It’s hard to look at Kendrick Lamar and see anything but a Hip-Hop prodigy. The good kid from Compton effortlessly set himself ahead of the competition with his 2011 release Section.80, a mind-blowing 16-track album that made him undeniable to any remaining skeptics.

Kendrick’s breakthrough into the scene started in 2009. Undergoing a name change from his alias K.Dot, the budding artist made his debut with the release of The Kendrick Lamar EP, which received well over a hundred thousand downloads alone. A year later he let loose of his follow up mixtape O.verly D.edicated, a rude awakening for “MC’s” that had been merely skating by on mediocrity.

Aficionados can trace Kendrick’s career even further back to his novice efforts Training Day and C4, a re-make of Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III. Though not as lyrically developed, his talents were obvious, especially on his numeral narrative “Best Rapper Under 25.”

A co-sign from Dr. Dre couldn’t hurt either. Kendrick’s name made headlines on headlines after the public caught wind of his feature on the mythical Detox album. Even though we have yet to see the fruits of these labors, Kendrick assured us that “it’s coming.”

It remains undisputed that Kendrick Lamar raised the bar for rap. What truly makes him deserving of this list though, is his fresh approach. It’s uncanny the way he retells stories in a way that makes you feel like no one has ever rapped about that topic before.

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