Would you rather be the best rapper or the most influential rapper?

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 Photograph by Craig McDean

Photograph by Craig McDean

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve scrolled Twitter & come across some silly ass rap debate, I'd be the black Bill Gates.  I remember coming across this tweet a few months back from this random rap page asking which rapper has more influence: Chief Keef and Kendrick Lamar.

Most of the time I TRY to stay away from these kind of debates because they're always started by some troll who is moreso a fan of the lesser skilled rapper (not to say Keef lacks skill).

I say this all the time but its OK to like “A-quality” rappers like Kendrick, and still like “B-quality" rappers like Keef. They both play important roles in the hip-hop culture so you can’t entirely say that one is more influential than the other.

Hip-hop has experienced some evolutionary changes musically and culturally since its inception. The game is in such a great place because there’s so many different sounds and vibes available. You got your boom bap records if you feel like listening to bars or lyrical sparring matches. You got your LA records if you're into vibing to some G-Funk or  ratchet west Coast tunes. You got trap music when you feel like whippin’ the pot in your imagination as 808s are beating down your ears. And then you got your mainstream records for when you're about to party.

Each sound is unique and thrives anywhere, and they make up pivotal parts of the hip-hop culture.

You may not like what I have to say, but different sounds and artists can co-exist among each other. Rappers like Keef have their place in hip-hop. He made his presence known through hits like “Don’t Like" and “Faneto,” and the infamous "CHIEF KEEF AIN’T BOUT THIS, CHIEF KEEF AIN’T BOUT THAT" rant. In this short amount of time, the polarizing Keef has been a major influence for this current new wave of rappers. When you listen to Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Playboi Carti and Travis Scott, you catch glimpses of Keef whether it’s musically or how raw the music video was shot. Keef's impact also brought attention towards everyday living while growing up in the Southside of Chicago. He and Chance are both products of the city and can co-exist in the same space.

Rappers like Kendrick have certain traits that some current rappers don’t possess. Sometimes that alone can a rapper polarizing. When the O.G.'s of the west coast blessed Dot with the torch, we knew he was bound to make the world shake. It’s something about his music that stands out from the rest of his peers. Even at his current status, he makes it clear that he is the student of the game. He’s studied the history of the greats that came before him and spent years mastering his craft. From “Youngest Head Nigga in Charge" to "DAMN", Kendrick has come a long way and still is able to thrive in this current climate of hip-hop. He’s a chameleon. Everybody can be a Chief Keef but not everyone can be a Kendrick Lamar.

Both caliber of rappers are great at what they do, each possessing unique characteristics that help them stand out from the field. The balance is important for hip-hop. Everybody has their preferences on who they like. But when it’s all said and done, would you rather be the best rapper or the most influential rapper?