Welcome to our countdown of the hottest rappers alive for every year since 1993, a celebration of the ever-evolving hip hop landscape that has given us some of the most memorable and influential artists of our time.

Throughout the years, hip hop has seen its sound shift and its stars rise and fall, but the constant hunger for fresh talent and the latest trends has remained a driving force in the culture. From Snoop Dogg’s blockbuster debut to Kanye West’s genre-defying artistry to Lil Wayne’s meteoric rise to superstardom, we’re here to celebrate the rappers who have not only topped the charts but have also made an undeniable impact on the culture.

From The Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac and DMX to Drake, Lil Baby and Travis Scott, here are the hottest rappers alive, every year since 1993.

1993’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Snoop Dogg

Claim to fame: Doggystyle, “What’s My Name?” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100), “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Method Man, Onyx, Naughty by Nature, 2Pac

Fresh off the career-making success of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, the young Long Beach rapper was riding a wave of unprecedented hype. With his silky smooth flow, memorable hooks, and distinctively laid-back West Coast style, Snoop captivated fans and critics alike. On his record-breaking debut, Snoop’s magnetic personality shone through on chart-topping singles like “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” and “Gin and Juice,” as well as fan favorites “Ain’t No Fun” and “Lodi Dodi.” Snoop’s success was undeniable; Doggystyle debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling a staggering 806,000 copies in its first week. This achievement marked the biggest opening ever for a debut rap album at the time, solidifying Snoop’s status as the hottest rapper alive of 1993.

1994’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Snoop Dogg

Claim to fame: Murder Was the Case (soundtrack), “Gin and Juice” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100), “Doggy Dogg World” (#25 on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs), The Lady of Rage’s “Afro Puffs” (#57 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Warren G, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., OutKast, Method Man

Following his meteoric rise from features on The Chronic and his record-breaking debut, Snoop Dogg cemented his position as the hottest rapper breathing on the mic in 1994. Building on the momentum from Doggystyle, Snoop quickly dropped the album’s second single, the timeless G-funk classic “Gin and Juice”, which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, along with “Doggy Dogg World,” which performed well on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Later in the year, he would star on the Murder Was the Case soundtrack, which would go on to be another chart-topping album, selling 329,000 units in its first week.

1995’s Hottest Rapper Alive: The Notorious B.I.G.

Claim to fame: Conspiracy (with Junior M.A.F.I.A.), “Big Poppa” (#6 on Billboard Hot 100), “One More Chance (Stay with Me Remix)” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Player’s Anthem” (#13 on Billboard Hot 100), “Get Money” (#17 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: 2Pac, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, LL Cool J, Method Man

By the end of 1994, after the release of Ready to Die and its lead single “Juicy”, The Notorious B.I.G. had comfortably slid past Nas as the new King of New York. Heading into 1995, it was very clear to the rap world who the hottest rapper alive was. Biggie’s 1995 takeover masterfully fused streetwise lyricism with chart-topping appeal, with the slick “Big Poppa” soaring to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the sultry “One More Chance (Stay with Me Remix)” peaking at #2. Add the infectious Junior M.A.F.I.A. singles – “Player’s Anthem” and “Get Money” – to the mix, and there’s no question about it. The Notorious B.I.G. was the hottest rapper in 1995.

1996’s Hottest Rapper Alive: 2Pac

Claim to fame: All Eyez on Me, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, “California Love” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “How Do U Want It” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nas, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, Fugees, Foxy Brown

On October 12, 1995, 2Pac was released on bond from Clinton Correctional Facility. The first thing he did? Hit the studio and immediately record two songs – “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” – in one night. It was clear that the rapper felt like his time was limited and he was determined to get as much done in as little time as possible. Pac’s prolific 1996 saw the release of not one, but two groundbreaking albums: the iconic All Eyez on Me and the prophetic The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. The West Coast anthem “California Love” roared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming an unforgettable classic in hip hop history. Paired with the seductive “How Do U Want It,” which also clinched a #1 spot, Pac’s reign was unstoppable for his time on Earth in ’96.

