Pass me the torch eh eh
February 25, 2015 10:35 AM   Subscribe

 
No Run the Jewels??? I call bullshit.
posted by Renoroc at 11:09 AM on February 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's definitely Kanye West. The only alternative would be Kendrick Lamar, but he's still a) unproven to the extent that Kanye West is proven, and b) lacking the creativity and diversity of Kanye West. Kendrick could very well be the superior rapper from a technical standpoint, but like the article says, everyone's got hooks and bars. Kanye West has an explosive creativity, and is able to innovate musically in a way that very few other mainstream artists are able to do. Yeezus was relevant in a way that didn't make sense based on the musical zeitgeist, but it actually changed the zeitgeist to fit around it, or in fact, to stem from it.

Per the article, "...Kanye’s too openly conflicted about his relationship to the whole of his audience. He’s distrustful of big pop gestures and loath to meet pop’s expectations — you got the sense from his interviews circa Yeezus that he views even My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as to some degree a kiss-ass record, and is probably even sicker of “Gold Digger” than everyone else is — but he’s also obsessed with the validation of mainstream gatekeepers."

Even if MBDTF is "a kiss-ass record," it still sounds different than any other music put out at the time. It is orchestral and dense, intense and proud, and it transcends rap in a way that I don't think Kendrick Lamar has done. He is wary of pop's expectations, because he believes his art transcends them and expands them. When Yeezus was validated by the mainstream gatekeepers, it was not accepted into their prescribed ideas of what this music should be, but rather was forced into the mainstream by its undeniable status as art.

"The Blacker the Berry" may be more "important" than any one song Kanye has put out in a while (ever?), and is certainly more important than either of Kanye's Rihanna/McCartney songs, but Kanye West has a je ne sais quoi (genius, perhaps) that Kendrick Lamar just does not. Kendrick may at this stage have more important things to say, and may in fact be better skilled, technically, at saying them, but Kanye West is not only the most important rapper but actually the single most important artist in today's world.
posted by papayaninja at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


Kanye used to rap?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


No Run the Jewels?

You're saying a single good album is the best rapper alive right now?
{=2records / 1 Killer Mike = 1 good RTJ record}
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's still Karl Marx.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:18 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


'Important' is a weird metric, and one that, clearly, not everyone at Grantland reads the same way.

Me, I might give it to Minaj.
posted by box at 11:18 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is all very simple, really. The way to figure out who the no. 1 person is in anything is to figure out who the most important person is in that thing, and then there you go, there’s your no. 1

Oh.

This is a dumb, pointless, but fun conversation. It's basically going to come down to everyone just saying their favorite.

"The Blacker the Berry" may be more "important" than any one song Kanye has put out in a while (ever?), and is certainly more important than either of Kanye's Rihanna/McCartney songs

They are talking about right now, literally at this moment. Paul McKanye isn't it right now.

You're saying a single good album is the best rapper alive right now?
{=2records / 1 Killer Mike = 1 good RTJ record}


Definitely not saying RTJ is the most important rap group right now but are you implying that El-P is not a good rapper? That's the first time I've ever heard anyone say that. El-P is and has been a fantastic rapper for close to 20 years.
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


i'm really glad to see nicki on this list as a dominant rapper (instead of only finding her name on a "female rapper" list). she's so fucking good and i think a lot of people sleep on her because of things like starships and her big silly wig phase (and her gender, of course). it's great to see her put out a solid album and start to get the recognition of her talent and hard work that she's earned.

Renoroc - agreed. it seems obvious that they're approaching this from a consumerist perspective - although, if earl sweatshirt is on the list, run the jewels/killer mike/el-p absolutely deserve a space.
posted by nadawi at 11:24 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


You're saying a single good album is the best rapper alive right now?

Are we talking about RtJ or Kendrick? :P

They are talking about right now, literally at this moment. Paul McKanye isn't it right now.

I think I was using two different senses of "important," which is confusing. "The Blacker the Berry" is important in a social context, based on the actual ideas behind the words. Kanye, even in his pop-star Paul McCartney-partnering mode, is more important artistically and creatively.

