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Who Won Every Rap Summer of the 21st Century?

Now that the summer is officially a not-too-distant memory, we can safely say this past season wasn’t the strongest for hip-hop. (Other outlets are being a lot less diplomatic about it than we are.) There just weren’t that many albums that captured everybody’s attention, or that many hits that deserved mention in the Song of the Summer discussion. DJ Mustard and his bottomless arsenal of three-note synth hooks did their damnedest to keep things lively, and younger breakout acts like Bobby Shmurda and Rae Sremmurd offered some intrigue. But on the whole, the hip-hop of this year’s hottest months felt considerably lacking, like it was missing that one defining artist who really puts their stamp on the summer and gets everyone excited about them. (One artist did sort of end up fitting the bill, but…well, we’ll get to her later.)

As an antidote to the doldrums of hip-hop’s past three-plus months, we’ve taken a look back at the previous 14 summers — as well as the one we just wrapped — to crown the champs of each successive season. This year’s entry isn’t an especially exciting one, but here’s hoping we won’t have that problem two years in a row. ANDREW UNTERBERGER