The 2010s were a memorable decade for music. Lady Gaga wore a meat dress, Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball, and new rappers appeared.
Hip-hop rap saw a shift in style during the mid-decade. However, we think you'll agree with this list of the best hip hop rappers of the 2010s.
Danielle Bregoli, better known as the “cash me outside” girl, got her initial fame from a Dr. Phil episode where she appeared as a troubled teen.
As the audience pushed against Bregoli, she yelled, “Cash me outside, how bout dat,” which later became a well-known meme.
Her notoriety grew, probing Danielle to begin rapping. She appeared on remixes of songs before releasing her debut single, “These Heaux.”
The song made it onto the Billboard Hot 100, earning Bregoli the title of the youngest female rap debut in chart history.
Sergio Kitchens grew up in College Park, Georgia, where he gained an interest in music and had a hobby of rapping in his early teens.
In 2016, he took his rap game more seriously. A mutual friend introduced him to Atlanta MC Young Thug.
He soon took the rap name “Gunna” and joined Young Thug in his hit, “Floyd Mayweather.” He rapped alongside talents Travis Scott and Gucci Mane, which became a #41 hit.
In late 2016, he released the Drip Season mixtape. His fame grew more toward the end of the decade when he partnered with Lil Baby.
Polo G was born in 1999, where his parents raised him in Cabrini-Green, a rough neighborhood in Chicago.
He began rapping as a teenager, with songs appearing online in 2017. His breakout single “Finer Things,” that he wrote in prison would be the first song to take off.
Once out, he recorded the song and created a music video. Columbia Records offered a record contract that would lead to more hit singles.
Some of his most popular hits in 2018 include “Hollywood” and “Gang With Me.” In 2019, he collaborated with Til Tjay to produce “Pop Out,” which hit #28 on Billboard charts.
Curtis James Jackson III, or 50 Cent, was born in 1975 and raised in Queens, New York City. His mother passed away when Curtis was only eight, and his father soon left.
In his teens, he followed his mom's footsteps and hustled to get money. 50 Cent focused on the crack trade before his repeated arrests in 1994. Soon, he'd shift his focus to hip-hop.
50 saw massive success in the early 2000s with hits like “In da Club” and “P.I.M.P.”
Although most of his fame was within the prior decade, 50 put out a few in the 2010s. His collaboration with Jeremih, “Down on Me,” rose to #4 on the Hot 100 Charts in 2010.
Melissa Arnette Elliott, better known by her stage name, Missy Elliott, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1971.
Elliott was a featured vocalist, co-writer, and co-producer on Raven-Symoné's hit, “That's What Little Girls Are Made Of,” which topped at 68.
Though her 2010 album didn't get big hits as she did in previous years, she'd still get recognition later in the decade.
She was the first female Hip Hop artist to receive the MTV Video Music Awards in 2019.
Later that year, she'd also be the first female Hip-Hop artist and third rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Amala Zandile Dlamini, better known as Doja Cat, was born in Tarzana, California, before moving to New York for a few years.
Her childhood consisted of ballet, tap, jazz, and piano lessons. She taught herself to sing in her teens and began recording songs on her computer.
She released her debut album, “Prrr!” in 2014 and wound up with a viral hit, “So High.” Dlamini continued releasing singles and gained a lot of attention online by 2018.
In 2019, she'd have multiple hits on the Billboard hot 100 chart, “Juicy” and “Streets.” Her 2010s success led her into 2020s fame, where she'd have her first #1 hit.
Lil Durk, Durk. D. Banks grew up in Englewood on the South Side of Chicago. He began releasing mixtapes through his collective O.T.F. in 2011.
In 2012, he'd be a featured artist with other Chicago native rappers like Chief Keef. He stood out for his pop appeal and raw lyrics.
As he released more singles and affiliated with various labels, his music received a commercial boost, even landing him on the top 200.
He's seen success in the early 2020s, so we're sure he'll continue flourishing as his fame continues to rise.
Joe Cartagena, also known as Joey Crack, Fat Joe da Gangsta, and Fat Joe, grew up in the South Bronx in New York.
His older brother showed Joe the ways of the streets, where he'd start involving himself in hip-hop at block parties.
He rose to fame in the 1990s and put out massive hits throughout the early 2000s, like “What's Luv” and “Lean Back.”
Although he wasn't as prolific in the 2010s, he'd collaborate with Remy Ma and Jay Z for “All the Way Up,” which topped at 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Keri Hilson was born in Decatur, Georgia, in a middle-class family. She went on to college while actively pursuing a music career.
She met the legendary producer Timbaland, who would sign Hilson in 2006 on his label, Mosley Music.
