Annually, the world witnesses the rise of new artists across the different genres in the music industry. From legendary rappers who have been at it for decades, to new ones who have only spent few years in their career in hip-hop music, this article provides the list of top 15 rappers for 2021. Read on to catch names of the new generation of rap artists alongside veterans who have been dominating the rap music scene in 2021.
Following the release of his much anticipated Certified Lover Boy album, Drake has verified yet again that he unarguably belongs to the league of the best of all-time rappers. In only one week of its arrival, the music industry felt the weight of the loaded album. From making high universal streaming records on Spotify and Apple Music as the most-streamed album in just one day, it also made the list of the most US top ten singles from just one album!
The 21 tracked album grabbed the No.1 spot on US Billboard 200 in its first week and even made it to its second week in the same position! This feat is not a new one for Drake as this is his fourth multiple weeks No. 1 album since he stepped out of his Degrassi role, took the reins in music, and made his debut with his 2006 Room for Improvement mixtape. In the music industry, the award-winning rapper is an inspiration to young rappers out there.
2. Kanye West
Every lover of rap music knows how big Kanye West’s name is, even beyond the world of music as he is often the subject of paparazzi attention. It would interest you to know, however, that the rapper started on a slightly different route. After years of being in the background as a successful producer for leading artists, Kanye West finally stepped up to showcasing his rap talent to the world. His first album, The College Dropout was not just a big hit, receiving multiple accolades but was also seen as a perfect one, especially for a debut. Over the years, Kanye has replicated the same originality and great delivery for his music. Although his latest album, Donda received mixed reactions from critics, this did not tell on the album’s commercial success. On the first day of its release alone, the album received Spotify’s largest streaming in a day title and went on to make him his 10th No. 1 album on Billboard 200.
3. Lil Nas X
You must have caught this name on a recent ‘pregnant man’ controversy online. Well, the internet wise Lil Nas X was preparing you for the birth of Montero, his self-titled debut album which was released in September 2021. His music career began in 2018 with the release of his first song and single, a rap song he titled, “Old Town Road”. Incredibly, Montero’s career experienced a massive rise as the success of ” Old Town Road ” spread like wildfire, especially with an astounding hit on TikTok. The song made it to Billboard 100 and stayed on for 17 weeks and was also recorded as the most massive song of 2019. Even more, Lil Nas X received multiple award nominations and wins for the single, including two Grammys, four Billboard Music Awards, two Bet Hip Hop Awards, and more. His highly anticipated Montero album has brought in a new season of success as all the tracks on the album got ranked on the Billboard Charts and have made it to the top chart number in Australia. This chart-topper is coming after the album’s lead single, Montero (Call Me By Your Name) gave the rapper a second No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 earlier in April. Lil Nas X’s phenomenal success and rapid rise to the top seats is one to look out for.
4. Megan Thee Stallion
Meet our first woman on the list! The talented Megan Thee Stallion gained recognition with her viral 2016 Cypher video on a roof where she was spotted rapping alongside other rappers as the only woman among them. After that, Megan made mixtapes and some singles, before she launched her first album, Good News in 2020. Her first Billboard chart inclusion was the 2019 “Big Ole Freak” single, which also became her first platinum-certified record before her “Savage” single made it to No. 1 on the Billboard in 2020. The year had more success in store as all tracks on her Good News album got ranked on the Billboard while it made No. 1 on Top R&B and Rap albums chart. At the 2021 Grammy Awards, Megan walked home as a proud owner of three prestigious Grammys. Coupled with her BET Award for Viewer’s Choice, MTV Video Music Award, BET Hip Hop Awards, and lots more, Megan Thee Stallion has made a big name for herself, as a female rapper. She’s a woman who exudes confidence, with a daring stance that is represented by her lyrics and music performances.
Popular “Rockstar” rapper Dababy may be known for being controversial. However, his career exploits have been outstanding, and he is recognized as one of the best in rap music. Few years before his spotlight recognition, the Ohio native rapper had started his career with the release of mixtapes.
However, by 2019, Dababy released his debut album Baby on Baby, which in quick succession was followed by his award-winning second album, Kirk. It turned out to be a big hit as it went straight for Billboard’s top number, followed by another No. 1 album, Blame it on Baby, his third studio album. Formerly known as Baby Jesus, Dababy is also popular for his multiple collaborations with other star artists. These include Megan There Stallion for the award-winning Cash Shit song, Roddy Rich for his popular chart-topping Rockstar single, Lil Baby and Drake among others. The multiple RIAA platinum-certified rapper is another talented artist to look forward to as a megastar in years to come.
Our “Best Friend” Crooner, Saweetie is definitely not at the height of her career yet, but she’s one woman who has been showing up real good and fearlessly owns up to her success.
After months of sharing her rap music on social media, Saweetie’s appearance in Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” for the ‘Icy Grl’ rap finally gave her a breakthrough. With the single, Saweetie gained recognition in 2017 and kick-started her career with the single which she formally released as her debut in 2018. Years later, Saweetie has her break-out single platinum-certified, followed by her other hit singles, “My Type”, ” “Best Friend”, “Tap” and a big album release, Pretty Bitch Music on the way. Being the smart and talented rapper that she is, Pretty Bitch Music is expected to be a groundbreaking debut album.
7. Machine Gun Kelly
MGK has been around since way back in 2007 when he was making music and releasing mixtapes. Alongside his recognition for his mixtapes, his performances, and his success as the winner of the 2009 Apollo Talent show helped him to gain more recognition as a talented artist.
