This is Viberant’s 2018 edition of the top 20 rappers in their 20’s. To be eligible you have to be aged between 20-29, so there’s no Kendrick Lamar, no Drake. The criteria for the list is the artists recent projects, general ability and their history.
Chicago born rapper Noname took my breath away with her 2016 debut album Telefone and although we haven’t heard anything from her this year other than one guest verse on a Smino track, the critical acclaim and universal acknowledgement of her debut album has continued all year long and often made people think of her as the most promising female rapper around at the moment. She has a quirky talent and energy to her sound which has been promised to be delivered to us more in 2018 with another album on the way.
19. Erick The Architect
Flatbush Zombie producer Erick The Architect really came into his own in the group, not only does he produce every track for the group, sometimes he’s spitting the hardest verses out of the trio, something that was never intended to be the case. He’s made his case for being the most important member. After their 2016 success with 3001: A Laced Odyssey, it’s expected the group will be back with another album in 2018, which could further propel them in the world of rap.
The hook master of the Migos is at number 18. Since the Migos blew up, Quavo really hasn’t stopped making music, he’s featured alongside near enough everyone worth mentioning, providing verses and hooks for all who pay well, he was part of the popular Culture album and most recently had a collab album with Travis Scott. The collab album was a little bit off the mark given the hype, but still respectable.
17. Meechy Darko
The second member of the Flatbush Zombies to make the list in Meech, who has arguably the most distinctive voice in all of rap. While Erick makes the beats, Darko is the best of the group to spit on them, his uniqueness in his lyricism and delivery is unmatched by the other members of the group, and Darko is probably the only man in the group who could make it as a solo artist if he wanted to ever go down that path. We’ll be seeing a lot more from him and the rest of the Zombies this year so be ready.
16. Earl Sweatshirt
Bar for bar, Earl Sweatshirt is one of the best rappers in the world. He has the flow, and more importantly to his game, wordplay, to match anyone and everyone. What really let’s Earl down is his lack of output. Earl hasn’t released an album since March 2015. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside was a fantastic project, but again at only 30 minutes long. Earl has constantly left fans wanting more, and when he gives them it he’ll be sure to sky rocket in this list.
What a year this man had. The success of his hit single Caroline continued to rise as it went triple platinum. He then was announced as one of the members of the 2017 XXL Freshmen list, which he followed a month later with the release of his debut album Good For You, which did relatively well in the charts, becoming a pretty solid debut. He went on a massive two month tour last year that saw him complete over 30 tour dates throughout America and Europe. He deserves a place on this list for last years hard work, and at the age of 23, expect him to end up higher and higher as the years go on.
14. 21 Savage
21 Savage has had a remarkable 2017, finally releasing the follow up to his breakout mixtape Savage Mode with the critically acclaimed and much praised Issa Album. He had one of the biggest rap songs of the year in the form of Bank Account, a song with a brilliant hook and great flow; and as well as all this he brought out a truly fantastic collaborative project with Offset and Metro Boomin called Without Warning. The signs are positive for a man who I genuinely thought would begin to fall down the slope after a quiet start to the year.
13. Ameer Vann
What a year for BROCKHAMPTON and Ameer Vann has been a vital part of that. He has been on the cover of all three Saturation albums this year and was described by fellow group member Kevin Abstract as a “superstar” after his rap performances on the projects. He has a predictable flow, granted, but what he offers is cold blooded aggression and a quirky piece of lyricism, he sounds like he wants to kill you but in reality he’s just having a great time. At just 21 years of age, he raps like a man way beyond his years and the sky is the limit.
12. Swae Lee
Swae Lee, the king of the hook. His voice is rare in rap, he needs to start getting the appreciation that he deserves. He’s the star of French Montana’s Unforgettable, and he’s the star of the rap group Rae Sremmurd. As Rae Sremm evolve, Lee will continue to be the front man, he’ll push him and his brother to new heights in the coming years. His solo project Swaecation could drop this year too.
11. Matt Champion
The second BROCKHAMPTON member to make an appearance on this list is Matt Champion, a man who has staked a claim to be the most exciting emerging white rapper alive right now with his deadly flow and his crucial subject matter. On Junky Champion delivers one of his truly great verses as he challenges rape culture in today’s society, something that is next to never spoken about in today’s music industry. His flow on SISTER/NATION is filthy too.
The number one man in the Migos, and in my opinion, the only one who would make it big time if the group split up, although I don’t want them to. Each member of the Migos is always a very active artist, following the release of the groups hit project Culture, Offset then took part in a collab album with 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, titled Without Warning. It was a really fun project, one that I found more entertaining than Quavo’s collab with Travis.