1997’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Puff Daddy

Claim to fame: No Way Out, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “I’ll Be Missing You” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “It’s All About the Benjamins” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Been Around the World” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: The Notorious B.I.G., Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Master P, Lil’ Kim

After the tragic murder of The Notorious B.I.G., it was up to Puffy to pick up the torch for Bad Boy and continue the label’s legacy. From the infectious groove of “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” to the poignant tribute “I’ll Be Missing You,” Puff Daddy’s reign was a testament to his undeniable talent and knack for producing instant classics. With tracks like “It’s All About the Benjamins” and “Been Around the World” soaring to the top of the charts, Puffy’s influence was inescapable. To top it all off, Puff Daddy’s guest verse on “Mo Money Mo Problems” further cemented his status as an unstoppable force in the industry. In a year marked by loss and change, Puffy stepped up to carry the Bad Boy torch and ruled the airwaves, leaving no doubt that he was the hottest rapper alive in 1997.

1998’s Hottest Rapper Alive: DMX

Claim to fame: It’s Dark and Hell Is HotFlesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” (#16 on Billboard Hot 100), “Get at Me Dog” (#39 on Billboard Hot 100), The LOX’s “Money, Power & Respect” (#17 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Lauren Hill, Jay-Z, Mase, N.O.R.E., Snoop Dogg

In 1998, Yonkers rapper DMX ignited the hip-hop scene with his raw energy and emotion. In just seven months, he made history with two chart-topping albums: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot in May and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood in December. With hit singles like “Get At Me Dog,” “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” and “Stop Being Greedy,” DMX secured his place as the year’s hottest rapper alive. Both albums debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling over 900,000 copies combined in their first weeks and eventually earning multiple platinum certifications.

1999’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Eminem

Claim to fame: The Slim Shady LP, “My Name Is” (#36 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Jay-Z, Juvenile, DMX, Nas

With the release of his major label debut, The Slim Shady LP, Eminem captivated audiences and shook the industry to its core. Fueled by controversy and unapologetically honest storytelling, the Detroit native quickly rose to fame with his raw, gritty verses and razor-sharp wit. The infectious lead single, “My Name Is,” skyrocketed to #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, introducing the world to the twisted alter ego, Slim Shady. Eminem’s unique blend of introspection, dark humor, and undeniable skill made him stand out in a crowded field of artists, solidifying his position as a force to be reckoned with.

2000’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Eminem

Claim to fame: The Marshall Mathers LP, “The Real Slim Shady” (#4 on Billboard Hot 100), “The Way I Am” (#58 on Billboard Hot 100), “Stan” (#51 on Billboard Hot 100), Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre” (#25 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Jay-Z, OutKast, Nelly, Ja Rule, Mystikal

Riding high on the wave of success from his explosive 1999 run, Em solidified his place at the top of the rap game, earning the title of Hottest Rapper Alive for a second consecutive year in 2000. Building on the momentum from The Slim Shady LP, the Detroit MC returned with the even stronger Marshall Mathers LP, showcasing a more mature and introspective side while still delivering his signature controversial lyrics and dark humor. The album’s lead single, “The Real Slim Shady,” climbed to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming an instant anthem for fans while other hits like “The Way I Am” and the hauntingly poignant “Stan,” showcased Em’s incredible range, both peaking within the top 60 on the Billboard charts. Em’s 2000 run also included a verse on Dre’s “Forgot About Dre,” (one of the best rap guest verses ever) which reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100.

2001’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Jay-Z

Claim to fame: The Blueprint, Jay-Z: Unplugged, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100), “Girls, Girls, Girls” (#17 on Billboard Hot 100), R. Kelly’s “Fiesta (Remix)” (#6 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nelly, DMX, Eminem, Nas, Ludacris

At the turn of the new millennium, Hov had his back up against the wall. Despite three straight number-one albums over the past 5 years and platinum plaques dropping left, right and centre, the Roc-A-Fella co-founder was copping hits from all angles. From his legal issues, including a guilty plea for aggravated assault on Lance “Un” Rivera, to his battle for New York supremacy against fellow rap titan, Nas, Jay-Z took all that energy and channeled it into quite possibly his greatest album ever. The Blueprint exploded onto the charts, selling over 427,000 copies – on the same day as September 11 -and clinched the #1 spot on the Billboard 200. With bangers like “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Song Cry,” the album quickly achieved multiplatinum status, and cemented Hov as the hottest and best rapper alive.

