Top 5 most influential rappers of 2022

By: Dylan Moore      

Drake with Swedish rapper Yung Lean.
Image taken from: https://twitter.com/dailyloud/status/
1491381807887302656?s=46&t=wd4RdV165XC4JXOAxW1WtA

2022 was a phenomenal year for the genre of rap. Long awaited albums dropped, new artists exploded on the scene, while long standing titans of the industry proved once again why they have staying power with amazing features and singles. For clarifications sake, this album will be based off of music these artists released in 2022, along with the impact of artists they have co-signed (if they own a record label).

5. 21 Savage

An artist who has very rapidly climbed the food chain since his 2015 debut, he grew exponentially in 2022. Known for being the best feature artist in the genre, 21 started the year by hopping on a remix of King Von’s popular song “Don’t Play That”.

Following a few less successful verses on remixes, he had a verse on Pharell Williams “Cash In Cash Out” along with Tyler, The Creator.

Later into the year, he managed to secure a spot on DJ Khaled’s star studded album ‘God Did’ with a feature on “Way Past Luck”.

Towards the very end of the year, he dropped a collaboration album with Drake, the undisputed biggest artist in the industry. While he only rapped about 30% of the total lyrics on ‘Her Loss’, the album absolutely blew up. Following the smash hit that was “Knife Talk”, the biggest and best couldn’t deny 21 his chance for the collab album with Drake, and we can no longer deny his place among some of the best in the game. 

4. Gunna 

In and out of the industry, it has been a whirlwind of a year for Gunna. The year started with ‘DS4EVER’ on January 7, which easily became the 6th most streamed album of the year (and 4th most streamed new release) when it was all said and done. With a loaded deluxe album and massive successful single in “Pushin P”, you would think he would take that momentum and roll with it, but sadly not.

After another quite successful single in “Banking On Me”, Gunna had quite a rough rest of 2022. He was arrested along with Young Thug for racketeering charges, a very serious case ensued for the rest of the year. This case kept Gunna in the spotlight, and his plea deal and subsequent release in December 2022 has kept him a big deal throughout the year. It’s safe to say that Gunna’s brand has grown in 2022, although certainly not in the way he wanted it to. 

3. Future 

Future had a phenomenal 2022 to say the least. Following a slow start (for his standards) with a few unsuccessful features, he dropped the phenomenal ‘I NEVER LIKED YOU’ in late April. The album was a massive success, ending the year as the 3rd most streamed 2022 rap album.

After that success, he also had a great feature on DJ Khaled’s ‘God Did’, and ended the year with a smash hit in “Superhero” off of Metro Boomin’s ‘HEROES & VILLAINS’, one of his 5 features on the late year success that was that album. 

2. Kendrick Lamar

When it comes to most influential artists, Kendrick Lamar and the #1 artist on this list has been battling it out for our entire generation. This year Kendrick re-kindled the debate with his long-awaited album ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”’ His first album in 5 years was an obvious success, and while not as critically-acclaimed as some other albums on his phenomenal discography, you can’t argue with the success it had. 

Along with going triple platinum, the second-most streamed album of the year had a top 5 single, won an AMA, BET, and People’s Choice award, along with being up for 2 Grammys. This along with another smash hit single “The Heart Part 5”, released just before the album, made 2022 a big comeback for Kendrick. 

  1. Drake

Unfortunately, for everyone else on this list, Drake exists.

Not only did the Canadian have the most streams of any rapper, he had 3 top 10 most streamed albums, and continued to shatter streaming and billboard records previously held by some of the greatest artists of all time. It’s not much of a debate for who the most successful artist of our generation is, and it also isn’t a debate for who the most influential artist of the year was. Drake takes the top spot with ease, 

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