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Best Hip Hop Artists of 2021

The past year has been a turbulent one for the music industry thus far, but it is not stopping some of the most amazing hip hop artists from doing what they do best. 

Drake

Drake is a Canadian songwriter, singer, producer, actor, and entrepreneur. He has sold over 170 million records, won four Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and countless others. 

He has spent the last ten years shattering streaming records and has produced amazing singles.  However, Drake hasn’t stopped at music. 

Drake’s Early Entertainment and Life

Drake has dual citizenship between Canada and the United States, thanks to his father. His parents divorced as a child, and he regularly traveled between his mother’s and father’s homes. In school, he studied acting and other arts. He was also bullied for his racial and Jewish background.

Drake’s early success is credited to his role in the Canadian television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. From 2001 to 2009, he played Jimmy Brooks, a dramatic role. His character survived a school shooting and was paralyzed for the remainder of his time on the show. 

In 2006, Drake came out with his first mixtape called Room for Improvement, followed by Comeback Season in 2007 and So Far Gone in 2009. He signed a deal with Young Money Entertainment and came out with his first record called Thank Me Later in 2010. 

The album was very successful and debuted as number one on the US Billboard 200. In the mid-2000s, Drake released several highly acclaimed albums. He left Young Money Entertainment in 2018 to pursue his music independently. 

Drake’s Modern Work and Life

Drake’s musical style has evolved over the years from R&B and hip hop to rap and pop. His lyrics are heavily influenced by his personal relationships and emotions. 

In March of 2021, Drake released three tracks under the name Scary Hour 2, a collaboration with other known artists like Lil Baby and Rick Ross. 

In October of 2020, Drake announced an upcoming album called Certified Lover Boy that was to be released in January of 2021. However, later in 2020, Drake suffered from a mysterious leg injury that required surgery. Certified Lover Boy was postponed indefinitely, but Drake finally released it on September 3, 2021. 

Beyoncé

Beyoncé is a singer, actress, songwriter, and record producer. She has been awarded 28 Grammy Awards, 24 NAACP Awards, 31 BET Awards, 26 MTV Video Music Awards, and 17 Soul Train Music Awards. 

Beyoncé’s Early Career

Beyoncé found fame as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child in the 1990s, but before that, she performed in many dance and singing competitions in her childhood. She briefly broke off from the group and released her first album in 2003 called Dangerously In Love.

She left the group permanently in 2006. Aside from music, Beyoncé has starred in multiple films over the years, such as The Pink Panther, Dreamgirls, Obsessed, and the remake of The Lion King

Beyoncé has been involved in multiple business ventures like television commercials, her own clothing line, and a whole lot of philanthropy. She started her clothing line, House of Dereon, in 2005 with her mother. The company made deals with shoe companies and had other subsidiaries beneath it that were also run by her mother. 

She also owns Ivy Park, a trendy athleisure company that often partners with other big names like adidas. Thebrand aims to focus on and support women to embrace their personal beauty. Beyoncé is also a donor to 37 charities and 33 causes. 

Black Inspiration

This year, Beyoncé won four Grammys, including one for Best Music Video for the song “Brown Skin Girl.” She also won Best Rap Song, Best R&B Performance, and Best Rap Performance. 

“Brown Skin Girl” is an unbelievably inspiring and beautiful celebration of black women. 

Putting aside the catchy and uplifting music, the video itself is a visual treat and highlights some of the most amazing black styles in clothing and hair, both traditional and modern. 

The song is a mixture of hip hop, R&B, and some West African music inspiration. Every woman in the video is adorned with lavish and ornate dresses, and all have their hair done in beautiful, traditional ways. 

This music video is an absolute must-watch and listen. It may only be 2021, but this song and music video is likely to resonate with black women for years to come. Beyoncé has proven herself to be a true masterclass in musical production.  

Tyler, The Creator

Tyler is known for his truly unique musical style and influence on other well-known artists in similar genres. You may remember him from a meme of him holding a microphone and saying, “So, that was a lie.” 

