Cover CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 30: Inductee Jay-Z speaks onstage during the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame )

Which rappers are dominating the world today?

Rap artists continue to gain prominence worldwide. Hip-hop has no doubt dominated the global spotlight, reaching shores way beyond its origins in the US. What was once an overlooked subculture has now become one of the world’s most loved communities. 

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Some of these big names have conquered the music industry, influenced lifestyles, and have even dominated the fashion industry. Get to know which five rappers have momentously changed the game:

Dr Dre

Eminem and 50 Cent—these are the names that Dr Dre has helped put on the global stage by building his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. But before Dr Dre became an esteemed rapper, audio engineer, and record producer, he was once mixing hot tracks in the lab since his teenage years and only began rapping with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Yella, MC Ren, the Arabian Prince and the DOC in the famous rap group, NWA, in the earlier part of the 90s which birthed gangster rap.

Now, Dr Dre owns a successful line of audio products, Beats by Dre that's been endorsed and used by many artists today. It didn't take long for tech giant Apple to purchase Beats by Dre for USD3 billion (PHP151.6 billion). 

Since Dr Dre has directed Eminem's music videos, he has put his skills to use by establishing Crucial Films, in association with New Line Cinema, to produce dark comedies.

Jay-Z

Jay-Z has been a dominant figure in the rap game since the 90s. From Vol 2: Hard Knock Life to The Black Album, Jay-Z has presented his creative genius in the genre and has sold millions of copies worldwide. Despite his success, the artist bid farewell—but not wholly—to rap after releasing The Black Album and founded Def Jam Recordings a year later. The label signed artists like Rihanna and Ne-Yo and even further pushed Ye towards having a recording album.

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He also began to expand his business ventures by signing to Live Nation, a concert promotion company, which eventually created Roc Nation, an entertainment company that handles artists like Rihanna, Shakira, and Jay Park. Apart from this, Jay-Z also started Rocawear and Roc-a-Fella Films then established the upscale sports bar called 40/40 Club in New York City. He has even leaned towards the sports industry by investing in the New Jersey Nets basketball team and launching a full-service sports management company called Roc Nation Sports.

Ye

Love him or hate him, Kanye West, who now goes by “Ye”, is one of rap’s most influential icons who have produced and recorded sophisticated sound, eventually earning him award-winning oeuvres. He’s also one of the reasons why streetwear fashion is still flourishing.

The iconic silhouettes that Ye created for his brand could not have seen the light of day if he listened to those who told him to stay in his lane as he was not respected as a designer. “[People] are slowed down by the perceptions of themselves. If you’re taught you can’t do anything, you can’t do anything. I was taught I could do anything,” he shared in a 2013 BBC Radio 1 interview with Zane Lowe.

The billionaire is even trying his hand at architecture and design through Yeezy Home Project and is planning on opening a school named after his late mother, Donda.

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Birdman

The man behind Cash Money Records, an American record label founded in the early 90s, is none other than co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams. He handles the record label alongside his brother Ronald, also known as “Slim”, thanks to their business roots. The company has helped artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj achieve worldwide fame, making the label worth millions.

Even then, Birdman continued to create his own studio albums with popular singles and collaborations with artists like Jay Sean, Drake, and even Lil Wayne (whom he once had a feud with). The millionaire has even made business deals with Universal Music Group.

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Drake

It's easy to recognise Drake's catchy tunes and raspy vocals just several seconds into his tracks. But over the years, the four-time Grammy winner has also received awards not only for his rap songs but for his creative music videos and managed to overtake rap legends on the charts.

The artist was even caught in a bidding war involving Universal Motown and Atlantic Records in 2009. He's further proven his worth in 2015 when he had two No 1 projects in the same year, in 2017 when he made history by holding the record of having most album streams in a day, and in 2021 when his three songs were the top three tracks in Billboard Hot 100.

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But beyond Drake's long list of hit singles, the artist has also acted in Degrassi before he became a full-time musician. Soon, Drake tried his hand at a film documentary by debuting The Carter Effect.

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