It's official - rap music is the new pop music in America. Ever since Hip-Hop started to gain mass appeal in the nineties, it's never been as big as it is right now. Rappers dictate the trends in fashion, lifestyle and even set the tone for what's cool and what's not in the present culture. It's actually to the point now where we have the President of the United States of America admitting to be a Jay-Z fan and the first lady quoting lyrics from a Lil' Jon song. In the following article, we profile 13 rappers who are going to blow up in 2015 and reap the benefits from Hip-Hop having the biggest audience it has ever had. There are a couple of new names on the list who really made their presence felt in 2014. We also included one or two rappers who already have a loyal fan base but are poised to really break out in the new year. We even have one young debutante who has already been cosigned by some of the biggest names in the industry. Without any further ado, enjoy the article below:
13 Young Thug
Young Thug is one of those names that garner a lot of varied responses whenever he’s brought up in music circles. On one hand, people see him as a talented and creative songwriter with an ability to create successful radio anthems. On the other, the purists who believe in cerebral lyrical ability think he’s a plain joke. No matter what people think, he still had a monster year in 2014 with features on tracks by some of the biggest artists around; T.I., Young Jeezy , Lil Wayne and more. He’s also co-signed by the big boss at Cash money Records, so when his full album drops in 2015, there is already a great marketing machine in place. Not to jinx him, but it’s almost set up so he can’t lose.
It goes without saying that Drake is one of the biggest rappers around. Whenever he does anything in the world of Hip-Hop, all the blog sites and music publications stop and pay attention. It looks like 2015 is going to be Drake season again. He is currently hard at work on his 4th studio album Views from the 6. He released a few early tracks in 2014 and it sounds like he’s sharper than ever with his craft. Also with the recent scuffle he had in Miami with Puff Daddy, it’s time he shows everyone that there are few who can match him when it comes to making quality rap music.
Producer Timbaland is responsible for making hits for some of the biggest artists in the music industry. Some of those rarified names include Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Nas, Rick Ross , Madonna and Drake. He definitely has the magic touch when it comes to seeking out stars and his latest protégé is a singer/rapper from Chicago named Tink. She has a slick, potent rap style and she has already been featured on songs with Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Andre 3000. For a novice to be in such noble company, there are surely some really big things coming her way in 2015.
Nowadays the music industry is just as much about marketing and packaging as it is about having a really good product. North Carolina rapper J.Cole proved at the end of 2014 that he was in a league of his own when it came to marketing product to his core fan base. He put out an album called 2014 Forest Hills Drive this December with hardly any promotion at all. Instead, he decided to have private listening sessions at the homes of his fans. The unorthodox strategy worked and the album sold 500K units in just under 3 weeks. He has fully stepped into himself as both an artist and a pitchman, and 2015 should really see him take his place as one of rap’s elite new names.
9 Rich Homie Quan
The 25-yr-old rapper Rich Homie Quan erupted on the scene in 2013 with the hit single “Type Of Way.” The song was extremely catchy and since that success, he has never looked back. In 2014, he hooked up with another Atlanta upstart named Young Thug and Bryan “Baby” Williams of Cash Money Records to form a group called Rich Gang. Their mixtape was well-received and at this moment, the buzz is at a fever pitch for Young Thug’s debut studio album. It will most likely feature a slew of high profile guests and some of the best producers in Hip-Hop. He has already proved that he can score major radio play so the LP will probably be a major smash.
The Atlanta Hip-Hop scene has the tendency to produce some really eclectic figures and groups. Some of those rare talents include Outkast, Goodie Mob, Lil’ Jon and even Gucci Mane. One of the young upstarts on the scene is the immensely talented 18-yr-old named Raury. He is a multi-instrumentalist and he excels in both singing and rapping. He’s already been in the studio with UK producer SBTRKT and Kanye West, and all these elite music names are singing his praises. 2015 should be a very big year for this talented youngster.
