13 of the Best Late-Night TV Rap Performances of 2018 (So Far)
Cardi B's stellar debut album Invasion of Privacy dropped on April 6, one day before she took the Saturday Night Live stage where she performed her two hit singles "Bodak Yellow" and "Bartier Cardi," along with her latest record "Be Careful." She even shocked the world by showing off her baby bump, confirming months of pregnancy rumors.
For avid hip-hop fans, there's no experience quite like catching your favorite artists live in concert, but the next best thing may be catching them in action on late-night TV from the comfort of your own home. While names like David Letterman, Arsenio Hall and Jay Leno have helped introduce hip-hop to late-night TV back in the 1990s, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and James Corden now reign supreme. And they're keeping their couches and stages open for today's biggest rappers.
Cardi B is just one of quite a few hip-hop artists who've shined on the small screen after hours in 2018. The year may be young, but there have already been a number of rap sightings on late-night TV this year, from Migos to Travis Scott to Lil Uzi Vert all delivering live performances. A$AP Rocky even made his grand solo reentry to hip-hop by debuting two new songs ("A$AP Forever" and "Distorted Records") on The Tonight Show in early April. In honor of Cardi's latest attention-grabbing performance, XXL has compiled a list of some of the best late-night TV rap performances of 2018, thus far. Don't sleep!
Stephen Colbert continued his trend of showing love to hip-hop in February 2018 by inviting Lil Uzi Vert to light up The Late Show stage with a performance of the Luv Is Rage II fan-favorite, "The Way Life Goes."
Rich Brian ended 2017 with a name change and kicked off 2018 in a big way with the release of his debut album, Amen, in February. To help mark the occasion, Brian appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden, performing a medley of album cuts like "Cold" and the title track in his late-night show debut.
Common joined Andra Day on The Late Show in January for a performance of "Stand Up For Something," the pair's collaboration from the soundtrack from the 2017 film, Marshall.
Travis Scott and Quavo are both late-night TV alums, but the pair made their debut as a duo with a performance of "Eye 2 Eye" from their collaborative project Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho during a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year.
After nabbing a platinum plaque for his 2017 hit single "Plain Jane," A$AP Ferg stopped by The Tonight Show to kick off 2018 with an electric performance, further evidence of his ascent into superstardom.
Fetty Wap joined Cheat Codes and CVBZ for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to perform their single "Feels Great" last month.
London export Stefflon Don made another show-stealing appearance with her performance of her breakthrough single "Hurtin' Me" during a visit to The Late Late Show with James Corden for her late-night TV debut.
If nothing else, Migos' first headlining performance on SNL was memorable. While some viewers complained about audio issues, others marveled at the trio's characteristically gaudy getups. Quavo, Offset and Takeoff performed "Stir Fry" and "Narcos," from their long-and-strong latest album, Culture II.
A$AP Rocky went all out for his Tonight Show performance in April. He kicked off his performance sporting a crash test dummy suit while lying in bed, as two people with lab coats and gas masks watch. Rocky performs "A$AP Forever" before getting up and running through a new track called "Distorted Records."
Cardi B made history in her first-ever performance on SNL. After initially hiding her rumored pregnancy behind a black-and-white feather ensemble while performing a medley of "Bodak Yellow" and "Bartier Cardi," she put the gossip to rest while performing "Be Careful," proudly showing off her baby bump.
"Ric Flair Drip," one of the hugest songs off Metro Boomin, Offset and 21 Savage's surprise project Without Warning, landed the former two a spot on Jimmy Fallon's late-night series, The Tonight Show. Metro and Offset performed the Hot 100 Top 20 single with the wrestling icon in an actual ring, making it one of the most creative stage sets the show has ever created for hip-hop stars.
"Icon" rapper Jaden Smith moonwalked across The Tonight Show's stage to perform the hit single off his 2017 debut LP, SYRE. The music video for the track played in the background as he continued to show off his moves across the stage. Shortly after he spit an impressive freestyle for Jimmy Fallon during the show's interview portion.
Meek Mill's appearance on The Tonight Show was symbolic—the Philly rapper had previously sat down on the show with Jimmy Fallon about a year prior, just before he was sentenced to two to four years in prison for probation violation.
Now a champion for criminal justice reform, Meek returned to the late-night show to speak about his efforts to help free at least 1 million people from the prison system over the next five years.
The MMG artist also performed his song "Dangerous" with PnB Rock and Jeremih.