In the early 2000s, she wrote numerous hit songs, including Britney Spears' “Gimme More.” She'd also hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after partnering with Timbaland in “The Way I Are.”
By 2010, she released her hit single, “Pretty Girl Rock,” which peaked at #4 on the HotR&B/Hip-Hop Chart and #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
T.I., previously “T.I.P.,” was born Clifford Harris in Atlanta and would be rapping at just eight years old.
In 1999, he signed on with LaFace and dropped the T from his stage name to avoid confusion with his labelmate, Q-Tip.
LaFace dropped him in the early 2000s, but it wouldn't take long before Atlantic Records signed him. By the decade's end, he'd have three #1 hits, including “Whatever You Like.”
By 2013, T.I. would find himself back in the #1 spot when Robin Thick featured him in the hit song “Blurred Lines.”
Born William Roberts, Rick Ross grew up in Carol City, Florida, in an impoverished suburb. He'd begin rapping in the 90s and formed the Carol City Cartel group.
He originally signed with Slip-N-Slide Records in the early 2000s, soon becoming a household name.
In 2006, he released his debut album, Port of Miami, which included hits like “Hustlin'” and “Push It.”
At the beginning of the 2010s decade, he released his fourth album, Teflon Don, which includes his hit song, “Ashton Martin Music.”
Ross was also a part of hits like “All I Do Is Win” and “I'm the One” by DJ Khaled. The latter reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Rick Ross's most successful song.
Tyler, the Creator
Tyler Okonoma grew up in Los Angeles County, where he's split time between Hawthorn and Ladera Heights.
Okonoma started making music in 2009 and released a solo mixtape. The following year, he directed Odd Future's track, “French,” which garnered a million views.
In April 2011, Tyler signed a record deal with Red Distribution/Sony. His first solo albums debuted within the top five of the Billboard 200 charts.
By 2019, Tyler the Creator released “EARFQUAKE,” which peaked at #13 on the Billboard hot 100 charts and stayed for 15 weeks.
YoungBoy Never Broke Again
YoungBoy Never Broke Again, previously N.B.A. YoungBoy, was born with the name Kentrell DeSean in Louisiana.
A local artist, Lil Phat, inspired him, prompting DeSean to start rapping himself. DeSean released his mixtape, Life Before Fame, in 2015.
His music shined a spotlight on his painful upbringing, something he'd soon be known for. He released a slew of music throughout the remainder of the decade.
DeSean's debut album, Until Death Call My Name, made the top 10 Billboard 200 in 2018. The following year, his mixtape AI YoungBoy 2 reached the top.
Rich the Kid
Dimitri Roger was born in N.Y.C. before moving to Atlanta in his teens. He initially performed as “Black Boy the Kid” before switching to “Rich the Kid.”
He collaborated with Young Thug, Migos, and other groundbreaking trap artists in his early career.
Rich the Kid got a major deal with Interscope Records, leading to the release of the multi-platinum hit “New Freezer” in 2017.
His albums The World Is Yours in 2018 and The World Is Yours 2 in 2019 would hit the Top Five Greatest Album charts.
Rakim Athelaston Mayers, previously Lord Flacko, was born in Harlem, New York, where he sold drugs to provide for himself at a young age.
He quit the drug trade and moved to Elmwood Park, New Jersey. In 2011, A$AP Rocky released his first street album, Live.Love.A$AP.
A$AP Rocky would be one of the biggest rising stars in the early 2010s. In 2018, he had several singles that went platinum or multi-platinum, along with a Grammy Nomination.
Some of his top 10 charting songs include his featured song “No Limit” by G-Eazy, F**ckin Problems, and Selena Gomez's #5 hit “Good For You.”
Michael Wayne Atha, better known by Yelawolf, was born in Gadsden, Alabama, though his family relocated often.
Yelawolf dropped his first full-length album, Creekwater, in 2005. Sony B.M.G. signed him for a release of one promotional single, “Kickin,” in 2007.
He returned to the underground rap scene, where he built his audience on Myspace. By 2011, he'd get his break when Eminem's Shady label signed him.
Yelawolf's biggest hits in the 2010s include “Til It's Gone” and “Best Friend.” His album Love Story topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in 2015.
Jonathan Kirk, better known as “DaBaby,” was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 22, 1991. When he was six years old, he moved to Charlotte, where he spent his adolescence immersed in street life.
In 2014, Jonathan decided he wanted to pursue being a rapper and took the pseudonym “Baby Jesus.” He issued a mixtape, Nonfiction, the next month.
Although his mixtape gained some traction, his release single, “Light Show,” earned him more exposure in 2016.
By the late 2010s, he had a top ten hit, “Suge,” among a few top 100 hits like “V.I.B.E.Z.,” “INTRO,” and “POP STAR” featuring Kevin Gates.
