This generation’s new class of rappers do not distinguish themselves so much from one another. The typical topics of sex, drugs, alcohol and money are heard in almost every rap song that you hear on the radio, mix tapes and albums. I wouldn’t say that my playlists don’t have any of the songs that fit the criteria, but I wouldn’t say that any of these songs, or artists that make those songs, fit within my personal top 10.
Personally, these typical artists are the type of rappers that make hip-hop only as good as the pieces of paper that great artists throw into the trash, after not putting together the perfect lyrics.
What I seek in hip-hop, is a story in each song from the beginning to end. What I seek in hip-hop is the urge for a challenge. What I seek in hip-hop is the ability to get people to listen between the lines. What I seek in hip-hop is comprehensive lyrics and flows that enable listeners to get in touch with the five senses that the rapper does.
I’ve narrowed this generation’s greats down to three rappers: Hopsin, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole. Each rapper has their own individual flaws in the game, but each has made an impact that makes them great.
Hopsin is a highly underrated rapper who, in his recent years, has gained media attention through dissing crowd favorites such as Tyler, the Creator, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. He is the definition of a rapper who isn’t scared to speak about his opinions to the entire public.
Aside from dissing crowd favorite rappers, Hopsin raps about topics that are far from the irrelevant side of the spectrum. My personal favorite is The Ill Mind of Hopsin 5, where Hopsin describes his views on party-hard, not-going-to-school males, impatient women who look for love while giving away what’s inside their jeans, and the African American society that highlight the ghetto lifestyle as the best.
Picking these topics to speak upon isn’t in the norm for mainstream hip-hop artists. These are the types of topics that people don’t want to hear, but it’s something that people should need to hear. I’m sure Hopsin isn’t aiming for a popularity title with his career, but to have high quality fans over a high quantity of fans is a unique feat.
Kendrick Lamar is currently the new face of hip-hop. His sophomore album “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City” proliferated his popularity with its exquisite storytelling. In addition, Kendrick has made recent collaborations with popular artists such as Robin Thicke and The Lonely Island.
Lamar has been titled the Top Lyricist of 2012, and I have no argument against that. Lamar is the type to create metaphors upon metaphors within a single song, and bring a listener back to the main topic and maintain relevancy. He’s the type to create a tongue twister that will have you thinking “what did he just say?” Most importantly, he keeps true to his roots of Compton, California. He allows the world to know his experiences with the infamous Angel Dust, also known as PCP, and the struggles he went through when losing loved ones while trying to make better use of himself.
Recently, Lamar released a verse on Big Sean’s “Control” in which he called out all his worthy adversaries in the new generation of hip-hop. This was the smartest move that any rapper could make, seeing as how hip-hop has been dead for the past couple of years, and Lamar has every bullet in his lyrical gun ready if retaliations are fired.
Kendrick is the definition of a lyrically insane rapper who isn’t scared to challenge all in his way, including his rapping buddy, J. Cole.
J. Cole is the best rapper of this generation. This storytelling fanatic is an inspiration for those who start from a small place, who also wish to put themselves in better positions in life. The main topics of his stories consist of college, love, depression, and a new life in hip-hop. These are all topics that I’m sure we all can relate to. Although we may not be able to compare ourselves with the life of a famous hip-hop artist, I’m sure we all have had some points in our lives in which we felt like a new life is added on to the one we live.
Cole raps as if every word rhymes with any other word, making his flow impeccable compared to others. He doesn’t speak too fast like Hopsin or Kendrick, but delivers his words in nearly the same way. Tongue twisters and the alignment of certain words put Cole’s lyricism into the upper echelon of rapping.
Listening to Cole makes me want to rewind the track, deeply listen to the words again, and get the “did he really just say that?” feeling. Since he doesn’t rap so quickly, it’s very easy to sing along with his songs. For myself, I’ve learned around 80 percent of the lyrics to his songs.
I’m sure if Jermaine had the same media attention that Kendrick does, he would be considered the greatest among the new generation to a larger majority. This topic will never come to and end. Barbershops, lunch tables, and social networks will always have their opinions on who’s the greatest. Nonetheless, it’s the true fans that make these rappers into who they are today. Keep these conversations flowing about who’s the best, and time will tell the rest.