Anyway, we can all agree that the dude at the end saying Young Thug was trolling, right?
posted by papayaninja at 11:25 AM on February 25, 2015


oh - and that drake tape is so good! i really disliked it on the first listen - sure a good flourish here or there, but it didn't grab me - and by the fourth listen i just can't put it down. it's the first thing that has knocked the pinkprint out of constant rotation in my headphones.
posted by nadawi at 11:26 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


El-P is not a fantastic rapper. He's interesting and I appreciate what he does, but he's obv the weakest link in them chains.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:27 AM on February 25, 2015


we can all agree that the dude at the end saying Young Thug was trolling, right?

I fucking love 2Cups Stuffed so much I think it's kinda serious.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:28 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


'Important' is a weird metric

I agree. I'm mainly concerned with which one is most relevant.
posted by thelonius at 11:28 AM on February 25, 2015


you're here for young thug but not el-p? i think we'll agree to disagree.
posted by nadawi at 11:30 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe we can agree there's a way more "important" collabo rolling on the horizon this year.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:31 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go with the one that's mates with Jodorowsky.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish I could like Drake but every time I see him I think of the crappy Degrassi reboot

El-P is not a fantastic rapper.

WE'RE GONNA HAVE TO AGREE TO DISAGREE, I mean holy shit the stuff he's pulled off over the years is legendary
posted by Hoopo at 11:34 AM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


i'm still waiting to see if this renewed pairing gives us something amazing this year.
posted by nadawi at 11:34 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kanye West is not only the most important rapper but actually the single most important artist in today's world

That seems a little extreme. I don't have a suggestion for a replacement in that category because that category does not exist.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:38 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kanye West isn't fit to drive the Jurassic 5 tour bus, but yeah, I guess he's important, if people insist on giving him money.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:41 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


it would be super duper awesome if this entire thread didn't just become "kanye : greatest or worst?!"
posted by nadawi at 11:42 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


The comparison of Kanye to Michael Jackson is apt, because he does run the risk of becoming that sort of cult lifestyle figure that MJ or Elvis became in the end, a cult figure, an identity for their fans to submerge themselves into, dismissed by everybody else save some music cognoscenti who still remembered when they were actually known for their music.

At the same time, being the most important rapper in the world seems far too limited for Kanye, not ambitious enough.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:43 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


This line from Pappademas is gold-
"But there’s something deeply uncool about winning a Best Rap Performance Grammy. In hip-hop terms, it might as well have been a D.A.R.E. award."
posted by jammy at 11:44 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also apt: that partial dismissal of Kendrick Lamar's "i" as white people's rap because it is exactly the sort of song you can hear on an alternative pop/rock station and that's where I first heard it, in heavy rotation on BBC 6music.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:45 AM on February 25, 2015


I just came in here to say that I'm glad J. Cole & A$AP are on that list.
posted by Fizz at 11:46 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kanye might well be the most important musician. But I don't think that makes him the number one rapper. All his genius is in the music; to be the best rapper it's gotta be in the lyrics, the words.

I'd go Kendrick, myself. Just because he's started more shit with his actual words than any of them. It's his verses people talk about, not his sound.
posted by maggiepolitt at 11:48 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Potomac: that tracks already out. Unless they are doing more.

Grantland should stick to sports writing. Kanye, Kendrick, Nikki and Drake is a pretty narrow definition of hip hop. This is modestly less dumb than that "New face of protest" malarkey a couple weeks back, but it still just comes across like some high schoolers reaching for reasons why their favorite band is the best.
(Side note: your favorite band sucks, but probably not as bad as Grantland or Pitchforks)

EL-P contributes a fuckton more to RTJ than just verses. And has contributed a fuckton more to hip hop than a couple recent mixtapes. Personally I've never been a huge fan and I've been hearing his shit since Funcrusher (the tape before Plus). I've softened a bit, partly because it seems like he's at least having fun these days.
But seriously, dude knows what he wants to do, knows how to do it, and does it.
Also, Mike's excellent "R.A.P. Music" owes a lot to El-P putting the album together.
posted by lkc at 11:49 AM on February 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


This article has made me decide to listen to Young Thug for the first time when I go home for lunch. That description at the end...I mean even for those of you who are familiar with him you can't tell me that doesn't make you want to re-evaluate.
posted by Hoopo at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Most important artist in the world may be a little hyperbolic, yes.

