that's saying something! While The Weather Man has been scrapped off, Elzhi still promised a 2013 release and I'm looking forward to that, as you should be as well. To see my previous article on Elzhi and his originality, click here. If you haven't checked out Elmatic or The Preface, be sure to do so!

Notable Lyrics: "The hood is like a glass house the devil throws stones through." - Detroit State of Mind

9- Big K.R.I.T.:
For those of you who don't know (which you should by now!), Big K.R.I.T. is a southern rapper who has been putting out nothing but consistently fantastic music since K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (K.R.I.T. stands for King Remembered in Time). He has repeatedly shown us his roots through 4 great mixtape and a well put together studio debut. He is the epitome of what Southern Hip-Hop should be and is helping keep what made UGK and OutKast so legendary back in the day. He is able to draw you in with his simplistic hooks to make you memorize and vibe to them and then you start to pay attention to his deep lyrics. Big K.R.I.T. isn't afraid of getting personal in his songs and talking about conscious topics such as religion, life and hardships. He released his mixtape King Remembered in Time earlier this year, which I loved, and is working on a collaborative album with Yelawolf called Country Cousins. Big K.R.I.T. is planning a big year and I am very excited to hear his new music. Most importantly, he's very lyrical and with his smooth flow, you can't deny his talent.

Notable Lyrics: "Be a better man in the world of negligence/Pedophilic malvolence, don't trust your reverend/When they settling for settlements/Lock your doors, shut your windows, don't let the devil in." - Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

8- Danny Brown: 
Danny Brown is a Detroit based rapper who's rise to fame got kick-started through the release of his highly acclaimed album XXX in 2011. XXX put Danny Brown on the map, getting Spin's Album of the Year and Metro Time's Artist of the Year. I personally loved the album and still listen to it to this day. Danny Brown was able to present serious topics such as drug and alcohol addiction using incredible storytelling on songs like Die Like A Rockstar and mocking the radio with Radio Song. Danny Brown has some of the funniest as well as the most put together lyrics. He presents himself as the modern Ol Dirty Bastard or even early Eminem in his Slim Shady days. The problem with Danny Brown is his flow. I personally love his flow, but it takes a minute to get used to it. If you were to give him a chance and listen to his music a lot, you'll start to love his weird voice. But if you give up from the first song, then you'll be missing out on something special. His lyrical ability got him featured on A&AP Rocky's 1 Train, EL-P's Oh Hail No and Ab-Soul's Terrorist Threats. He's built a great fanbase and I'm highly looking forward to his upcoming album Old.

Notable Lyrics: "I'm a borderline porcupine, A step from drinking turpentine/Just to wash down a plate of these wack rappers rhymes." - Detroit 187

7- Joey Bada$$:
When Joey dropped 1999 last year, it propelled him to the top of the game immediately and gave him wide-spread acclaim instantaneously. And can you blame him? His lyrics on that album mirrored a modern Nas spitting on 90s sounding beats. That's the main reason I loved that album (taking the number 5 spot for favorites of last year). It brought back old-school sounding Hip-Hop into this generation. What makes Joey Bada$$ so entertaining though is not only his lyrical ability but his immaculate flow. The guy can ride any beat he's thrown at, whether its old-school or new school. And the most impressive part is that Joey is only 18 years old, 17 when 1999 dropped! That's incredible! Joey Bada$$ announced that he will be dropping an album this year by the name of B4.Da.$$, with the single Unorthadox produced by DJ Premiere dropped earlier this year. He claims he got Premo, Q-Tip and Pete Rock to produce for the album so you can expect something amazing to drop. Check out 1999 if you haven't (its a free mixtape damn it!).

Notable Lyrics: "Cause when ni**as start equipin' and throw the clip in/Your blood drippin' and got you slippin' Under the victim, don't know what's hit them/Through his spinal, just another man who defeated by survival" - Survival Tactics (R.I.P. Capital STEEZ)

6- P.O.S.:
This is a rapper you might not be familiar with, however he possesses a great amount of talent. P.O.S. is known mostly for being part of the Hip-Hop group Doomtree releasing an amazing album back in 2011 called No Kings (be sure to check it out) but he really caught my attention last year with his incredible solo effort We Don't Even Live Here. I was blown away by that album and still listen to it on a regular basis to this day because of how P.O.S. handled the production of the album. He puts dancy-pop but layered beats while adding dope rhymes consisting of deep and social commentary type lyrics. He's what Lupe Fiasco is trying to do except he's doing it 100% better. His lyrics are very personal, relating to drug addictions, society, corruption and materialism (which he does incredible on the song Fuck Your Stuff). I'm highly looking forward to anything this guy drops from now on because he gives you the deep lyrics while making beats that get you moving. Be sure to check the album or Get Down, How We Land or Fuck Your Stuff. Dope music!

