10 Rappers You (Probably) Don't Know But Should
With the overwhelming amount of music circulating through our ears, iTunes, internet(s) nowadays, it’s hard to keep track. It seems that new artists are popping in and out of our aural scope so quickly, it’s hard to weed out good and the bad. We did our research and came up with the top 10 rappers you probably don’t know, but definitely should. These guys and girls are blowing up, keep your eyes and ears open.
Vince Staples is a west coast rapper who's spent his childhood bouncing from Long Beach, to Compton to Lynwood. In 2011, he released his debut mixtape, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, and his second Winter In Prague a year later. The mix tapes had hip-hop heads spinning. His voice alone is enough to give you chills. In 2013, Staples teamed up with producer Larry Fisherman, (the pseudonym that Mac Miller produces under) and birthed one of the best mixtapes of the year, Stolen Youth. Following the release of the mixtape, Mr. Staples was signed to Def Jam and went on tour with Mac Miller. Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 dropped last month, and it's one of the best tapes of the year, hands down.
Best Known Song: “HIVE”
Supported by: Mac Miller, Jhene Aiko
Listen If You’re into: Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Top Dawg Ent. Affiliates
Best Trait: Distinct voice
Photo by ASHLAY CASHLAY
Young Thug is an emerging rapper out of Atlanta, Georgia. Between 2011 and 2012, Thug released three mixtapes, I Came From Nothing 1, 2 and 3. Catching the attention of Gucci Mane, Thug was soon signed to his label, 1017 Brick Squad Records. Shortly after signing, he released 1017 Thug, gaining him serious critical acclaim across the board. Pitchfork, Complex, FACT, The Guardian and Rolling Stone all mentioned 1017 Thug on their year end roundups of 2013. According to Pitchfork, Young Thug's "extraordinarily distinctive" style is more than just a "weird, experimental approach to rapping, but a presence, persona, mystique, and, potentially, star power." Young Thug is something we haven't seen in a while: pure, original and raw personality. After some of the rap scenes biggest artists (Wale, JadaKiss, Jim Jones, Nicki Minaj) started remixing his singles, Thug came out to voice to his disapproval, offended that these rappers could suggest his verses weren't strong enough. Right now, Young Thug is bouncing between record labels and million dollar deals, still "uncertain" about what he wants. Young Thug is just intriguing. He looks like a pierced up ASAP Rocky mixed with Dennis Rodman. His latest release Black Portland, is what initiated him into the hip-hop family, according to the New York Times. He's a certified oddball with a scraped-up voice and we just can't get enough.
Best Song: “Keep In Touch”
Supported By: Everyone, Kanye West
Listen If You’re Into: Gucci Mane
Best Trait: Being weird
Vic Mensa is a Chicago-born rapper and previous member of Kids These Days. Following the group's break up, Mensa went on to release his second mixtape, INNANETAPE, filled with features from artists like Chance the Rapper and Ab-Soul. On the production side, he had support from the likes of Hit-Boy, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and more. The name comes from Mensa's combination of "internet" and "mixtape." XXL gave the mixtape an "XL" rating for it's "lyrical nourishment." Complex called out Vic's ability to contour words and play with sounds, claiming the album as more than a "show of great rapping-it's also an ambitious musically omnivorous project that demonstrates Vic [as] an artist with a broad vision." Rolling Stone named it the seventh best mixtape of 2013, noting Mensa's "keen eye for both self and society." INNANETAPE allowed Mensa to prove himself, following the release, he joined J. Cole and Wale on tour. Ending that tour, Mensa bounced around Europe with Danny Brown. Best Known Song: “Orange Soda” Supported by: Chance The Rapper Listen If You’re into: Nas, Jay Z Best Trait: He’s one of the nicest dudes in the game
Listening to Angel Haze is like a refreshingly exciting slap in the face. Angel Haze was born in a rather strict environment, she claims she didn't have the freedom to listen to real, uncensored music until her family moved to Brooklyn when she was 16. Then, Haze dove head first into the world of secular music. In 2012, Haze released her first EP, Reservation, which garnered a score of 88/100 from Metacritic and recognition by the BET Hip Hop Awards. Later, BBC announced that she had been nominated for the Sound of 2013 Poll. Don't let Haze's small frame and feminine appeal derail your expectations, she sends a powerful message with her words that would put anyone in their place.
She's forceful, unabridged and raw. She can also sing, take to Youtube for five minutes and you can check Haze's covers from Missy Elliott to Miley Cyrus. Her debut album, Dirty Gold, dropped at the end of 2013, she leaked it herself on her SoundCloud page after not agreeing with her label's instructions.Now, Haze is collaborating with notable vocalists like Ellie Goulding and Sia.
Angel Haze has a lot to say, and she wants everyone to listen. Despite the fact that she's obviously succeeding, she brings a sense of ingenuity that's rare. She isn't a "female rapper" as much as she's a musician who demands to be heard. Haze is a full on artist in every sense of the word.
