The hip-hop game is currently undergoing an influx of new wave talent, young blood oozing with creative ideas and fresh projects. While the likes of Kendrick, Drake, Future and J Cole continue to rule the roost in their 30s; it is those in their 20s we are focusing on here. This is the Viberant list of the 20 best rappers in their 20s:
The king of hooks Quavo kicks off this years list falling two place following some largely unforgettable features along with a so so Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho album. Timing could be bad for the Migos member as his album, Quavo Huncho, has dropped today. I haven’t heard it yet so it could either make or break him in terms of being on next years list.
Our first new entry to the list is one Merlyn Wood of BROCKHAMPTON. He’s not only a quality rapper but somewhat of an energetic hypeman for the worlds greatest boy band. His unique and easily recognisable voice makes him stand out from your average Joe and his work on the Saturation Trilogy, as well as his evolved work on iridescence makes ‘MERLYN!’ more than worthy of a place on our list.
A proud moment for me to announce this, Ski Mask The Slump God has finally made our list. Last year he was overlooked, but the release of BEWARE THE BOOK OF ELI reaffirmed that the 22 year old Florida based rapper is a prime-time player in the rap genre. His incredible satire in his lyrics twinned with near-impossible flows and pulsing trap beats makes Ski Mask a sure-fire addition to this list; I mean how could we leave out a guy who references Elder Scrolls, Blue’s Clues and Garfield in his lyrics?
A third new entry on the bounce to this list, 2018 has been a great year for JPEGMAFIA based off the critical success of his challenging but powerful album Veteran. While Peggy’s style is somewhat unorthodox in the typical rap game, his level of experimentation in production and choppy flows makes for remarkable listening. For my money, Veteran is right up there with the best releases of the year but his lack of commercial acclaim has halted his progress on this list.
Odd Future alumni Earl Sweatshirt has stayed in the same position for two years running following a largely quiet year with nothing more than an occasional feature. His last record was three years ago which begs the question why is he still in the list? The answer being that he’s just that good. Most people drop on this list if they don’t drop music but Earl stays here on skill alone, and you best believe when he finally drops some work he’s going to fly into the top half of this list.
Another non-mover on this year’s list is Aminé, a rapper who has maintained his stock comfortably off the back of his debut album Good For You last year. The hits from that album have continued to blossom throughout 2018 and his surprise drop of mixtape ONEPOINTFIVE demonstrated his talents as a lasting name in the hip-hop community. There’s plenty of room for improvement for Aminé but he is young enough to do so; expect him to be a stalwart of this list for the next few years.
Migos’ best rapper by a distance, Offset has established himself as a top drawer MC for his ice cold flows and catchy deliveries. Migos had a solid beginning to the year with Culture II dominating the charts, hits like Stir Fry and Walk It Talk It were the soundtrack to the early year thanks mainly to Offset’s bars in verses. He has also landed a top 10 hit alongside Tyga with Taste where the Migo absolutely bodies Kylie Jenner’s ex.
It’s a funny old game this rap business. Last year A$AP Rocky placed in the top 10 for our list based off the fact that we knew how incredible he can be and the standout moments from his work with A$AP Mob. Naturally, with the release of his third album Testing earlier this year, you would’ve expected him to soar up the list; but instead he has fallen a few places. His name still buzzes around given the brilliance of hits like A$AP Forever and Praise The Lord (Da Shine) but the reason for him dropping down the list as opposed to lifting up is the inconsistency of the album.
What a difference a year can make. Viberant love Vince Staples as much as the next music site but his lack of music has harmed his place in our rankings. Big Fish Theory got him the top spot last year but in 2018 his only release has come in the way of his single Get The Fuck Off My Dick. While it initially slapped heavy, it didn’t age all that well and Vinny has taken a massive fall from grace when it comes to our list.
Much like Vince Staples, there has been a distinct fall in the buzz for Joey Bada$$ in 2018. His 2017 album ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ was an absolute masterstroke and while that album is still just as brilliant, he hasn’t done much in the ways of following it up. A meh feature on XXXTentacion’s final album before his death is pretty much all Joey has to show for 2018 bar a couple of under-the-radar singles. The talent is still there in abundance and with another project under his belt I think Joey could compete at the top of the game; he really is that good.