2002’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Eminem

Claim to fame: The Eminem Show, 8 Mile (soundtrack), “Without Me” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (#4 on Billboard Hot 100), “Lose Yourself” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nelly, Ja Rule, Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Nas, Clipse, Cam’ron, 50 Cent

In an unprecedented display of rap dominance, Em earned the title of Hottest Rapper Alive for the third time in 2002, following his previous wins in 1999 and 2000. 2002 was a monumental year for the Detroit rapper, as he released both The Eminem Show and the 8 Mile soundtrack. The Eminem Show was yet another commercial and critical success, featuring hits like “Without Me” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100) and the introspective “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (#4 on Billboard Hot 100), while 8 Mile‘s iconic anthem “Lose Yourself” gave Em his first ever number-one single.

2003’s Hottest Rapper Alive: 50 Cent

Claim to fame: Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Beg for Mercy (with G-Unit), “In da Club” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “21 Questions” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “P.I.M.P. (Remix)” (#3 on Billboard Hot 100), “If I Can’t” (#76 on Billboard Hot 100), “Stunt 101” (#13 on Billboard Hot 100), Lil’ Kim’s “Magic Stick” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nelly, OutKast, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Chingy, Fabolous, Joe Budden

Following a relentless 2002 mixtape run that saw him flood the streets with now-classic tapes like Guess Who’s Back?, 50 Cent Is the Future, and No Mercy, No Fear, the Queens rapper quickly caught the attention of the rap world, signing with Eminem’s Shady Records and Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment. 50’s debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, was a commercial and critical juggernaut, catapulting him to the upper echelon of rap music. The album featured chart-topping singles like “In da Club” and the syrupy Nate Dogg-featured “21 Questions”, showcasing his versatility as an artist. 50 continued his winning streak with the release of Beg for Mercy alongside his G-Unit crew, which included hits like “Stunt 101”.

2004’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Kanye West

Claim to fame: The College Dropout, “All Falls Down” (#7 on Billboard Hot 100), “Jesus Walks” (#11 on Billboard Hot 100), “Slow Jamz” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Juvenile, OutKast, Fabolous, Eminem, Lloyd Banks, Nelly

Bursting onto the scene with his groundbreaking debut album, The College Dropout, Kanye shook up the rap game and quickly established himself as a leading voice in hip hop. The album, which featured hits like “All Falls Down”, the deeply spiritual “Jesus Walks”, and the smooth, soulful “Slow Jamz”, showcased Kanye’s versatility and his uncanny ability to create chart-topping hits while challenging the status quo.

2005’s Hottest Rapper Alive: 50 Cent

Claim to fame: The Massacre, “Candy Shop” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Just a Lil Bit” (#3 on Billboard Hot 100), The Game’s “How We Do” (#4 on Billboard Hot 100), “Hate It or Love It” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Kanye West, The Game, Young Jeezy, Three 6 Mafia, Lil Wayne

It’s very hard to not award this title to a rapper whose sophomore album sold 1.14 million copies in its first four days. Even with the meteoric rise of newcomers like Kanye, Game and Jeezy, there should be no doubt whatsoever that 50 Cent was the hottest rapper alive in 2005. With The Massacre spawning monsters hits like “Candy Shop” and “Just a Lil Bit,” 2005 also saw 50’s collaboration with Game, resulting in massive singles like “How We Do” and “Hate It or Love It.” In fact, 50 became the first solo artist in history to have three singles in the Billboard top five in the same week with “Candy Shop”, “Disco Inferno”, and “How We Do”.

2006’s Hottest Rapper Alive: T.I.

Claim to fame: King, “What You Know” (#3 on Billboard Hot 100), “Why You Wanna” (#29 on Billboard Hot 100), “Top Back” (#29 on Billboard Hot 100), Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), Young Dro’s “Shoulder Lean” (#10 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Chamillionaire, Jay-Z, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross

In 2006, the rap throne was claimed by none other than the King of the South, T.I. With his fourth studio album, King, the Atlanta rapper made an astounding impact on the hip-hop landscape, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and selling an impressive 522,000 copies in its first week. T.I. built momentum with the release of promotional singles “Front Back” and “Ride with Me,” but it was the album’s lead single “What You Know” that became a massive hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. This track not only propelled King‘s success but also helped promote ATL, the film T.I. starred in, which was released in conjunction with the album.