In 2011, he released his platinum-certified debut single, “Wild Boy”, followed by his debut album, Lace Up, which was a big hit, debuting at No. 4 on Bíllboard 100. Following the success of the preceding records, MGK has released four more hit albums, making him winning multiple awards including the Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Ohio Hip Hop Awards, where he garnered 12 prizes, among others.
You may know Machine Gun Kelly for his music alone, however, the rapper is also a Hollywood screen player. His debut film appearance was made in “Beyond the Lights” (2014) where he acted as Kid Culprit.
Darryl Dwayne Granberry, the 23-year-old rapper that we all know as DDG was popular for his YouTube presence, even before he got into rap music. DDG has been making his day-to-day life vlogging videos in 2015 as an undergrad before getting into the real game in 2017 when he released “Givenchy”. A year later, he released his single, “Arguments” after being signed to Epic Records in 2018. In 2019, VALEDICTORIAN came out as his first album. With “Moonwalking in Calabashes”, DDG got his first Billboard 100 listing and RIAA platinum certification in 2020. DDG has maintained a great career with his consistent delivery of good music.
Atlanta-born rapper, Future opened his music career as a member of The Dungeon Family, which was owned by his cousin, Rico Wade, back home in Georgia. His years as a member of the group influenced his artistry and helped him get ready for launching out as a solo artist years later. After releasing several mixtapes in the early years of his career, the Grammy Award-winning rapper dropped Pluto, his debut album in 2012, going straight to Billboard 200’s eighth number in the United States. With his sophomore album release, Future got a second album US Billboard listing at No. 2, all the way at the top. His latest RIAA Gold-certified, High Off Life in 2020, makes the sixth No. 1 album Future has on the Billboard.
10. Young Thug
Gaining BBC’s Jeff Weis Most Influential rapper of the 21st Century title, Young Thug is one of the rappers that are grinding and making rap music worthwhile, especially in the present age. His career start dates back as far as the early 2010s when he had released mixtapes before his debut single “Stoner” in 2013. Reaching out for more, he released his chart-topping single, “Havana” in 2017 and is listed as No. 1 on Billboard 100. His first album, So Much Fun recorded no less as it also made the first seat of Billboard 200 in the US. His upcoming album, Punk is expected to make similar success and even more, especially after he dropped his No. 1 compilation album, Slime Language 2 earlier in April 2021 and his Billboard top hits from his So Much Fun album.
11. Lil Baby
Popular for his 2017 single “Perfect Timing”, Lil Baby enjoyed quick recognition and he rapidly began ascending his career ladder. By 2018, Lil Baby had his first album, Harder than Ever ready, and he recorded success as the album made it to the first 3 on US Billboard 200. However, his first No. 1 record came later in 2020, when he released his platinum-certified My Turn. Among all artists in 2020, Lil Baby was the first to land two platinum certifications 2020. That is not all, he also got a third one on the same album! He has been trailing the same level of success as he had a collaboration with Lil Durk for The Voice of Heroes, that got him a second Billboard topper.
12. The Kid Laroi
Meet 18-year-old The Kid Laroi, one of the youngest artists in rap music, who has been grabbing and enjoying Billboard’s hottest No. 1 spot. Although TKL has been trying out music since 2015 by making short-time local performances, alongside an older rapper, DJ Marcus. His success in Triple J’s unearthed High competition helped him to gain some recognition.
One year after signing with his record producers, his first solo mixtape, F*ck Love debuted as a double chart-topper, on the US Billboard 200 and his home country, Australia’s ARIA charts. That was a swift move, from being a newbie to leading music charts in both countries. The No. 1 position was replicated for his collaboration single with Justin Bieber, “Stay” on the US Billboard which also made him the youngest Australian artist to reach the feat. The young chap has been awarded “Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year” by the APRA awards.
13. J Cole
Multiple-Platinum holder, J Cole is one rapper whose proficiency in making great music draws his listeners in. Even before he released his first single, he had already made a name with the release of his first mixtape, “The Come Up” in 2007.
His first album release got the topmost seat on the US Billboard and was followed swiftly by his other four albums. All these albums, Born Sinner, 2014 Forest Hills Drive and, Your Eyes Only, KOD and his latest Studio album, and his 2021 The Off-Season album are all Chart-toppers.
With his level of success in rap music, it would interest you to know that the German-born rapper also doubles as a basketball player.
14. Burna Boy
Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, more popularly known as Burna Boy, is one of Africa’s universally recognized artists. Burma Boy is a multiple-time award-winning rapper who is known for making statements with his music. His Twice as Tall album made it to the top among other nominated albums for the prize of the Best Global Music Album at the 2021 Grammy Awards. This is coming two years after his African Giant album won Album of the year at the All Africa Music Awards in 2019. With his collaborations with star artists like Justin Bieber and Sia, the Afro Pop singer is up for more international influence in his career.
15. Travis Scott
American Rapper and Singer, Travis Scott made his way into music as far back as 2008 when he released his first song alongside his friend, Chris (Holloway).
After releasing several mixtapes in the early 2010s, he finally released his professional debut single, “Upper Echelon” in 2013 and went on to release his first studio album, Rodeo in 2015. Also, a No. 1 Billboard charts topper, Travis Scott is a proud owner of multiple global awards including the BET Music Awards for his single “Antidote”, Billboard Awards for his collaboration song Sicko mode, MTV Video Music Awards for his “Franchise”, among others.