I'm also really glad A$AP Rocky is there. The profiles I've read are interesting, and his music is as well. Regarding collaborations, I'd rather listen to 1 Train than most of Watch the Throne. I saw him play at my school a few years ago (with opener Kendrick Lamar), and the whole crew was a lot of fun.
posted by papayaninja at 11:51 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


lkc - if you were making a list that favored consumerism, who else would you include that's not on the list (not being snarky, honestly asking)? do you think it's too narrow with everyone on the list or just the four you mentioned? it seems to me that if they're going to use sales/impact/charts as part of the metric, there's no way to leave them off.
posted by nadawi at 11:52 AM on February 25, 2015


At the same time, being the most important rapper in the world seems far too limited for Kanye, not ambitious enough.

Kanye's next album is actually a collaboration with Ai Weiwei on a line of home furnishings.
posted by postcommunism at 11:52 AM on February 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


i hope a$ap rocky keeps on keeping on because i greatly enjoy him. i worry that without a$ap yams at the heart of what he does he might struggle...
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Potomac: that tracks already out. Unless they are doing more.

They got a whole album! It's been done since 2013 or something. Hurts just thinking about it. DOOM is still a god in my opinion. Was Loaded more important than All Things Must Pass? Some would say yes. Me is one.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:11 PM on February 25, 2015


And [El-P] has contributed a fuckton more to hip hop than a couple recent mixtapes.

I feel ya. But Grantland isn't trying to give out a Lifetime Achievement Award--this is the most important rapper right now.

And, so far, El-P has spent 2015 working on Meow the Jewels.

It seems to me that if they're going to use sales/impact/charts as part of the metric, there's no way to leave them off

And I think they have to, both because it's an actual piece of hard data and because it pretty clearly enters into rappers' own answers to those GOAT-type questions.
posted by box at 12:20 PM on February 25, 2015


Anything after 1993 is pretty much bollocks.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 12:35 PM on February 25, 2015


There's such a thing as an important rapper? And anybody who puts J. Cole on this list is a complete moron.
posted by phaedon at 12:36 PM on February 25, 2015


I know I'm waaaaay out of my depth here because I JUST NOW realized that El-P is supposed to be pronounced "LP."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:36 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Anything after 1993 is pretty much bollocks."
Nas and Outkast would beg to differ.
posted by lkc at 12:37 PM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


if you hate current rap or rap in general, what do you get out of this thread besides shitting on it?
posted by nadawi at 12:39 PM on February 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


The Card Cheat:
El-P == El-Producto a cheap cigar for rolling blunts. But its also pronounced "LP"

or "El-Pee" as some would say it.
posted by lkc at 12:41 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Most important? In terms of career, influence, and general recognition?

It's Will Smith. So that's probably not the best metric.
posted by maxsparber at 12:53 PM on February 25, 2015


or "El-Pee" as some would say it.

I'm still reeling from El-P's comeback. Hardest verbal smackdown on record I have ever heard. He just basically ended Sole's career with one song. "I feel like Selena, the president of my fan club is trying to kill me" along with actual recordings of the guy on the phone begging "I love Company Flow, I wanna be down". Ouch.

But yeah. I'm talking about a 15-year-old record, doesn't exactly give him "right now" points.
posted by Hoopo at 12:57 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


will smith hasn't released an album in a decade. the most important thing he's done for rap since then is a couple of viral performances of the fresh prince theme song.

his kids are getting very interesting though. willow's work with sza is so good (although stuffed to the gills with scientology/indigo children stuff). i can't wait to see what they do once they grow up a bit more.
posted by nadawi at 1:03 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


will smith hasn't released an album in a decade. the most important thing he's done for rap since then is a couple of viral performances of the fresh prince theme song.

