A topic that is obviously a matter of opinion, the evolution of the hip-hop genre has landed the state of music in a sticky place. Although the genre continues to thrive, there has been considerable debate in regards to the true level of talent possessed by new age rappers, as opposed to the more seasoned rappers of yore. Indeed, in recent weeks, this debate has been heating up with the emergence of an array of new memes and lists outlining various controversial opinions regarding which rappers are the "greatest", which ones are "trash", and which ones are simply "overrated".
Either way, as with all forms of art, these matters are open to interpretation. While some are sticklers for the old-school style of rapping, others prefer the new age method. Although some seem to enjoy hip-hop music in general, on the whole, there has been a line drawn in the sand; new school versus old school. Moreover, while the main focus of the old-school sticklers tends to be lyrics, the new schoolers seem to be more concerned with the melody and general catchiness of the track. To be fair, this article will not cater to the views and opinions of either the old-school sticklers nor the new school aficionados. However, is the word "rap" truly stands for rhythm and poetry then the songs claiming this genre should offer at least some semblance of a combination of the two. As a simple lover of music, it is almost impossible to contain your unsolicited opinions on artists that have been infinitely more successful than the rest of us. Therefore, at the risk of either delighting or upsetting millions, the following is a closer look at the rappers who top our overrated list of all time.
15 Soulja Boy
First and foremost, no one is saying that this young man is not an impressive business man. He essentially turned one song (with an awesome, accompanying dance) into a multi-million-dollar empire. Nevertheless, are we really going to pretend "Crank Dat" wasn't his one and only hit?! Over the years, he has proven himself to be a serious influencer on social media and things of that nature, but let's be real here, this dude has never been rapper of the year. Moreover, he treats women like absolute garbage as is evident by his social media rants and appearances on reality television shows such as Love and Hip Hop. To top it all off, he has become so disillusioned that he now makes songs and videos almost exclusively about selling drugs. However, he did recently sign a (suspicious) $400 million record deal so clearly someone has a taste for his music. Nevertheless, he's not exactly my cup of tea. Speaking of tea, let's drive this home with the fact that he was recently released from custody for a parole violation after admitting the guns and props in his videos are fake...
I think Mr. Combs said it best when he uttered the words, "Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks". Boy he sure told us. Nevertheless, I'm very much still worried about whether Diddy was actually shelling out those big bucks for those "rhymes". Sure, with the help of artists such as Ma$e, The Lox, and Faith, he certainly took over the rap game for a while. In fact, his use of specific samples and phrases changed the rap game from the land of the gangsters to well, still gangsters, but gangsters who liked to have fun. Nevertheless, his lyrics were always sorely lacking. In addition to that, he hasn't had the best business practices over the years, and many of the artists formerly signed to Bad Boy, are no longer working in the entertainment industry. OK, so that last part doesn't make him a bad rapper, just possibly, a bad boy, or person, if you prefer.
Although his stage name is certainly ambitious, the novelty of his one-note-melody rhymes, are officially becoming a thing of the past. This is certainly not to say that he has no value as an artist or that he is undeserving of his success. Look, he makes great club tracks and some of us here at TheRichest, may even have his tracks on heavy rotation. However, there is much more to being a good rap artist than that. For instance, despite the fact that he created the style, the new artist, Desiigner essentially hijacked his "swag" and ran with it. At this point, the track "Panda" has outsold Future's entire catalog. Moreover, while it could also be argued that "Panda" will most likely eclipse Desiigner's entire career as well, as far as his general skill level is concerned, when is the last time you heard anyone reciting any sort of fire Future quotable? I will wait...
If the last entry got you going, this is sure to cure what ails you. Although Desiigner emerged as one of the top rap artists of 2016, there is very little lyrical content behind it. His gorgeous smile and infectious energy have carried him far, but one must wonder how long he will be able to continue to rest on those traits alone. However, although "Panda" is certainly not poised to win the "best rap lyrics" competition any time soon, this track is one of the most catchy and energetic ones we have seen from the rap genre since the days of Onyx. So, you might be asking, if this is true, why is he on the list of overrated rappers? The answer is simple: “Timmy Turner”. While many decided to remain on the Desiigner train after its release, I was feverishly preparing to exit at the next stop. Perhaps, 2017 will be an even better year for the young artist. However, his follow up track was a wake-up call to the fact that not all pandas are beasts.
This might hurt a few of you. However, Tyga is another example of a rap artist who is all bark and no beast. Let's be clear, no one is saying that Tyga isn't a talented rapper. In fact, he actually has some skills if you really take the time to listen. The problem is, since he teamed up with the Kardashian clan, it seems that no one is. However, while this has also played a factor in his career, this is still not the reason he made the list. Firstly, they really rolled out the red carpet for this kid. I mean, being the younger cousin of the lead singer of one of the most interesting groups in existence (The Gym Class Heroes) certainly has its advantages. Nevertheless, nepotism alone was not enough to carry this man's career. Originally likened to the lights of Jay Z, I think it's officially safe to say that Mr. "Lime in the Coconut" has failed to deliver. Not that he should be completely counted out, but at this point, if Tyga doesn't make some better career choices in 2017, his legacy will be as faded as his only real hit. Yikes.
