Ever since its beginnings in the 1970s, hip-hop has grown to become a global phenomenon. With millions of records sold, hip-hop has a huge influence on the world, dictating fashion trends and fueling social change. Are you a new, budding rapper? As a new hip-hop artist, here are some hip-hop artists you can draw inspiration from. Take a look at these hip-hop artists who have played a hand in making hip-hop what it is today.
Instead of big houses, big cars, and big rings, Nas bases his happiness on making an impact. He established himself as one of New York’s finest talents in his 1994 classic, Illmatic. With masterful rhymes, amazingly dense bars, and unfaltering delivery, Nas made it fashionable to be lyrical. Besides being an impressive rapper, Nas is also an agent of social consciousness. He has given financial aid to poor Africans with UNICEF, and is a big supporter of Save the Music and Common Ground Foundations.
In the 2000s, Eminem wasn’t just the best-selling rapper — he also broke the record as the best-selling musician! Eminem has shown how hip-hop can dominate the mainstream in terms of both culture and profit. Although he often touched on uncomfortable subjects in his raps, he gave a voice to the darker side of American culture, and blazed a path ahead for future generations to follow in his pioneering footsteps.
Kendrick Lamar is a highly successful and influential rapper who reshaped contemporary hip-hop. In his 2015 album, To Pimp A Butterfly, Lamar brought the hip-hop scene back to old-school funk and soul. By experimenting with shifting tones, flows, vocals, and personas, Lamar brought in an era of deeply conceptual hip-hop. He also made an incredible social impact by using his mic to transform the streets. In the Black Lives Matter movement, his song, Alright, became a symbol of hope that calls for societal and political change. He’s also one of Barack Obama’s favorite rappers. How incredible is it to have one of the most powerful men in the world as your fan?
Tupac was a rapper, actor, and civil rights activist who believed in change. One of hip-hop’s most iconic figures, Tupac unabashedly rapped about everything in the world around him, including toxic masculinity, poverty, and racism. His voice reached the global audience and he sold millions of records. Tupac redefined what a rapper could be. He helped kids to fulfill their dreams with Make-A-Wish Foundation, put together charity concerts, and helped to sponsor a youth football team. Despite having passed on at 25 years old, Tupac left a strong influence on the rap scene which can still be keenly felt today.
Throughout the last decade, Nicki Minaj dominated pop music, social politics, and fashion, making waves with her unique boldness and distinctive style. She repeatedly tore down barriers for female rappers, staring race and gender in the eye as she proved herself to be beyond boundaries. With amazing stage attire and well-delivered lyrics, Minaj is a huge commercial success as she appeals to the mainstream with her talent. She constantly dominates the Billboard 100, and is one of the highest charting female rappers.
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