If the metric is "who is the most important rapper to release a recent album," then, yeah. But this is what they claim to be gauging:

The genre’s true leader, the artist by whom even the leading lights are dimmed.

It's all going to be subjective, of course. But in terms of broad success and impact, Will Smith is going to be high on the list, and, I don't know, I don't think I'm in a position to say he shouldn't be.
posted by maxsparber at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2015


the title includes "right now" - there's just no way to include will smith in this list unless he beyonce drops an album full of fire tonight.
posted by nadawi at 1:15 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


At the same time, being the most important rapper in the world seems far too limited for Kanye, not ambitious enough.

I'll also give him most self important rapper in the world. (Ikid Ikid!)
posted by srboisvert at 1:19 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]



It's all going to be subjective, of course. But in terms of broad success and impact, Will Smith is going to be high on the list, and, I don't know, I don't think I'm in a position to say he shouldn't


This is like arguing Fidel Castro is the most important baseball player because you don't see any other baseball players leading revolutions and dictating over countries, now do you? Will Smith is, in 2015, a very famous movie actor and beloved former sitcom star. I bet that the majority of people under the age of say 18 don't know that he ever rapped. You can't be the best right now when you are no longer playing the game.
posted by maggiepolitt at 1:19 PM on February 25, 2015


the title includes "right now" - there's just no way to include will smith in this list unless he beyonce drops an album full of fire tonight.

I HAVE A RIGHT TO MY OWN METRICS STOP BEING THE RAP POLICE
posted by maxsparber at 1:20 PM on February 25, 2015


Rapping is not exactly like being a guitar player. You could say that Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen is still the most important guitar player because their playing doesn't double as speaking for a community of people (however it may be defined or define themselves). But rapping does. Among the factors that go into the equation, besides albums sold and shouts by other rappers and blog posts about you by the cogNOZcenti, is the extent to which you speak to and for the community(s) of hip hop as they exist right now.

Also 👮 sir plz have a seat over there
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:21 PM on February 25, 2015


Chance? He's doing things no one else is doing.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:23 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


While I will certainly grant that Will Smith's strategy for picking movie roles has made him a great deal of money, I don't think Will Smith himself would call Will Smith 'the genre's true leader.'

Will Smith makes me nostalgic for back in the day, when this thread was all about Kanye West.
posted by box at 1:25 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Producer gave me a beat, said it's the beat of the year/I said "El-P didn't do it so get the fuck outta here."

And, so far, El-P has spent 2015 working on Meow the Jewels.

And they're in the studio with Massive Attack too. What's your point? RTJ have put out album of the year candidates in 2013 and 2014, and have a third one coming this year most likely, and both put out the solo albums of their careers in 2012. Yeezus came out in 2013, good kid M.A.A.D. city in 2012. Also, El-P is definitely underrated as a rapper, and if Killer Mike thinks El-P is great, that's good enough for me.

If A$AP, J. Cole, and Rae Sremmurd are on this list, it's horseshit that RTJ isn't.

I'll just leave this here.
posted by The Michael The at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nadawi: I get what you're saying. The best/relevant/important thing "right now" is a little ... silly? Like is it the last week? Since the grammys? This year? In that time frame, is it most downloads? Most sales? Most fashionable? Which demographic?

Artists on multi-month tours aren't usually making new albums, artists making new albums aren't necessarily putting out singles. I mean, if its "whats the best track this week", sure that's a discussion, but the sheer grantlandian hyperbole of "the genre's true leader". Eh, that goes a bit against the "right now" timeline, since an established artist with a huge fanbase like Kanye is just going to automatically have a wider reach. The hot single right now isn't an artists stature, but it could very well be a brick in the wall.

Also, this j-zone article I think sums up some of the friction in these discussions quite nicely: Learning to Accept Raps Generation Gap.
posted by lkc at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


yeah, i think it's a silly conceit, personally - but also what the thread is based on, so whatcha gonna do? i think lists that separate out those maintaining their fan bases from those building their fan bases end up being a lot more interesting - or if you're going to make a list that includes both sets do it more as "these people indisputably have the throne if we're discussing reach/sales/etc but they better watch their backs because these people have a good chance of sitting in their spot in 5 years."
posted by nadawi at 1:42 PM on February 25, 2015


The best/relevant/important thing "right now" is a little ... silly?

