Here Are The 15 Most Critically Acclaimed Rappers From The 2010's

A few Hip Hop prognosticators have contended the culture is entering a second “Golden Era” thanks to exceptional musical efforts by this generation’s artists.

by Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)

Whether the current times are on pace to earn that title is still up for debate, but it is clear a new crop of rap stars are churning out projects that have received widespread acclaim.

But which of the 2010’s rappers have earned the most kudos from music critics? AllHipHop.com checked out the Metacritic Scores (MS) for the artists that established their brand with the general public this decade and created a list of the 15 performers with the highest ratings.

Metacritic.com’s weighted averages are calculated using reviews from leading print and online publications. Some music releases are not given an MS due to the limited number of reviews written for that particular project, so that accounts for why certain acts and releases are omitted from the site.

Also, only artists that have at least 2 projects with an MS were included on this list. Apologies go out to the high scoring 2010’s rappers with only one entry on Metacritic at the moment: Chance The Rapper (86), Skyzoo (85), YG (80), Isaiah Rashad (82), Vince Staples (80), Stalley (79), Le1f (78), Hopsin (77), The Underachievers (76), Macklemore (74), Pac Div (74), Jay Rock (73), Logic (72), and A$AP Ferg (72).

As for the rest of the “Twenty-Tens” emcees, here is the lineup of their most lauded representatives.

Kendrick Lamar

MS Average: 89

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 3

Highest Score: To Pimp A Butterfly (96)

Lowest Score: Section.80 (80)

It’s quite obvious the people paid to critique music love the efforts of TDE’s Kendrick Lamar. All of K. Dot’s releases have received an MS of 80 or higher, but the Black Hippy member’s current master work, To Pimp A Butterfly, has tallied an astronomical MS of 96/100.

Big K.R.I.T.

MS Average: 81

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 3

Highest Score: Cadillactica (88)

Lowest Score: 4eva N A Day (78)

The Mississippi bred rapper/producer essentially crowned himself the new “King of the South” on his 2014 album Cadillactica. The critics seem to agree. The Def Jam artist’s three rated projects each received near universal acclaim.

Earl Sweatshirt

MS Average: 81

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: Doris (82)

Lowest Score: I Don’t Like Sh\t: I Don’t Go Outside* (80)

In some ways Earl is like the Raekwon of his Odd Future crew. He’s not the most recognizable face to the mainstream, but he consistently puts out top rated material. His I Don’t Like Sh\t* hit stores this week, and so far the pundits have positive reactions.

Azealia Banks

MS Average: 80

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: 1991 (84)

Lowest Score: Broke With Expensive Taste (77)

For many music fans, Banks is more well known for commenting about her rivals, race, and religion. But the critics seem to put that Twitter beefing to the side and appreciate the Harlem performer for her musical output.

A$AP Rocky

MS Average: 79

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: Live.Love.A$AP (83)

Lowest Score: Long.Live.A$AP (75)

The A$AP Mob frontman has been vilified by some NYC rap purists for embracing an aesthetic reminiscent of tunes from the Dirty South. But the Harlemite’s mixture of a Houston-like “chopped and screwed” sound and hedonistic lyrics found favor with the critics.

Danny Brown

MS Average: 79

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 3

Highest Score: Old (83)

Lowest Score: Black and Brown! (71)

Danny did not release his first album until he was rounding 30, so he had a larger well of life experiences than most rookies. By the time he released his third LP Old, critics mostly agreed the Detroit rhymer had discovered the right formula for creating long-lasting music.

Fashawn

MS Average: 78

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: The Ecology (84)

Lowest Score: This Generation (73)

It took Fashawn six years to follow up his debut solo album Boy Meets World, but Fresno’s finest did not miss a beat when he returned in February with The Ecology. The project received high praise as reviewers applauded Fash for combining an underground appeal with commercial potential.

Schoolboy Q

MS Average: 78

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: Oxymoron (78)

Lowest Score: Habits & Contradictions (78)

Black Hippy is considered the most talented crew in the game by many Hip Hop followers. That description is due in part to Q’s “Druggys With Hoes” approach to making music. Critics appear to treasure the Cali native’s mastery of providing street tales peppered with the party life.

Angel Haze

MS Average: 77

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: Reservation (88)

Lowest Score: Dirty Gold (66)

Not familiar with Angel Haze? You may want to get acquainted with the Detroit/Brooklyn femcee. Her debut studio album Dirty Gold was not as critically acclaimed as her Reservation mixtape, but Haze is looking to right the ship with The Flowers Are Blooming Now later this year.

Drake

MS Average: 77

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 6

Highest Score: So Far Gone (81)

Lowest Score: Thank Me Later (75)

Since grabbing national attention with his So Far Gone mixtape, Drake has been this generation’s commercial rap champion. While the OVO leader routinely cracks the million sales mark, he has also earned the respect of the critics. His 2015 “album” If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late followed suit.

Freddie Gibbs

MS Average: 77

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 3

Highest Score: Piñata (82)

Lowest Score: ESGN: Evil Seeds Grown Naturally (73)

Gangsta Gibbs dropped one of the best reviewed rap albums of 2014 when he teamed up with producer Madlib for Piñata. The collaborative effort was trumpeted as a masterpiece, but it was only the most recent evidence to prove the Indiana emcee is creating on a high level.

Ab-Soul

MS Average: 76

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: Control System (83)

Lowest Score: These Days… (70)

Ab-Soul is the third Black Hippy to appear on this list. Often referred to as the “genius” of the collective, Soulo can lay claim to that distinction thanks to his profoundly cerebral work. The level of depth presented on his projects is a positive selling point for many music writers.

Kevin Gates

MS Average: 76

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 2

Highest Score: By Any Means (77)

Lowest Score: Stranger Than Fiction (75)

Some Hip Hop enthusiasts may be surprised that the guy made famous mostly for his outlandish statements (e.g., announcing he had sex with his cousin) is a critical darling. But yes, it’s true. Gate’s By Any Means mixtape scored favorable reviews, including a positive mark from the New York Times.

Action Bronson

MS Average: 75

Number Of Projects Reviewed: 4

Highest Score: Well-Done (79)

Lowest Score: Saaab Stories (71)

Queens rhyme spitter Action Bronson closes out the list. With his latest collection Mr. Wonderful arriving this past Monday, the Atlantic Records signee extends his streak of noteworthy projects. Bronson’s major label debut has drawn earnest compliments from the critic crowd.

Other 2010’s Acts With At Least 2 Metacritic Reviewed Projects:

Future (74)

Lil B (74)

Machine Gun Kelly (73)

Big Sean (71)

J. Cole (71)

Tyler, The Creator (71)

Joey Bada$$ (70)

Wale (70)

Nicki Minaj (67)

Childish Gambino (66)

Waka Flocka Flame (66)

2 Chainz (65)

Mac Miller (65)

Kid Cudi (64)

B.o.B (61)

Kid Ink (60)

Asher Roth (59)

Wiz Khalifa (59)

Tyga (53)

*All Metacritic Scores (MS) and averages listed are the official calculations as of press time. Scores are subject to change as more reviews are published for recent releases.

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