When several “lil” rappers make hip-hop news in the same year, it’s not what I’d call a “big” moment in hip-hop, but it is cause to further examine this longstanding phenomenon of rappers who like being called “lil,” especially in a rap world where bigger has almost always been viewed as better.
However, what rappers like Big Sean, Big Pun, Big Boi, Big Mike, Big Punisher and Big Bank Hank possess in size, they certainly lack in number. Rappers with “Lil” in their monikers outnumber their “Big” counterparts in both quantity and commercial success over the years. And 2017 was certainly a reminder of just how relevant these “Lil” rappers are, what with all the headlines they’ve created this year.
The most noteworthy newsmakers this year have included smallish rappers Lil Wayne, Lil Kim, Lil Pump, Lil Uzi Vert, and most recently – and unfortunately – Lil Peep, who died suddenly on November 15, 2017, following a drug overdose. He was only 21.
Lil Wayne made news earlier this summer when he apparently suffered a seizure and was taken to a hospital, according to reports. His daughter, Reginae Carter, took to Twitter to announce that her dad, real name Dwayne Carter, was doing just fine and cautioned people to not believe everything they hear.
The ever controversial Lil’ Kim was rumored to be a “person of interest” following a robbery at a house she rented in LA on the eve of the BET Awards back in June. Around the same time, her former Junior M.A.F.I.A. group mate Lil’ Cease appeared as himself in the recently aired documentary “Biggie: The Life Of Notorious B.I.G.”
Lil Uzi Vert created a more positive buzz with his album, Luv Is Rage 2, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, making him the latest “Lil” rapper to accomplish the feat (joining Lil Wayne in that exclusive club). The signature single from that album, “XO Tour Llif3,” rode the top ten on the Hot 100 this summer, peaking at No. 7.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the latest “Lil” rappers to make big news was Lil Pump, whose single “Gucci Gang” made a huge leap into the Hot 100’s top ten to become his first such hit. So far it matches Lil Uzi Vert’s No. 7 peak but it could climb even higher in the coming weeks given its recent momentum.
All of this prompted me to take a look back at all the Lil rappers who’ve gotten big over the years with stage monikers that have overtaken once-popular hip-hop prefixes as “DJ” and “MC” to become the most used name in the business. What follows is a tongue-in-cheek ranking of the 25 biggest “Lil” rappers in hip-hop since rappers started using the moniker nearly 25 years ago.
The rankings are based on an approximation of their success based on chart performance, record sales, longevity and a lil’ bit of opinion. None of this is to be taken too seriously or to suggest that one lil’ rapper is any “better” than the other.
This is strictly for entertainment.
Now, please scroll through the list below to find out who the No. 1 “Lil” rapper is.
Real Name: Oreoluwa Magnus-Lawson in Nigeria, Africa.
Noteworthy: 5-foot-tall rapper had two chart hits around turn of the millennium, the biggest of which peaked at No. 62 in 2001, “Back Back.” Latest album was “The Re-Up” In 2016.