Well yeah, it's totally silly. Completely. I don't think anyone is taking it particularly seriously, including those interviewed. This is a light-hearted, not-very-serious article.
posted by Hoopo at 1:44 PM on February 25, 2015


I think we all know there's one person out there taking this very very very seriously.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:46 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Will Smith makes me nostalgic for back in the day, when this thread was all about Kanye West.

Ironically, I followed lkc's link above and found a clip of Kanye in Brazil, in a studio with none other than... Will Smith.
posted by postcommunism at 1:49 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maggie, I must respectfully disagree. Of course lyrics are important, but flow is even more so. If lyrics quality were the defining quality metric, rappers like KRS-ONE and Eminem would be looking down on everyone else almost permanently.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:54 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Chance? He's doing things no one else is doing.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:23 PM on February 25


I am so crossing my fingers for this kid.
I want more everything from him, in the back of my head, I think there is a good probability that his next album might just be some godawful teenybopper crap. I hope not, but won't blame him if it is. He's not making music for my cantankerous old ass, but damn if I'm not impressed when a kid half my age can make me laugh, or fight back tears or sit slack-jawed at whateverthehell you call his Emotionally Sophisticated Sound Milkshake.

But whatever, I'm sure he's got a bright future regardless of if I like it or not, and just like seeing Danny Brown pop up everywhere the last few years, looking happy and funny and successful and not dead in an alley like he was predicting a couple years ago.

Really wish the best for him and hope I can continue to love all his shit.

In conclusion, Chance the Rapper is a land of contrasts.
posted by lkc at 1:55 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


an established artist with a huge fanbase like Kanye is just going to automatically have a wider reach. The hot single right now isn't an artists stature, but it could very well be a brick in the wall.

I take the point, but the reason I think it's a fun discussion, if inherently a silly discussion, is because you're trying to identify the 2015-y-est thing in hip hop while 2015 is still happening. Has just started, in fact. If you were making a movie right now set in 1965 or 1985 or 2005, there are certain songs you would play, certain clothes you'd have people wear, that are of that moment, that tip that nostalgia chip in people and instantly evoke that era, that end up carrying that era's cultural weight. Trying to identify that stuff while you're still in that moment may be nearly impossible, like trying to see your own nose, but that's why it's fun, because you're making a case for the qualities you think will be emblematic while those qualities are still being determined.

Also why I'd vote no on run the jewels. If you're making a case for best album of the year I can see it, but I just don't think they're broadly popular enough. Maybe they will be. But I think they're more in the sort of Curtis Mayfield/Lou Reed spot.
posted by maggiepolitt at 1:58 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've never heard a Drake song that I immediately wanted to replay. I have with Kendrick and Nicki Minaj (and Chance, although it was only the intro to Acid Rap). Not a great metric, I know, but I do not get Drake.

Someone explain Drake.
posted by postcommunism at 2:03 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Haven't you ever been in a car at night in a strange city with a cute stranger?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:08 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


it always takes me about 3-5 listens on a drake song to go from "what's the big deal" to "holy shit what is this dude doing" to "i can't stop listening to this." he's super corny, but he's honest and bare in the right amounts, he's got good lines, he can be funny, the production/beats/music part of his stuff is mind bending in the way it can lull you in and then just fuck you up. also, he makes it sound downright logical, and dare i say,sweet that he'd like to be with you (his gal) right now, but he's just too busy in a studio full of strippers - that's just plain talented. he should be giving fuckboy lessons.

honestly, i can't explain it better than that - i was a big time drake hater (wtf is that dude's obsession with "good girls" and "bad girls"?? drake, stop!) and then the beyonce album dropped and i couldn't stop playing "mine" and really enjoying his part. then a friend made a 5 or so song playlist for me and after about 20 listens in 3 days i had to admit i was hooked.
posted by nadawi at 2:10 PM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thank you later for the Drake explanations.
posted by postcommunism at 3:27 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kanye West isn't fit to drive the Jurassic 5 tour bus