10 50 Cent
Let's be clear, the mixtape 50 from the early years– you know, the one who completely obliterated Ja Rule's career before stealing his style– was fire! But what happened? I can’t speak for anyone else, but it seems like the more successful he became, the less effort he put into his music. This is not entirely uncommon, however, given how he actually got his start in the game (by calling out far more successful rappers and making songs about them) you’d think he would have been just a tad more dedicated to the quality of his music as his career continued. He wasn’t. And this musical negligence was only magnified when he came up off that Vitamin Water deal as it became clear to everyone, especially 50 himself, that he no longer needed to rap at all. One of the last real “gangster” rappers on the scene, 50 has officially gone corporate, so we can assume he won’t be making any odes to counting the coins in his piggy bank, any time soon.
OK, so this one is probably going to ruffle some feathers. However, before you come to Drake's defense, please consider the following. Yes, it is a fact that he just tied his mentor Lil' Wayne on the Billboard Hot 100 record for artist who most appeared on the charts, so this makes it even more difficult to say this. However, Drake is just not a beast on the mic. Yes, he makes great songs. Most of which, include some sort of crooning on his behalf, and most of which are much catchier than they are lyrical. Although Drizzy clearly has built an impressive body of work thus far, I'm not even sure he qualifies as a rap artist. His music lacks authenticity and his punch lines tend to lack... well, punch. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, most of his best songs are quite melodic in nature. Nevertheless, I like to think of Drake as a pop star who just happens to know how to rap. It works for him, but had he grown up in the era of battle rappers, he likely would have been the one getting Meek Mill'd.
8 Lil' B
Another artist who is more gimmick than skill, Lil’ B has proven to be quite a controversial figure over the years. Most well-known for one of his latest albums, which was provocatively entitled, I’m Gay, (although the rapper claims to be heterosexual). Indeed, no matter which way you slice it, the main goal of the Lil’ B machine is to sell records by creating controversy. Although people are championing him as the Kurt Cobain of our age (as Cobain was also a notoriously heterosexual advocate for the LGBT community) people are ignoring the fact that artists like Cobain actually grew to resent his fame and riches, whereas this seems to be Lil’ B’s one and only goal. And can we please get into the lyrics?! For instance, the lyrics to “I’m Miley Cyrus” (“I’m Miley Cyrus / I’m Miley Cyrus / Cyrus / Cyrus / I’m Miley Cyrus”) bear a striking resemblance to the lyrics to his song “Ellen DeGeneres” (“Ellen DeGeneres / Ellen DeGeneres / Ellen DeGeneres / Ellen DeGeneres”) as well as many others. Interesting personality? Yes. Deserving of rap fame? Not a chance.
I'm can’t lie to you, this G-Eazy guy makes some really catchy tunes! I have certainly spent my fair share of time perusing his catalog and enjoy his hits. His heavily auto-tuned tunes happen to mix very well with the other music being played in the clubs and on the radio. Moreover, he does have fairly decent word play, but does that mean he should be at the top of the charts? Not exactly. Honestly, if we are talking about overrated artists, G-Eazy fits the bill. Overall, his persona seems forced and he comes across as more of a remix of a mixture of artists, rather than doing anything innately original. Not for nothing, but the kid kind of reminds me of a "lighter" Future. His songs are fun to dance to, but you most likely won't be having any G-Eazy inspired epiphanies about life any time soon and even if you do, they will likely only result in more mindless drifting.
6 Rick Ross
Hold the phone, before you go all ballistic than anyone dare respect your leader, Officer Ricky, let's just consider the facts here. First of all, the dude gets an eternal L for the M.C. Gusto move he pulled to get his name. I mean, being a "gangster" rapper and having to steer clear of entire cities due to the threats coming from actual gangsters, certainly does nothing to boost his career or credibility. Moreover, from a personal standpoint, I haven’t been excited about a Rick Ross album since the days of “Hustlin’”. I mean, he has certainly brought us some highly talented artists and Maybach Music is a force to be reckoned with. However, I cannot give you a list of even five Rick Ross songs that are staples in my playlist and odds are, you can’t either. I will never take anything away from Mr. Rozay. He has certainly “made a name for himself”. I just feel like his rap career was a means to an end… wait for it…
5 Fetty Wap
Where do we begin? OK, for what it's worth, Fetty Wap has made an impressive name for himself in a short period of time. In fact, he has set a Billboard record by being the first artist to have his first four singles simultaneously in the top 100. So, clearly, Mr. Wap's accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at. However, can we please discuss the general quality of this "rap" music. First of all, he is certainly more of a singer than a rapper as his music includes much more melody than rhythm. Lyrically... eh, let's just say, they're less than amazing. This is extremely problematic given that Fetty is not the most talented vocalist without the autotune. Therefore, we have a rapper who doesn't rap... and can't even sing without the help of technology. On the one hand, it's impressive that he made it to where he is today. On the other hand, this is a very dismal example of what it means to be a rap artist in this day and age.