2007’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Kanye West

Claim to fame: Graduation, Can’t Tell Me Nothing (mixtape), “Stronger” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” (#41 on Billboard Hot 100), “Good Life” (#7 on Billboard Hot 100), “Flashing Lights” (#29 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Fabolous, T.I., UGK

In 2007, Kanye reclaimed the title of Hottest Rapper Alive with the release of Graduation. The album release ignited a fierce sales competition with 50 Cent’s Curtis, making headlines and fueling anticipation for both records. Kanye emerged victorious as Graduation debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, outselling Curtis with an impressive 957,000 copies sold in its first week. Graduation continued the Chicago rapper-producer’s streak of success, spawning non-stop hit singles like “Stronger”, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, “Good Life”, and “Flashing Lights.” The album’s lead single, “Stronger,” not only became Kanye’s third number-one hit but also played a pivotal role in shaping the sound of hip-hop during the late 2000s.

2008’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Lil Wayne

Claim to fame: Tha Carter III, Dedication 3, “Lollipop” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “A Milli” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Got Money” (#10 on Billboard Hot 100), “Mrs. Officer” (#16 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: T.I., Kanye West, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, The Game

In 2008, the rap game belonged to none other than Lil Wayne, who solidified his status as the Hottest Rapper Alive after grinding in the industry for over a decade. This was the year that Weezy transcended from a respected artist to a full-blown superstar, with his hypnotic flow and unmatched wordplay taking over the charts and streets alike. Tha Carter III dropped on June 10, 2008, selling over a million copies in its first week – a feat not accomplished since 50 Cent’s The Massacre in 2005. The album’s lead single, “Lollipop” featuring Static Major, became Wayne’s most successful song at that time, topping the Billboard Hot 100. Other smash hits from the album included “A Milli”, “Got Money”, and “Mrs. Officer. Tha Carter III went on to win four Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for “Lollipop.”

2009’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Lil Wayne

Claim to fame: We Are Young Money, No Ceilings, “Prom Queen” (#15 on Billboard Hot 100), “Hot Revolver” (#33 on Billboard Hot 100), “On Fire” (#62 on Billboard Hot 100), Birdman’s “Always Strapped” (#54 on Billboard Hot 100), “Money to Blow” (#26 on Billboard Hot 100), Rick Ross’ “Maybach Music 2” (#92 on Billboard Hot 100), Jay Sean’s “Down” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), Drake’s “Successful” (#17 on Billboard Hot 100), “Forever” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100), Chris Brown’s “I Can Transform Ya” (#20 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Jay-Z, Drake, Eminem, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Gucci Mane, Kanye West

Fresh off his superstar moment in 2008, Lil Wayne continued to dominate the hip-hop landscape as 2009’s Hottest Rapper Alive. Building on the momentum from the previous year, Weezy unleashed the Young Money compilation album We Are Young Money and his legendary mixtape No Ceilings, one of the greatest additions to his catalogue ever. Beyond his own tracks, the New Orleans rapper lended his always-reliable talents to Birdman’s “Always Strapped” and “Money to Blow”, Rick Ross’ “Maybach Music 2”, Jay Sean’s chart-topping “Down”, Drake’s “Successful” and “Forever”, and Chris Brown’s “I Can Transform Ya”. Riding high on his 2008 breakthrough, Lil Wayne’s 2009 reign showcased his relentless work ethic and his hunger to stay at the top of the rap game.

2010’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Eminem

Claim to fame: Recovery, “Not Afraid” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Love the Way You Lie” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “No Love” (#23 on Billboard Hot 100), T.I.’s “That’s All She Wrote” (#18 on Billboard Hot 100), Nicki Minaj’s “Roman’s Revenge” (#56 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross

In 2010, after a few years being absent from the hottest rappers alive discussion, Em kicked his way back into the conversation with a monster year. The Detroit rapper’s seventh studio album, Recovery, sold a staggering 741,000 copies in its first week and dominated the Billboard 200 for five weeks – to give you some context, the next biggest first week for a rapper in 2010 was Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at 496,000. The album produced a string of unstoppable hits, including the comeback anthem “Not Afraid,” which skyrocketed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the electrifying “Love the Way You Lie,” Em’s collaboration with Rihanna that scorched its way to the top as well. To top it all off, he embarked on the Home & Home Tour alongside Jay-Z to perform at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, and two shows in Yankee Stadium, New York City.