Notable Lyrics: "No one gives a fuck about shit, so fuck your shit/We fuck shit up cause shit's fucked anyway." - Get Down 

5- J. Cole:
I know some of you guys are wondering why I have J. Cole on here but lets be real for a minute; the songs J. Cole has on the radio are made intentionally for the radio (Work Out, Power Trip etc.). However, if you dig deep into his album, you will see that J. Cole is a damn good lyricists. He has an incredible rhyme scheme and can go toe-to-toe with rappers on his level or even above (I'm On 2.0, We Ready). And to top it off, J. Cole is also a very good song-writer. He is able to craft positive  as well as socially conscious songs and leave his signature flow like on Lost Ones or Dollar & A Dream III. Not only is he a great rapper, but like Big K.R.I.T., J. Cole raps over his own beats making him a double threat. I heard Miss America earlier this year and that got me psyched for his next album he's dropping this year entitled Born Sinner. He has dropped two EPs to build anticipation for his next album and I'll be there to pick it up. Also, if the rumors are true, I can't wait for his collaborative album with Kendrick Lamar. That album would destroy the game right now!

Notable Lyrics: "Overcame a low life status to blow like Gladys/Ahead of my time like I live my whole life backwards" - Dead Presidents II

4- Macklemore:
I don't care what anyone says, Macklemore to me is the next rapper that can make lyrics super popular while spreading a positive message in his music. The Heist was an incredible album that showcased Macklemore's lyricism and depth as an artist, touching many different topics such as violence, discrimination and homophobia. Same Love is probably the best song I've heard that tackles the topic it represents, and I commend Macklemore for doing that song because it shows that you don't have to be super hard-core to be respected as a rapper. Macklemore is a personal dude, but not to the point where it gets too over the top (coughs-Drake-coughs). He is a great songwriter, being able to have incredible song structure and giving us probably the catchiest hook of last year - y'all know I'm talking about Thrift Shop. He does have other fantastic songs that I wished got more recognition like Make The Money, Starting Over, Neon Cathedral and one of my favorites Wing$. Macklemore has a great future ahead of him and I highly recommend you listen to this guy's music. And shout-out to Ryan Lewis too for supplying Macklemore with beats that suit him 100%. 

Notable Lyrics: "Bartender, please give me a confession/Exchange fear for courage in the form of a well drink/There’s a heavy current, got a long way to swim/Closed the Bible a while ago, I need some shots for this sin" - Neon Cathedral 

3- Black Thought:
Who's Black Thought you ask? Well reader I'll tell you who he is. For those of you who know who he is you got mad props from me. For the rest of y'all, Black Thought is the lead MC of the legendary Hip-Hop band/group The Roots. Still not familiar with them? If the answer is yes, I feel bad for you... But Black Thought to me is probably the most underrated rapper in Hip-Hop, period. He keeps spitting incredible bars on every album The Roots have dropped since 1993's Organix!. He's the type of rapper that never lost his lyrical ability and is still able to leave your jaw dropped by the time his verse is done. He has some of the best flows I've ever heard and his rhyme scheme is immaculate. If you want something to confirm this, check out the BET Cypher with him, Mos Def and Eminem and see how he holds his own and even surpasses them. How I Got Over in 2010 was amazing and so was Undun that was released late 2011. The Roots plan on releasing an album this year hopefully but even if they don't, Black Thought is working on a solo album anyway so its a win-win for me! If you're not familiar with The Roots and Black Thought, I recommend you check Things Fall Apart, Phrenology, or Illadelph Halflife to start off and make sure to thank me later. They probably have the most perfect discography in Hip-Hop. 

