Photograph of rappers J Cole, Smino, & JID in the studio together.
Photograph of rappers J Cole, Smino, & JID in the studio together.

Rise Of The New Rappers; Fall of the Old

Is there a time to just quit?

“Yo bro, you hear that new Jay-Z album? It’s amazing! He’s the best to do it” – 2003, November 14th

“Jay-Z’s new album is kinda garbage; there was only one playlist-worthy song. He needs to hang it up” – 2017, June 30th.

The fall of your favorite artists is guaranteed to happen; it happens to almost all the big names. This process could happen whenever and wherever, whether through controversy or a terrible album. From Eminem to 50 Cent, even Kendrick Lamar suffers from a genre-changing falloff.
This isn’t entirely Kendrick’s or 50’s fault; the rap genre just changed musically with every passing moment, and it is increasingly difficult to change how you rap for 10-15+ years. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I preach not to be worried about this, as this is the 100% natural process that happens to 99% of old-generation rappers. You could count on a finger of rappers who never fail to deliver through the decade.
Hip-hop has fallen off the charts from where it usually is from years prior. Rolling Stone recorded that only three of the top 25 most consumed rap albums came out in 2023-2024, a massive fall from the 13 of the 25 most consumed rap albums in 2013. This proves that all the old rappers aren’t where they used to be, but it also questions the next generation of rappers. What is the rise of new rappers over the next five years?
Some young rappers have a chance to be the next great; one of my personal favorites is JID. An east Atlanta rapper who has released one of the most appreciated and relistened albums in the past five years, ‘The Forever Story.’ Even J-Cole and Mos Def helped him create the best album he could, with the prized YouTube review show “The Needle Drop” rating the album a 9/10. An incredible accomplishment. Out of all the thousands of albums The Needle Drop reviews, less than a hundred ever get above a 9/10.
We can’t deny that the rap game has shifted from a lyrical, heavy boom-bap style on the East Coast and West Coast to a generalized, less lyrical, experimental genre. But this isn’t alright, as over the years, so many new sounds have been found by curious young artists. A leader in this, Baby Keem has changed every artist around them, even the likes of Kendrick Lamar. Baby Keem is probably known by every frat college student around the United States, and his song “Family Ties” won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance of 2022.
I think it’s only a matter of time before these younger artists get recognized by older listeners and can fully replace old rappers. We shouldn’t rush greatness and expect them to have a flawless catalog to be considered great while they are so young. You should be able to test your abilities and experiment without much criticism. Even legends have terrible albums, like Eminem, who has been horrendous lately, but people don’t criticize him for this for whatever reason.
I still don’t know whether we should criticize old rappers for their new albums, especially if they’ve done so much in their careers, like Jay-Z. Unlike someone of his stature, he has had three failures in his last three albums and only four popular songs between 2013 and 2024. Do his legendary albums like The Blueprint and Black Album make up for his current lackluster performances?
So, will the new generations take over the old? Not anytime soon, seeing as the older rappers still have the hearts of fans under their control and could drop anything and get love for it. This means JID, Baby Keem, Smino, Isaiah Rashad, and many more need to step up and capture the current spot that older rappers are in, just like the older generation did when they were young. If you want to speed up the process, go out on SoundCloud or Spotify and find unknown young rappers who don’t have much love and give them the support they need to fulfill their full potential.
Go out there and go to shows early so you can see and support the opening acts instead of showing up just for the big opening acts. Do as much as you can to help young dreamers make it a reality and kick-start the future of rap.

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