7 Kid Ink
Los Angeles rapper Kid Ink is one of those focused rappers who continue to excel without creating a lot of drama or getting into trouble. He released a very popular single called “Show Me” in late 2013 featuring Chris Brown that was produced by DJ Mustard. The song was a radio hit and the album it was featured on was certified gold in 2014. Late this year, he released a new single called “Body Single” featuring Usher and Tinashe. This song is also doing very well and it’s serving as the precursor to his new album Full Speed dropping in 2015. This will probably be the year when he breaks out and becomes one of the major mainstream faces of rap music.
6 Action Bronson
It’s been a longtime coming but the official studio album from Action Bronson is slated to touch down early 2015. He’s gone through some tough phases in his career. First, there was the critique that he sounded like a watered down version of Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan. And then there’s always the authenticity issue of a white artist trying to make it in a genre that’s predominantly black. But he kept on pursuing and sticking to his guns, and now he has become recognized for his true talent. His new album is titled Mr. Wonderful and this might be the last piece of the puzzle to really push him over the top.
5 Joey Badass
One of the young rappers really making a huge splash on the NYC scene is the 19-yr-old Joey Badass. What really sets him apart from all the rest is that he has a sound that harkens back to the 90’s period of rap commonly called The Golden Era. He has honed this sound over the last few years, and has become a favorite of rap legends like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Black Moon and more. After releasing several successful mixtapes, his official album, B4.DA.SS. will drop on 01/20/15 (which also happens to be his birthday). Several of the songs have already leaked, and Hip-Hop critics are already calling it a classic. 2015 should be a coming out party for this young Brooklyn talent.
4 Juicy J
From his early days with the Three 6 Mafia to his recent solo career, Memphis rapper Juicy J has always had the knack for remaining hardcore, and yet being also able to tap into the mainstream. 2014 was a huge year for him. Not only did he make a lot of power moves with his partner in crime and label mate Wiz Khalifa, he also had perhaps the biggest record of his career by appearing on the song “Dark Horse” with Katy Perry. This song was everywhere in 2014 and it even got nominated for a Grammy award. His new album Pure THC: The Hustle Continues drops in 2015 and it will only continue to add to the immense popularity of Mr. Juicy J.
3 Nipsey Hussle
When Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle first stepped on the scene some years ago, people started calling him the new Snoop Dogg. They both have the same lanky frame, the laidback rapping drawl and they both have some very legitimate gangland affiliations. However as the years have gone by, Nipsey has proved to be a very savvy and intuitive businessman. He has turned down opportunities to sign with major labels and instead has chosen to focus on building a strong and self-reliant independent machine. Labels like MMG (owned by Rick Ross) and even Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s outfit) have shown lots of interest in him, but he still kept to his guns. When he finally decides to unleash his full studio album in 2015, the response from the Hip-Hop masses should be quite overwhelming.
2 Pusha T
There are few rappers out there that Kanye West actually takes times out of his busy schedule to produce music for. One of those is the Virginia emcee named Pusha T who is signed to Kanye’s GOOD Music label. Pusha used to be part of the duo called Clipse, but he put his first solo LP out in 2013 called My Name Is My Name. That album sold close to 150K Units and it set him up nicely for his new album coming in 2015 called King Push. With the full support of Kanye West, he might just have a great year ahead of him.
1 Kendrick Lamar
We couldn’t compile a list like this without adding Kendrick Lamar to the party. He’s one of the most recognized faces on the West Coast rap scene and his crew TDE is one of the most potent outfits on the scene right now. In 2014, he dropped a single called “i” from his upcoming sophomore album and even scored an appearance on SNL to perform it. The NBA also adopted that song as one of their official themes. He’s an artist who has the full backing of Hip-Hop icon Dr. Dre and that comes with a lot of juice and privilege. When he finally drops his sophomore studio album in 2015, listeners will be clamoring to get their hands on it.