Rap has come a long way since the days of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. From the pop appeal of these two artists to the deeper and violent lyrics of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., rap has slowly but surely become more accepted in the mainstream. So much so that a lot of songs feature collaboration between pop or rock musicians and rappers. Billboard Magazine has taken notice as well and has provided the rap genre with its very own chart.
The year 2012 was another banner year for rap. Here is the top 10 most popular rappers for 2012 based on Billboard Magazine’s rap artists chart.
His complete name is Aubrey Drake Graham. The Canadian recording artist burst into the limelight with a role in the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” His first hit was the smash single entitled “Best I Ever Had.” He then released an album called “Thank Me Later” that had hits like “Over” and “Find Your Love.” He then released the album “Take Care” which featured songs like “Headlines,” “Take Care,” “Make Me Proud” and “The Motto.” His Club Paradise Tour grossed over $42 million, making it the most successful hip-hop tour of 2012.
2. J. Cole
His real name is Jermaine Lamarr Cole and he was born in Germany. He was the very first artist signed up by Jay-Z for the latter’s Roc Nation label. He released his debut album called “Cole World: The Sideline Story” in the latter part of 2011. The album was an immediate hit, going all the way to number one in the Billboard 200, Top R & B Albums and Top Rap Albums. The album sold 217 thousand copies in its first week of release. He has been nominated for the Best New Artist award in the Grammys.
3. 2 Chainz
His real name is Tauheed Epps, and he was also known as Tity Boi when he was part of the duo called Playaz Circle. He released his debut album called “Based on a T.R.U. Story” in August 2012 and it immediately shot up to number one in the Billboard 200, selling 147,000 copies in its first week. He was nominated for 13 BEST Hip Hop Awards, winning four trophies. He has also been named as Source Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”
4. Lil Wayne
His real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. His first solo album was released way back in 1999. He won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2009 for “The Carter III” that included songs like “Lollipop” and “Got Money.” He was imprisoned in 2010 for criminal possession of a weapon. After serving his sentence, he released “The Carter IV” and sold 964,000 copies in its first week. He has already surpassed Elvis Presley as the male artist with the most entries in the Billboard Hot 100 with 109 songs.
5. Nicki Minaj
Her real name is Onika Tanya Maraj. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago before moving to New York with her family when she was only five years old. She burst into the limelight with the release of her first album “Pink Friday” in 2010. The album reached number one in the Billboard 200. Seven singles from the album also appeared in the Hot 100 all at the same time, making her the first female solo artist to achieve the feat. The song “Super Bass” has been certified quadruple platinum. Her second album was released in 2012. It was entitled “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” and featured the singles “Starships” and “Pound the Alarm.” She also went on a couple of worldwide tours called “Pink Friday” and “Pink Friday Reloaded.”
6. Kanye West
West has released five solo albums, all of which went platinum. All his albums have gotten critical acclaim and have received numerous awards. Except for the first one, all his albums have also topped the charts. West has had five songs with digital sales of over 3 million, including “E.T.,” “Stronger,” and “Gold Digger.” He is one of the best-selling digital artists of all time with sales topping 30 million. In 2011, he released a collaborative album with Jay-Z entitled “Watch the Throne.”
His real name is Ralph Victor Folarin. His parents are from Nigeria. His first album was “Attention Deficit,” an album that got positive reviews despite its limited distribution. It included the singles “Chillin,” “Pretty Girls” and “World Tour.” He released two albums in 2011, the first being “Self Made Vol. 1” and the second “Ambition.”
His real name is Michael Ray Nguyen Stevenson. He uses the stage name Tyga, which stands for “Thank You God Always.” His first single was the song entitled “Coconut Juice.” He then released the album “Careless World: Rise of the Last King” that included the songs “Faded,” “Far Away” and “Make It Nasty.” His third album is entitled “Hotel California.”
9. Flo Rida
He burst into the limelight in 2008 when he released the album “Mail on Sunday” that featured the song entitled “Low,” which featured T-Pain and which stayed on top of the charts for 10 weeks in 2009. From that album also came the singles “Elevator” and “In the Ayer.” His succeeding albums were entitled “R.O.O.T.S.,” “Only One Flo (Part 1)” and “Wild Ones.” The first song from his last album was “Good Feeling,” a song that sampled “Levels” by Avicii, which in turn had sampled the 1962 Etta James classic entitled “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” After the death of James, Flo Rida dedicated the song to her. The song reached number three in the Billboard charts.
10. Big Sean
His real name is Sean Michael Anderson. His debut album was “Finally Famous” that included the singles “My Last,” “Marvin & Chardonnay” and “Dance A$$.” He then released a song called “Mercy,” which is a collaboration among Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. It is the lead single from the compilation album entitled “Cruel Summer.”