Born Miles Parks McCollum, Lil Yachty was born in Mableton, Atlanta. His first taste of success came in December 2015 when a viral comedy video featured his song “One Night.”
In 2016, Lil Yachty modeled for Kanye West's Yeezy fashion line at Madison Square Garden. That same year, he released two mixtapes for Quality Control Music.
Later in 2016, he had his first platinum single, “One Night.” Over the next two years, he earned two Top Ten albums, “Teenage Emotions” and “Lil Boat 2.”
Throughout the 2010s, he had two top ten hits, Grammy nomination, “Broccoli” with D.R.A.M., and “iSpy” with KYLE.
Jermaine Cole was born in Frankfurt, Germany, before moving to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where his parents raised him. However, his father abandoned him and his mother in his youth.
Cole got interested in hip-hop after listening to his stepfather's copy of 2Pacalypse Now.
J. Cole would sit outside of Jay-Z's office, hoping to one day run into the star so he could give him a demo. When he did meet him, he was shocked when he heard back.
Jay Z asked J. Cole to contribute to The Blueprint 3, which appeared in the film A Star is Born. By the decade's end, he'd have two top ten hits, “Deja Vu” and “Middle Child.”
Chance the Rapper
Chancelor Bennett, later to become Chance the Rapper, was born in 1993 and grew up in the West Chatham neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois.
He released his first mixtape in 2012, with featured beats from Lex Luger, Chuck Inglish, and Flying Lotus.
Chance caught the eye of Childish Gambino, who invited him to perform as an opener for his U.S. tour at the time.
He had top 100 hits in the early 2010s, and by the middle of the decade, he was featured in the #1 hit, “I'm the One” by DJ Khaled.
Rodrick Wayne Moore, Jr. was born on October 22, 1998, in Compton, California, where he grew up. He was influenced by other artists like Young Thug, Future, and Meek Mill.
At 16 years old, he was recording in his bedroom, honoring his family's Louisiana roots.
He released his debut, Feed the Streets, in 2017, and the following year, his Be 4 tha Fame E.P. would be his breakthrough.
The same summer, he released the single, “Die Young,” which became a viral hit, propelling him into the mainstream.
In 2019, his song “The Box” would top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remain there for 11 weeks.
Born Diamonté Harper, Saweetie in Santa Clara and grew up in Hayward, California. Although she had aspirations to become a rapper, she excelled in school.
She earned a full-ride scholarship and got her bachelor's degree in business. Saweetie uploaded some performance clips to Instagram and started getting attention.
Harper recorded a track over the instrumental of Khia's “My Neck, My Back,” which would later become her debut hit, “ICY GIRL.”
Her single, “My Type,” became a top 40 single in 2019, and she would garner more success in the following decade.
Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph is an Atlanta-based rapper born in London before moving to the U.S. with his mother when he was seven.
21 Savage got some attention after releasing his mixtapes in 2015 but gained international attention when he released his E.P., Savage Mode, in 2016.
His E.P. featured artists like Metro Boomin and Future, with the song “No Heart” peaking within the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2017, he was featured in Post Malone's #1 hit song, “Rockstar,” and remained at the top for eight weeks. His single, “Bank Account,” peaked at #12.
Olubowale Victor Akintimehin was born to Nigerian immigrants just five years after their move to the United States.
Although the family relocated to Maryland when he was ten, Wale spent most of his life in suburban D.C., where he'd attend college on a football scholarship.
Soon, he'd quit college and set his sights on succeeding in a recording career. His first airplay was in the early 2000s, thanks to a local D.J. who saw his potential.
He had over a dozen top 100 songs in the 2010s, including the #12-ranking club-favorite song, “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame.
Radric Davis, better known as Gucci Mane, was born in Bessemer, Alabama. He grew up writing poetry and composing rhymes in elementary school.
While in fourth grade, his mother moved him to Atlanta with her. By high school, Davis had spent time in a recording studio.
He was inspired by the fashion and glamor of rappers like Big Daddy Kane, influencing him to turn it into music.
Gucci Mane collaborated with artists like Kodak Black, Drake, and Migos in the 2010s. His featured hit, “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd, landed at #1 on the charts for seven weeks.
Waka Flocka Flame
Juaquin James Malphurs, better known as Waka Flocka Flame, grew up in Queens, New York. When he was nine, his family relocated to Riverdale, Georgia.
He got the nickname “Waka” from his cousin, and Flocka Flame was added by his earliest supporter, Gucci Mane.
Waka Flocka Flame had seven songs on the top 100 charts, with his best performing single, peaking at #13, “No Hands,” featuring Roscoe Dash.
