Rick Ross is probably the “hottest” rapper in the game at the moment and one privilege that is given with that title is that other artists flock towards him. More than just being the “hottest” rapper, Rick Ross is the most evolved. From his debut album Port of Miami to his latest works his lyrics have improved vastly. 2011 was easily Rick Ross’ year coming off a great 2010, where he released his best album Teflon Don; in my opinion. 2011 was not about his music but him building his “empire” Maybach Music Group by signing a young artist with a lot of potential in Wale; who was desperate for a change of location after his debut album flopped. Ross also signed newcomers Meek Mill and Stalley. With these three rappers Rick Ross showed that he wanted to put his mark on every sub-genre of hip-hop. Wale’s bread-and-butter is hip-hop love songs, while Meek Mill makes modern-day gangster rap, and Stalley is the “back-pack rapper” who likes to rap over “Southern-Rap” production. Those three pieces along with Rick Ross and his witty, flashy style that can it in with either of his signees are the makings o a label that can dominate hip-hop well into the future.
I should not have to say much about Jay-Z, so I won’t. From the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s Jay-Z and his label Roc-A-Fella Records ruled hip-hop with an iron fist but after several conflicts and disagreements Jay-Z put an end to Roc-A-Fella and started a new label in 2009; Roc Nation. Jay-Z has constructed a nice roster under his new brand considering only two of his artists are established. J. Cole had a good 2011 with the release of his third mixtape Friday Night Lights and his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. Rihanna has had two great years with her albums LOUD and Talk That Talk. Jay-Z also signed “underground” veteran rapper Jay Electronica; who gained popularity in 2009 from the release of his single “Exhibit C” from a album that has yet to drop and many of his fans are beginning to believe will never release.
From the years 2004 – 2009 Lil Wayne was the “hottest” rapper in the game, thanks to several mixtapes and three critically acclaimed albums: Tha Carter, Tha Carter II, and Tha Carter III. Wayne has plugged his Young Money brand since 2004 but nothing ever came from it until 2008 when he found the Toronto rapper Drake. Drake was by far the most popular rapper without an album release ever. Drake’s critically acclaimed mixtape So Far Gone wasn’t only the emergence of him but also jump started the Young Money label. After Drake’s success, Lil Wayne invested in an up-and-coming female rapper named Nicki Minaj. Nicki started off as a aggressive rapper (a la Lil Kim & Foxy Brown) but after being annoyed with comparisons she changed her style and now I don’t believe there is a way to describe what she does now; especially after her recent Grammy performance. Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj can easily be looked at as the faces of hip-hop when it comes to the Billboard charts but in my opinion they all have stepped away from hiphop. Lil Wayne does this punk-rock-rap act; similar to Limp Bizkit, who he recently signed. Drake has evolved into “Bizarro Trey Songz”; a rapper who wants to be respected or his harmonizing. Nicki Minaj does whatever she does but I refuse to consider it music, let alone hip-hop.
Kanye West without a doubt is a well established rapper. He took his “back-pack rap” essence and incorporated it with his flashy, cocky demeanor and giving hip-hop something it has never seen. Kanye is hands down the most consistent rapper of all time; in my opinion, and he has yet to release bad music. With all of that said with Kanye’s talent behind the microphone and on the soundboard he became an artist that every other artists would want on their album some way or another. Kanye made many friendship threw his career and was looked as a role model to up-and-coming rappers. So, Kanye decided to launch a label; G.O.O.D. Music Group. G.O.O.D. stands for “getting out our dreams”. Kanye signed his close friend and legend Common, one-half of the well established group Clipse; Pusha-T, a fan of his and newcomer Big Sean, a innovative newcomer in Kid Cudi, and Atlanta “underground” rapper CyHi The Prynce. Unlike his peers who have started labels all of Kanye’s artsts are now well established and have a large fan base outside of the one they have developed by working with Kanye.
and THE WINNER IS…