Wow. I liked J5 way back when but their strongest release was their first EP and they were not exactly pushing the envelope or even all that strong as rappers. I'm not Kanye's biggest fan by any stretch but J5 isn't even in the same league.
posted by Hoopo at 3:35 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, J5 had their moment in the sun. I was at the Quality Control relase party and HOOOOOOBOY! was that a helluva show. The end had EVERYONE on stage: from Mos Def to Phoenix Orion and the whole damn LA Underground was there. Cut Chemist had a turntable on the big stump from the album cover, I was up front standing next to Dan the Automator in the El Ray! Like I still remember it vividly 15 million years later. People walking back after the show were silent, just fucking stunned for a couple blocks. After a long Saturday night of drinking and party music. Just. Totally. Wow.

Buuut, for all their talents, they did kinda go for a gimmicky boy-band schtick that didn't have a lot of longevity. I remember being kind of baffled at the inroads they and Dilated Peoples (another band full of talent that just didn't really click. The whole was somehow less than their solo efforts) made in with the trendy / raver crowds during that period, and then just kinda fizzled away. Chali2na has been active and he's always good for a lark.
Sorry, Quannum Spectrum recently popped up on my playlist, which lead to re-listening to J5's early stuff like ... this week and man, that was some actual earnest fun.

Kanye (and my new new years resolution is to not get into Kanye discussions on mefi) is a one man show. He produces, puts albums together, writes, raps and promotes, and he's pretty good at most of it. I really don't care for his music, or persona, but I've got a begrudging respect for the guy, even if I think he's a mediocre lyricist with a reliable, but predictable flow. Even if you take away all his solo work and guest verses, he's got a catalog full of good and even great work going back to 1996.

Like "rebuilding" by goodie mob. Seriously I bought that album the day it came out and just found that out recently.

It'd be nice to talk about the state of hip hop, and where its been and where its going without it constantly turning into a pro- v. hate-kanye war, the way it'd be nice to talk about Nas' triumphs and missteps without just discussing and disclaiming illmatic.
posted by lkc at 4:34 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm still reeling from El-P's comeback. Hardest verbal smackdown on record I have ever heard.

I love a lot of El-P's work, but some of his stuff I just can't even enjoy because of how vicious it is.
posted by IAmUnaware at 4:41 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't want it to seem like I don't like El-P--I've ridden with that dude a long time. But I do think that people who don't listen to mostly rap can have an exaggerated sense of how big RTJ (and Freddie Gibbs, among others) is in that world. He's never not going to be an underground cat--it's in his DNA.

And although I'm not a fan, I'm surprised nobody pitched Migos.
posted by box at 4:56 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


**Checks to make sure Kool Keith is still alive.** Yup, it's still Kool Keith. Sorry 'Ye. Maybe next year.
posted by Anoplura at 5:11 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kanye[...] is a one man show. He produces, puts albums together, writes, raps and promotes

I've got a lot of respect for the dude's production talent but let's not forget to credit Mike Dean and all the rest of his collaborators.
posted by atoxyl at 5:21 PM on February 25, 2015


Oh sure, definitely. At the end of the day its Kanye West (+staff), the comparison I was making was to J5, which is NuMark,CutChemis,Akil,2na,Mark7,Zaakir (+staff).

I know he's got engineers + line mixers + producers and all the other trappings. I didn't mean to make it sound like its just him with a tape recorder and a casio in his basement. And he doesn't make every beat he raps over, either. Apple has a lot of engineers and marketers and whatnot, but at the end of the day its the Steve Jobs show.
posted by lkc at 5:51 PM on February 25, 2015


I'm not the biggest Kanye West fan in the world, but um I think he's setting the bar right now. I mean, J5 never dropped a better line than "I'm like a light skinned slave, boy/ this motherfucker's in the house," and that's just the best lyric Kanye dropped today.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:17 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


And although I'm not a fan, I'm surprised nobody pitched Migos.

From a technical perspective, Quavo's triplet flow is pretty damn important right now. But other than that, I feel like Young Thug is probably getting any votes that might have gone to Migos.

