The best rapper in 2014 didn't need a new album or hit single to prove his dominance. Drake's last LP, Nothing Was the Same, arrived in September 2013, but thanks to a stream of songs surprise-released online, carefully curated remixes, touring and big-time TV spots, there was no question he was hip-hop’s center of gravity this year.
Yes, Iggy Azalea's The New Classic was the top-selling rap LP released in 2014, and Nicki Minaj may outdo her when she unveils The Pinkprint on Dec. 15. But both were criticized by rap fans for blatantly aiming for pop audiences ("Pills N Potions," anyone?). Drake, on the other hand, batted near 1.000 with a remarkable string of six songs he surprise-released to SoundCloud during the year, accruing 83 million total clicks on the platform. "0 to 100/The Catch-Up," one of 2014's most memorable songs, hit No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is nominated for two Grammys -- a feat for a track with no real label push behind it.