The Best Rapper Alive, Every Year Since 1979 Kendrick Lamar

2013: Kendrick Lamar

Credentials: 2012's good kid, m.A.A.d city, guest verses for A$AP Rocky, Emeli Sandé, Young Jeezy, Jay-Z got on the remix for "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" 

Kendrick Lamar spent most of 2012 crafting his masterful debut album, good kid, m.a.a.d. city, before dropping it towards the end of the year. The release of good kid cemented Kendrick's status as the Best Rapper Alive, and earned comparisons to other legends who jump-started their careers with unforgettable major-label debuts. It wasn't just a great album, it was a great conceptual album with a storyline throughout—a Herculean hip-hop feat.

As the critical praise poured in and K-Dot fans supported their artist—a music-biz mantra that's more often said than followed—a mainstream audience slowly started to appreciate this West Coast rapper with left-field sensibilities to the point where hip-hop as a whole started looking at him differently. Nowadays, any 16 Kendrick spits—whether it be on an A$AP Rocky record or a random Dido feature—is worth everybody's attention. Kendrick's breakthrough comes at a time when rap fans are inundated with new rappers who overpopulate the blog posts; the few who are worth the time rarely (if ever) fulfill the promise of their initial offerings. But Kendrick lives up to all the hype. 

His current statue isn't best explained in his raps, but by an image: The cover art to the Jay-Z assisted "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)" featured a young Kobe standing next to an aging Jordan. No one thought the analogy was far off. Time for everybody to bow down to King Kendrick Lamar (ya bish)!

Honorable Mentions: Drake, Danny Brown, 2 Chainz

The year is still young. Will K-Dot's reign on top be shorter than leprechauns? For Drake, once again the throne is for the taking. His third album is on the way and songs like "Started From The Bottom" and "5 AM In Toronto" show that he can still turn it on like a light switch whenever he fancies.

At the other end of the spectrum is Danny Brown, who has little mainstream recognition but has slowly built himself into a premier underground rapper. Fans continue to catch on to his 2011 album, XXX, and he keeps slaughtering guest spots. 2 Chainz is still riding high off the success of his debut album and newfound fame—the question remains if he can maintain his momentum. — Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)

RELATED: The Making of Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city

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