Tyler, The Creator’s Early Career

Before his career as an entertainer and songwriter, Tyler worked at FedEx and Starbucks and hated it. He was always a misfit in his formative years. He was not allowed in his school’s band class because he couldn’t read music, but he still had a passion for it. 

He was apparently kicked out of the school’s drama club for being too hyper. In 2008, he started a YouTube channel that featured him rapping and… other types of content. On November 15, 2008, Tyler and his friends released a tape called The Odd Future Tape Vol. 1. From that moment on, the group went by the name Odd Future, and they didn’t stop there. 

It was recorded on his computer using the built-in microphone, and it was pretty rough-sounding from a technical perspective. Tyler and his group found an audience on MySpace and quickly captivated people with their completely unique music. 

Tyler and Odd Future gained underground success with marketing and the sale of merchandise with popup shops. After one of their music videos got over a million views, they signed on with a manager who took an interest in the group’s provocative nature. 

Tyler’s first album, Bastard, did a wonderful job of shocking people. It was gritty, unnerving, and violently offensive with truly horrific lyrics. With this release, Tyler’s work began to be recognized by big hitters in the industry. 

Tyler and Odd Future starred in an Adult Swim program called Loiter Squad from 2012 to 2014 with some pretty crazy sketches. In 2013, Tyler created one of the most controversial commercials in television history—the infamous Mountain Dew commercial that featured a goat and black men. 

After the ad was pulled, Mountain Dew made a public apology for the ad and pulled it. The company also cut out Tyler from future ad campaigns. Tyler claims the ad had nothing to do with racism, but that didn’t stop the public from interpreting it that way. 

Tyler didn’t stop creating provocative and unique albums after the incident. His next album, Wolf, exemplified his growth as an artist, and it was the first album he produced in an actual studio and not on his laptop. 

Since then, Tyler has reached the mainstream with fantastic music videos and live performances. His music has become exponentially more thought-provoking. He’s also branched out from music with a clothing line called Golf Wang, filled with brightly colored, ironic designs geared towards humor. 

Tyler, The Creator’s Upcoming Performances

The Outside Land Festival at the end of October is going to feature Tyler in San Francisco. 

He will also be performing at the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival and Day N Vegas, both in November. He is a true entertainer and is electrifying when performing live—it is a sight to behold. Check out his recent music video, Lemonhead. It’s something out of a Wes Anderson movie in the best of ways.

Kanye West

Kanye West is an American musical artist, businessman, and fashion designer. He is credited for a lot of the development of modern hip hop and popular culture with his influential production style and the product he has marketed. 

Kanye At the Beginning

Kanye West dropped out of college to pursue his music career. He worked for Rock-A-Fella in the early 2000s and gained notoriety by helping produce hit singles for big-name artists at the time. In 2004, he created his own record label called GOOD Music. 

West is known partially by the public for his outspoken opinions and views on various topics. Some say he’s crazy. Others believe he’s a genius. His run for the White House in 2020 may have something to do with that. 

Apart from his music career, Kanye owns multiple brands and companies like Yeezy, the outrageously popular shoe company that’s partnered with adidas. These shoes are often bought up by mega fans and scalpers that sell them for a considerable markup.

Kanye’s New Work

Kanye’s 10th upcoming album Donda was released on August 29, 2021. Donda features a big lineup of talent, with names like Jay-Z, Travis Scott, and Lil Baby. 

According to listeners, the album will feature heavy religious themes and familial subject matter. 

The Top Artists in Hip Hop

As a genre, hip hop is constantly teeming with new talent and fresh ideas. These are just a few of today’s big names, but keep watching out for new up-and-comers. 

 

 

Sources: 

Kanye West’s ‘Donda’: Everything We Know About New Album | Rolling Stone

Kanye West Collaborator, Consequence, Calls Out Drake Over Release Date | HNHH

Beyoncé: Charity Work & Causes | Look To The Stars