4 Lil' Yaughty
Another new age gem, Lil' Yaughty is certainly a rapper who has made a major splash on the music scene as of late. Although his light, upbeat, poppy tracks are a refreshing change from the status quo, there are quite a few things about this rapper that don't quite sit well. It’s not his bright red (permed?) hair nor is it the lack of depth to his music and lyrics. However, one of the top issues being, the fact that he fixed his mouth to say the late, great Biggie Smalls was overrated! Granted, there is clearly a generation gap that makes it difficult for youngsters to gauge the true skill level of the MCs of yore. However, for an artist who has not nearly paid his dues to be so blatantly disrespectful to an entire generation of music lovers is unfathomable. Especially in the case when you have not even proven yourself as a viable member of the genre. You don't see Carrie Underwood dissing old Dolly Parton tracks! That must be some serious broccoli he’s toking on!
If you're one of the millions of fans of the song "Thrift Shop", chances are, when you saw Macklemore's name on the list your response was "What? What? What? What?". Nevertheless, it's only been a couple years since he notoriously "robbed" Kendrick Lamar at the Grammy's and already, Macklemore, has become Mackleless. He was a huge deal just a couple of years ago, secured a gang of nominations, awards, and accolades, and in the end, did he deliver? I'd have to say no. Let's start with the fact that he is yet another example of an artist who relied to heavily on gimmick. That whole "Thrift Shop" idea was both profound and catchy (we've all heard it a millions times) but it's pretty much all he's come to be known for. Not to mention, it certainly didn't include any memorable phrases or wordplay, rather, a series of references shouting out thrifters and those who enjoy both fashion and a good bargain. Sure, there are much worse fates than being a one-hit-wonder, however, I am of the opinion that that single may have never been released had they known it would eclipse his entire career. Indeed, if you have heard some of his other, less mainstream music, it is hard to imagine that Macklemore is the kind of artist that would be comfortable with his legacy being summed up as the thrifty dude that robbed Kendrick Lamar. Either way, ironically, the one thing missing from this thrifty rap brand is a bit of novelty.
2 21 Savage
Once again, where do we begin?! A dude with a cross-shaped knife tattooed on his forehead who appears by no means religious, 21 Savage seems to have chosen the right alias for himself. Moreover, can we please just stop and acknowledge the fact that some kid basically stole his name (22 Savage) and is arguably has more "respect on his name" than the original Savage does. On top of that, the music is "turnt" but one dimensional. Moreover, given the nature and genre (trap rap) that he chose, his voice itself is oddly monotone. Nevertheless, he does make a decent set of dance tracks in the vein of Gucci Mane so, it makes sense that he got his big break by making club hits in Atlanta. One of the few rappers who appears to be telling the truth in his lyrics, it’s hard to imagine that 21 Savage isn’t at least 50% of the savage he is portrayed to be. Paper Boi would be pleased...
1 Young Thug
The irony of the fact that one of the most controversial rap artists of our age, also happens to have one of the most generic stage names in hip-hop history is a metaphor for the state of hip-hop. Moreover, his persona very much follows suit. Not to totally take the side of the hip-hop sticklers, however, rappers such as Young Thug fully embody the problem with the latest generation of rap stars. A bizarro Tupac of sorts, rather than really being about that "Thug Life" Thugga remains a rebel without a clue. A supposed gangster who wears dresses and leggings, has been caught on video degrading Black women, and ignores political causes affecting his community, Young Thug is essentially the antithesis of what artists such as Tupac stood for. Sure, other artists have made their marks with the use of gender-bending antics (i.e. Prince, Boy George, and many others). However, in Mr. Thug's case, this seems to be for the sake of controversy and album sales rather than an attempt to use his platform to make a statement. In fact, when asked specifically about social justice groups such as "Black Lives Matter", Thug made it a point to let everyone know that he was too busy counting his money to care about the community. In addition to that, does anyone even know what he’s saying? His unintelligible rhymes are certainly catchy, but there is no way to truly sing along without Googling and studying extensively which just feels counter-intuitive. In the face of an onslaught of new age rappers asserting that Tupac is the most overrated rap artist of all time, I find it more than fitting to top this list with a rapper whose lyrics are literally to muddled to utter, Young Thug.