Born Tremaine Aldon Neverson, Trey Songz grew up loving hip hop, though the only R&B artist he listened to was R. Kelly.
Trey had rapping and crooning skills, winning him talent shows at a young age. His stepfather met music producer Troy Taylor and encouraged Trey to finish school before pursuing music.
Trey Songz hit the top ten chart with his song “Say Ahh,” featuring Fabolous in 2009. In 2010, he'd have his biggest hit topping at #6, “Bottoms Up,” featuring Nicki Minaj.
Jeffery Lamar Williams is an Atlanta native born on August 16, 1991. He released a mixtape series, I Came From Nothing, at the end of 2011.
By 2012, he'd joined Gucci Mane's 1017 Brick Squad Crew. He released his mixtape 1017 Thug in 2013, though his single, “Stoner,” wouldn't catch fire until 2014.
His success in the decade continued. Young Thug was featured in top ten hits like chart-topping “Havana” by Camila Cabello in 2017 and the #3 hit “Goodbyes” by Post Malone in 2019.
Jay Wayne Jenkins grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, before moving to Atlanta, Hawkinsville, and settling in Macon.
At an early age, Jenkins got wrapped up in street hustling and gang affiliation. In his early 20s, he returned to Atlanta to enter the music industry.
Jeezy saw most of his success in the early 2000s, though he'd land amongst the top 100 a handful of times in the 2010s.
Michael Ray Stevenson, famously known as Tyga, was born in 1989 and began rapping by the early 2000s.
He took the name “Tyga,” an acronym for “Thank You God Always.” Tyga released several mixtapes when he was around 18 years old, quickly landing a deal with Decaydance Records.
Tyga had three top 10 hits throughout the decade, including “Loyal” by Chris Brown at #9, “Taste” featuring Offset at #8, and his head hit, “Rack City,” peaking at #7.
Daniel Glover got his taste of fame after getting noticed by Tina Fey when he was with Derrick Comedy. She hired him in 2006 to assist in writing for the sitcom 30 Rock.
After three years, he left 30 Rock and moved to L.A., where he would be cast on the show Community. He'd released a mixtape, Sick Boi, under Childish Gambino.
He released his next mixtape, Poindexter, in 2009, the same day as the N.B.C. Community premiere.
In 2018, he'd have a chart-topping hit, “This Is America,” which held its position for two weeks.
Karim Kharbouch was born in Morocco before he immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. He grew up loving soccer and rapping before getting into basketball.
He began rap battling in his teens with the name “Young French.” In 2002, he and his friends created a series called “Cocaine City,” where they interviewed upcoming rappers.
By the early 2010s, he started seeing success as a rapper. He had his best hit, “Unforgettable,” featuring Swae Lee, in 2017.
He landed amongst the top 100 over a dozen times throughout the decade.
Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Uzi Vert, born Symere Bysil Woods, grew up in North Philadelphia. His interest in rapping during his high school years with inspired by one of his friends who became a prominent rapper.
In 2014, he dropped the song “Dej Loaf” as a dedication to the vocalist, which earned him some recognition.
The same year, Don Cannon hosted his mixtape, The Real Uzi, and D.J. Drama helped him to get a deal with Atlanta Records.
Migos featured Lil Uzi Vert in the 3-week top charting song “Bad and Boujee” in 2016. He had two other top ten hits at the decade's end, “XO TOUR Llif3” and “Futsal Shuffle 2020.”
Kiari Kendrell Cephus, known now as Offset, was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on December 14, 1991.
Before settling with Offset, he had the moniker “Polo Club” in 2009. The following year, he partnered with his cousin Quavo and another member, Takeoff, to create the group “Migos.”
When the crew released their track “Versace,” it took off and became a widespread hit.
Offset would leave the 2010s featured in two top ten hits, #8 “Taste” with Tyga and #2 “Z.E.Z.E.” with Kodak Black featuring Travis Scott.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Macklemore was born Benjamin Haggerty on June 19, 1983. His debut under the name Macklemore would be in 2000 with his E.P., Open Your Eyes.
Five years later, Macklemore produced his debut album, The Language of My World, which helped him develop a fan base.
In 2010, he partnered with D.J. Ryan Lewis. The two were a dream team, creating hits like “Can't Hold Us” and “My Oh My.”
By 2013, Macklemore would have two top hits in the 2010s, including “Thrift Shop” featuring Wanz, which held the #1 spot for six weeks.
Lil Baby was born Dominique Armani Jones on December 3, 1994. His friends growing up were emerging 2010s rappers, like Young Thug, while Jones leaned toward a life of petty crime and hustling.
In 2015, 19-year-old Dominique went to prison for two years after violating his probation. When released in 2017, he got to work on his mixtape, Perfect Timing.
