The 2020s have ushered in a unique era of hip-hop, showcasing a blend of diverse talents, distinct styles, and innovative production techniques. As the rap game continues to evolve and shape the sound of contemporary music, several new artists have emerged, significantly impacting the industry. From introspective lyricism to hard-hitting trap beats, the current generation of rappers has shown incredible versatility and has undoubtedly left their mark on this decade.
Among these household names are artists such as Lil Baby, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lil Uzi Vert, who continue to break barriers and push the envelope with their respective sounds. Additionally, already-established acts like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Drake maintain their dominant presence and further solidify their legacies in the rap world.
Considering factors such as chart performance, critical acclaim, and cultural influence, we have compiled a list of the top 10 best rappers of the 2020s. These artists are responsible for creating some of the most memorable tracks of recent times and significantly shifting the landscape of the rap genre as we know it.
2020s Rap Landscape
Influence of Technology and Platforms
In the 2020s, technology has played a significant role in reshaping the rap landscape. The proliferation of streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud has made it easier for artists to distribute their music and reach a wider audience. This has resulted in the rapid rise of several rappers, including Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, and Megan Thee Stallion. Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter have also allowed artists to connect directly with their fans, enabling them to promote their music and gain instant feedback.
In addition, digital music production software has enabled artists to experiment with various sonic elements and influences, resulting in a more diverse and innovative sound within the rap genre. The combination of technology and ease of access has opened the doors to a new generation of talented rappers and producers, contributing to the variety and growth we see in the 2020s rap scene.
Rap and Hip-Hop at the Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 consistently reflects the genre’s popularity, showcasing numerous rap and hip-hop artists in its charts. In 2020, we saw several notable hits from prominent rappers, such as Roddy Ricch, Future, and Megan Thee Stallion.
Here are some rap songs that made their mark on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2020:
- “The Box” by Roddy Ricch
- “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé
- “Life Is Good” by Future ft. Drake
- “Rockstar” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
With the ongoing evolution of the rap genre and the influence of new technology and platforms, the 2020s rap landscape is poised to continue growing and diversifying. The Billboard Hot 100 is an essential barometer for tracking the genre’s success and popularity. As rap continues to permeate the mainstream culture, we can expect even more exciting developments and achievements from the artists defining the 2020s rap scene.
Top 10 Best 2020s Rappers
Drake is arguably one of the best rappers of the 2020s, with consistently chart-topping hits and an extensive discography. Born as Aubrey Drake Graham in Toronto, his unique blend of hip-hop, R&B, and pop has cemented his place in the music industry. His most notable collaborations include tracks with Lil Wayne, Travis Scott, and Kanye West.
2. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is an innovative and influential rapper hailing from Compton, California. His thought-provoking lyrics and versatile flow have earned him critical acclaim and several Grammy Awards. Lamar’s discography includes collaborations with prominent artists such as SZA, Jay Rock, and Babay Keem.
3. J. Cole
North Carolina native J. Cole is known for his introspective lyricism and versatile style. With a string of successful albums under his belt, he’s collaborated with artists like 21 Savage, 6LACK, and Eminem. J. Cole’s ability to tackle complex subjects has made him a fan favorite and a respected figure in the rap community.
4. Lil Baby
Atlanta rapper Lil Baby has quickly risen to fame with his catchy hooks and signature melodic flow. His 2020 hit, “The Bigger Picture,” showcased his lyrical prowess and his awareness of current social issues. Lil Baby has collaborated with several big names in the industry, including DaBaby, Rylo Rodriguez, and 42 Dugg.
5. Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion, originally from Houston, Texas, has become dominant in the rap scene. Known for her confident and assertive style, she’s garnered praise for her unapologetic lyrics and powerful delivery. Her collaborations include tracks with Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B.
Legendary New York rapper Nas continues to deliver strong work in the 2020s. His 2020 album, “King’s Disease,” produced by Hit-Boy, showcases his staying power and lyrical expertise. With decades of experience, Nas remains a respected and vital voice in hip-hop.
