1. Joey Bada$$
Joey Bada$$, still a teenager, easily could have grown up listening to Ja Rule or Ludacris' bad years, but lucky for us he's been bumping MF Doom, embodying a swagger that comes from technical proficiency as it does bravado. Bravo.
2. Chief Keef and Riff Raff
The unheralded Chief Keef made a joint so hot earlier this year that Kanye straight up abducted it from him for himself and the GOOD Music crew. Meanwhile, Riff Raff is weird, unscrupulous, and spacey as hell. He can sound awful, but when he gets locked in to some trap shit, he instantly becomes one of the most quotable rappers around.
3. BRKF$T CLUB
Charismatic and smooth, Julian Malone is clearly the ring-leader here (and a fantastic producer to boot), but the whole crew plays off each other so well, riffing on each other's cadences and wordplay. At this point, A$AP Mob doesn't hold a candle to BRKF$T CLUB as a team.
4. Main Attrakionz
Soft jazz keys, and yes, jingle bells, bring Bay Area music away from the filth of hyphy and back to something more regal. "Do it for the Bay" sounds like snapbacks and sunshine and shitty convertibles. Oh my.
Nicki Minaj's recent Romney endorsement reminds us that hip-hop was made for anarchy, not partisanship. Ab-Soul, with his chest beats and word loogies, is the man to start to start the revolution.