Embarking on a journey into the heart of the new golden age of hip-hop, we encounter a plethora of exceptional talents shaping the contemporary rap landscape. From compelling storytelling to mesmerizing wordplay, the following 24 artists stand out as the current rulers of the scene. It’s worth noting that, given the abundance of talent, some noteworthy contenders might inevitably be overlooked.
25. Cardi B
Cardi B’s musical output over the past two years has been rather low, but whenever she does release new material, she almost always creates a moment on a massive scale. We saw that with “WAP” last year, and in 2021 she managed to do it again with “Up,” which was a major hit on TikTok and radio, helping it to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as Cardi made history as the only female rapper to top the chart with multiple solo singles. She filled out her past 12 months with guest features on songs with artists like the Migos (“Type Shit”), Normani (“Wild Side”), and Lizzo (“Rumors”). Throughout the year, Cardi provided the people with club anthems, and she always does a damn good job at it. —Jessica McKinney
24. Conway the Machine
Hailing from Buffalo, New York, Conway the Machine resurrects the golden era of raw hip-hop with his lyrical prowess and hard-hitting beats, showcasing a profound influence on the genre.
23. baby keem
From the vibrant scene of Las Vegas, Nevada, baby keem emerges as a rising star, captivating audiences with his dynamic beats and introspective lyrics, positioning himself as a force to be reckoned with.
22. Central Cee
A native of West London, Central Cee makes waves in the UK drill scene, offering a unique flow and hard-hitting lyrics that contribute to his rising prominence.
21. Icewear Vezzo
Representing Detroit, Michigan, Icewear Vezzo weaves gripping narratives and sharp delivery, highlighting the city’s resilience and spirit through his impactful storytelling.
20. Chief Keef
A true Chicago legend, Chief Keef’s raw style and authentic storytelling have left an indelible mark on hip-hop, influencing a new generation of artists and contributing significantly to the genre’s evolution.
Hailing from both Chicago, Illinois (ICYTWAT) and Harlem, New York (Thoto), the dynamic duo THOTTWAT, composed of ICYTWAT and Thoto, exhibits incredible synergy in their production, vocal approach, and visuals, poised to dominate the scene.
18. Ken Carson
An Atlanta native, Ken Carson storms the rap scene with his electric flow and innovative sound, generating substantial buzz, especially after signing with Playboi Carti and gearing up for an exciting tour.
17. Destroy Lonely
Benefiting from the Playboi Carti buzz, Destroy Lonely, known for his versatility, blends various elements to create a unique sound, solidifying his position among the best in the current rap scene.
16. Luh Tyler
Representing Tallahassee, Florida, Luh Tyler captivates audiences with creative lyricism and catchy melodies, making a significant impact in the current hip-hop landscape.
15. Young Thug
Continuing to redefine hip-hop with his experimental style and avant-garde fashion, Young Thug maintains his influential status, even during periods of confinement, consistently delivering groundbreaking projects.
14. Lil Durk
From the gritty streets of Chicago, Lil Durk’s poignant rhymes and storytelling prowess resonate globally, propelling him upward since his breakthrough into the limelight.
A master of introspective rap from Chicago, Lucki stands out with his unique approach, showcasing his standout talent and relevance with the recent release of “sx, mney, and dr*gs.”
12. Young Nudy
Based in Atlanta, Young Nudy captivates with his evocative storytelling, establishing himself as one of the best in the contemporary rap scene, evident in his album with zero skips.
A consistent hitmaker from Atlanta, Future’s autotune-laced voice continues to create chart-topping hits, and after selling his catalog, major moves are anticipated in the near future.
10. Babyface Ray
Breathing life into the Detroit rap scene, Babyface Ray combines vivid storytelling with a relaxed flow, showcasing wit, talent, and originality in his craft.
Another vibrant force from Detroit, Veeze’s unique beats and energetic delivery, particularly in his album “Ganger,” solidify his status as a contemporary rap classic.
8. Lil Yachty
With a distinct voice and playful style, Lil Yachty has become a recognizable figure among the best in the current rap scene, leading the way with his collective, Concrete Boys.
7. Kendrick Lamar
Hailing from Compton, Kendrick Lamar has been instrumental in bringing lyricism back to mainstream hip-hop, crafting a discography that positions him as one of the finest in the current rap landscape.
6. 21 Savage
With an inimitable style and fearless lyrics, 21 Savage has solidified his place among modern hip-hop greats, currently elevating his performances on tour alongside Drake.
5. Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert’s eccentric style and infectious energy have propelled him to the forefront as one of the most dynamic figures among the best rappers today, excelling not only in the studio but also as a captivating performer.
Yeat’s unique flow and signature ad-libs have established him as one of the best in the current rap scene, creating a subculture surrounding himself and his music, where every drop commands industry-wide attention.
3. Playboi Carti
Playboi Carti’s innovative style and ever-evolving sound distinguish him as a standout among the best rappers currently dominating the scene, especially resonating with the youth.
2. Ice Spice
Ice Spice has innovated in an industry that often resists change, consistently delivering groundbreaking releases. Despite perhaps not receiving due recognition, her unwavering talent places her among the best in the current rap landscape.
Taking the top spot is Toronto’s Drake, a global sensation who consistently sets records and redefines the sound of hip-hop. His recent tour with 21 Savage exemplifies why he rightfully claims the throne as the current ruler of the rap scene.