Hip-hop progressed greatly in the last decade with a new wave of innovative artists, and styles such as trap, drill, soundcloud rap or mumble rap…Here are the top 10 rappers who brought change to the game in the 2010s.
2010: Rick Ross
Following up his third album in 2009, “Deeper Than Rap,” which debuted at #1, Rick Ross’ fourth album “Teflon Don” debuted at #2 on the US Billboard 200 chart, not only proving he was here to stay but standing as his most critically acclaimed album. The album’s third single, “Aston Martin Music,” featuring guest appearances from Drake and Chrisette Michele, became Ross’ first #1 single on the rap charts and reached #2 on the R&B charts and #30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2011: Nicki Minaj
Game changer Nicki Minaj released her debut studio album “Pink Friday” in late 2010 which spawned an incredible 8 singles. The album debuted at #2 on the US Billboard 200 and has gone on to sell 3 million copies. The album won favorite rap/hip-hop album at the American music awards and was nominated for best rap album at the 2012 Grammys.
Her fifth single, “Super Bass” was named by Billboard as one of the “Top 100 Songs Which Defined the 2010s Decade” and by NME as one of the “100 Greatest Songs of the 2010s,” NPR music rated it as one of “The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women.” The song also won numerous awards in 2011 and 2012. It reached #2 on the hot rap songs chart and #3 on mainstream top 40.
2012: Kendrick Lamar
Releasing his major-label debut album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” in 2012, which reached #2 on the Billboard 200 in its first week, Kendrick Lamar has gone on to be regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation, as well as one of the greatest rappers and lyricists of all time. Rolling Stone ranked the album at #115 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The LP went on to sell 3 million copies. The album spawned 5 singles. The third single “Swimming Pools (Drank)” reached #3 on the hot rap and hot R&B charts and #17 on the Billboard hot 100.
Combining reggaeton, Latin hip hop, and crunk music, Cuban-American Pitbull brought his own spin on the rap game. In late 2012, he released his seventh studio album “Global Warming,” which reached #1 on the rap charts and #14 on the Billboard 200, selling 2 million copies. In 2013, Pitbull released an EP “Meltdown,” which went to #95 in the Billboard 200 in the US, and the first single “Timber,” which featured Ke$ha and reached #1 in 20 nations.
2014: Young Thug
Eccentric rapper Young Thug first came to attention via independent mixtapes starting in 2011. But he received attention proper by the masses when he released the non-album single “Stoner,” which shot to the #4 slot on the US rap chart, as well as #13 on the R&B/hip-hop chart and #47 on the US hot 100. The single was certified as Gold. The song is ranked as one of the 100 songs that defined the 2010s decade by Billboard.
Young Thug’s major-label debut LP didn’t drop until 2019, with “So Much Fun,” which debuted at #1 in the US Billboard 200, and sold over a million copies, and was nominated at the Billboard music awards for top rap album.
In July 2015, Rapper Future released his third studio album titled “DS2” (an abbreviation of Dirty Sprite 2) which debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200 and also went to #1 on the rap and R&B charts. It sold over 2 million copies, his best-selling LP to date. The album the second single “Where Ya At,” featuring Drake, reached #7 on the rap charts, #11 on the R&B charts, and #28 on the Billboard hot 100 chart, selling over 4 million copies.
In September 2015, Future released a mixtape with Drake titled “What a Time to Be Alive,” which also debuted at number one, marking the first time a rapper scored two number one albums in a single year since Jay Z pulled it off in 2004.
2016: Cardi B
First becoming an Internet celebrity on Vine and Instagram, and appearing as a cast member on the VH1 reality series Love & Hip Hop: New York, Cardi B made her first foray into rap with her 2016 mixtape release “Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1.” The EP reached #20 on the top rap albums chart and #30 on the R&B/hip-hop chart, and #27 on the independent albums chart. She would go on to superstardom the next year with her debut album “Invasion of Privacy.”
2017: 2 Chainz
With his 2017 release “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music,” 2 Chainz achieved his second million-selling LP and his fourth #1 charting rap album, which also debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. The second single from the album, “It’s a Vibe,” which also featured featuring Ty Dolla Sign, Trey Songz and Jhené Aiko, sold over 4 million copies. It reached #20 on the hot R&B charts and #44 on the Billboard hot 100.
2018: Travis Scott
On his third studio album, “Astroworld,” Travis Scott was firing on all cylinders with his fusion of rap, hip-hop, low-fi and ambient. The album debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200, selling over half a million units the first week, and going triple-platinum. It won the BET hip-hop awards for album of the year and was nominated for a best rap album Grammy award. The second single from the LP “Sicko Mode,” also featuring Drake, reached #1 on the US Billboard hot 100, US hot R&B, US hot rap, and US rhythmic charts.
DaBaby (formerly known as Baby Jesus) brought a brutal, precise, staccato, and innovative rapping style to the game. Making his major-label debut in 2019, DaBaby dropped two albums in the same year. The first was “Baby on Baby,” in March, which debuted at #25 on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified as Gold. It reached #2 on the rap charts, #3 on the R&B charts, and #7 on the Billboard 200.
DaBaby’s lead single, the breakthrough hit “Suge (Yea Yea),” reached #1 on the R&B chart, and #7 on the Billboard hot 100. DaBaby’s second album was released in September 2019, debuting at #1 on the US Billboard 200, also reaching #1 on the rap and R&B/hip-hop charts.