A Guide to Rap’s “Lil’s”

Little Bo Peep and her sheep did it first.

guide to lils

Ever since Lil Pump’s single, “Gucci Gang,” peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, we’ve all started to pay attention to certain saucy individuals who were once deemed hip hop circus acts on SoundCloud. These artists formulated a punk-esque subgenre of rap based on repetitive chanting of keywords and exceedingly flagrant verses as short as 2 a.m. drunken sex. What springs our particular interest with this set of new-age rappers is a conspicuous obsession with a particularly distinct moniker; one which triggers a brief and yet unwarranted déjà vu across the minds of all stressed out 90’s kids: Lil. 

Frankly, they’re not the only guilty party on the scene; we’ve had our fair share of Lils come out over the last decade. With a new batch lined up and ready to hit the XXL Cover next year, it’s only fitting for us to provide a guide to the hotshots bearing the same title. This is all you need to know about the ‘Lils’ in today’s rap scene. 

Where do Lils come from? 

Lil is a common nickname across cultures – it’s pretty much used as much as ‘big’ is. In terms of rap, Lil Troy was the first recognizable hip hop artist to use the moniker before it was popularized in the ‘80s and ‘90s by the likes of Lil Bruce (Bay Area), Lil Mac (New Orleans) and Lil Fame (NYC). In the 2000s, it gained traction with Lil Bow Wow, Lil Romeo and Lil Jon. Lil Wayne is the main act for bringing it this far though, especially with his Bangladesh-produced track, “Amilli.” Once Wayne cleared out the rap game, every other kid wanted that signature moniker behind his or her name and that’s pretty much led us to where we are now. 

Who are they? 

Lil Pump: 

All early bickering about Lil Pump’s music has come to an astounding halt. By the looks of his chart projectiles and loyal fanbase, we can tell he’s about to run over the game. Don’t sleep on him either, his music slaps harder than your mom finding out your GPA. 

Lil Uzi Vert: 

The father of the new-age wave. Uzi resuscitated the moniker, Lil, after its brief hiatus from newer acts beforehand. He burst into the covers embracing the charismatic appeal of a punk rock artist and still flaunts what people might consider as questionable accessories, hairstyles and garments. He’s labelled rap’s Prima Donna with his eccentric looks. Seeing as he’s moved past early naysayers, it’s safe to say he’ll be in the spotlight for a while. After all, he is an adorable character. 

Lil Wayne: 

The grandfather of it all. Weezy was one of the earlier artists to adopt the title in an era dominated by “Young’s.” The beat serial killer might have been busy with both business and personal issues over the last few years, but after his verse on Kodak’s “Codeine Dreaming,” who knows what’s to come? *Wayne lighter spark* 

Lil Xan: 

The latest instalment in the series of Lils. His hit song, “Betrayed,” has him trending once more this year and with a strong following on SoundCloud. He’s definitely one to keep an eye out for. Plus you can’t be a college and not love his name.  

Lil Yachty: 

Migos’ little bro, Yachty, hit catastrophic heights in 2015. The outcast of the game has since risen, with both his debut and sophomore albums gaining mass appeal. His savvy business features have also won him endorsement deals with the likes of Sprite and Nautica. Row on gently down the stream, Lil Boat. 

Lil B: 

AKA, Based God. The future UNICEF ambassador of world peace, Lil B, is unarguably the most prominent name on this list. With a track record sure to make you gawp and enough bars to make your brain wheeze, he’s one of the most revered artists today. His latest album, “Black Ken.” is 100 minutes of global warming and with his sphere of musical influence reaching around the world, all we can say is thank you, Based God.  

Lil Dicky: 

The Seth Rogen of rap. Dicky (pause) is every rapper’s favorite rapper. His versatility in topics are sprinkled with irresistible wit. He’s nowhere near the everyman he poses to be, although he represents the friendlier side of hip hop which is a breath of fresh air from the oversaturated narcissism in rap today. 

Lil Kim: 

The New York music mogul has been son’ing rappers for three decades now, and she doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon. She’s one of the pioneers of this moniker and in breaching it into the female rap section, she’s another step closer to the rap hall of fame. Also, with a discography as highly-acclaimed as hers, it’s no wonder we’re all still thirsty for her bars. 

So there you have it folks, everything you need to know about the Lils. Your rap IQ has just shot up by a whopping 5 points so treat yourself to a  or something. It’s exam season, why not? 

Joshua Anite
About Joshua Anite (5 Articles)
Joshua Anite is a Junior majoring in English and Economics. A self-acclaimed film buff, he spends most of his time reading through jargon and watching a whole bunch of junk. You might catch him with a stern face on his way to class but he's probably just thinking about fairy tales and unicorns.

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