2011’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Drake

Claim to fame: Take Care, “Headlines” (#18 on Billboard Hot 100), “Make Me Proud” (#25 on Billboard Hot 100), “The Motto” (#38 on Billboard Hot 100), DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One” (#67 on Billboard Hot 100), Lil Wayne’s “She Will” (#16 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky

After breaking into the rap game as 2009’s Rap Rookie of the Year, 2011 found Drake reigning supreme as the Hottest Rapper Alive. With the release of his sophomore album, Take Care, Drake began a run on the Billboard charts that would continue on for the next decade. The album spawned several hit singles, including “Headlines”, “Make Me Proud”, and “The Motto”, while his features on DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One” and Lil Wayne’s “She Will” cemented him as the most versatile superstar in the rap game.

2012’s Hottest Rapper Alive: 2 Chainz

Claim to fame: Based on a T.R.U. Story, “No Lie” (#24 on Billboard Hot 100), “Birthday Song” (#47 on Billboard Hot 100), “I’m Different” (#27 on Billboard Hot 100), GOOD Music’s “Mercy” (#13 on Billboard Hot 100), Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap” (#48 on Billboard Hot 100), Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” (#29 on Billboard Hot 100), A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky

As part of the College Park hip hop duo Playaz Circle, 2 Chainz (going by the name Tity Boi at the time), dropped Supply & Demand in 2007, but aside from the Lil Wayne-featured “Duffle Bag Boy”, the album wasn’t much of a success. It took a few more years, and about 1,000 guest verses, for 2 Chainz to re-emerge in the early 2010s as a superstar. While his debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, was a chart-topper upon release, 2 Chainz’s feature run is the reals reason why he was the hottest rapper alive in 2012. From his contribution to GOOD Music’s “Mercy” and Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap” to Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems,” Tity Boi was spitting hot 16s everywhere you looked.

2013’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Eminem

Claim to fame: The Marshall Mathers LP 2, “Berzerk” (#3 on Billboard Hot 100), “Survival” (#16 on Billboard Hot 100), “Rap God” (#7 on Billboard Hot 100), “The Monster” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Drake, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, J. Cole, Migos

With the release of The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem was continuing the hot streak ever since his 2010 comeback. The album skyrocketed to the top of the charts, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart, earning Em the distinction of being the first American artist with seven consecutive UK number-one albums. With a string of successful singles, including the Beastie Boys-homage “Berzerk”, the lyrically mind-blowing “Rap God” and the Rihanna-featured “The Monster”, Em became the first artist since The Beatles to have four singles in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. In a year that saw scorching releases from the likes of Drake, Kanye and Jay-Z, Em reigned supreme as the hottest rapper alive in 2013.

2014’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Drake

Claim to fame: “Worst Behavior” (#89 on Billboard Hot 100), “0 to 100 / The Catch Up” (#35 on Billboard Hot 100), “Trophies” (#50 on Billboard Hot 100), YG’s “Who Do You Love?” (#54 on Billboard Hot 100), Lil Wayne’s “Believe Me” (#26 on Billboard Hot 100), iLoveMakonnen’s “Tuesday” (#12 on Billboard Hot 100), Nicki Minaj’s “Only” (#12 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Nicki Minaj, Young Thug, YG, J. Cole

What’s a telltale sign of a rapper who is scorching? When that rapper can dominate the whole year without dropping an album. Following on from the success of Nothing Was the Same, Drake continued that energy by releasing “Worst Behavior” as a single in 2014. After that, it was just banger after banger, from the SoundCloud loosie “0 to 100 / The Catch Up” that would go on to become Grammy-nominated to his fire verses on Weezy’s “Believe Me” to his scene-stealing performance on “Tuesday.” 2009 was the year Drake came into the game scorching, 2011 was the year he cemented his spot as one of the hottest rappers alive, but 2014 was when he showed the world that he had the Midas touch.

2015’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Future

Claim to fame: Beast Mode, 56 Nights, DS2, What a Time to Be Alive (with Drake), “Fuck Up Some Commas” (#55 on Billboard Hot 100), “Where Ya At” (#55 on Billboard Hot 100), “March Madness” (#35 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs), “Jumpman” (#12 on Billboard Hot 100), “Stick Talk” (#91 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Drake, Fetty Wap, Kendrick Lamar, Rich Homie Quan

