I love music. I listen to Phil Collins, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, No Doubt, DMX, Nas, etc. My music range is very high. But one genre in particular that is very interesting, is the rap music genre. Rap music is a music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. I have grown up listening to rap music since I was 6 years old, I’m about to be 26 yrs soon (I’m getting old). So that shows how long I have been invested in rap. When I was in elementary, I remember when Jay-Z, DMX, Nas, were starting out in the rap game. Those guys were bringing something very refreshing to the industry, this was around the time Biggie Smalls and Tupac were at the top of the game. Unfortunately both of them were shot and killed. Tupac was shot in 1996, and Biggie was shot in 1997. So the game needed a new breed of rappers to fill the void. Jay-Z with his uncanny skills to release rhymes with a crazy flow, Nas, with his introspective deep raps, and DMX, with his dark, barking, no holds barred style. They were bringing a new style to the game and fighting for the new “King Of Rap” crown.
Lets fast forward from the 90’s to 2015. Now the rap industry has a new breed of young rappers by the name of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, JCole and Wale. I am a fan of all 4. I was introduced to Drake a.k.a Aubrey Graham, who is from Toronto, Canada, as an actor on the T.V show “Degrassi” back in 2005. I didn’t hear him rap until 2007, when he did a song called “Replacement Girl” with R&B singer Trey Songz. At first I thought the song was hot and I still do, but I didn’t take Drake serious as a rapper, I didn’t think he would make a name for himself as a successful rapper, boy was I wrong. Lol. Drake is not only good, he is great. Since his So Far Gone mixtape in 2009, he has released hit records from “Best I Ever Had”, “Successful”, “Over”, “Miss Me”, “Marvins Room”, “The Motto”, “Started From The Bottom”, etc. And this is just his records, I don’t think I have enough time to list the hit records he was featured on. Lol. Drake brings a combination of rapping and singing that is hard to pull off. This is the same guy that had one of his mixtape songs nominated for a grammy. Last time I checked, mixtape songs don’t get nominated for grammys. So that was huge for music. With 3 albums under his belt and a bunch of mixtapes, Drake has solidified himself at the age of 28 for the past 6 years as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
Next is a rapper by the name of J Cole a.k.a Jermaine Cole. Born in Frankfurt Germany, raised in Fayettevile, North Carolina. I heard about him in 2010 when he released the song “Who Dat”, then a year later in 2011 he came out with his debut album called “Cole World: The Sideline Story”. I was blown away when I first heard his album. J Cole is very interesting, from his first album with songs like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Lights Please” and “Work Out”, he can give something for the females, but then switch it up real nice with deep records like “Nobody’s Perfect”, Dollar And A Dream”, “Lost Ones”. He can give you about everything in a song. He puts his flaws out there and is not scared to admit them. He released his second album “Born Sinner” in 2013, and took it a step further with records like “Land Of The Snakes”, “Power Trip”, “She Knows”, “Crooked Smile”, “New York Times”, etc. It’s also worth mentioning that J Cole produces most of his own records. Which I think is very smart to do. Why not save your money as an artist and produce your own records instead of paying someone else to do it for you. And in late 2014 he released his third album “2014 Forest Hills Drive” with little promotion, no real billboards, very little commercial advertisements, it was able to be J Cole’s best album release for his career and it earned him “Best Rap Album” at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. If J Cole continues on this path, he will leave his footprint stamp, just like Jay-Z, Nas and DMX did.
Now is a rapper by the name of Wale. Born and raised in Washington D.C. I first heard about him in 2007 on a song called “Rising Up” by the Roots also featuring Chrisette Michele. I was thinking to myself that this guy Wale has something good. then two years later in 2009, he came out with his first album “Attention Deficit”. I was really impressed with songs with “Pretty Girls’, “Diary’, “Contemplate”. And even with his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th albums “Ambition” “The Gifted” and “The Album About Nothing” I even became a bigger fan of Wale. He has a poetic type of style that you don’t really see with mainstream rappers in the modern day music industry. Wale is known for being a little bit too “emotional’, for his “I don’t care, I will speak my mind attitude”. Well, the same thing some people bash him about, is the same thing that makes him popular in his music, and that is why he makes great music. And how many rappers do you know that is associated with Jerry Seinfeld? Wale is. He has made mixtapes taken the “The Seinfeld’ show theme, and on his third and latest album “The Album About Nothing”, he has Jerry playing as a narrator for the album. Wale is only 30 years old, and I feel like he has alot more to offer to the game.
Last but not least, there is a rapper by the name of Kendrick Lamar, who is from Compton, Los Angeles, California. He is one of the few Los Angeles rappers who is doing it BIG on the mainstream music market right now. He has been putting out mixtapes since he was 16 years old back in 2003. I noticed him in 2011 when he did a record with Dr Dre called “The Recipe”. With the heavy drums and mid tempo patterns in the song, I instantly got hooked. So for the past 4 years listening to his 2 albums “Good Kid, M.a.a.d City” and “To Pimp A Butterfly” and his mixtapes, I can say that Kendrick has that “It” factor. Spewing out gem records like “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “Poetic Justice”, “Swimming Pools”, “I”, and “King Kunta”, he brings a style that not a lot of rappers possess. Even the features he jumped on was bangers, Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood”, ASAP Rocky’s ” Fucking Problems”, Miguel’s ” How Many Drinks”, SchoolBoy Q’s “Collard Greens”. Kendrick has earned the respect from his peers like Drake, J Cole, Wale, Meek Mill, Big Sean, Wale, etc. I compare Kendrick jumping on other artist records to when Jay-Z and Nas use to and still does. You better come prepared with your best verses, cause if you don’t, Kendrick will own your song and out shine you. Lol. With his latest album ” To Pimp A Butterfly”, Kendrick continues to show growth with his rhymes and flow, and not only let me people know he is one of the most deadliest rappers from the west coast, but one of the deadliest rappers out right now PERIOD.
As I stated before what I felt with what Jay-Z, Nas, and Dmx did in the 90’s/2000’s with leaving a stamp on the mainstream music scene of rap, I feel strongly about Drake, J Cole, Wale, and Kendrick Lamar doing the same thing now and years to come. Any true rap fan can appreciate with what these guys are doing, they bring their own styles. Neither one can combine the art of singing and rapping like Drake, neither can drop poetic value through his raps like Wale, neither can paint pictures through their words like Kendrick, and neither can bring the gifted vision of the good, bad, and the ugly of life like J Cole. Nas once said hip hop was dead. Well, if hip hop was dead, these 4 rappers just replanted the tree of hip hop.