There have been plenty of debates online and IRL about who are the four greatest and most influential rappers of the 2010s. According to curators of Spotify’s popular RapCaviar brand, the faces of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole deserved to be on the Hip Hop Mount Rushmore for the decade.
However, the verified RapCaviar Twitter account asked its followers to help select which artist deserved to be alongside the other three legends on the hypothetical monument. When put to a vote, Nicki Minaj came out on top.
Nicki Minaj collected 39.9% of the 171,000 votes cast by Twitter users. The Queens, New York representative edged out Kanye West at 33.1%. Future garnered 17.9%. Minaj’s Young Money mentor, Lil Wayne, came in fourth with 9.1%.
The 2010s were mostly defined by a new crop of diverse rappers emerging from the Blog Era of Hip Hop. It was a time were mixtapes were presented artistically as albums, and fans began to elevate certain new emcees to superstar status.
Nicki Minaj was the standard-bearer for women in Hip Hop during the 2010s thanks to releases such as 2010’s Pink Friday and 2014’s The Pinkprint. Besides holding her own and many times outperforming her male counterparts on collaborations, the leader of the Barbz won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards for seven straight years between 2010 and 2016.
Drake skyrocketed into A-list territory with the success of 2009’s So Far Gone mixtape and his breakout Top 10 hit single “Best I Ever Had.” The Canadian OVO leader went on to be named the overall Artist Of The Decade at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards.
Kendrick Lamar quickly became a critical darling with his Section.80 project in 2011. The 13-time Grammy winner’s appeal with music pundits was further exemplified when he became the first non-classical/non-jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for his DAMN album. Lamar also picked up an Oscar nomination for “All The Stars” with SZA.
J. Cole consistently delivered #1 studio LPs over the last ten years, but it was 2009’s The Warm Up and 2010’s Friday Night Lights mixtapes that initially grabbed the attention of many rap fans around the world. Plus, the North Carolina native helped launch the careers of Dreamville Records roster members like J.I.D., Bas, EarthGang, and Ari Lennox.