A Visual Guide to Singin-Ass Rappers

Graphed on a scale from Thuggin' to Thirsty, Soulful to Defiant.

Apr 11 2014, 4:30pm

Rapping and singing used to be different things handled by different people. Rappers were over here, spitting hot 16’s in the cipher, while singers were over there, romancing your girl. Often the two forces would unite, usually to make a hit single about romancing your girl. But it was understood that the two skills, while both valued in their own right (especially for romancing your girl), were separate. Rappers that sang were seen as “soft” or “commercial” and might get dissed for it in a hot 16 by a rapper who would never sing. (This, of course, was news to the mainstream media.)

But times have changed. Rappers are singers, singers are rappers, singers get guest verses on rap songs and rappers sing on tracks featuring actual singers. Drake built a career being wild emotional in his raps and Lil Durk sang in dulcet tones about mowing down your block with a chopper. Auto-tune began as a handicap for tin ears but soon rappers were finding ways to make themselves into cool-sounding thugged-out robots.So here are ten notable singin-ass rappers who blur the lines, presented in chart form for easy analysis. The x-axis goes from “soulful” to “defiant,” from Nate Dogg’s pure gospel to Young Thug’s total disinterest in conventional melody. The y-axis goes from “thuggin” to “thirsty,” a measure of each artist’s priorities: are they rap-singing for their dudes or for the ladies?

I stopped at ten because it was a good round number. Feel free to suggest other singin-ass rappers and where they’d be on the chart in the comments.

Skinny Friedman is a writin-ass DJ. He's on Twitter - @skinny412