The Best Rapper Alive, Every Year Since 1979 Drake

2012: Drake

Credentials: 2011's Take Care, barrage of guest verses: "Stay Schemin'," "No Lie," "Amen," "Pop That," "Fuckin' Problems."

Even in an off year, Drake was on one. Take Care dropped late in 2011, so Drizzy was able to ride excellent singles like "HYFR," "Take Care," and "The Motto" in 2012 which made him a consensus pick for Best Rapper Alive honors by themselves. And even without those songs Drake was still an omnipotent force in hip-hop who dominated the rap conversation.

Jay-Z once boasted, "For the right price I can even make yo shit tighter." In 2012, Drake didn't just make people's songs tighter, he became a kingmaker. Drizzy unleashed one monster guest verse after another and gave away Billboard hits that introduced buzzing artists to a wider audience. Rule of thumb: You're definitely in the Best Rapper Alive conversation if people will listen to any artist's song just because you're on it. And if you can make any song you're on a possible anthem, then you probably are the Best Rapper Alive.

There's a certain arrogance to the way Drizzy effortlessly bequeathed bangers to 2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky, and French Montana as if he had an endless stash of hits to give (who knows, maybe he does?). To understand his impact, consider that even throwaway lines like "Good ain't good enough" sparked intense debate about perceived shots at G.O.O.D. Music. More importantly, consider that if Drake had strapped together all his major guest verses and added a couple of strong solo cuts, he would've had a third album better than most rap releases last year.

Honorable Mentions: Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross

We have no knock against Kendrick Lamar, but are obliged to point out that he was relatively quiet for most of 2012 before dropping good kid, m.A.A.d. city. However, last year more and more fans got hip to his stellar 2011 release, Section.80. Still, most were left wondering if K-Dot could pull off a classic debut. But more on that later.  

Meanwhile, 2 Chainz' momentum from 2011's T.R.U. REALigion hit its mainstream peak in 2012 as casual fans got hip to "Spend It." Chainz also went on a guest verse killing spree, which reached its climax when he spit the verse of the year on G.O.O.D. Music's "Mercy" and had Kanye telling him to start charging 100K for a 16. You know you're having a special year when you not only spit the last verse on the premier posse cut, but Kanye is the one who throws up the alley.  

Although Rick Ross' album God Forgives, I Don't debuted at No. 1, it failed to deliver the goods. Not that it really mattered. Ross still ran the rap game with an iron fist and gave us Rich Forever, one of his best overall projects, at the top of the year. Still, for the first time since 2009, it felt like Rozay's reach wasn't continually expanding, but contracting ever so slighty. — Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)

RELATED: The 50 Best Drake Songs

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