Punch of TDE started a shit storm two weeks ago when he asked this simple question: "I'm curious, who are the next superstars in rap?"
Since it was such an open-ended question that did not give out criteria for what qualifies as a rap superstar besides later naming Kendrick, Cole, Drake, and Nicki as superstars, a potentially great discussion quickly turned into a joke. That is why y'all did not see me talk about it over here...until now.
A few days ago, I was in a Twitter Spaces where they were discussing "Rap Superstars: Do They Exist And Can They Exist." One speaker argued that in order to be a rap superstar, you need that Hip Hop co-sign. He stated:
The key thing in Hip Hop in the industry, in order to make a superstar, you need kingmakers. People forget that Drake, Kendrick, and Cole were all handpicked by Wayne, Hov, and Dre. Like, J. Cole did not just fall out the sky, like Roc Nation signed him. Drake had 4 Wayne features in 09. Dre was like, who is this kid on Youtube rapping about Malcolm X and Martin Luther in 2010. Get me that kid. He picked Kendrick. So, it's like you actually need machines behind you to create those numbers. It don't matter how good you are. You need the whole industry to like back you, and then you become the superstar."
I found this take interesting because I can make a case that a Hip Hop co-sign is irrelevant for today's upcoming rap superstars and one for why it still matters.
NO CO-SIGN NEEDED
When Punch asked his question, two rappers people seemed to focus on were Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. While Cardi B, along with others, argued that she was a rap superstar, others tried to say that Megan Thee Stallion is not.
Let's remember that no Hip Hop legend/superstar ever co-signed Cardi B as a rapper. Instead, the industry co-signed her beef with a rap superstar, which led to her unlikely rise in Hip Hop. Her notoriety from the beef + her stats qualifies her as a rap superstar to some.
While Megan Thee Stallion has co-signs from Q-Tip, Bun B, Paul Wall, Juicy J, and has done the cypers, freestyles, mixtapes, and XXL covers just like the rap superstars before her. But, somehow, people, including the guy who argued the co-sign criteria, want to deny Meg her rap superstar status.
So, I would say the Hip Hop co-sign is irrelevant for two reasons:
Co-signs are great, but people have become rap superstars without a co-sign
People are obviously ignoring the co-signs
A case for that Hip Hop co-sign is that it still means something to the rap-rap girls. I think that is why the Baby Tate/Erica Banks thing happened. You still have girls who want to get those co-signs they saw Nicki get from Lil Wayne and Kanye. It means something to them, and as long as it means something to those coming up, it is still a relevant part of Hip Hop.
How important do y'all feel the Hip Hop co-sign is today for those hoping to become a rap superstar?
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