Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Why is There a Top 3 In Hip Hop Instead of a Top 5?

December 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) At the start of the current generation of hip hop, we saw a change in who was going to be at the top of the hip hop world moving forward. The previous generation that was around when I was in high school was led by a varied group that included the likes of Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Rick Ross, T.I. and many more. When their hype started to die down, who were the new artist on the horizon to take their place? Who are considered the top of the rap game currently?

Those questions are subjective, but if you ask most hip-hop fans, the combination will be the same. Some combination of Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar but it did not start that way at the start of their rise. There were two more names in that combo that over the years fell out of favor with fans for different reasons although I still think that they should still be in the argument for the same reasons.

Why Isn’t Wale Considered in the Top

The first artist who was one of the leaders of the new school of hip hop, probably before Drake even started to get his buzz. When he came in, he was fresh and different. He was completely different from the rough, tough, street rap that was all about selling drugs, getting women, blowing money, and shooting guns. He was rapping about more conscious topics and less violent things. It was more about life that normal people would currently live although he did talk about his flashier life at times.

The thing that set him apart from most of the other top artists, in particular J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, was his hit making ability straight off the bat. He could take the same topics that all three of them talked about but spin them in a way that listeners wanted to hear multiple times. Listening to a lot of early Kendrick and J. Cole, many of the songs were good or had a good message to it (which I give no credit to any artist for because that has nothing to do with if a song is good or not), but I didn’t want to keep listening to the songs on a regular basis or put it on a playlist.

I could’ve been because Wale was from an area that was not explored in hip hop on a mainstream level (DMV), and we all know that areas that are new to fans always pop off because there are new stories to be told and new regional experiences to be had. Wale brought many things like new lingo that’s used in the DMV and fashion that they have there,

In my opinion, what went wrong with Wale being in the conversation was kind of a gift and a curse. When Wale signed to MMG, which I thought at the time was a great move and was a great fit musically, it kind of changed his style a bit which set the stage for J. Cole to come in and take the lane in which Wale made for himself. While his music was getting grittier and becoming more and more like the sound that was popular in hip hop, he started to lose the sound that made him Wale. He never lost his lyrical ability and song making ability and recently, he started showing flashes of what made him who he was but it may be too late with the sound of hip hop changing again.

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Why Isn’t Big Sean Considered in the Top

The person who I think should be number 2 behind Drake is Big Sean. Big Sean is a person who came out under Kanye West back when his record label GOOD Music was just getting off the ground. Big Sean had his own style, flow, and swagger about him. He was also coming from an area that hasn’t had a big artist from there since Em. His subject matter was even different. He was talking about things that many of the big dogs of the time was talking about to a less extent.

I think that something that helped him at the start of his career is that he was more relatable than most people talking about what he was talking about because he was closer to his target audience in age. Rather than listening to people who was fifteen years or more older than them telling them about life experiences, you had someone who was the same age as you, so it hit differently. Also, he gave a lot of people a lot of motivation to follow whatever dreams you wanted to follow at an age that that means more, especially from someone who hadn’t exactly “made it” themselves.

Like Wale, but more so, Big Sean had the big hit making ability. He made songs that people could have fun to and could be played in the club. Although he didn’t talk about the more conscious topics, which I am so happy that he didn’t because that was not his lane. Big Sean’s music had a completely different sound from everyone else’s and his flow and style made him a beast on most features. Lyrically, I think that he was also up there with Kendrick and Wale, yet people did not give him credit for it because they claimed that he made up words to fit into his flow (which he did), but it sounded good.

To many, Big Sean peaked at his hit album Dark Sky Paradise. I think that it is his best album also. One of the things that keep Big Sean out of the conversation with Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar is that he took a long break where he was not releasing any music. When he came back, the music kind of had a different vibe to it. While it was lyrically great, it did not hit the same like his old songs. Something else that could have helped him is “getting in the ring” with some of the top people of his time. Most of the time that he did features, it was either with people who lyrically was not on his level or smaller artists that could not bring to him that he could bring to them.

Last Words

What the order of the top of the current generation should be is Drake, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Wale, then J. Cole. That order got knocked out of place and even though Big Sean and Wale don’t come up in the conversation with the other three, their careers are not over. They continue to make new music and evolve their sound. They both have large fanbases and still have a chance to have their names put in same conversation as Drake, Kendrick, and J. Cole.

Staff Writer; Tardell Swift

This brother is new to writing yet has many different interests such as gaming, hip hop, wrestling, and manga.

You can follow him on TwitterPhirewoodGaming and keep up with his thoughts there as well.


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