If you could strictly y the numbers, then sure, there were other rappers who had a bigger year in 2015. But with his undeniable cultural impact, legendary mixtape run and total command of the rap zeitgeist, Future was the hottest rapper alive this year. “March Madness” may not have charted at all on the Billboard Hot 100, but can anyone honestly tell me that it wasn’t the anthem of the year? The Atlanta native’s 2015 run began with the release of Beast Mode and 56 Nights, followed by his first number-one album, DS2. His collaboration with Drake on the chart-topping mixtape What a Time to Be Alive further cemented his status as a rap heavyweight. With hits like “Fuck Up Some Commas,” “Where Ya At,” “Jumpman,” and “Stick Talk” dominating the airwaves, clubs and streets, Future’s influence on hip hop was undeniable. 2015 wasn’t just the year that Future became the hottest rapper alive – it was also the year that set him on a trajectory to be one of the greatest Atlanta rappers to ever do it.

2016’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Drake

Claim to fame: Views, “Summer Sixteen” (#12 on Billboard Hot 100), “One Dance” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Pop Style” (#19 on Billboard Hot 100), “Controlla” (#27 on Billboard Hot 100), “Too Good” (#9 on Billboard Hot 100), “Sneakin'” (#20 on Billboard Hot 100), Rihanna’s “Work” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Desiigner, Gucci Mane, J. Cole, Future, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West

Drake did the impossible in 2016: he followed up an incredible 2015 with an even bigger year. You’d think after dropping two number-one albums, beating Meek Mill in a rap battle and scoring a bunch of hit singles, a rapper would want to take a break. But not Drizzy, he went right back into it. Dropping his highly-anticipated Views on April 29, the album spawned several hit singles, including Drake’s first number-one song as a lead artist – “One Dance.” The song became Spotify’s most-streamed song ever at the time, amassing over 882 million plays in just a few months. Views remained atop the Billboard 200 for ten nonconsecutive weeks, and remains Drake’s best-selling album of all time in pure sales.

2017’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Kendrick Lamar

Claim to fame: DAMN., “Humble” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Loyalty” (#14 on Billboard Hot 100), “Love” (#11 on Billboard Hot 100), “DNA” (#4 on Billboard Hot 100), “Element” (#16 on Billboard Hot 100), “The Heart Part 4” (#22 on Billboard Hot 100), Rich the Kid’s “New Freezer” (#41 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Drake, Cardi B, Future, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert

While Kendrick had been one of the top rappers in the game ever since his 2012 major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, he never managed to clinch the hottest rapper alive title – Drake, Future, Eminem and 2 Chainz all slid past him on previous occasions. That all changed in 2017. With the release of DAMN., K.Dot earned his third number one on the Billboard 200, with the album selling over 600,000 units in the first week, as well as his first number one single as a lead artist when “Humble” soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The album also featured other successful singles like “Loyalty”, “Love”, “DNA”, and “Element.” Kendrick also scored a minor hit on his collaboration with Rich the Kid, “New Freezer.”

2018’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Drake

Claim to fame: Scorpion, Scary Hours, “God’s Plan” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Diplomatic Immunity” (#7 on Billboard Hot 100), “Nice for What” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “I’m Upset” (#7 on Billboard Hot 100), “In My Feelings” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Nonstop” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” (#5 on Billboard Hot 100), Migos’ “Walk It Talk It” (#10 on Billboard Hot 100), Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), Bad Bunny’s “Mia” (#5 on Billboard Hot 100), Lil Baby’s “Yes Indeed” (#6 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: XXXTentacion, Travis Scott, Cardi B, J. Cole, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne

2018 was another monster year for Drake. After brushing away his scuffle with Pusha T, the Toronto rapper was back at it, dominating the airwaves with a string of chart-toppers like “God’s Plan”, “Nice for What”, “In My Feelings” and “Sicko Mode.” When Scorpion dropped, the album broke one-day global streaming records on both Spotify and Apple Music and easily debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, giving Drake his eighth straight number one album. He also made sure to keep his ears glued to the streets, delivering standout verses for artists like Migos and Lil Baby.

