Local artists pick top five rappers

By Jarrel Sylvers

Some of NIU’s most talented musical personalities determined the hottest rap artists in the game.

Each year, MTV reporter Sway gathers a panel of rap influences to select the top five hottest MC’s. This year, I gathered a collection of artists and rappers at NIU do the same. The local rappers decided the criterion for selection would focus on an artist’s ability to command national attention, record sales and album quality. The initial list of artists we came up with to select from consisted of J. Cole, Wale, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Big K.R.I.T., T.I., Eminem, Big Sean and Mac Miller. We created a top five of the nine artists.

Northern Star: Let’s start from the bottom up. Who would be number five on our list?

Antone Christian: Cole.

Darren Howard: If you’re looking for pure artistry, Kanye’s at the top, but if you’re looking at delivery on words … I’d put Kanye at the bottom.

Christian: I’d say yea for me.

NS: So Kanye at No. 5?

Brandon Westbrook: I guess so.

Howard: His [Kanye West] album hit home with me, but it didn’t hit home with a lot of people.

NS: Who would be No. 4?

Westbrook: I’m caught between Kendrick and Cole.

Christian: I’m going Cole, because sometimes he’s a little dry.

Tammariah Johnson: I was thinking Cole, too.

Howard: If we’re looking at albums, J. Cole has to be No. 3 off the strength of his album, he’d be No. 3.

NS: So J. Cole or Kendrick for No. 4.

Keith Winford: Kendrick can’t shine without Dr. Dre. Drake can’t shine without 40, but J. Cole doesn’t need a formula. He can switch it up.

Howard: He’s the new Nas.

Christian: I’m going Cole.

Westbrook: Cole for me, too.

Beanz: I had nothing to with that decision.

NS: Who’s making No. 3 on the list?

Winford: I’m sorry, man. I’d put Drake at three and Kendrick at two. J. Cole just dropped a masterpiece. Kendrick made the impossible happen with one album: He got up there on Jay Z level. Drake came out with the same format, nothing progressed.

Johnson: Kendrick is three. Sometimes he gets annoying, but lyrically, he’s so freaking crazy.

Christian: Kendrick is three.

Me: So who’s at No. 2?

Winford: I still put Kendrick at No. 2. I don’t put Jay Z No. 1, sorry. If anything, Kendrick is No. 1, Jay Z No. 2, Kanye No. 3, Drake No. 4 and J. Cole No. 5.

Howard: Drake is by far the smartest artist under Jay Z and Kanye. He can rap, but the album is going to always be something universal.

NS: Who do you all think is No. 1?

Howard: You gotta throw Jay Z No. 1.

Westbrook: Really?

Winford: The man is untouchable. It takes time to break down what he says, but Kanye, J. Cole and Kendrick can do the same thing lyrically. I doubt Drake could.

NS: But who’s capturing the most attention, who’s really causing major conversation?

Hamilton: If we talking about the time and the buzz of each album, Jay Z had the biggest buzz.

Winford: Jay Z because “Born Sinner” and “Yeezus” had come out, and Jay Z came out of nowhere with “Magna Carta…Holy Grail.”

Matt: I don’t think Jay Z should be No. 1.

Winford: His album went platinum before it actually went platinum.

Top Five:

1: Jay Z

2. Drake

3. Kendrick Lamar

4. J. Cole

5. Kanye West