9. Kevin Abstract
The leader of BROCKHAMPTON and certainly the most recognisable member, Kevin Abstract has lived up to his stage name in the best kind of way with stunning diversity in every track involvement he has on the Saturation trilogy. his verses on JUNKY and STAR demonstrate his great rap talents, never being afraid to speak about his homosexuality and how he is viewed in society; while his hooks on the likes of BOOGIE and GOLD have become hip-hop royalty in 2017, long may the BROCKHAMPTON wave continue.
8. Lil Uzi Vert
A very high spot for Lil Uzi here, and it’s beyond deserved after his 2017. XO Tour Llif3 was one of the very best songs of the year. His debut studio album Luv is Rage 2 reached number one, and he’s earned two Grammy nominations. There’s somewhat of a cult following surrounding Uzi now after the fantastic work he’s done. He’s eccentric, and he’s very much the future of of the new school rap scene which is ever evolving.
7. A$AP Rocky
In terms of music it has been a fairly quiet year for A$AP Rocky but he was a major player in the A$AP Mob’s Cozy Tapes: Vol. 2 which, although was a disappointment as a whole, had some great songs and some prime examples of the talent that Rocky has. He is without a doubt the most talented artist on this list but due to him being quiet this year he won’t be topping this one, not to mention the fact he is turning 30 next year so will never top one of these lists. If he stopped with fashion and put his soul into music he really could be a legend but I’m not one to tell people how to live their lives.
6. Travis Scott
2017 started full of expectation for Houston rapper Travis Scott, he was enjoying huge success from his second album Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight and there was promise of a third album on the way. We now know that album to be called Astroworld but it wasn’t released in 2017 and has been shelved for this year. He did, however bring us one of the hottest singles of the year with Butterfly Effect and featured on major hits from the likes of Drake, DJ Khaled and Calvin Harris. He has shot to the forefront of mainstream rap and his collab album with Quavo generated decent heat. La Flame keeps burning on and on.
5. Chance The Rapper
The man who changed the Grammy’s. Chance’s music is unlike a lot of rappers in mainstream music, he doesn’t rap about his drug habits, rather he takes a positive vibe with his music. Had he dropped an album in more recent times he could be higher here, but his success in 2016 could simply not be ignored. Coloring Book, was one of the albums of it’s year with Chance winning three Grammy’s for it, something unheard of for a mixtape, one which normally wouldn’t have been eligible for nomination. Expect Chance to be back this year, bigger and better than ever.
4. Young Thug
Young Thug is hip-hop’s most eccentric and polarising figure at the moment and his momentum sure hasn’t slowed down in 2017. He had his take at a country album with Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls which saw him use the term “yee-haw” as an ad-lib so anyone who dares to not call him a genius is wrong. He had some fantastic tracks on this album but that wasn’t all he did this year, he had projects with DJ Carnage and Future respectively and both were very well received so his stock continues to rise. He has a name that will never be out of relevancy and is a worldwide treasure.
3. Joey Bada$$
New York’s own Joey Bada$$ has had a brilliant 2017, releasing an astonishing follow up album to his debut B4.DA.$$ in 2015. ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ was released in April 2017 and quickly soared to the top of people’s early year lists and stayed there for the remainder. It is his answer to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and has enough racial subject matter to fill an entire discography, let alone one single album. He sends powerful messages with his music and has a wise head on his very young shoulders so sit back and enjoy the prophecy of young talented black artists like Joey.
2. Tyler the Creator
If we’d have done this a year ago, Tyler would maybe just get top 10, so what’s the main thing that can bump you up this list? Music of course. He released Flower Boy last summer, and it was one of the very best albums of the year, earning Tyler his very first Grammy nomination. It was his best work by far, it was Tyler at full maturity and his best in terms of lyrics, production and delivery. Tyler put himself in a place to be recognised as one of the very best artists in the world, not just rap.
1. Vince Staples
2017 was, in my eyes, the year of Vince Staples when we look at the best albums released. He was top of both Ellis and Liam’s albums of the year lists with the phenomenal Big Fish Theory which was described as a hip-hop game changer and it’s plain to see why. His experimental use of UK Garage and House music for instrumentals made for the most intriguing, unique sound of the year and his bars were equally as brilliant; remaining quirky and on point from the get-go. This guy has incredible potential, we have known this all along, but this year he has proven that and then some.