I feel like a regular at Viberant will know memes as much as the writers do, so you’ll understand me when I say this. Chance low key fell off. Acid Rap was his pinnacle, Coloring Book was great, and his 2018 singles left us all feeling a bit empty. Chance is capable of making something special and his next album really needs to hit it out of the park, whether that’s a solo attempt or a collab with Kanye or Gambino.
From Chance to his Chicago brother Saba. From almost out of nowhere Saba has soared through our ranks into the top half of the list thanks to his album of the year contender Care For Me. The beyond incredible album showcased Saba’s lyrical depth, genius production and his heavily underrated bars. Saba isn’t a household name but the fact of the matter is he should be, and if he keeps dropping records like he has this year then he’ll be there in no time.
A trifecta of Chi-Town rappers in a row for this years list with Noname soaring through the ranks as this years highest ranked woman. The massive improvement in the ranks is largely attributed to her 2018 album, Room 25. She’s crafted her own vintage sound through depth and poetry making her album one of the best this year, in all likelihood Noname will keep climbing this chart year in year out until she’s 30.
Dropping one of the best verses of 2018 on perhaps the most innovative rap album of the year is more than enough to stand up and take notice of. Kevin Abstract is the flagbearer of BROCKHAMPTON and has been at the heart of most things great to come from the boyband, particularly with his heavy-hitting and culturally important lyrics. iridescence was a crowning moment for the group as a whole and Kevin profited from that hugely, demonstrating his immense talents with his verses on WEIGHT and TONYA. Easily one of the most artistically captivating rappers on this list.
I’m not sure what we were thinking last year when we chose not to include Dom. He’s by far the best pure rapper in our favourite boyband BROCKHAMPTON and that was cemented by his incredible work on their recent number one album iridescence. His verses were full of beautiful depth and whit. He’s the groups most consistent member and he’s somehow managed to evolve from his amazing work on the Saturation Trilogy.
In 2016 I would never have pictured Lil Uzi Vert becoming one of raps biggest stars, but here we are. Uzi has maintained his impressive heat this year with singles Sauce It Up and the insanely good New Patek. Add an outrageously solid guest verse on Travis Scott’s Watch along with the well aged 2017 work and Uzi is well on his way to toppling some of the biggest names on this list.
The man with the hair like a Super Saiyan has had quite the year in 2018. He followed up the brilliance of his 2016 debut album Imperial with the biggest of bangs; creating a seminal masterclass of a sophomore record in TA13OO. In this album Denzel Curry went from hard-hitting, ice cold spitter of bars to a culturally woke artist capable of dropping a classic. He gave us a career-defining album and even earnt commercial success on his hit single Clout Cobain, an absolute banger by the way.
No matter what year it is, Young Thug will continue to place very high on this list given his immense work ethic. Year in year out Jeffrey reimagines and reinvents his artistic calibre in unbeknown ways, continually releasing strong projects with at least one hit on them. Still vibing off the success of Beautiful Thugger Girls and Young Martha in 2017, he has dropped the Hear No Evil EP this year with bangers on it alongside 21 Savage, Uzi and Nicki Minaj; as well as a mixtape called Slime Language and on The Rvn; a six track EP with features as wild as Jaden Smith and Elton John. Still waiting on that debut album though…
What a year it has been for Jacques Webster aka Travis Scott. The drop of his eagerly anticipated album ASTROWORLD finally came and it dominated the airwaves, claiming two weeks atop of the Billboard charts and boasting one of the biggest rap songs of the year in SICKO MODE. His level of artistry is blended with maturity of sound to create a polarizing project and make Trav one of rap’s biggest commodities; and if it weren’t for a certain genius of a young man, Travis Scott would be top of this list every day of the week…
From silver to gold for Tyler. Last year we ranked him second behind Vince because they had the top two albums of 2017, so why has Vince dropped and Tyler risen? Consistency is key, Tyler has constantly put out new songs from 435 to Potato Salad, and his 2017 record Flower Boy has aged like the finest of wines. Tyler is slowly but surly cementing a legacy as much more than a rapper, but if we’re looking at such a small part of his game he tops our top 20 rappers by quite a way. The proof is in the pudding as all three founding members of Viberant voted Tyler number one, and that’s likely to stay that way for the forseeable.