Notable Lines: "Who knows what you snorted? Or who support what you recording? But don't get it distorted, in this orbit you're aborting.This authentic shit's imported, exported/Styles, they get sported my paragraphs aortic/Behold, the illest medley lock you in the choke hold" - No Alibi 

2- Ab-Soul:
How can you go wrong with Ab-Soul? To me, Ab-Soul is one of the few rappers out right now that can out-do Kendrick Lamar on a song and if you're not convinced, check out Ab-Soul's Outro, Rapper Shit and Illuminate and make the decision yourself. Ab-Soul is a rapper with multiple personalities, but not to the point were it gets annoying like it does with rappers like Nicki Minaj. He has multiple flows because he's so diverse with the beats he chooses, and that is show-cased on his album he released last year called Control System; which took the number 2 spot of favorites. When you listen to Ab-Soul, you get who he is 100% because he's real all the time. For example, before last year, he'd rap about how poor he was living with his mom and now he raps about how he remembers being poor. His lyrics are incredible as well, making any song catchy as hell while still spitting deep bars on songs like The Book of Soul. Also, Ab-Soul, like Kendrick Lamar, is one of the few rappers that make songs about women's issues. For example, on his song  Double Standards, he talks about the expectations women have from men and how its unfair to them. So be sure to check out Ab-Soul's music. You might find yourself listening to your new favorite rapper. I'm looking forward to his collaborative album with JMSN coming out this year called Unit 6. That'll be dope.

Notable Lines: "Lord forbid The homie got wet, so we trying to soak it in/The president is black, but you can't vote for skin You vote for the better man/Come to our show you can see the diversity/Unified people they going to peep it universally/We might not change the world but we going to manipulate it I hope you participating." - Ab-Soul's Outro

1- Kendrick Lamar:
Don't act like you didn't see this one coming. Kendrick Lamar should be on top of every lyricists list anyone is making right now. I know I said this list is in no particular order, but Kendrick to me is the top dude in the game right now. Not only is he able to cross over and appeal to the mainstream, he does it without sacrificing dope lyrcis, catchy hooks and stellar production. From his Kendrick Lamar EP to Overly Dedicated to Section.80 and finally good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar has proven he's a force to be reckoned with. Never has he had to dumb-down himself to appeal to a new audience because he makes everyone else change to suit his music himself. Even when he wants to do stereotypical boom-bap songs like Michael Jordan, he does it by adding his own flavor surpassing anyone else who tries to do that type of music. But what makes Kendrick the best lyricists is he always has a concept behind the music he's putting out and he paints a picture of the stories he's telling so well. Section.80 was a perfect album telling us the life of fictional characters Keisha and Tammy and good kid, m.A.A.d city showed Kendrick stepping up his game a bit with telling his own personal story. His flow is perfect. His rhyme scheme is immaculate and the acclaim he's getting is worthy of all the praises. I predict good kid, m.A.A.d city bringing home many Grammys next year. I recommend you check out all the albums I mentioned here.

Notable Lyrics: 

"See a lot of ya'll don't understand Kendrick Lamar
Because you wonder how I could talk about money, hoes, clothes, God and history all in the same sentence
You know what all the things have in common
Only half of the truth, if you tell it
See I've spent twenty three years on the earth searching for answers
Til' one day I realized I had to come up with my own
I'm not on the outside looking in
I'm not on the inside looking out
I'm in the dead fucking center, looking around
You've ever seen a newborn baby kill a grown man
That's an analogy for the way the world make me react
My innocence been dead So the next time I talk about money, hoes, clothes, god and history all in the same sentence
Just know I meant it, and you felt it
Because you too are searching for answers
I'm not the next pop star I'm not the next socially aware rapper I am a human motherfucking being, over dope ass instrumentation Kendrick Lamar" - Ab-Soul's Outro

What do you think of my list? Do you think there's anyone missing or a rapper that should be on this list? Please keep in mind that this is my opinion and there's only 10 spots. I know there are a ton of other dope rappers but I chose the ones that will be active for a while and that are still active. Black Thought was an exception because I feel he deserves more recognition. But anyway thanks for reading! Who are your top lyricists? Leave a comment and let me know!

Notable Mentions: Action Bronson, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Aesop Rock, Eminem, EL-P, Killer Mike, Immortal Technique, Logic, Roc Marciano, Ghostface Killah. (Hope I'm not forgetting anyone).

1 comment:

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