By MEL BLANKE
Photo credit goes to eurweb.com.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Drake.
But, let’s talk about more than just Drake. Someone who might not know what it means when the “hotline bling.” Someone who is just as good (or better -- ahhh!)?
10. Mick Jenkins (25)
Maybe it’s just me, but I am a sucker for jazz-infused rap and deep, thoughtful lyrics -- for example, Jenkins 'biggest hit thus far, "Jazz." Mick Jenkins brings both to the game with his most recent mixtape, "Wave[s]," as well as its predecessor, "The Water[s]." Although neither necessarily hit the mainstream vibes, Jenkins towers over -- literally, he’s 6-foot-5 -- some of his fellow Chicago natives.
His music has sound diversity, philosophical lyrics and smooth transitions, which is refreshing to hear amongst many of the new artists coming from the rap scene. Fans of Kendrick Lamar’s sound and Lupe Fiasco’s style should definitely look out for his debut album, possibly titled, "[T]he [H]ealing [C]omponent," which according to his Instagram is finished and most likely going to be released in August 2016.
9. Big Sean (28)
As one of the more popular and well-known artists on this list, Big Sean has released several albums and mixtapes throughout the years, with many dead gaps in between. Recently, though, his release of "Dark Sky Paradise" took him straight to the top of the rap scene totem poll.
"I Don’t F*ck With You," featuring E-40, kickstarted its release and might have saved his career. It seems that Big Sean put his heart -- most likely aimed at his ex Naya Rivera -- and soul into this song and album so he could pull himself out of the slump. Although some of his songs seem like they could have been written by a few angry sorority girls, Big Sean brought a lot of depth and attitude to his most recent album, and I look forward to hearing his next.
8. Angel Haze (23)
In a music genre currently run by mostly men, Angel Haze can easily battle her way up to the top, just as Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj and Ms. Lauryn Hill have. Haze’s music breaks both political and emotional barriers, rapping about sexual abuse and bigotry in both her 2012 mixtape, "Reservation," as well as her second album, "Back to the Woods."
Coming from a very tough background, Haze allows listeners to feel the emotions through her powerful and raw lyrics. It’s an uphill battle for women in hip-hop, but Haze stands her own against the many male rap mega-stars. For any hip-hop/rap feminist fans out there searching for a new sound to listen to, look no further! Here she is.
7. Earl Sweatshirt (22)
As a child of the shock-rap group, Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt produces unique and smooth rhymes that makes me forget he is the same age as me. Earl delves into the deep, dark hole of mental illness and addiction in songs, such as "Grief" and "Inside," which creates a certain powerful honesty about him that is incomparable.
In his most recent album, "I Don’t Like Sh*t," the song "I Don't Get Outside" is a very dark and heavy account, but it is an undeniable testament to his spot as part of the rap scene’s future. Earl gives a very different, more monotone vibe than his Odd Future mate, Tyler, The Creator, but he channels the powerful lyrics rap so frequently omits these days. I expect to see much, much more from him.
6. Chance the Rapper (23)
Chance the Rapper hit it big with his second mixtape, Acid Rap, which features several major artists, such as Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Saba, and Childish Gambino and gospel inspirations.
More recently, though, his release of Coloring Book made an even bigger splash than it’s predecessors. With no label attached to it, the album made impressive waves with it’s hard tracks and gospel influence.
Chance interests me so much, he speaks openly about and to God in his rhymes and often incorporates church music. He says, “Jesus’ black life ain’t matter, I know I talked to his daddy.” At such a young age, I wonder where he will go from here and what his next album will sound like. Gospel again?
5. Tyler, The Creator (25)
There is no other rapper quite like Tyler, The Creator, other than himself. As another child of Odd Future, Tyler created his solo career by releasing his first mixtape, "Bastard," which was quickly followed by his first album, "Goblin."
Sometimes I ask myself why I love Tyler so much because of how ridiculous and occasionally offensive his lyrics are, but then I listen to "Goblin" again and remember why: his charisma. He might be another kind of crazy, but Tyler brings nothing but confidence to his work. There has been so much criticism of his music, but he could not care less. His music is the basic definition of shock-rap, and I can’t wait to see what will shock me next, but I doubt it will beat "Trashwang" -- look it up.
4. ScHoolboy Q (29)
Coming from the strong and resilient label TDE and the rap supergroup Black Hippy -- which also including Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock -- ScHoolboy Q continues to stand his ground as a prominent rapper in his time. His most recent album, "Oxymoron," did not necessarily make as big of a splash as intended, but it did leave a path for his career and future albums to come.
It includes hardcore rap stars, such as Raekwon and 2 Chainz, which allows for an interesting mix of styles. Some work, some fall flat. One that sticks out is "Collard Greens," featuring Kendrick Lamar, that mixes both the hard and the light, providing a break from the heavier songs within the album. Q is not one to be missed, for now.
3. Vince Staples (22)
As another youngster from Long Beach, Vince Staples has already made a huge impact on the scene by being featured on XXL Magazine’s 2015 Freshman Class. He is one third of the rap group Cutthroat Boyz, which also includes Joey Fatts and Aston Matthews. His very impressive first full-length album, "Summertime 06’," does not disappoint with its intensity and complex conversations.
He keeps it real with songs such as "Like It Is" and "Might Be Wrong." There seems to be a calm and relaxed vibe about Vince that makes him unshakable; it is so evident in his album’s most popular hit, "Norf Norf," where he says, “I ain't never run from nothing but the police.” Vince Staples is promising. I like him.
2. Joey Bada$$ (21)
Here he is: the youngest person on my list. But his age, by no means, affects his immense talent. I am in love with the old school rap sound, and that’s exactly what Joey Bada$$ comes offers. In his debut album, B4.DA.$$ -- which makes me laugh -- he has a beautiful mix of personal antidotes and fluid instrumentals.
Joey is a natural rhymer with an easy, smooth method to his rapping that is displayed in both hits, "Paper Trail$" and "Chicken Curry." The album allows for his personality to show, which was lacking until B4.DA.$$ was released. It threw him over the top and made him a promising figure in the future of New York rap and hip-hop.
1. Kendrick Lamar (29)
Coming in first on this list, as well as in my heart, Kendrick Lamar is easily one of the best rappers of all time -- and the best of his time. He’s marked a path for himself -- as well as for many other artists -- to follow in his footsteps, but they will never truly fill his shoes. Both of his major albums, "good kid, m.A.A.d city" and "To Pimp a Butterfly," contain styles and concepts that audiences had never seen or heard before them -- styles and concepts that only someone with Kendrick’s poetic and lyrical genius could pull off.
The relevancy and visibility that is displayed in "To Pimp a Butterfly" in tracks such as "King Kunta" and "Alright," exemplifies the passion and rage that fills Kendrick from the get-go. He has a sense of utter chaos and brilliant ridiculousness that is necessary to successfully lay the brick road for artists to come after him. Even if they deny it, everyone is waiting for his next.