Eminem, hailing from Detroit, is a rap icon who continues to deliver hard-hitting verses and intricate wordplay. Known for tracks like “Lose Yourself” and “Stan,” Eminem’s extensive discography transcends decades. His collaborations include working with artists such as Royce da 5’9″, Skylar Grey, and the late Juice WRLD.
8. Cardi B
Cardi B, a rapper from the Bronx, became a household name with her chart-topping hits like “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It.” Her fierce and unapologetic style has made her a force to be reckoned with. Cardi B’s recent collaborations include tracks with Megan Thee Stallion, Kehlani, and Selena Gomez.
9. Roddy Ricch
Compton native Roddy Ricch blends melody and lyricism in his unique rap style. With hits like “The Box” and “High Fashion,” Ricch has quickly made a name for himself in hip-hop. He’s collaborated with top-tier artists such as Nipsey Hussle, Gunna, and Ty Dolla $ign.
10. Young Thug
Atlanta’s Young Thug is known for his innovative approach to rap, often experimenting with different flows and vocal styles. With an extensive discography and multiple platinum hits, Thug has significantly impacted the hip-hop scene. His collaborations include tracks with J. Cole, Travis Scott, and Future.
Defining Best Rappers
Lyrics and Songwriting
One key criterion for defining the best rappers of the 2020s is their lyrics and songwriting. Exceptional rappers craft powerful bars that resonate with their audience, creating compelling stories and delivering memorable punchlines. Some notable examples from the 2020s include Lil Baby, Kendrick Lamar, and Polo G, who have all demonstrated their lyrical prowess in their music.
Flow and Voice
Another critical aspect of a great rapper is their flow and voice. Aspects like tempo, cadence, and vibe are crucial in captivating listeners and showcasing a rapper’s unique style. Artists like Eminem and J. Cole demonstrate strong flow and captivating stage voices, ultimately enhancing their ranking among the top rappers of the 2020s.
Performance and Stage Presence
Rappers with a powerful stage presence can engage their audience and create an unforgettable atmosphere during performances. Their ability to seamlessly transition from high-energy tracks to emotional ballads showcases their versatility in the rap game. Rappers like Megan Thee Stallion and Denzel Curry have built a loyal following, partly thanks to their dynamic stage presence and engaging performances.
Innovation and Impact
To stand out as a top rapper of the 2020s, artists must demonstrate innovation and significantly impact the hip-hop scene. This includes pushing boundaries in the production, challenging traditional rap norms, and influencing both emerging and established rappers. For example, Drake and Lil Durk have earned their spots among the best rappers of the 2020s through their ability to evolve, innovate, and affect the industry constantly.
Notable Albums and Songs
2020 saw a multitude of record-breaking hits in the hip-hop and rap scenes. “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch became significant on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, taking the top spot for multiple weeks. Another sensation was “WAP,” a collaboration between Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion that stirred conversations and became a cultural phenomenon, dominating the music charts.
24kGoldn’s “Mood” featuring iann dior also became a smash hit, spending weeks at the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Lil Baby and 42 Dugg’s “We Paid” also made waves in the rap scene, becoming a staple on charts and playlists.
Posthumous releases also had moments like “The Woo” by Pop Smoke featuring 50 Cent and Roddy Ricch. This song contributed to Pop Smoke’s album sales skyrocketing, honoring his memory after his untimely passing. Another example is Juice WRLD’s “Mood Swings,” which showcased his distinct style and made it onto the charts.
Critically Acclaimed Albums
The year 2020 presented a variety of critically acclaimed rap albums, demonstrating the continuous evolution and growth of the genre. Some of the most notable albums include:
- Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake”: This highly anticipated album showcased Lil Uzi Vert’s unique style and received widespread praise, quickly rising in popularity.
- Run The Jewels’ “RTJ4”: Another strong release from the hip-hop duo, which delved into political themes and societal issues, earning them critical acclaim.
- Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist’s “Alfredo”: Recognized for its exceptional production and Gibbs’ skilled lyrical delivery, this collaborative project quickly became a favorite among hip-hop enthusiasts.
- NAV’s “Good Intentions”: NAV’s third studio album brought a blend of catchy hooks and moody production, making it a huge commercial success and landing him at the top of the Billboard 200 chart.
