Why Kendrick Lamar currently holds the throne in rap music

Hip-hop is one of the most competitive genres, with various rivalries and affiliations constantly battling to determine who is the at the top.

Hip-hop magazines such as XXL and Complex release rankings and decisions every year such as XXL’s “50 of the Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2017” to determine which songs were the most memorable or had the most replay value.

The most prominent discussion recently revolves around California rapper Kendrick Lamar  over his most recent album, “DAMN,” which was the highest-selling rap album of 2017 and third-highest selling overall.

This is his fourth studio album, meaning the debates have started – not only to determine who was the best rap artist of the year but also over readjusting “top 10” lists to find an appropriate place for Kendrick.

Though these lists and rankings are highly subjective, they represent what a large portion of hip-hop fans believe to be true. Though many may disagree, here are a few reasons Kendrick Lamar currently holds the throne in rap music.

A decorated artist

Lamar’s past few albums have gained him massive recognition, with multiple top-charting songs and positive critical reception.

He event swept the most recent Grammy Awards, winning five awards –  Best Rap performance, Best Rap Song, Best Rap/Song performance with Rihanna, Best Music Video, and Best Rap Album.  

This is Lamar’s third Grammy appearance, having all of his studio albums nominated for at least two awards.


Part of an extremely talented collective

Lamar isn’t alone in his talent, but he is aligned with Lose Angeles powerhouse Top Dawg Entertainment.

TDE consists of artists such as Schoolboy Q, SZA, SiR, Isaiah Rashad and Ab-Soul = all of whom  have released critically acclaimed projects.

All of these artist have their own distinct sound, yet when it comes time to collaborate, their fusion feels effortless.  


Uncontested lyrically and creatively 

From a lyrical standpoint, Lamar  is considered in the top tier, being recognized as the top hip-hop artist by multiple magazines and websites such as MTV and Rolling Stone.

Complex, which released an article highlighting the top rapper each year since 1979, had Lamar as its 2017 best rapper alive.

Lamar was even tapped to produce the soundtrack to the blockbuster  “Black Panther” movie, selling over 154,000 copies in its first week, an extremely impressive feat for a movie soundtrack.


Hip-hop veterans recognize his ability

It’s one thing to get acclaim from critics, but it’s another to be noticed by music industry legends such as Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Dr. Dre – all of whom have named Kendrick as their top current hip-hop artist.

After Lamar’s first album “Section.80” was released, Snoop Dogg brought him on stage to perform, only to be ceremonially handed the torch and told to “run with it!” by Snoop himself.

The New York Times wrote an article about Kendrick in 2014 which contained a quote from illustrious hip-hop artist, Eminem, who noted “[Kendrick] raps to be the best rapper in the world. That’s one of the things that’s going to drive his career. He’s going to be around for a long time.”


Message speaks to an eclectic audience

What makes Kendrick so well-rounded is that not only does his music cover a wide range sonically, his content includes messages of self empowerment, love and reflections on not succumbing to social pressure.

These topics are not often covered in the genre of music that he identifies with, and he acknowledges that although he grew up in a crime-ridden, low income neighborhood, he was not a victim of it, but instead allowed his environment to shape his character.

By recognizing his ability to reach various different members of the community, we can understand how he is a serious contender for the crown in hip-hop music.


by Dominic Romano


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