The debate about top rappers is an ongoing one, but according to Russ, the “Big 3” at the moment are Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole. Rap culture is enduring a major shift as social media, self-publishing, and streaming services changes the way music is not only created, but it’s volume and accessibility.
While visiting The Rap Pack, Russ talked about the “gatekeepers” of hip hop. As these icons get older, fans of the genre will be looking for artists who are truly lyrical and innovative, but that doesn’t seem to be as important in a social media-driven culture. The shift is coming, and Russ believes he knows who will lead the way when it happens. “The pioneer of the shift is Travis Scott,” he said. “Because Travis…will outsell one of the Big 3 ’cause the fanbase is just that huge.”
The group went on to say that if that happens, then for the first time in rap-hip hop history, a non-rapper will be the leader of the genre. They all agreed that Travis can rap, but his selling point isn’t being a lyricist who will do “a four-minute Funk Flex freestyle,” said Russ. He added, “But Travis makes fire music.”
In order to keep hip hop in its purest form, whatever that looks like to the lovers of the game, Russ said it’s up to artists like “JID, [YBN] Cordae” and himself. Watch the insightful interview with Russ and The Rap Pack below.