So the hip-hop world has been going nuts over these last few weeks. First, there’s the Lil Wayne vs. Birdman (not the basketball player). Birdman has been accused of trying to kill Lil Wayne because Lil Wayne’s attempts to leave the Cash Money Record label. But the big news these days is Drake vs. Meek Mill, which has now left Meek Mill’s reputation as “That guy who Drake murdered in two minutes fifty-two seconds” (click here if you haven’t heard Back to Back yet). With all this in mind, I decided to do the first installment of the Fire Tunes Rappers Power Rankings.
Here’s how this works. We’ve hand selected the top 18 rappers (in our opinions) and ranked them on the following categories: live performances, lyrical ability, beats, quotable lyrics and hooks. Each rapper has been ranked in each category, and the rapper with the lowest score won.
18. Earl Sweatshirt
Live: 11th, Lyrics: 15th, Beats: 15th, Quotable: 15th, Hooks: 18th
Notable song: Chum
Earl Sweatshirt certainly has the talent of becoming an excellent rapper, but the lack of dominant hooks in his songs hurt his stock severely.
17th. Jay Rock
Live: 15th, Lyrics: 8th, Beats: 16th, Quotable: 9th, Hooks: 12th
Notable Song: Gumbo
Jay Rock is TDE’s latest recruit, and we are still awaiting his first album. It’s tough to give him a proper rating, but his beats and flow suffer due to his lack of content.
Live: 12th, Lyrics: 18th, Beats: 9th, Quotable: 9th, Hooks 13th
Notable Song: Not For Long
B.o.B used to be widely regarded as an elite rapper, yet he’s suffered a huge downfall after Strange Clouds was released. Judging him on his most recent music is the reason why the MC from Atlanta is ranked so low.
15th. Meek Mill
Live: 17th, Lyrics: 17th, Beats: 7th, Quotable: 10th, Hooks: 7th
Notable Song: R.I.C.O
As Drake rapped in Back to Back, “When I look back at this, I might be mad I gave this attention.” Other than having solid beats and hooks, Meek Mill isn’t worth the hype. Watch him live, and you’ll just laugh.
14th. A$AP Rocky
Live: 10th, Lyrics: 13th, Beats: 2nd, Quotable: 17th, Hooks: 16th)
Notable Song: Everyday
A$AP used to be the king of the hook, and then his new album came out. It’s got sweet lethargic beats, but he’s missing the fire that he had on his first album (excluding Everyday, that’s got a fire hook).
Live: 5th, Lyrics: 14th, Beats: 17th, Quotable: 16th, Hooks: 4th
Notable Song: Private Show
T.I has excellent flow, and he can write a catchy hook; that’s never been his problem. His beats and lyrics have never done anything for me.
Live: 4th, Lyrics: 16th, Beats: 8th, Quotable: 14th, Hooks: 14th
Notable Song: Rhymes Like Weight
Curren$y is routlinely forgotten about when talking about elite rappers. His production aspects aren’t as strong as others (hence his low rating), but he’s got incredible flow.
11th. Fetty Wap
Live: 16th, Lyrics: 12th, Beats: 18th, Quotable: 8th, Hooks: 1st
Notable Song: Trap Queen
Fetty is the 2015 reincarnation of T-Pain. He’s the absolute king of the hook. Where his beats lack, he makes up for it with incredibly catchy songs.
Live: 8th, Lyrics: 4th, Beats: 14th, Quotable: 7th, Hooks: 17th
Notable Song: Under Pressure
Logic is a lyrical genius and has solid delivery, yet he’s still lacking killer hooks. Definitely one to watch out for.
9th. Lil Wayne
Live: 18th, Lyrics: 9th, Beats: 13th, Quotable: 4th, Hooks: 3rd
Notable Song: I Feel Good
Lil Wayne kills it with hooks and quotable lyrics. But seeing Lil Wayne live is really tough, his voice isn’t the most pleasant on the ears.
8th. Wiz Khalifa
Live: 9th, Lyrics: 9th, Beats: 12th, Quotable: 13th, Hooks: 5th
Notable Song: See You Again
Wiz is a solid all-around rapper. His hooks are certainly the highlights of his songs, and he knows how to get radio play.
7th. Big Sean
Live: 13th, Lyrics: 5th, Beats: 11th, Quotable: 1st, Hooks: 8th
Notable Song: Blessings
Big Sean is the king of the quotable lyric. Since he burst onto the scene with Finally Famous, Sean is second to none in coming up with comical and poignant lyrics.
6th. Vic Mensa
Live: 6th, Lyrics: 6th, Beats: 5th, Quotable: 11th, Hooks: 10th
Notable Song: U Mad
Vic has asserted himself as one of the biggest stars in hip-hop, and he’s yet to release an album. His four singles released are all bangers, and he deserves to be included in the conversation about elite rappers.
Live: 14th, Lyrics: 2nd, Beats: 10th, Quotable: 3rd, Hooks: 6th
Notable Song: 6PM in New York
So he destroyed Meek Mill, but that doesn’t make him go top. Drake’s biggest struggle is his inability to deliver an unbelievable live performance. He’s an excellent writer and producer, but he’s still not as charismatic as the others in the top 5.
4th. Chance the Rapper
Live: 1st, Lyrics: 11th, Beats: 1st, Quotable: 6th, Hooks: 15th
Notable Song: Sunday Candy
Chance is the future of hip-hop. The 22 year old rapper out of Chicago has every right to be at the top of list next year. He’s got the most unique sound out there, and Surf is the best album of the year (sorry Kendrick). His only worry is that his hooks sometimes aren’t as polished as they could be, other than that there’s nothing to complain about.
3rd. J. Cole
Live: 3rd, Lyrics: 1st, Beats: 6th, Quotable: 12th, Hooks: 9th
Notable Song: No Role Modelz
J. Cole is a master MC. Each song on 2014 Forest Hills Drive tells a distinct story, and he’s got exceptional flow. A good portion of his lyrics aren’t quotable, so that hurts him in this ranking, but he probably couldn’t care less.
2nd. Kendrick Lamar
Live: 2nd, Lyrics: 3rd, Beats: 4th, Quotable: 5th, Hooks: 11th
Notable Song: King Kunta
The most socially conscious rapper on this list, Kendrick is a bonafide superstar. Each album he’s released tells a story, and the jazz/soul ideas on To Pimp A Butterfly are genius. His only flaw is that his music isn’t radio friendly, but he’s well aware of that. He released his radio friendly album Good Kid m.A.A.d City, and now his music can go in a different direction.
1st. Kanye West
Live: 7th, Lyrics: 7th, Beats: 3rd, Quotable: 2nd, Hooks: 2nd
Notable song: Blood On The Leaves
When he’s featured on a song, he steals the show; when he releases an album, people stop what they’re doing and listens; when Kanye does anything, people are talking. He’s the most complete rapper on this list, and may go down as the all-time greatest. No song captures what Kanye can do better than Blood On The Leaves. He samples the Nina Simone classic, Strange Fruit, he produces an exceptional beat, and creates a memorable rap. Kanye’s the best rapper alive; it’s not even a question anymore. SWISH can’t come soon enough. Also, if you haven’t seen Ye’s Glastonbury performance; it’s a must watch.