It’s Consequence’s 15th anniversary, and all September long we’ll be publishing a series of retrospective pieces encompassing our publication’s own history — and the entertainment landscape in general. Today, New Music Editor Eddie Fu runs down his favorite rappers of the last 15 years.
What makes a great rapper? Even as we approach the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, there is no objective answer. Sure, you can judge by flow, lyricism, and songwriting ability, but even those are based on preferences. By nature, hip-hop has always pushed boundaries and innovated music, whether it’s been finding new ways to use turntables or reinventing how to use drum machines.
Many purists would argue neither singing nor Auto-Tune have a place in rap music, but hip-hop is about setting cultural trends. Just because a melodic style has become more popular doesn’t mean lyricism isn’t relevant anymore; the best rappers will find a way to do both. Besides that, there is a matter of beat selection. While clever wordplay and punchlines might be enough for some fans, production is at least just as important for others.
So, where do I stand on the topic? At one point, my only choices for the best MCs were Biggie, JAY-Z, and Nas. As a music fan and writer, however, I learned to take the approach of giving everything a chance, so while Hov himself tried to singlehandedly kill off Auto-Tune, Future is still one of the top rappers on this list. As for the rest, you’ll have to read on to find out.