As rap music continued to plow on in 2011 the key question is: who came out on top? We know who's at the bottom: 50 Cent (gone A.W.O.L from real rap), Dr Dre who has rudely kept us waiting another year for the mythical Detox III album and Lil Wayne who upon leaving Rikers Island Prison decided to tarnish Tha Carter brand with an incredibly average Tha Carter IV. U.K Rappers such as Tinie Tempah and Wretch 32 appear general winners in 2011 as the British scene entrenched itself within mainstream music. However, the key stars still reside in the U.S:
1. Rick Ross
For the past two years Rick Ross has been rapping about his world of Maybachs and his alleged Miami mafia affiliations with particular skill. Despite his last solo album being released in 2010 and his next offering God Forgives, I Don't reportedly delayed until 2012 Rozay has still managed to kill 2011 with a host of features. This has been a year of diversification for the ex parole officer. Having, in my opinion, beaten the increasingly irrelevant 50 cent in a much publicised beef, Ross has built his Maybach Music Group record label to include the gifted Wale and the up and coming Meek Mill. Any song featuring Rozay has presence in abundance.
2. Kanye West
One of the most talented men in music comes in at a very narrow second. Having delivered his 2010 magnum opus in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he and big brother Jay-z laid down the blueprint for sophisticated, artistic, luxury rap with Watch The Throne. Of late, Kanye has been focusing on other artistic ventures, including his own female fashion line. Nevertheless Kanye is arguably the rapper ever since 2004, and so 2011 was simply work as per usual...
As soon as the Canadian breathes over an 808 the world spins. After a brief hiatus Drake came back to end the year in style with Take Care. Knowing the spiritual connection many seem to have with Drizzy many will surely wonder why he isn't at number one or two given the quality of Take Care? Well, Drake just lacks that millimeter of Rick Ross grandeur. Similarly, Drake's level of creativity falls short of that of Kanye West. Having said this Drake has forever tattooed his on Hip Hop's chest.
In terms of his pure ability to rap, the Roc Nation artist should perhaps be at number one or two. As I have discussed here, J. Cole is riding in the same lane as Jay-z and other hip hop greats, and should arrive at that destination very soon. However – even despite his cult following – J.Cole has been travelling marginally slower than those above.
5. Wiz Khalifa
With his 2011 debut album Rolling Papers, including tracks entitled 'Roof Tops', 'Top Floor' and 'Roll Up' it's easy to deduce how Wiz Khalifa spends his time. Alongside such activities, Khalifa puts in some serious work in the booth. He delivered the hit 'urban' song of the year in 'Black and Yellow', played as many times in clubs and on the airwaves as Tinie Tempha's 2010 hit 'Pass Out'. The rest of Rolling Papers is incredibly relaxing and sincere. The popularity of Snapback's, acid wash denim, tattoo sleeves etc are ,in part, courtesy of Khalifa, thanks.