His mixtape featured artists from friends like Gunna, Young Thug, and Lil Yachty. Lil Baby saw immediate success, partially because of his well-known friend group.
Lil Baby had several hits throughout the 2010s, including the #4 charting “Drip Too Hard” featuring Gunna and the #6 hit “Yes Indeed” featuring Drake.
Born Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, Future grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had ties to the Dungeon Family, who took him in and taught him music industry knowledge.
Wilburn began releasing mixtapes in the early 2010s, which set him up for a mainstream breakthrough. In early 2011, he released his third mixtape.
He was featured on Y.C.'s single, “Racks,” which landed on the top ten Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
Future soon signed with the label “Epic” and released his debut single, “Tony Montana,” which peaked right outside the Top 20.
He had a handful of top ten songs and dozens of top 100s throughout the decade.
Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi was born and raised in Cleveland. Once his career took off, he chose to move to Brooklyn, New York.
He became affiliated with D.J.s A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs label, which later released “Day ‘n' Nite.”
Cudi got a lot of media attention, including a feature in Rolling Stone which listed him among the Top Five best indie hip-hop artists of 2008.
Throughout the 2010s, Kid Cudi had several top 100 hits, including “Erase Me” featuring Kanye West and “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)” featuring MGMT and Ratatat.
Robert Rihmeek Williams was born on the north side of South Philadelphia to a single mom who had a tough time raising him and his sister.
He got into hip-hop at a young age after being inspired by family musicians and local artists like Will Smith. He worked on his rap skills and later formed Bloodhoundz with his friends.
In the 2010s, his song “Going Bad” featuring Drake hit #6 on the top 100 Billboard charts. He also had dozens of songs on the top 100 throughout the decade.
Calvin Broadus was born and raised in Long Beach, California, where he frequently had run-ins with the law.
His mother nicknamed him “Snoop” after the famous Peanuts character, Snoopy, stating he resembled the cartoon dog.
Snoop began releasing homemade mixtapes with Warren G, a friend whose stepbrother was Dr. Dre. Dre was impressed with Snoop Dogg's style and began collaborating with him.
He'd had several top charting hits in the early 2000s and carried some of that success into the 2010s. In 2010, he hit #1 again with his feature in Katy Perry's “California Gurls.”
Jarad Higgins was born in 1998 in Calumet Park, Illinois, a small village south of Chicago. Before freestyle rapping in high school, he grew up playing guitar, piano, and drums.
He posted his early tracks online, leading up to his E.P., including “Lucid Dreams” and “All Girls Are the Same.”
Juice would include both songs with his full-length debut album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, which landed at #15 on the top 200 charts after its release in 2018.
Sadly, at the height of his career, Juice Wrld died after having a seizure at Chicago's Midway Airport right after his 21st birthday.
Mac Miller, born Malcolm McCormick, started his rap career under the alias Easy Mac, a nickname he referenced on his debut mixtape, But My Mackin' Ain't Easy.
His 2010's mixtape, KIDS, would be his breakthrough when he garnered the attention of hip-hop bloggers.
Soon, he'd get a recording contract with Rostrum Records. In 2011, he released his debut E.P. and debut album, Blue Slide Park, landing him on the Billboard 200.
Throughout the decade, over a dozen singles would land amongst the top 100 charts, with “The Way” by Ariana Grande peaking at #9.
Palestinian parents raised Khaled Mohamed Khaled, who spent his early years living in New Orleans.
He and his family relocated to Orlando, Florida, where 13-year-old Khaled learned how to D.J. in his parent's garage.
His parents experienced financial hardship and moved back to Louisiana. In his teenage years, he worked at a record store where he began networking with rising rap artists like Lil Wayne.
Khaled moved back to Florida, where he was able to talk to a Miami radio station, Mixx 93, to feature him on air.
In the 2010s, he was featured on top ten hit songs like “I'm the One” by Justin Bieber and “Wild Thoughts” by Rihanna.
Sir Robert Bryson Hall II was born in Rockville, Maryland, where he spent a lot of time in the nearby city of Gaithersburg.
He began rapping in his teens and, in 2009, released his first mixtape under the stage name Psychological. By 2010, he shortened the name to Logic and released Young, Broke & Famous.
Logic grew in popularity quickly after being featured on Lil Wayne's #15 hit song, “Sucker For Pain.”
By the decade's end, he had several top 10 hits, including “1-800-273-8255,” which peaked at #3.
Ludacris was born with the name Christopher Bridges in Champaign, Illinois, before moving to Atlanta, where he'd attend high school.
He later attended Georgia State University in 1996, where he studied music management. Bridges entered his rap career by working in radio as a disk jockey, known as DJ Chris Lova Lova.
