It’s time for another edition of the hip hop power rankings, a series in which I analyse the genre’s biggest trending stars and rank them into a top 10. Whether it is how busy they’re keeping, how relevant their music remains or the chart positions they generate in these months, it’s safe to say that May and June has seen plenty of massive names soaring to the top of popular culture. Last edition saw Kendrick and Drake ruling the roost thanks to their album releases, but this time will we see a new king of the sales?
10: Vince Staples
An artist who in all honesty should be far higher in this list in terms of invention and artistry given the brilliance of his June release ‘Big Fish Theory’ which combines deep house with ice cold rap bars. The reason he doesn’t place higher is simply because his hits aren’t making it onto the mainstream ladder like the other artists featured here in this top 10, with that being said, he’s still squeezing out over 4 million monthly Spotify listeners and has the game’s attention after dropping an album of the year candidate which should go down as a real genre pusher.
9: Kendrick Lamar
Hip-hop’s rhyme animal himself has just begun embarking on his North American ‘DAMN.’ tour and the buzz for his latest album is still huge, with hit single ‘HUMBLE.’ remaining a chart stalwart throughout these summer months. It has to be said that his demand has slightly dipped through the months of May and June but even then he’s found room to jump on a killer remix of Future’s ‘Mask Off’ smash hit and shock us all with a fire verse on Vince Staples’ ‘Yeah Right’. He’s still talked about and will remain in this list for quite some time I feel given the potential for more top draw guest features on the horizon.
Drizzy Drake doesn’t have an off button, he’s constantly working and dropping music for his fans to enjoy. His long lasting relationship with DJ Khaled continued in June with the release of ‘To The Max’, a song which did fairly well commercially but couldn’t rub shoulders with the likes of ‘I’m The One’ and ‘Wild Thoughts’. He also released ‘Signs’ which is a single coinciding with the new Louis Vuitton releases so he is certainly in good company even beyond the musical sphere. Basically Drake won’t be quick to leave the top region of popular rap artists simply because of his colossal work rate and the fluency of his styles to make popular tracks.
7: Lil Yachty
The Boat’s album ‘Teenage Emotions’ dropped in May and even though it did only reach number four on the billboard charts, it still generated plenty of buzz and more than enough to warrant a spot on this list. He’s a cultural phenomenon at the moment even if his music has been deemed underwhelming by many; the brand of Lil Yachty continues to soar. He also joined Migos on a Steve Aoki single and his collab with Kyle on ‘iSpy’ continues to dominate nightclubs and radio stations across the globe.
6: French Montana
Personal differences aside, French Montana had a monster couple of months solely off one track. His gigantic hit with Swae Lee ‘Unforgettable’ can be heard everywhere at the moment and has to be my go to anthem right now, he has completely smashed the charts and with more to come i.e. an album, you sense that this won’t be the last time his name is on this list; especially considering the feature list he boasts on it.
5: 2 Chainz
Thanks to 2 Chainz’s new album, we now know that ‘Pretty Girls Like Trap Music’ and he also confirmed what we already knew; 2 Chainz is a bonafide mainstream rap bonanza who can still murder beats with witticisms in 2017. His feature list was incredible and he held his own against the majority of rap’s biggest stars so for anyone to doubt him at the moment is sheer madness.
4: Young Thug
Young Thug is a hip-hop megastar now whether you like it or not. He’s done all of this work without needing to release a studio album yet and continues to wow audiences with his charismatic flows and unique persona on tracks. This has never been more true on his latest mixtape ‘Beautiful Thugger Girls’ where he tries his hand at acoustic cuts with Trap influences. He is another of the artists to be on Khaled’s ‘Grateful’ album as well as Calvin Harris’ ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1’ and he does a great job on both. His value continues to rise so that once this debut album comes out it’ll absolutely fly. Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls for life.
Is it really a popular rap artist list without Future making an appearance somewhere on it? The Atlanta mumble rapper is somewhat of a legend of the commercial hip-hop scene already and these past few months have been no exception to this. His remix of Post Malone’s big hit ‘Congratulations’ is a triumph and Kendrick remixing his hit ‘Mask Off’ has pushed the original back up the charts.
2: Travis Scott
His work ethic is undeniable and his ability to create a summer hit has been demonstrated wildly throughout these past few months. His name and status have risen massively over the course of May and June thanks to collaborations with Calvin Harris, Major Lazer and DJ Khaled, all of which have been greatly received as some of the biggest hits of this summer. He’s also been a feature on the latest 2 Chainz album where he stole the show on ‘4AM’, while singles of his own including ‘Butterfly Effect’ have hit the radio and been big successes on his endless show dates. Don’t be surprised to see a number one spot very soon for La Flame.
Is it really a chart smash hit if Migos’ hook king isn’t featured on it? One Direction’s Liam Payne came to Quavo for his first single ‘Strip That Down’ while DJ Khaled called upon him for some fire on a couple of tracks from his most recent album ‘Grateful’. He’s also played a great part on projects from 2 Chainz and Halsey while being a killer on Major Lazer’s ‘Know No Better’ track as well as A$AP Mob’s most recent single ‘RAF’. He’s just the mainstream king right now and he’s living the life he always dreamed of.