We’ve all read the cliche articles about the best rappers alive, but what kind of music lover would I be if I didn’t do at least one blog post about mine? So let’s get into it.
1.Jermaine Lamarr Cole. Most of you know him as J. Cole, but to me he’s Jermaine. My car may or may not be named after him and he may or may not be my screensaver on my phone. As you can see from the feature image, I LOVE J.Cole (that’s me directly to his left, your right.) All of my friends know it, my family knows it, and my boyfriend knows and accepts it. You may say I’m biased putting J.Cole at number one but it’s my list and I make the rules. However, for the sake of this post I will explain why he is my favorite.
I became a J.Cole fan prior to going to college while I was going through a phase that would later become my norm where I only listened to unsigned, unhyped artists. When I discovered an unofficial mixtape on Datpiff.com titled The Best of J.Cole I figured it would be the easiest way to decide if I actually liked this guy. About 10 songs in, I got to “Dreams.” The song is literally a long explanation of how obsessed J.Cole is about “the girl of his dreams” even though she has a boyfriend but hopes that fate, and a plot to kill her boyfriend, will bring them together. The hopeless teenage romantic in me couldn’t resist such a love story. Despite his songs keeping me intrigued and painting a picture in my curious 17 year old mind, it wasn’t until I met J.Cole in person that I was a solidified fan. Side note: a huge factor for me to become a fan of an artist is their personality. If I don’t think we could enjoy one another’s presence I don’t consider myself a fan. Anyway, when I met Jermaine at Howard University in 2010 (pictured above) I knew I would be a lifelong fan, even after his secret marriage.
The song that got me hooked: Dreams
Favorite Song: Power Trip. Although this song is extremely hyped and a “radio song” I absolutely love this song because of the production. Go ahead and watch the video of the production and tell me you don’t get the feels.
2. Wale. Another rapper that I became fond of around college. For those of you who don’t know, Wale is from DC. During my freshman pep rally Wale came out onto the field and everyone lost it. I, on the other had felt extremely left out because I had no idea who he was. As everyone in the stadium around me sang along to “Pretty Girls” I was promptly googling this Wale dude. After hearing “Pretty Girls” countless times during my Freshman Week and then “No Hands” at every single party I went to Wale grew on me. I wasn’t convinced I was a fan until fairly recently when he released The Album About Nothing. Although his mixtape More About Nothing got me through college by listening to “The Breakup Song” and “Ambitious Girl” every morning, I didn’t consider myself a fan since Wale had a reputation of being a jerk.
After releasing his most recent mixtape Summer on Sunset and revealing that he had a daughter on the way, I figured he clearly has a soft spot and I’ve enjoyed every release since More About Nothing so why not declare myself a fan. For those of you who were like me, and considered Wale to be a jerk or a corny radio rapper (let’s not forget “Bait” and “That Way”) listen to his mixtapes. I have yet to find a current rapper that truly upholds the spoken word aspect of rap like Wale does in More About Nothing and The Album About Nothing.
The song that got me hooked: The Ambitious Girl. It really got a girl through those 8am classes.
Favorite song: The Breakup Song.
3. Chance the Rapper. This is my newest favorite. I attempted to listen to Chance’s earlier work and I wasn’t sold. His random scream through me off when I first listened to him but in my old age (at 23) I’ve come to appreciate artists with a unique sound and a strong sense of identity. I must also confess that I only dissected Chance’s latest album Coloring Book but I do plan on going back and listening to Acid Rap. I enjoy Chance because he seems like a great person to know. He does several charity projects giving back to the city of Chicago which is awesome.
Coloring Book originally caught my eye, or ear, after my Instagram feed was full of screenshots of his album with comments referring to the album as “rap meets gospel.” His line on “Blessings” (track 14) where he raps “I speak to God in public” literally gave me chills when I first listened to the album. I love an artist with transparency. The intro: We All We Got is so beautifully composed that I immediately decided me and Chance are friends in my head and I instantly followed him on Instagram. The fact that Chance was able to call up Kanye, and THEE Kanye West was moved enough to hop on the intro track says a lot about this unsigned artist. OH! And the fact that he’s unsigned by choice makes him all that more appealing. Way to fight the system.
The song that got me hooked: Wonderful Everyday. Arthur had one of the best theme songs of my childhood, therefore, I couldn’t resist when everyone was talking about a rapper that remade the classic.
Favorite song: Angels. I’m a sucker for feel good songs and this song puts me in a good mood without fail.
4. Kyle. I think he may also go by SupaDupa Kyle in order to distinguish himself. This is another artist with several feel good songs and is the self proclaimed “happy rapper.” Kyle is also a recent addition to my favorites. Although he has yet to have a radio hit, if you listen to his mixtapes Beautiful Loser and Smyle you’ll leave your top 40 songs behind and dive into the world of unsigned artists. I first heard Kyle in the car with my boyfriend who pretty much had “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” on repeat for the entire summer of 2015. The thing that immediately drew me to this guy was his production and carefree flow. “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” gives you a 90s pop vibe with a 90s baby who’s enjoying life talking about a girl he likes but doesn’t want to get to involved because love is too tough. Who can’t relate to a youngster who’s afraid to get in too deep. Ironically, Kyle has been in a relationship with his girlfriend since he started coming up which also appealed to the lover in me. He’s relatable.
So Kyle seems like a pretty cool guy. Check. He has talent. Check. He does that half sing/rap thing that everyone does but he actually does it well. Check. He has a song with Chance the Rapper where he keeps it real about his absentee father. Double Check. But he’s still happy and wants you to be too. Super Check.
The song that got me hooked: Don’t Wanna Fall In Love.
Favorite song: All For You ft. Yuna. This song features the same girl that sings Crush ft. Usher (YES, USHER) and that song is amazing so you pretty much know this one is too.