5 Current Rappers To Watch (And 5 To Forget)

Where do you fall on ranking the always-controversial outspoken Yeezus himself?

It's an exasperating time to be into hip hop, especially if you're the kind of genre fanboy who feels you need to defend your passions. A genre covered in public disapproval like thick, disdainful gravy on a rap roast, hip hop tends to be stuffed into the same pigeonhole as the most devilish of heavy metal - music that you don't want your children listening to. The perception is of violent, misogynistic music made by ignorant gang-bangers who take regular breaks during the recording process to shoot people and sell their own girlfriends to their crack dealers. But this is a judgement made by people who have missed the point completely: hip hop is the modern equivalent of sitting around the fire telling grandiose tales. Sometimes playful, sometimes dangerous, it's about dreaming up imagery of a lifestyle that some live, others aspire to, and the rest should find simply intriguing at the very least. And there we go, trying to defend it again. Yet while we're working hard to justify this supposedly immoral thug music to nonbelievers - trying to explain that this an evolution of poetry, the spoken truth from the mouth of the street and other similarly pretentious attempts to elevate trigger-happy gangster rap the level of high art - we have a host of neutered little rap weeds which have been allowed to grow unchecked in the industry, and who negate all of our efforts; McDonalds Happy Meal rappers hanging on the corporate teat, or fickle, disposable wordsmiths with nothing substantial to say. These sorry fools wear their "crossover appeal" badges with pride, prancing around in Jennifer Lopez music videos with their easy-wipe marker tattoos and clip-on gold teeth. Forgettable bubblegum rappers, along with a selection of irrelevant hip hop dinosaurs who refuse to die that are making it hard to remain faithful. We worry so much about convincing people that hip hop is worth listening to, we haven't had time to notice that, for the most part right now, it isn't. But it's not all doom and gloom. There are musicians swimming in the mainstream who still inspire with potent wordplay and inventive beats. If you've become disillusioned with the current state of the rap game, read on for a quick look at five top-flight hip hop artists who are deserving of your time. Once we've covered that end of the spectrum, keep reading as we take a bitter look at the flip-side - the self-absorbed soft-serve jukeboxes of the hip hop worth which should be promptly and permanently deleted from your playlist.
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Kanye West
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Game-obsessed since the moment I could twiddle both thumbs independently. Equally enthralled by all the genres of music that your parents warned you about.