2019’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Travis Scott

Claim to fame: JackBoys, “Wake Up” (#30 on Billboard Hot 100), “Highest in the Room” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), Future’s “First Off” (#47 on Billboard Hot 100), “The London” (#12 on Billboard Hot 100), “Hot (Remix)”(#11 on Billboard Hot 100), Post Malone’s “Take What You Want” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Tyler, the Creator, Juice World, Dababy, Young Thug, J. Cole, Polo G, Lil Baby, Pop Smoke

After dropping his 2018 magnum opus, Astroworld, Travis Scott had officially crossed over into hip hop royalty. The album, which featured hits like “Sicko Mode” and “Yosemite”, cemented the Houston rapper-producer in the upper echelon of rap music. Coming into 2019, he made sure to capitalise on that success, releasing JackBoys, a compilation album featuring his Cactus Jack label members, as well as “Highest in the Room,” his second chart-topping hit after “Sicko Mode.” In between his own music, Travis also appeared on Future’s “First Off”, Young Thug’s single “The London” alongside J. Cole., and dropped his documentary Look Mom I Can Fly via Netflix.

2020’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Lil Baby

Claim to fame: My Turn, “Sum 2 Prove” (#16 on Billboard Hot 100), “Emotionally Scarred” (#31 on Billboard Hot 100), “All In” (#45 on Billboard Hot 100), “The Bigger Picture” (#3 on Billboard Hot 100), “Errbody” (#41 on Billboard Hot 100), Pop Smoke’s “For the Night” (#6 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Roddy Ricch, Megan Thee Stallion, Future

Three years after dropping his first mixtape, Perfect Timing, in April 2017, Lil Baby was officially the hottest rapper alive. The Atlanta rapper’s second album, My Turn, was a star-studded affair, featuring collaborations with Gunna, 42 Dugg, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Wayne, Moneybagg Yo, Young Thug, and Rylo Rodriguez. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sent 12 of its tracks to the Billboard Hot 100, pushing Lil Baby’s career total to an impressive 47 charting songs – an achievement that put him on par with music legends Prince and Paul McCartney. My Turn also became the first album of 2020 to achieve double platinum status, while the politically charged track, “The Bigger Picture,” debuted at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, further cementing Lil Baby’s status as one of the leading rappers of his generation.

2021’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Drake

Claim to fame: Certified Lover Boy, Scary Hours 2, “What’s Next” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Way 2 Sexy” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Girls Want Girls” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Wants and Needs” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” (#3 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Kanye West, Lil Baby, J. Cole, Tyler, the Creator, Young Thug

By now, it’s just a given that Drake is one of the hottest rappers alive. Ever since he broke through into the rap game in 2009, the Toronto rapper has consistently been in the top 5, dominating the airwaves. Starting the year strong, Drake became the first artist to surpass 50 billion combined streams on Spotify. His EP Scary Hours 2, featuring hits like “What’s Next,” “Wants and Needs,” and “Lemon Pepper Freestyle,” made history as the first time an artist debuted three songs in the top three on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. Collaborations with rappers like Drakeo the Ruler, Migos, Gunna and Young Thug kept his name hot in the streets as he prepped his upcoming album. With the release of Certified Lover Boy, Drake achieved his tenth number-one album on the Billboard 200, while all its tracks debuted on the Hot 100. The album broke records by charting nine songs in the top 10, with “Way 2 Sexy” becoming his ninth number-one single.

2022’s Hottest Rapper Alive: Future

Claim to fame: I Never Liked You, “Worst Day” (#34 on Billboard Hot 100), “Wait for U” (#1 on Billboard Hot 100), “Keep It Burnin” (#15 on Billboard Hot 100), “Love You Better” (#12 on Billboard Hot 100), “Puffin on Zootiez” (#4 on Billboard Hot 100), “712PM” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100), “I’m on One” (#11 on Billboard Hot 100), Gunna’s “Pushin P” (#7 on Billboard Hot 100), Metro Boomin’s “Superhero (Heroes & Villains)” (#8 on Billboard Hot 100)

Honorable mentions: Drake, Jack Harlow, Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Kendrick Lamar, Gunna

Drake and Kendrick may have had bigger first week sale numbers, but no rapper ran the game like Future did in 2022. After sitting back for a couple years while younger Atlanta rappers like Lil Baby and Gunna made their moves, Future decided to reclaim his spot as King of the ATL with one of his biggest (and best) albums to date and a string of hit singles. The Atlanta native’s 2022 run included a relentless barrage of smashes, including “Worst Day”, “Wait for U”, “Keep It Burnin'”, “Love You Better”, “Puffin on Zootiez”, “712PM”, and “I’m on One”. Future’s undeniable chart presence was also felt in his collaborations, like on Gunna’s “Pushin P” and Metro Boomin’s “Superhero (Heroes & Villains).”