Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City” set the hip-hop world on fire. He is an internet sensation, a crossover smash, he's beloved by most and at the very least has provoked a tidal wave of discussion. For an MC fully birthed and formed during the internet era, who has benefited from hashtags and mixtapes as much as anyone, Lamar sets himself apart through sheer talent. Lyrics, flow, beats, features – even the skits on his album were better than anything else around.
Of course, anyone with two ears and an mp3 of “Cartoons & Cereal” knew where this was headed. Kendrick Lamar was destined for greatness – if hip-hop were the stock market, he was Apple.
And I have to admit – I was late to the game. Just a little late, but still, I just didn’t see it coming. I enjoy few things more than trying to figure out the Next Big Thing in hip-hop, and I whiffed on this one. It was a break in tradition for me, a person who usually invests heavily in certain rappers in terms of mixtape downloads and frantic text messages to friends – Have you heard of this guy Charles Hamilton?!? He’s got SONIC THE HEDGEHOG on his mixtape cover! – only to find that they do not pan out. Hey, did you see the video of Charles Hamilton getting punched? Yeah, I never really liked him…
Without further ado, I present my personal and often embarrassing list of rappers I thought would explode, who just never seemed to bust through like Kendrick Lamar is doing before our very eyes. This isn’t a list of guys who will NEVER bust through: hip-hop is open to second acts, as evidenced by the ascension of 2 Chainz and the sudden ubiquity of Pusha-T, who has been making incredibly excellent music for 15 years. But this IS a list of rappers who just haven’t hit it big, for whatever reason.