While at the studio, he became friendly with Timbaland, who featured Ludacris on the song “Fat Rabbit.”
This high-profile feature laid the groundwork for his soon-reached fame. During the early 2000s, Ludacris would have four chart-topping hits.
In 2010, he soared to #1 again with Taio Cruz's song, “Break Your Heart,” and #5 on Justin Bieber's song, “Baby.” Luda had several other top 100 charting tracks in his second decade.
Willie Maxwell II, or Fetty Wap, grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. He started his career alongside Khaos, Montana Bucks, and P. Dice in “Remy Boyz.”
Fetty Wap released solo singles “Zoovier” and “Addicted” in 2014, which were included in the Remy Boyz mixtape.
He referenced the 1738 mixtape in his 2015 single, “Trap Queen.” This song landed on the Top 20 Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts and hit #2 on the Billboard 100.
He had numerous hits in the mid-2010s, including the #4 hit “679,” featuring Remy Boyz, and the #7 song “My Way,” featuring Monty.
Gerald Earl Gillum was born in Oakland, California. He later moved to New Orleans to attend college, taking the shortened version of his name, G-Eazy, and pursuing a rap career.
In 2009, he released his solo debut, The Epidemic L.P.; two years later, he released his mixtape, The Endless Summer.
He wore a leather jacket and slicked back his hair, earning him the title “the James Dean of rap” during his debut in the late 2000s.
G-Eazy started hitting the top 10 charts in the 2010s with hits like “Me, Myself, and I” with Bebe Rexha and “No Limit” featuring A$AP Rocky and Cardi B.
Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, or XXXTENTACION, was born in South Florida, where he had a tough childhood.
His mother struggled to raise him alone, so he usually ended up at various relatives' houses. In 2006, he found himself in juvenile detention after committing armed robbery.
He met his friend and soon-to-be collaborator, Ski Mask the Slump God. The two decided to get clean and get into music once released.
His memorable songs had hip-hop, punk rock, R&B, and heavy metal elements. By the 2010s, his dark lyrics and unique sound caused him to rise to stardom.
XXXTENTACION landed at the top of the charts with “Sad!” and dozens of top 100 hits. Unfortunately, he was shot and killed in June 2018 at the peak of his success.
Melissa Jefferson, professionally known as Lizzo, lived in Detroit for half of her childhood before her family relocated to Houston.
Growing up, Jefferson took flute lessons, played in her school's marching band, and enjoyed gospel music. She formed a rap group with her friends when she was 14, picking up the nickname Lizzo.
Lizzo had a unique voice and sound by combining gospel soul, the classical flute, and staying true to her Houston roots. She addresses tough topics like body positivity, race, and sexuality.
By the late 2010s, Lizzo was a rising star and just getting started. Her song “Truth Hurts” landed atop the Top 100 charts, where it remained for seven weeks.
Her song “Good As Hell” also reached the top 10, peaking at #3.
Armando Christian Perez, later known as Pitbull, was born in Miami, Florida, where first-generation Cuban immigrant parents raised him.
It was essential to his parents that he remembers his culture, requiring him to memorize poems by Cuban poet José Martí.
He started performing G-funk before Southern Rap took over the radio, inspiring him to seek stardom and create a few mixtapes.
Soon, Pitbull got the attention of Luther Cambell, who offered him to appear on the “Lollipop” single. He met with Lil Jon and performed his freestyle for Uncle Luke's song in 2001.
By the 2010s, “Mr. Worldwide” became a household name with #1 hits like “Give Me Everything” featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer, and “Timber” featuring Ke$ha.
Amethyst Amelia Kelly, known as Iggy Azalea, came into the world of hip-hop rap at the right time for her brazen lyrical style.
Azalea moved to the United States shortly before turning 16, stating that she wanted to be in the birthplace of rap.
She released her first trap-inspired mixtape titled Ignorant Art in 2011. That same year, her video on YouTube featuring her song “Pu$$y” became a YouTube hit.
In 2014, her #1 hit “Fancy,” featuring Charli X.C.X., remained at the top of the charts for seven weeks. She had two other top ten hits among several top 100 hits throughout the decade.
Lil Nas X
Montero Lamar Hill, later known as Lil Nas X, was born in Lithia Springs, Georgia. His parents divorced early in his life, and he and his mother moved in with his grandmother.
Three years later, he moved back in with his father in Austell, Georgia. He struggled with his sexuality but finally accepted that being gay wasn't a phase around 16.
He released his debut single, “Old Town Road,” in 2019, and it became a best-selling hit. Lil Nas X purchased the beat for the track for $30 on Beatstars from YoungKio.