(I do really like Young Thug, but it took some acclimation).
posted by Bookhouse at 7:26 PM on February 25, 2015


Drake's flow on "Mine" (with Beyoncé) was my go-to song of last year. Mostly his part, especially the last bit.

Angel Haze needs to put out new music, but at least nobody in here has mentioned Azealia Banks.

If Missy Elliott puts out new tracks, I would add her to my list (Kanye, Kendrick, Nicki, Drake).

Nas is arguably in the top 3 of all time. I was sure Roscoe P. Coldchain was gonna be huge for a minute, but I guess he caught some time and dropped out for good.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:07 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Das Racist hadn't broken up, right? And if it's Heems and Kool A.D. in 2015 then by next by next year it's all Lakutis.

(no but seriously it's probably Kanye)
posted by komara at 9:16 PM on February 25, 2015


I should also say that I like Drake and Nicki (and Kanye, for that matter) because as artists, they all show such versatility. They can produce, star and guest on tracks from different genres and vibe with nearly anyone else by their side, musically.

True hip-hop purists may see them as less iconic rappers for that reason, but to me, quite the opposite. Bending the genre to ape your sound makes you powerful as an artist, because it attracts new audiences and inspires future performers; mastering the genre itself requires technical prowess, diligence and talent, of course, but does it make you the most important rapper?

OK, now I want to listen to everyone else's suggestions here to challenge my views a bit. Guess I better make tomorrow's playlist tonight!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:23 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


not even going to lie, i love broke with expensive taste, but banks had a long way to go before she is on a list like this. and yes, please, angel haze needs to release more music. maybe she has a break up album in her now that her and ireland baldwin have split...
posted by nadawi at 9:25 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


not even going to lie, i love broke with expensive taste

yesssss it is so good! I wish she would stop saying heinous stuff on Twitter, but that album is one of my favorites from last year.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:04 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm way out of my depth in this conversation, but I want to link to Lamar's performance of I on SNL this year in case you missed it. So good. Personally, I find it more compelling than Kanye's more theatrical productions.
posted by jomato at 10:00 AM on February 26, 2015


I wanna echo someone's sentiments about 1 Train by ASAP Rocky. I wish there had been a video for it because it reminds me of Wu-Tang so much.

About this survey however: I don't think any one rapper is the most important! I think all of the named, and people like Big Sean (who just dropped a new album), Migos, Rich Homie Quan, Gucci Mane (eponysterical), Chief Kief, Bobby Shmurda (if he can get released from jail), and many others not named, are important as a whole. They're important as a whole because unlike rock music, none of them really fit into genres, but each of them have their own style and form and at any given moment throughout 2014 it seemed as if you couldn't go anywhere or do anything without hearing about these people. It's like saying "who's the most important band and rock" and you'll get five bands that are all in different genres (and people will nitpick which era of each band is best, much like there are people who like Kanye's first three albums compared to everything after). This makes hip-hop, as a whole, important. That statement may seem redundant, because it's always been important, but from my point of view the last couple of years have been totally, in-separately dominated by hip-hop, with 2014, and by the looks of it 2015 as well, continuing this trend. Maybe it's because I exist in a particular generation but I can't seem to escape hip-hop. It is everywhere, and these people listed (and the ones I listed, and the ones I didn't list) are the army. Go look at r/hiphopheads and I guarantee you'll see these names continuously.

There's more hip-hop this year for us to feast on. I personally cannot pick any one person to be the most important right at this current minute, because Kanye and Kendrick are about to release two of the best albums, and Drake just released a mixtape in which every song is on the Hot R&B/Hip-hop Songs chart. Yes, the entire mixtape. I think the answer is impossible to determine.

After the death of ASAP Yams, I hope this is his crew's year most especially.
posted by gucci mane at 11:21 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


(and Freddie Gibbs, among others)

And, come to think of it, pretty much anyone else who has ever worked with Madlib. I would love to live in a world where Dilla and DOOM and Guilty Simpson are mainstream stars, but that's the hip-hop universe we want, not the one we have.
posted by box at 12:49 PM on February 27, 2015


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