Some rappers are commercially successful. Some rappers make great music. Some rappers just seem to have done something noteworthy every time you flip open your laptop. Boiling those three axioms and more down to convenient list format is Totally Dublin’s first ever Rap Power Rankings, informing you of the boss moves being made by the game’s major players.
Action Bronson – Bronson’s chef bro personality makes for excellent YouTube entertainment as well as a series of decent mixtapes peppered with references to gourmet cuisine and professional wrestling. In Riff Raff, with whom he just released Hot Shots Part Deux, he seems to have found an unlikely Southern foil to his own retro New York style.
Nicki Minaj – Still the shorthand for “incredibly attractive woman” and still The Only Female Rapper Out, even if she committed fully to the pop star day job on Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The first seven tracks, however, show the infectiously joyous spectacle of a rapper whose brags actually came true.
Lil B – Having already spent 2012 somehow bodying David Banner over his own track, releasing a tape called The Basedprint II without having made a Basedprint I and giving a lecture at NYU, Lil B outdid himself this week by releasing an instrumental “classical” album for sale on iTunes.
Kendrick Lamar – Kendrick made Dr. Dre look better than anyone else has been able to for a long time on the first track to drop from his debut album proper, and if that wasn’t enough, the lustre of Drake just ceding an entire track to him on one of the biggest albums of 2011 hasn’t faded yet. Stay excited.
Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music is the rap album of the month, violent with conviction and polished with veteran flow. The unapologetically political Atlanta rapper calls it a classic and, though ‘classic album’ is basically hip hop slang for ‘new album’, Killer Mike may genuinely have claimed his place alongside associates Outkast.
Kanye West – Kanye recently announced an art film about a Lambourghini thief played by Kid Cudi, and is otherwise making a spectacle of dating ultimate high life arm candy Kim Kardashian. At this point, doing anything at all is enough to keep him hot, but his extracurriculars have been satisfyingly eccentric.
2 Chainz – In the month of May alone, 2 Chainz featured on tracks by Kreayshawn, Gucci Mane, Curren$y and Meek Mill, amongst others, having already blessed the likes of E-40, Wiz Khalifa and Nicki Minaj earlier in the year. It’s hard not to respect that sort of grind, especially when it means getting your name on everyone else’s hits.
Riff Raff – Riff Raff’s click now includes Andy Milonakis, Action Bronson, Soulja Boy, Dirt Nasty and Lil Debbie, and James Franco plays a character based on him in an upcoming Harmony Korine movie. He remains a contentious character, but he’s colourful and, most importantly, he can really, really rap.
El-P – This month, El-P released his own Cancer For Cure and also contributed all of the beats to Killer Mike’s excellent R.A.P. Music, monopolising the righteously indignant rap market for the time being while managing to remain cooler than you’d expect a 37 year old red-headed rapper could.
Meek Mill – If Dreamchasers 2 hadn’t been a free mixtape, it would have made Meek Mill a million dollars in less than a day. Currently floating just below 3 million downloads on DatPiff alone, it’s proof that Meek’s next – or that he’s already arrived.