“Old Town Road” earned him a Grammy and broke several records. He later produced a remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, which became the longest-running chart-topper in the United States.
It held its #1 position for a total of 19 weeks. That same year, he had two other top 100 songs, including “Panini,” which peaked at #5.
Kanye Omari West, also known as Ye or Yeezus Ye, was born in Atlanta before moving to Chicago with his mother shortly after his parent's divorce.
West was a good student and a top pupil in his high school. However, his love for music pushed him to drop out of college and start pursuing his dream.
He had guidance from a local producer known as No I.D., where he deepened his knowledge of studio production, programming, and his hallmark skill, sampling.
Ye saw massive success in the early 2000s with several #1 hits and a string of top 100 songs. In the 2010s, he continued to top the charts with pieces “Stronger” and “E.T.” featuring Katy Perry.
Kanye also continued to land amongst the top 10 and top 100 charts.
Sean Anderson, or Big Sean, was born in California before moving to Detroit for most of his childhood.
In 2007, Anderson met Kanye West through a hip-hop station where he impressed him with his rapping skills. Soon after, he signed with West's record label, GOOD Music.
He released his first mixtape, Finally Famous, Vol. 1, later that year. Big Sean released his second volume in 2009 and a third in 2010.
During the 2010s, Big Sean had three top ten hits, “As Long As You Love Me” with Justin Bieber, “Bounce Back,” and “Dance (A$$)” featuring Nicki Minaj.
2 Chainz, born Tauheed Epps, grew up in College Park, Georgia. He released his first solo mixtape, Me Against the World, in 2007
He continued to release mixtapes over the next few years. By 2010, he started to narrow down his specific rap style.
Although he had some success in the early 2000s, he'd have his breakout year in 2012.
He partnered with Kanye West for his song “Mercy” and Nicky Minaj's hit “Beez in the Trap” before dropping his first album.
During the 2010s, he had several songs land on the top 100 Billboard charts, along with the hit “F**in Problems” with A$AP Rocky.
Dr. Dre, born Andre Young, got into hip-hop in the early '80s by performing at clubs and house parties in South Central Los Angeles.
While working with the World Class Wreckin' Cru, Dre made several recordings. He met Ice Cube in 1968, and the two began writing songs for Ruthless Records.
Dr. Dre's influence on hip-hop and rap is nothing short of revolutionary. He released numerous top 100 hits throughout the decades and founded top rappers like Eminem.
Most of Dre's success resides in the 90s and 2000s, though he continued creating music in the 2010s.
In 2011, his song “I Need a Doctor,” featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey, hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Chris Brown grew up in Tappahannock, Virginia, and shifted from listening to what his parents did to hip-hop.
He discovered that he had singing talent at a young age, prompting him to switch from MCing to singing.
A Def Jam A&R executive, Tina Davis, discovered him and signed on to be his manager. He released his first album, American Singer, in late 2005.
His first album was a significant success, earning him the #1 spot for “Run It!” along with two other top 10 singles.
In the 2010s, he reached the top 10 charts again with his tracks “No Guidance,” “Loyal,” and “Look at Me Now,” among others.
Cardi B was born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar to a Dominican father and a Trinidad mother. She spent most of her childhood in the South Bronx and her grandmother's home in Washington Heights.
During her teenage years, she worked at an Amish supermarket before working at a strip club. Cardi stripped to earn more money and to escape her domestic abuse relationship.
In 2013, she shared her musical talent on social media sites like Vine and Instagram and quickly went viral.
Her first musical debut was singing alongside Shaggy for his remix “Boom Boom.”
Cardi B's fame grew quickly, and she topped the charts three times with her hits, “Girls Like You” with Maroon 5, “I Like It” featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, and “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves).”
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth grew up surrounded by hip-hop culture. He wrote poems, stories, and lyrics at a young age, naturally leading him to rap.
He took the stage name K. Dot during his teenage years. By 16 in 2003, he released his debut mixtape, The Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year.
Top Dawg Entertainment caught wind of Lamar's potential, bringing on the choice to sign him and propel his career.
Lamar had two chart-topping hits, “Bad Blood” with Taylor Swift in 2014 and “Humble.” in 2017. He'd hit the top 100 charts dozens of times over the decade.
Jacques Webster, who would become Travis Scott, grew up in Houston, where he started creating music as a teenager.
Scott dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career. While there, he met T.I. and Kanye West and was eventually hired on as a producer for GOOD Music.
He released his mixtape in 2013 with featured guests like 2 Chainz and T.I., which earned him a nomination for the Best Mixtape at the B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards.
His fame would continue to build during the 2010s. Some of his top hits include chart-topping “Sicko Mode,” “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM,” and several top ten hits.
