One of Complex’s only good ideas is the 20 best rappers in their 20’s article, the only problem being they are just awful and miss out some superstars. I thought I’d give it a crack myself. Drake recently turned 30 so misses out while Lil Yachty is only 19 so also misses out on the list. If I’ve missed anyone one you feel should be in the list please tell me who! Let’s not waste anymore time with an introduction and get straight into it!
A lot of people might not know Noname, and if they do a lot of people don’t know her for her own work, and more so her features on tracks, the biggest of which was a feature with Chance The Rapper. But last year she released her debut mixtape ‘Telefone’ which reached widespread critical acclaim. I would highly recommend you give it a listen. She’ll be dropping her debut album at some point this year which I am crazy amounts of excited for, she’s the only woman to make this list, and she’s by far the best female rapper in the game.
‘Still Brazy’ was honestly just a masterpiece. ‘FDT (Fuck Donald Trump’ is not only the coolest song ever for it’s lyrics but it actually bangs hard as does the rest of this album. The Compton born rapper has reached critical acclaim with ‘Still Brazy’ and had a good amount of success with ‘My Krazy Life’, should YG continue his mega success from last year into this year, he’ll be a lot higher on this list for sure, and at 26 he’s still got a lot of time on his side.
18. Big Sean
Detroit’s very own B.I.G Sean Don makes the list here, and he very nearly didn’t until he dropped ‘I Decided’ a couple months ago, it surprisingly surpassed all of his previous work for me just pipping ‘Dark Sky Paradise’. For me Big Sean is a good rapper with some major bangers, he’s not far off 30 and I don’t really see him topping his previous work as of now, and as a result I don’t see him staying on a list like this next year.
17. 21 Savage
This man makes some murder music that’s for sure, the only member of the 2016 XXL Freshman list to make this list is this man right here. Everything about 21 Savage tells me he shouldn’t be a good rapper but I can’t help but just love him so much, I could play ‘No Heart’ and 21 memes for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t get bored of it.
16. Zombie Juice (Flatbush Zombies)
Anyone who knows me knows my love of the Flatbush Zombies, they are vastly underrated in all aspects, and at 26 Zombie Juice is the youngest member of the group. A lot of people regard him as the worst member of the group, but that doesn’t take away from his wicked flow, this man can rap hard. Also anyone who can come up with a lyric like ‘break necks like Benoit’ deserves to be in the list, all jokes aside Juice is a great lyricist to go with his monster flow.
15. Travi$ Scott
At number 15 lies Travi$ Scott. Most people would have him much higher up the list than this but for me he is very much an overrated rapper, not to take away from the man, he has moments of sheer brilliance but I can name a lot of people I’d rather listen to. All negatives aside Scott is a fire producer and has made some fire tracks in his time, if Kanye rates you there has to be something there.
14. Vic Mensa
A man who somehow was missed off Complex’s article last year makes the top 15 of mine. Chicago native Vic Mensa has managed to release some of the biggest bangers of their respective years but time and again goes unnoticed. From ‘Down On My Luck’ to ‘U Mad’ to the recent mixtape ‘There’s A Lot Going On’ there manages to be no weaknesses. In 10 years time people will look back on ’16 Shots’ as such a deep and powerful song about racism in America, if you haven’t heard it please give it a listen.
13. Joey Bada$$
Pro Era founder Joey Bada$$ makes the list here a lot higher than he did with the Complex list, another disgustingly underrated rapper who has one of the best flows in the game and possesses some deadly freestyle skills too. Bada$$ is one of the best New York have to offer, he has had success in recent years with his albums but I think this year when he drops ‘A.A.B.A’ he will really be in the limelight, if the track ‘Devastated’ is anything to go by it could be a new sound but still a brilliant one.
12. Post Malone
If you don’t love Post Malone then we can’t be friends. He is a man who if all of his songs were rap songs would easily make the top ten. Post Malone has been on a tear lately, whether it’s a collab with Yeezy, a mixtape, or a debut album, Malone will deliver. 2016 was his year in a monstrous way. As mentioned before had he not verged on the R&B genre so much he’d be a hell of a lot higher. ‘Stoney’ was a top 10 album of 2016 no doubt and I also have no doubt that this man will continue his rise to being the greatest white man with grills of all time.
11. Quavo (Migos)
The Migos have produced fire in recent times but one man stands out and that is Quavo. With Migos he was part of the track ‘Bad And Boujee’ which is one of the greatest pieces of art to ever be made, but what separates him from the Migos is his straight fire on features. He’s worked with Young Thug, Travi$ Scott, Post Malone, Kanye West and Gucci Mane all in one year. Anyone who can be on 2 of the best 5 songs of 2016 has to be on the list, and should the Migos continue to shine his stock will only rise.
10. Erick The Architect (Flatbush Zombies)
He truly is the glue of the Flatbush Zombies and it sometimes goes unnoticed, the second member of the New York group to make the list, Erick The Architect is the most underrated member of the group. At one point in time he was considered a third wheel but in recent years has not only held is own but has often topped his Flatbush members. Not only is he a world class rapper, he is also a world class producer and produces all of the songs for the group.
