Over the last week we've been highlighting the year's best music because December is a great time to pause and appreciate all the amazing music we've been blessed to hear over the last 12 months ...but fuck that. Who wants to talk about sunshine and rainbows all the time? Not me. So I thought I'd give all my fellow haters out there a space to get some of that well-earned anger off their chest and dig into the worst of the worst of 2014.
So just who was the worst rapper of 2014? Easy my people. I know you're feeling emotional, but we have to address this like rational, objective haters. Just like the best rapper discussions, we need some criteria.
First, how inherently terrible is the rapper. Rap is the art form of putting words together in interesting combinations and then delivering those words over a beat in a compelling manner. How not-good are they at practicing that craft?
Second, how much of a negative impact has that rapper had? Have they inspired other terrible rappers to be even more terrible? How far has their terribleness spread? Great example, previous Worst Rapper Alive winner (loser?) Lil B. Lil B may still be making terrible raps or he may have become the next Nas. I have no idea because unless you won't find a Lil B song in 2014 unless you're actively looking for one, and I'd largely say the same for Soulja Boy. They've both become these internet culture icons, but musically they just weren't prominent enough to deserve a nomination here. Also, I don't want a piece of the Task Force. So there's that.
And now that we're on the same page, let's get to the nominees.
I know I personally hate Tyga more than most, but guess what? I'm personally writing this on a site I personally run so yeah, Tyga's going in here first.
Now, in the interest of any sort of semblance of objectivity, here's the defense of Tyga. One, he's literally capable of rhyming words. Two, he didn't put out that much really popular music in 2014. Three...um...no, that's the only two defenses.
And here's why he's such a travashamockery. One, even in an age when rappers are lying about their past, Tyga's fake "I'm a gang-banger" smoke screen is particularly appalling. Two, his raps aren't outright terrible, they're perfectly, totally, completely average, which is exactly why he's so dangerous. We get thousands of song submissions every month, which means we get sent thousands of terrible songs every month, and I can tell you that the vast majority of terribleness seems to come from this "Hey, if Tyga can be a rap star I can too!" place. His negative impact score is very high. .
On the plus side, I'd actually consider Iggy the best inherent rapper here. And yes, that's like saying someone is the tallest Oompa-Loompa, but still. She has some semblance of a flow, she has decent lyrics, even if other people are writing those punchlines. In a vacuum she's an OK rapper.
On the down side, if I called Tyga fake I don't know what you call Iggy. At least Tyga doesn't fake an accent (although you know he totally would if like England was the epicenter of hip-hop). And then there's the whole cultural appropriation angle, which can get complicated, but here, I can simplify it. For much of America, when people thought about hip-hop in 2014, they thought about Iggy first. How do you feel about that? Kinda of like this? Yeah, me too.
So yeah, huge negative impact score.
I'm going to go ahead and predict that Young Thug will win/lose this whole thing. I get it - in fact I get it so thoroughly that I don't think I need to go over it again here.
Instead, let me offer up a defense of Young Thug. First, in spots he can sound perfect, he's certainly far more interesting than T.I. on "About the Money," and he bangs on "Old English." Second, at the very least he's original. There's legitimately no one else who looks like him in rap right now. And yes, I know that's exactly why so many hate him, but I value originality over everything, no matter what form that originality takes, so I'm pro Young Thug. I'd rather watch Thug rap looking like Princess Leia than hear Tyga reheat another microwave rap about strippers.
There, I completely changed your mind on Thugga, didn't I. Yep, I'm sure I did. Things I write on the internet totally changes people's minds all the time. You're welcome.
I know a lot of people are now feeling conflicted now - are they going to vote for Thug or Migos? For people who hate trap, there might not be much difference between the two except that Migos is more than one guy.
I also don't have anything close to a spirited defense of Migos like I did for Thug. Really, the only "defense" of Migos is that I sometimes like listening to shit that's just thoroughly, unstoppably, completely, energetically ignorant and banging, and the Migos gang delivers on that count. Is that enough to keep them off the worst rapper podium?
You know how everytime someone's naming their Top 5 rappers and they get to the fifth and final spot they freeze up? That's basically me right now. There's about 400 possible candidates for this last spot, and since I'm seemingly paralyzed by indecision I'm just going to rifle some names off: Bobby Shmurda (he have enough negative shmimpact?), O.T. Genesis (who doesn't love cocaine though?), Chief Keef (a down year for Keef impact wise), French Montana (aka the guy whose success I'm the most confused by), Big Sean (Lucas' pick), ILoveMakonnen (is he even a rapper?), Travis $cott (dope except for that part where he makes noises out of his mouth), Busta Rhymes (sometimes I hear him now and cry about how dope he used to be), Chris Brown (basically Tyga 2.0 when he raps) and...I'm exhausted.
I know I'm really just scratching the surface of terribleness here, but I feel like I've laid down a pretty solid foundation, and I've learned over the years that I can trust DJBooth Nation to fill in the gaps I've missed. Don't fail me now my people. Hate on haters. Hate on.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]