17 Times Rappers Made History During the 2010s
Hip-hop took things to another level in the 2010s. The last decade has been full of firsts and major achievements for many of the stars of music’s leading genres. These trailblazers broke barriers, ushered in #NewRules and made history.
Forbes recently revealed its breakdown of the top-earning artists of the 2010s, and unsurprisingly, several rap gods earned slots on the big baller list, which includes Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Elton John. Dr. Dre, the maestro who helped orchestrate the careers of Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, N.W.A. and 50 Cent, was named cash king as a result of the $950 million he pulled in over the last 10 years. Although he’s known for classic albums like The Chronic and chart-toppers like 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” it was his stake in Beats Electronics—which he sold to Apple in 2014 for $3 billion—that was largely responsible for his income for the last few years.
Diddy also made some major money moves within the past decade. The cultural icon earned $605 million and did so mostly by establishing his liquor brand, Ciroc, as the go-to vodka in hip-hop and his Revolt TV network as a must-see destination for hip-hop culture. Hip-hop’s first billionaire, Jay-Z, continued to grow his Roc Nation empire, as well as his influence throughout the 2010s.
Drake, who once rapped, “My life's a completed checklist,” officially arrived with 2009’s So Far Gone and hasn’t felt his hot streak cool off as of yet. The king of the streaming era has become the first to put up a billion streams on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify and has had more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any other male artist in history. He also turned his birthday into an empire that includes a record label, an apparel brand and OVO Fest.
J. Cole has managed to still bring in platinum plaques with little to no help, while the artistic pursuits of the Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Kendrick Lamar, which has included crafting 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly and curating the soundtrack for 2018’s blockbuster film Black Panther, has continued to garner critical acclaim and blaze trails.
Several leading ladies left their mark on history throughout the 2010s. In the years since Nicki Minaj delivered her debut album, Pink Friday, she’s made hit records and also broke records, whether they were set by her male counterparts or the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Cardi B, who first struck gold and platinum with 2017’s “Bodak Yellow,” became the first solo female rapper to bring home a Grammy for Best Rap Album. The Bronx bomber also held the title of longest-running No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 by a solo female rapper, until the multifaceted rapper-singer-flute player Lizzo unseated her with “Truth Hurts”—a bonus cut from 2019’s breakthrough Cuz I Love You that eventually held down the No. 1 spot for seven non-consecutive weeks.
The 2010s were kind of like a big deal for hip-hop. Take a look at some of rap’s biggest achievements below.
See 17 Times Rappers Made History During the 2010s