As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s only fitting to celebrate the lyrical maestros who owned the rap game throughout the year. From the electrifying presence of Latto to the rising force of Offset, the seasoned brilliance of Nas, the chart-topping prowess of Drake, and the poetic mastery of J. Cole – these artists left an indelible mark on the hip-hop landscape. Join us as we journey through the standout moments, impactful releases, and cultural influence that solidified them as the undisputed champions of the rap scene in 2023. Let the countdown begin as we honor the Top 5 Rappers of the Year, each weaving their narrative into the rich tapestry of hip-hop.
A new generation of female artists have been dominating hip-hop for the past few years and this year was Latto’s chance to lead the pack. Following multiple “Best New Artist” nominations in 2021 and 2022, Latto hit 2023 running, securing a “Best New Artist” nomination at the Grammy Awards in February of 2023 and winning the BET Artist award in 2023. In February, she also released her hit single “Lottery” and was featured on South Korean singer Jungkook’s solo single “Seven,” which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won Billboard’s “Top Global K-pop Song” of 2023 award and multiple MTV and MTV Europe awards and nominations. She was named iHeartRadio’s artist of the year for 2023 and her song “Big Energy” received their coveted Titanium award for 1 billion total plays on iHeartRadio stations. She was also honored on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of musical artists of 2024. Her performance on Amazon Prime’s Thursday night Amazon Music Series (following Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football) broke records for the platform about viewership. As her track record shows, she is one of hip-hop’s most versatile artists and has shown that her popularity can crossover to not just other genres, but other countries as well.
One of the most well-respected names in the industry, Nas, has continued to influence hip-hop and music in general in 2023 significantly. Following multiple award nominations for his 2022 album, King’s Disease II, Nas hit the ground running in 2023. In July of this year, Nas dropped Magic 2, his sixteenth studio album. Magic 3, a collaboration with Hit-Boy, dropped in early September with his 50th birthday. Both albums were met largely with positive reception from audiences and music critics alike. His documentary, Supreme Team, which debuted at the Tribecca Film Festival, was nominated for an Outstanding Crime and Justice Documentary Emmy award in 2023. His two albums this year follow a string of successful releases in which he has shown his versatility and range, collating with artists of varying genres and generations. He also continues to show how he is not only a master lyricist but also creates timeless classic beats and music that will continue to inspire future generations of artists.
Drake was everywhere and doing everything in 2023 it seems. Following the release of his 2022 studio album, Honestly, Nevermind, Drake entered 2023 prepared for a whirlwind year including a major tour and album release. In July, Drake kicked off his It’s All a Blur North American Tour with 21 Savage. (The tour, his first major one in five years, will continue through March of 2024.) In October, he dropped his eighth studio album, For the Dogs, which featured guest appearances from album features guest appearances from Teezo Touchdown, 21 Savage, J. Cole, Yeat, SZA, PartyNextDoor, Chief Keef, Bad Bunny, Sexyy Red, Lil Yachty, and more with the Scary Hours edition of the album dropping in November. His song “Rich Flex” won the 2023 Billboard Music Award for Top Rap Song and the Billboard Music Award for Top Rap Album. He also won the BET Hip-Hop Award for Best Album of the Year in 2023 and nominations in multiple other categories. In late 2023, he reunited with Nicki Minaj on the song “Needle,” courtesy of her new album, Pink Friday 2. As Drake continues his tour, fans can expect even more collaborations and Drake to push even more creative limits in the coming years.
J. Cole was all over the place in 2023- literally and figuratively. He appeared on numerous other artists’ tracks including 21 Savage’s song “a lot,” 6LACK’s “Pretty Little Fears,” Wale’s “My Boy,” Lil Durk’s “All my Life,” J-Hope’s (of BTS) track “On the Street,” Summer Walker’s “To Summer, From Cole,” and more. “All my Life” earned him the BET Award for Best Collaboration and Impact Tract (he was also nominated for four other awards including Best Artist). In 2023, he began teasing a new album, It’s A Boy, the follow-up to his 2021 hit The Off-Season. He also is preparing for a 2024 tour which kicks off in January. Considering that his 2022 Off Season Tour was nominated for Billboard Music Best Tour Award, fans can expect to be in for an epic performance from this multifaceted and extremely talented artist who has mastered the art of blending complex melodies, beats, and lyrics to create some of the generation’s top hits.
Despite the recent relationship struggles, 2024 proved to be a key year for Offset. Taking in the pain of his fallen brother, Takeoff, Offset put the focus on the music delivering his album, SET IT OFF. Powered by “Jealousy,” Offset delivered an album full of quality, showing a range of bangers with rappers like Future and Latto, reviving the Hip-Hop and R&B collab on “Princess Cut” with Chloe, and delivering a sleeper song of the year candidate on “Worth It” with Don Toliver. And when it comes to music videos, very few can find the range of Offset, evoking the energy of Michael Jackson to Baby Boy in each video he delivers. Who said a rapper can’t hit an eight count? The brand of Offset also stretched into film, becoming the animated Offshark in Baby Shark’s Big Movie and fashion, showcasing that he is one of the figures to watch in Hip-Hop. A key moment for Offset this year was his reunion with Quavo on stage in celebration of their fallen member’s legacy. What’s best about Offset, he seems to just be getting started.
The post The Source’s Top Five Rappers of 2023 first appeared on The Source.
The post The Source’s Top Five Rappers of 2023 appeared first on The Source.