9. Tyler The Creator
Tyler the Creator is the full package, he’s a very smart person, amazing producer, fantastic musical brain, and most importantly, a very good rapper. he’s done amazing things in rap but he sometimes strays away from the rap game, some of the best tracks from ‘Cherry Bomb’ are not rap songs and that’s why he isn’t higher on the list. His most recent verse in the A$AP Rocky song ‘Telephone Calls’ prove that he can rap, whatever he chooses to do musically, I’m very excited to see it unfold.
8. Earl Sweatshirt
From one Odd Future alumni to another, Earl Sweatshirt is a next level deep rapper. Tyler The Creator is a better artist, but Earl by far and away is a better pure rapper. He has a nasty flow and he’s an amazing lyricist. It was a toss up between him and Tyler and it’s always a tough one. I prefer Tyler as an artist and as a producer, but I cannot deny Earl is a better rapper, he needs to drop something big this year to cement his place as a top level rapper and I have no doubt he’ll do it.
7. A$AP Rocky
The swaggiest man in rap bar none. A$AP Rocky is mega loved in the rap game on a mainstream scale. ‘Fucking Problems’ is one of the most popular rap bangers of the decade and it’s far from this mans best work. He’s had two really really good albums but I feel like we haven’t seen the best of this man yet, he’s gonna drop his best work yet this year, he showed glimpses of it in 2015 with ‘At Long Last A$AP’ with tracks like ‘Everyday’ and the simply stunning ‘LSD’, I think that A$AP has the potential to climb this list and be a top 5 next year.
6. Meechy Darko (Flatbush Zombies)
The final member of The Flatbush Zombies has made the list, arguably the leader of the group, Meechy Darko can go HARD. He has one the grittiest voices in rap, not only that he has one of the best voices in rap. With the heavy Flatbush production, Meech has created some amazing verses that go unnoticed and it makes me sick. Meech, along with the rest of The Flatbush Zombies, are clinically underrated. So many of the people on this list are underrated and it’s a word I will throw around a lot for the new school of rap. I never want Flatbush to split up, but if they did I’d argue Meech is the only one who would reach the top of the rap game on his own.
5. Young Thug
He is our generations Tupac, he is a genius, he WILL change rap forever. Young Thug is in the same boat as Chance The Rapper, he drops fire mixtapes at a rapid rate. Possibly the most eccentric man in rap at the moment, Thug in recent times has started to become a household rap name, in 5 years time he could be at Drake level popularity. ‘Pick Up The Phone’, one of the best songs of all time (no joke) he, Quavo and Travi$ are all outstanding in. Thug is not only the Tupac of our generation, he’s actually better than that.
You want to know why Complex’s list was utter bullshit? This man wasn’t even in the top 20. If he wasn’t in the top 10 it’d be bullshit, but not even 20? Complex can suck a dick for that. Anyway mini rant out of the way, Logic is, for me, the most underrated rapper ever, my friends would say Big Boi but I would say Logic. On pure rapping technique, Logic is a top 5 rapper right now in all age groups, and I’m not exaggerating when I say Logic is in the group with Andre 3000. He has some next level flow. When I saw him at Leeds Fest last year my love for him doubled, I’ve seen Kendrick Lamar, Flatbush Zombies, A$AP Ferg, Rae Sremm, but Logic will be the person that surprisingly shocked me the most.
3. Vince Staples
I CANNOT WAIT FOR VINCE TO DROP AN ALBUM THIS YEAR. Vince is one of the strongest rappers there is, amazing flow, amazing lyrics, amazing production, amazing sound, amazing brain. A lot of people hate on Vince Staples because he’s more educated than them, his eccentric personality only adds to his brilliance. ‘Summertime 06’ is one of my favourite albums, the sky is the limit for this man, Vince is one of the big leaders of the new school and for me he’s one of the most underrated rappers in the game.
2. Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper is changing the way artists look at music. Chance is a Grammy nominated artist who has never released a studio album which is an extraordinary thing. The 3 main mixtapes he’s released are all amazing pieces of work. He’s worked harder than most and he’s reaped the rewards, the man can rap better than most and is a better producer than most. He has an extremely unique rapping voice, amazing flow, the coolest adlib of all time, I have a feeling that Chance could be topping this list in the years to come when number 1 turns 30 next year.
1. Kendrick Lamar
Was it not obvious? Maybe next year when Kendrick is 30 this list will actually have some competitiveness in it, but for now while Kendrick is 29 he will always be seen as number 1 for me, Nobody on this list has an album that comes close to ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’, some would say no rapper on this list has an album close to Kendrick’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ either. Kendrick isn’t just the best rapper right now, he is for me a top 5 of all time rapper. Last year he released ‘Untitled Unmastered’ a B side album which is still better than most rappers on there best days, his features in recent times have been nothing short of phenomenal. Long story short this man is the best in the game right now.