The Top Hip-Hop Artists of 2021

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2021 has been a redefining year for hip-hop. Music giants like Drake and Lil Baby reestablished their dominance, all while young artists like Pooh Shiesty rose quickly through the ranks. Billboard recently released their “Year-End Charts,” including a list of 2021’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists. We’ll be looking at the top 21 artists on this list.

21. Pooh Shiesty

The Memphis rapper made waves with his debut mixtape, Shiesty Season.

20. Lil Uzi Vert

No surprise here, as the 26-year-old is a longtime fan favorite.

19. Jack Harlow

Rap’s resident pretty boy gained even more popularity with his feature on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby”.

18. YoungBoy Never Broke Again

Fans loved his third studio album, Sincerely, Kentrell. 

17. The Kid LAROI

The Aussie released “Stay” featuring Justin Bieber, which charted at #1 on Billboard and stayed there for much of the year.

16. DaBaby

The 30-year-old rapper charted with “Ball If I Want To” and featured on songs with many prominent artists, such as Yo Gotti and Tory Lanez.

15. Giveon

Giveon released a critically acclaimed album and featured on “Peaches” with Justin Bieber and Daniel Caesar.

14. Kanye West

Ye reminded us that he’s here to stay with his breakthrough album, Donda, which charted at #1.

13. J. Cole

One of rap’s greatest, J. Cole dropped The Off-Season, which peaked at #1 and went platinum.

12. Megan Thee Stallion

Tina Snow proves her dominance once again, as she went viral with “Thot Shit” and “34+35 (Remix)” with Doja Cat and Ariana Grande.

11. Moneybagg Yo

A Gangsta’s Pain, released in April, is certified platinum with over 100,000 U.S. sales.

10. Post Malone

Posty changed up his sound a bit with singles such as “Motley Crew” and “One Right Now” with the Weeknd, and fans are certainly in favor.

9. Rod Wave

The 22-year-old made waves with his album, SoulFly, and his features with Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and Polo G.

8. Polo G

His third studio album, Hall of Fame, peaked at #1 on the charts and is certified platinum.

7. Juice WRLD

Though Juice passed away more than two years ago, his music has grown even more popular. His documentary on HBO Max dropped in November, and his second posthumous album, Fighting Demons, dropped in early December.

6. Lil Durk

Collaborating with Lil Baby for their joint album, The Voice of the Heroes, Durk firmly cemented himself in the rap game. He’s featured with Meek Mill, H.E.R, and DJ Khaled.

5. The Weeknd

No surprise here. “One Right Now” with Post Malone, “You Right” featuring Doja Cat, and “Hurricane” with Kanye West and Lil Baby all peaked within the top 20. The Weeknd has been a driving force in R&B since 2012, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down now.

4. Doja Cat

Doja Cat has made 2021 her year. After the smash release of Planet Her, Doja has featured on many chart-topping songs. “Kiss Me More” with SZA went absolutely viral, as did “Best Friend” with Saweetie and “34 +35 (Remix)” by Ariana Grande. Fans are expecting much more to come from the young LA native.

3. Lil Baby

His collaborative masterpiece with Lil Durk, The Voice of the Heroes, charted at #1 and is certified gold. Lil Baby has picked up many streams due to his features with Drake, Kanye West, and DJ Khaled. His verse on Drake’s “Wants and Needs” is a standout, and truly pushes him towards rap royalty stature.

2. Pop Smoke

After Pop Smoke’s death in 2020, fans were left reeling. His estate released Faith this year, and Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon in 2020. Both are demonstrations of Pop Smoke’s raw talent, and as such, fans have consistently streamed both. He is featured on “Light It Up” with Migos and Ye’s “Tell the Vision.” Pop Smoke’s discography was an essential part of 2021 streaming.

The Come Up Show, CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

1. Drake

Unsurprisingly, the Canadian great tops Billboard’s Top Hip-Hop Artists of 2021. His album, Certified Lover Boy, went gold and charted at #1, and fans just couldn’t get enough. “Way 2 Sexy” featuring Future and Young Thug became an internet anthem. “Girls Want Girls” with Lil Baby and “What’s Next” both gained popularity as well. Drake had an envious year, and it’s only expected that he’ll have an even better one in 2022.

What do you think of Billboard’s list of 2021 Top Hip-Hop/R&B Artists? Let us know in the comments!

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