Every time the year comes to an end, we find ourselves looking back on the eleven and a half months that have come to pass, and ultimately rating what we preferred. As we rate everything from movies and tv shows to music and books, this time of year everyone is a critic. That is especially true for Brian “B. Dot” Wilson, whose annual Top Ten Rappers of the Year list is always sure to ruffle a few feathers. This year, B. Dot teamed up with the Chief Creative Officer of Tidal, Elliot Wilson, and VP of Strategy and Streaming at Sony, Naji Davis. As they listen to B. Dot’s reasoning behind his list and give takes and lists of their own, we’re here to give you our own reaction to his list.
Before we give you our thoughts, let us remind you of the criteria B. Dot says he takes into account as he creates his list:
Skill - A rapper’s lyrical ability
Performance - Their showmanship on the track or album
Presence - Their relevance and consistency throughout the year.
With this being said, let’s see if we think B. Dot stayed true to his word on what he says he thought about before picking his list.
Number 10: Lil Durk
Honestly, this was a pretty big shocker when I first watched the video. Lil Durk has had quite the year, with one of his highlights being his collab tape with Lil Baby, “The Voice Of The Heroes.” Not to mention that the album was also his first to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Top it off with some feature verses on a Drake album, 2 Polo G albums, a Summer Walker album, and quite possibly one of the best verses of the year on Nardo Wick’s “Who Want Smoke??”. I think it’s safe to say that Lil Durk was hard to get away from this year, and B. Dot’s list is sure to bring controversy as always.
Number 9: Mach-Hommy
This was another surprise pick for me. In truth to his list, B. Dot definitely took lyricism into account, with Mach-Hommy being one of the better wordsmiths on this list. But in terms of presence, I’m surprised he was below Durk. All due respect to Mach, while his lyrical ability is certainly in the upper echelon of the game, even if he is still relatively considered “underground”. His overall presence in the rap section of the industry is on the rise, but I don’t think it compares to the success and spotlight that Lil Durk has had.
Number 8: Lil Baby
I wasn’t surprised he was on the list, but he is another one whose placement I was shocked by. Lil Baby has been called your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, and it is easy to see why. A fair amount of what Lil Baby has touched these past two years has turned to gold. Outside of his collab album with Lil Durk, Baby has been more of a single and feature run, notably having outrapped Drake and Kanye on their own songs. Even so, he has managed to carry over a fair amount of his success from 2020 into 2021. He probably would’ve been a couple of notches higher on my list.
Number 7: Benny the Butcher
Griselda has taken the rap game by storm recently, showing that there is still in fact a place for boom-bap rap in the marketplace. Last year, Benny dropped one of the better projects of the year in “Burden of Proof,” however I personally feel like his presence wasn’t as strong this year either. Although he did drop “The Plugs I Met 2,” it wasn’t in my rotation too often a month after it’s release. I actually found myself going back to its predecessor more. This is another one I think was judged higher on Skill and Performance than it was Presence.
Number 6: Nas
This was actually pretty refreshing. Nas is one of the undisputed best rappers in the game, and to see him continuing to put out music is pretty dope. With that being said, I didn’t think that he was killing it with his last couple of albums before “King’s Disease,” which I think changed that entirely. Nas felt sharper as he aged and that showed on the sequel to the album which dropped this year. Not to mention the release of ANOTHER tape produced by Hit-Boy, Nas has been on a roll. Seeing him below the top 5 was the most shocking part of this to me. B. Dot definitely delivered here, though.
Number 5: Conway The Machine
There is no doubt that the Griselda are some of the best lyrical rappers in the game right now, and rightfully so they have been blowing up. But at this point I would not have been surprised if Westside Gunn was in the Top 3 of B. Dot’s list. The third Griselda affiliate to make the list, B. Dot has once again shown that he does weigh Skill and Performance well over Presence. While Conway displayed some nice bars on “La Maquina,” I don’t think this year was as strong for him as last year was. I definitely hope that 2022 is a different story, but for now, I wouldn’t have even had him on my own list, because I don’t feel like the presence was there this year.
Number 4: Freddie Gibbs
This was a complete surprise for me. Freddie was at the top of B. Dot’s list last year, and I do think it was rightfully deserved. “Bandana” one year and “Alfredo,” the year after was one hell of a way to follow up. But this year was pretty quiet for Freddie. Yes, he featured on a few songs, and “Black Illuminati,” is one of the better tracks I listened to this year, but I don’t think it’s fair to put him in the top 5. I feel like I heard more about him in relation to his beef with DJ Akademiks than I did because of his music. That is no slight to Freddie’s ability, but I didn’t think he showed out this year, and he’s another who would not have made my personal list.
Number 3: Drake
Drake was not a surprise to see on this list. The whole industry stands still when he is preparing to drop, and his numbers are always crazy. With 2021 being the year we finally got “Certified Lover Boy,” I figured Drake would grace some lists. Like Naji says in the video, one of my biggest gripes with Drake’s music is the consistency of his albums. Not to mention that they are always pretty long. But with “Wants and Needs” dropping at the top of the year, and “Way 2 Sexy,” dropping around the tail end, Drake absolutely commanded the airwaves this year, regardless of how we felt about the quality.
Number 2: J. Cole
2021 was quite the year for J. Cole. This year he dropped “The Off-Season,” which was quite the way to stomp onto the scene this year. J. Cole is known for his conscious bars and humble attitude, so to see him talk about how great of a rapper he has proven himself to be was equally refreshing and satisfying. Absolutely no complaints here. I feel that J. Cole’s placement on this list is the most accurate in Performance, Skill, and Presence, instead f just leaning towards bars for the umpteenth pick.
Number 1: Lil Wayne
HUH?? This was the most shocking to me, at first. I was shocked that Lil Wayne, someone who hadn’t even come to mind during the entire video. But when I started to think about it, B. Dot was right about having him on the list. I don’t know about Number 1, but I do think that Lil Wayne had quite the year for himself as well. Features galore, including stand-out verses on tracks like “Seeing Green,” and “HOT WIND BLOWS,” Wayne was practically everywhere this year. In perspective, Wayne definitely surpasses the requirements of B. Dots three criteria, and he is one of the living legends of the rap game who continue to put out great music and add to an already established career.
Now that we’ve seen B. Dot’s list, what are your thoughts? Do you think he was incredibly right? Do you think he was incredibly wrong? Let us know what you think and what your top tens looked like this year!