Shawn Corey Carter, or Jay-Z, was born and raised in the rough Marcy Projects of Brooklyn, New York. He quickly became known as “Jazzy” in the area as a drug dealer and rapper.
He chose the stage name “Jay-Z” and aggressively chased his goal of becoming a famous rapper.
Many of his lyrics describe what it was like to grow up in the streets and hustle for money, a subject he knew more about than many rappers.
In the 2010s, he had two hit songs, “Ni**as in Paris,” featuring Kanye West, and “Holy Grail,” featuring Justin Timberlake.
His “Empire State of Mind” hit #1 in 2009 and held for nine weeks into 2010.
Onika Tanya Maraj, or Nicki Minaj, was born in Saint James on October 11, 1992.
Her parents were gospel singers, though she stayed with her grandmother until she was five. At that time, she went to live in Queens with her mom.
Nicki Minaj dreamed of breaking into the music scene in her teen years. She got her break when Dirty Money Entertainment C.E.O. Big Fendi found her demos on MySpace.
Nicki had several top 100 hits, with over a dozen reaching the top 10. Some of her biggest songs in the decade include “Super Bass,” “Bang Bang,” “Anaconda,” and “Dance (A$$).”
Dayne Michael Carter Jr., famously known as Lil Wayne, was raised in the Hollygrove neighborhood in New Orleans.
Lil Wayne was an intelligent student, and although he got straight A's, he felt he had more to offer than what teachers could place on a report card.
Carter had a strong work ethic at a young age, convincing the Cash Money label to hire him even if it was just odd office jobs.
Once he was 14 years old, an in-house producer, B.G., partnered with him. At the start of his career, he focused on hardcore southern hip-hop through his lyrics.
Now, he's famous for his genius wordplay and massive body of work. His early 2000s success led to the 2010s with hits like “Lollipop,” which held the #1 spot for five weeks.
Wiz Khalifa, born Cameron Thomaz, was born in Minot, North Dakota. His parents divorced when he was young, so he lived on various military bases worldwide.
Thomaz started writing lyrics at around nine and started writing, recording, and producing his records at age 12 in his father's studio.
He stood out amongst the regulars, so the staff offered to allow him to have more recording time. Khalifa caught the eye of Benjy Grinberg, who helped get him signed.
Khalifa dropped his first mixtape, Prince of the City: Welcome to Pistolvania, during his senior year in 2006.
This high-rising star in the 2010s put out hits like “Black and Yellow” and “See You Again,” the latter topping the charts and holding at #1 for 12 weeks.
Marshall Mathers was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but would settle in Detroit during his teenage years.
Mathers began rapping with a friend at 14 years old, the two using the names “M&M” and “Manix.”
M&M morphed into what we know now, Eminem. He struggled to be a white boy amongst a primarily black audience, similar to what was dramatized in the movie 8 Mile.
Because of his skills, he started gaining a reputation. Eminem is one of the top-selling artists in music and one of the first white 2010s rappers to be taken seriously.
Eminem continues to take his success and carry it over to the following decades. In the 2010s, he had numerous top ten hits, including “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie,” topping the charts.
Austin Post, famously known as Post Malone, grew up loving music. After playing the video game Guitar Hero, Post had plans to join a band.
He put braids in his hair where he coined the phrase “White Iverson,” which would become the name of one of his #1 hit songs in 2015.
Later that year, Post Malone signed with the Republic label. He amassed significant success in his first five years with his unique hip-hop and rapping style, deep lyrics, and one-of-a-kind voice.
The 2010s were a fruitful decade for Post Malone. His hit “Sunflower” featuring Swae Lee was nominated for a Grammy, and he had a string of other #1 songs like 3-week holding “Circle.”
Aubrey Graham got his start in the spotlight at a young age. He was well-known as Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
He rapped in a few episodes where young fans saw his potential. Graham started rapping in 2006 while juggling his double life as Jimmy Brooks until 2008.
Despite being unsigned, he partnered with Trey Songz on the track “Replacement Girl,” which gained him a lot of exposure.
Drake reached high-level success early in his career and collaborated with other famous 2010s rappers like Lil Wayne and A$AP Rocky.
In 2010, he amassed numerous #1 and top 10 hits, including #1 charting “God's Plan,” Grammy-winning “Hotline Bling,” and “In My Feelings.”
Top 2010s Hip Hop Rappers, Final Thoughts
The 2010s were a massive decade for rap. Some 2010s rappers continued success for their second or third decade while new talent emerged.
Hip-hop rap's melody shifted halfway through the decade, with stars like Drake and Post Malone introducing us to new sounds.
No matter what year you read this, you're sure to get enjoyment from the best hip hop rappers of the 2010s.