He may be one of the most abrasive, pompous and petulant celebs around, but it’s no secret that Kanye West is great at his musical craft. Ever since he clawed his way into the rap game in the early 2000’s by creating beats for rappers like Cam’ron and Jay-Z, he showed an unmatched dedication and passion to be great. That yearning for success shined through in all his solo albums and the different cameos he had on songs with artists ranging from Estelle, Keri Hilson and even Coldplay. He’s an admitted perfectionist and he’s been known to go to great lengths to achieve the highest quality possible in his sonic creations. To illustrate just how far Kanye will go to get what he wants, there is a popular story of him mixing his 2007 single “Stronger” 75 times before he was happy with the finished product. In the following article, we profile ten rappers who have the dedication, talent and potential to possibly be as prolific as Mr. West in the years to come. Check them out below:
10. Theophilus London
Of all the rappers featured on this list, Theophilus London might just be the one rapper that might climb into Kanye’s sizeable shoes in the next few years. There are several reasons for making this claim. First of all, Kanye and Theophilus are actually friends with Kanye playing the mentor role. London’s last album was released a few months ago and Kanye produced a record on the LP. Also both Kanye and London have a deep love for luxury fashions and both artists have been heavily embraced by European upscale brands. Third, both Kanye and London are not afraid to experiment with music outside their genre. London’s projects in the past have featured acts like Tegan and Sara, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio) and Solange Knowles. It’s this kind of global and universal reach that makes him one to watch in the coming years.
In the last four years, one of the rappers that’s been amassing a large internet following is the 24-yr-old Maryland native known as Logic. He released four quality mixtapes in the last five years, and his dedication to his craft earned him a spot on the XXL magazine Freshmen cover in 2013. Since then he was signed to Def Jam, the biggest rap label in the industry, and he followed that up by dropping one of the best hip-hop albums of 2014 called Under Pressure. Logic is a gifted lyricist with a magnificent ear for picking awesome beats. He also speaks on subject matters that are different from the regular gangster and party topics that most rappers sing about. He’s definitely unique and talented enough to be a major player on the rap scene in the coming years.
8. Tyler The Creator
One of the reasons that Kanye West is so well known around the world is that in addition to his music, he certainly has a big mouth. When it comes to that character trait of always speaking his mind, Tyler The Creator bears a close similarity. He constantly disses other newer rappers like Iggy Azalea and he’s not even afraid to criticize icons in the rap pantheon like Eminem. Perhaps the one difference in his character (compared to Kanye) is that he really doesn’t take himself too seriously. Because of this, people tend to laugh off even his most caustic comments. Ultimately he is a rapper with both a huge persona and formidable artistic talent, and that’s always a great combination for major success in the hip-hop industry.
7. Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper hails from the same city as Chicago, and as such, he’s already from the right area code to become the next successor to Kanye West’s throne. The one aspect that really sets Chance apart from all the new school rappers on the scene is his unorthodox rhyming flow and disjointed rapping pattern. It takes a little bit to get used to, but it all adds to his unique aura and flavor. He was on the underground scene until he blew up in 2013 with his eclectic mixtape Acid Rap. Since then, he has appeared on several magazine covers and appeared on high profile songs with Justin Bieber and James Blake. The future is really bright for this 21-yr-old Illinois native.
6. Vic Mensa
Yet again on this list, we have another rapper hailing from the great city of Chicago, the same metropolis that birthed the one and only Kanye West. Vic first emerged on the rap scene with an alternative hip-hop group called Kids These Days. When that group dissolved, he went solo and dropped an amazing mixtape in 2013 featuring a slew of highly respected artists including Ab-Soul, Rockie Fresh, DJ Dahi and HitBoy. That release put him on the map and he was signed to a major deal by Virgin EMI records. He is just 21 and has already toured with J.Cole and shared a stage with the British music legend Damon Albarn. The sky is truly the limit for Mr. Mensa.
5. Big Sean
Detroit rapper Big Sean has been signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label since 2007, so he definitely qualifies to be called Mr. West’s number one protégé. To date he has released two studio albums and both of them have featured the unmistakable Kanye West influence. Even though he is just 26-yrs-old, he has made great strides by having his own clothing brand, appearing in several GQ editorials and gives back to his Detroit community. Also at the tail end of 2014, he signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management company, a move that should give him even more clout in the years to come.
4. Childish Gambino
Is there anything Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino can’t do? He is a talented writer, actor, producer, rapper – and it seems that he accomplishes all these different roles with such effortless ease. From his days as a writer on 30 Rock to starring on the NBC sitcom Community, he’s always able to show how smart and sharp he is when he’s in front of the camera. On the music scene, his skills on the microphone are quite impressive. Whether it’s on a mixtape or a studio LP, he manages to bring together various sonic elements and random guests (Beck, The Rza) to create well-composed albums. He was even nominated for a Grammy this year for his Because The Internet album. There’s no reason why he can’t become a major multi-media force as big as Kanye West in the next few years.
3. J. Cole
One of the main reasons why Kanye West is such a strong force in the music industry is that he’s both a talented lyricist and producer. North Carolina rapper J.Cole who is signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label is gifted with these same skills. When it comes to his production, he continues to make more textured and intricate compositions with each outing. With regards to his lyrics, there are few rappers in the new school better than him right now. His latest album went gold in less than a month, and people are comparing it to Lauryn Hill’s seminal The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill LP. No doubt about it, J. Cole has the potential to be truly great.
2. Big KRIT
You don’t usually find too many rappers making it on the national scene hailing from Mississippi. However, the 28-yr-old rapper Big K.R.I.T. is not your average rapper. He is an extremely talented lyricist and better than that, he might even be more talented as a producer. In the last few years, he has produced music for some of the best in the game including Rick Ross, T.I., Smoke DZA , Ludacris, Curren$y and Chris Brown. His latest album Cadillactica was released last year on the Def Jam label and he recently appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight show. This southern rapper has a lot of charisma and untapped potential. Keep an eye on him to possibly blow up on a Kanye West level in the next five years or so.
1. Vince Staples
21-yr-old rapper Vince Staples hails from Long Beach, California. It’s the same area that reared the Hip-Hop legend Snoop Dogg. Staples emerged on the scene a few years ago by appearing on albums featuring young Hip-Hop stars like Mac Miller and the Odd Future crew. Since then, he has continued to soar by scoring great guest spots with seasoned rappers like Common and Jay Electronica. Even though he often raps about the gangland environment he grew up in, he personally stays away from all drugs and alcohol. Even at a young age, he’s entirely focused on becoming a truly transcendent rap star. That’s the same type of focus and determination Kanye had in his early years.