As we can see, the 2020s have already produced many impactful and memorable moments in the rap and hip-hop scenes. The record-breaking hits and critically acclaimed albums above demonstrate the genre’s ability to evolve and remain at the forefront of popular music.
Collaborations and Partnerships
In the 2020s hip-hop scene, collaborations and partnerships played a significant role in shaping the industry. This section delves into rapper-producer collaborations, notable rap duos, and groups that have made a mark in the past few years.
- Lil Uzi Vert and TM88: Their partnership produced the 2020 hit single “The Box,” showcasing both artists’ talents and garnering widespread acclaim.
- YoungBoy Never Broke Again and TayTayMadeIt: This duo’s excellent chemistry is evident in their successful collaboration on the “Still Flexin’, Still Steppin'” project.
- Kendrick Lamar and Sounwave: A long-standing partnership, Kendrick and Sounwave have created numerous masterpieces, including tracks from the 2020 Compton-based project “Untitled EP.”
- Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats: Rico Nasty’s unique sound and Kenny Beats’ production skills merged perfectly for the 2020 mixtape “Anger Management.”
Notable Rap Duos and Groups
- Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar: Influencing each other’s work, this duo released the well-received single “family ties” in 2021.
- Griselda: This Buffalo-based rap group, consisting of Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, and Benny the Butcher, has gained significant recognition across the hip-hop community and released multiple albums throughout 2020.
- 070 Shake and 070 Phi: Hailing from Brooklyn, this duo is known for their intense lyricism and passion for rap.
- Future and Lil Uzi Vert: Their collaborative project “Pluto x Baby Pluto” in 2020 displayed a strong synergy in content and style, adding to their success.
The Future of Rap
The 2020s rap scene is filled with promising talent redefining the hip-hop world with unique approaches and fresh sounds. Artists from diverse backgrounds are making their marks, like Lil Baby, Denzel Curry, and Lil Durk. North Carolina-based rappers are emerging as hot talents, and they undoubtedly have much to contribute to the rap game.
Long-standing influences in the rap industry, like Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne, continue to inspire new artists with their ability to maintain longevity in the industry. These artists have produced iconic bodies of work like Illmatic, Tupac, and Wale. Using these influences as a foundation, new rappers build upon existing styles, innovate with fresh ideas, and evolve the genre.
Evolving Styles and Genres
The rap landscape of the 2020s is witnessing a shift in styles, with artists like Russ experimenting with different approaches to their music. On the other hand, there are rappers still adhering to traditional rap methods and paying homage to their roots while pushing the envelope regarding lyricism and production. This dynamic blend of old and new expands hip-hop’s horizons by creating new sub-genres and enhancing its appeal to a broader audience.
Finally, rap and hip-hop’s reach are growing beyond US borders as the music gains traction in different countries. We see artists from around the globe, such as Africa, Asia, and Europe, embracing and incorporating rap techniques to represent their local cultures. This diversified cultural influence is helping to shape the future of rap music, driving its rapid evolution on a global scale.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the biggest 2020s rappers?
In the 2020s, some of the biggest rappers include Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, and J. Cole. These artists have consistently released hit songs and gained massive popularity throughout the decade.
Top rappers in 2020?
During 2020, artists like Nas, Big Sean, Don Toliver, and Megan Thee Stallion were among the top rappers, with their songs receiving critical acclaim and topping various charts.
Who’s trending in 2021?
In 2021, rappers such as Lil Baby, DaBaby, Polo G, and Roddy Ricch were trending due to their successful releases, collaborations, and performances. Their influence expanded as they gained more followers and engaged with fans on social media platforms.
Best rappers of all time?
Determining the best rappers of all time is subjective, but some frequently mentioned artists include Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Jay-Z, and Nas. These artists have made significant contributions to the hip-hop genre and are respected for their lyrical skills, storytelling abilities, and overall impact on music.
Popular rappers in 2022?
While it is difficult to predict which rappers will be popular in 2022, some artists gaining momentum in 2021 include Moneybagg Yo, Doja Cat, Jack Harlow, and Lil Tjay. Their recent success suggests they may continue to rise in popularity in 2022.