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What Makes a Top Tier Artist

— If you consider yourself to be a fan of hip hop knowledge then you have had this conversation more than once. And yes I mean hip hop knowledge because there are plenty people who are fans of hip hop but could care less about how the music impacts the culture. But yeah, fans of hip hop knowledge have had the conversation of what qualification put a specific artist in a specific tier. This conversation is kind of like a right of passage when it comes to wanting people to respect your point of view on anything hip hop. However, this conversation is not to determine who belongs in what tier. I simply want to discuss the qualifications that put an artist in a specific tier. 

How Much Work They have Produced?

I would say that this is probably one of the biggest qualifications. In order to be determined to be one of the best whether you make it to tier 1 or 3, the fans would definitely need to considered how long you have been in a the game. Longevity plays a big big part in how well we consider an artist to be. The longer they have been putting out successful music the higher the chance they make it into a top tier. And I don’t consider frequency to be part of the equation. I want to say quality takes the cake in the conversation. An artist can be in the game for 10 years and only drop two albums, but if those albums are impactful and one of one works of art, then yea they are top tier. It’s funny because me and one of my homies had a conversation about a certain Houston rapper who has been in the game for about seven years and has two actual albums out and I said he was Teir 1. The homie says the artist cant be in the top tier since he only has two albums out. I said the reason he is in Teir 1 is because everything his last album has produced outside of music is more than any artist ever has been able to accomplish. This leads me to my next point.

Contributions Outside Hip Hop.

Music now-a-days is more than just music, let me explain. When a hip hop artist is able to put out an album that is generally considered to be great they are susceptible to received endorsements from clothing companies, food dynasties, tech conglomorates etc. One good album can produce so many other opportunities within the culture that it’s hard to ignore the impact that artist has. Going back to the artist in question from my previous point, and I don’t want this to sound like I am advocating for this rapper to be in tier 1, it’s just his situation is a perfect example of why certain artist deserve certain tiers. This artist has one album that produces countless Jordan deals, a McDonalds Meal, a playstation and nike collaboration at the same time, not to mention he is releasing his own clothing brand along with an alcoholic drink, all off one album. It really makes you rethink that being in a top tier is all based off music alone.

P.S. It has been rumored that he is designing his own playstation game as well.


Now this is an interesting requirement. Do the amount of awards factor into what tier you deserve to be in? I would like to argue no, for the simple fact that most of the awards that the populous care about, like the Grammy’s, don’t represent the true nature of hip hop. They do not report on who actually deserves song of the year or album of the year. Same with the majority of these other award shows. It is getting to a point where artist are not even submitting their music for a change to be considered for certain awards. I think we are going to get to a point where artist are completely going to remove themselves from any award shows, making them obsolete.

At the end of the day when we discuss who should be in what tier I think the only things that should be considered is the quality of whatever music they have out into the world and what it has produced outside of music. If an artist has one suburb album but has produced over 100 million dollars of endorsements and product, then that spells a top tier artist to me.


P.S. The image above is not endorsed by the author, it is simply cover art.

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