Best Known Song: “Upper Echelon”
Supported by: Sia, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Azalea
Listen If You’re into: A conceptually edgy Eryka Badu with Nicki Minaj tendencies
Best Trait: Trillness
Brooklyn based duo Weekend Money, (comprised of rapper Ne$$ and producer BaghDaddy) have been making music since 2011. BaghDaddy hails from Baghdad and Ne$$ comes from Philly. The two met at a holiday party in NYC, and have been working together ever since. The best thing about Weekend Money is that they love music. Sounds redundant, shouldn't all musicians love music? But W$ has a historic appreciation for music that comes across in their artistry like no other. Whether it's music video themes, word play in verses or even the name of their latest album, these guys have a creatively funny way of reminding listeners who they're inspired by. They’re new album, Freddie Merkury just dropped and is available for on their Soundcloud, check it.
Best Known Song: “Clockworkin’”
Supported by: Heems, Kitty Pride
Listen If You’re into: Timbaland, Busta Rhymes
Best Trait: Slipping subtle, ironic humor into their work
Sasha Go Hard
Sasha Go Hard is a 21 year old female rapper emerging out of the Chicago music scene. There's basically a hip-hop renaissance bubbling in the Chicago underground right now. With rappers like Lil Durk, Katie Got Bandz, Young Chop and many, many more "drill music" is becoming an absolute phenomenon. Drill tracks have an intense, almost grim vibe with trap influenced beats. Its a complete contrast in comparison with earlier, more conscious, Chicago hip-hop.
Sasha Go Hard may look delicate and sweet, but got her name for a reason. Adapting "Sasha" from Beyonce's alter ego, Sasha Fierce, and the succeeding part from her studio energy, she just goes hard. Sasha has been putting out mixtape after mixtape for the past couple of years and the hits just keep coming. She's basically the First Lady of the Chicago rap scene. The dominating male figure, Chief Keef, originally hooked up Sasha up with Japanese producer DJ Kenn, who originally started producing for Keef. Considering Keef's Entertainment team, Glory Boys, is pretty tight, its a testament to Sasha and her abilities that one of her first mixtapes was called Glory Girl. If you listen to Sasha speak, she seems like a shy, modest, soft spoken girl. But as soon as you hear her on a track you'll get it. Her last mixtape, Nutty World, dropped last year and fans are hungry for more.
Best Known Song: “Tatted” and “Why They Mad”
Supported by: Chief Keef, Glory Boys
Listen If You’re into: Drill Music
Best Trait: Cute smile with scary verses
100s is a Berkley rapper with luscious locks that would make most girls jealous. He gets Brazilian blowouts and Keratin treatments every couple of months. 100s has made a name for himself with his old school swag. One could call 100s original or different, but he draws a lot from the Bay Area's history. His first mixtape, Ice Cold Perm, was dripping in '70s glamour. He's all about the old school, with a style reminiscent of early Snoop Dogg.
100s reminds us of an essence of early hip-hop that is refreshing in the landscape of today's rap production. Now that 100s is signed with Fools Gold (A-Trak’s label that catapulted the likes of Danny Brown to success), 100s is destined for greatness. He just released his new EP, IVRY through the label and just wrapped a tour supporting ASAP Ferg.
Best Known Song: “1999”
Supported by: Fools Gold, ASAP Ferg
Listen If You’re into: Snoop Dogg, Andre 3000
Best Trait: Obvi the perm
Buddy is an 18 year-old rapper out of Compton, CA. He was originally discovered by Scott Verner, who put on Pharrell. Now Buddy is one of the few artists signed to Skateboard P's i am OTHER label. He's already gotten co-signs with the best of the best: Snoop Dogg, Pharrel, Kendrick, basically everyone seems to be hopping on the Buddy train. His debut project, Idle Time has features from Freddie Gibbs, Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. Buddy is definitely being prepped for the big leagues, and can't wait. With the support of basically all the best in the business, there's no doubt Buddy is someone to keep your eye on.
Best Known Song: “Awesome, Awesome”
Supported by: Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar
Listen If You’re into: The Neptunes
Best Trait: He’s young in age but not in style
YG is a Compton rapper who signed to Def Jam back in 2009. He released his first single "Toot It and Boot It" back in 2010, featuring Ty Dolla Sign. We hadn't seen much from YG until he hit the charts with "My Hitta" featuring Young Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan. The song hit No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, making it the biggest hit of YG's career to date.
What makes YG so special is his melodic voice. Don't mistake this for softness, but he does have a rhythm that’s evocative of a certain Drake sounding sentiment. Now, YG is working with the best in the game- 2 Chainz, DJ Mustard, and even Drake. His song with Drizzy, "Who Do You Love" just proves that he can ride with the best and keep his voice strong. YG's debut studio album My Krazy Life took two years to record, bouncing between Atlanta and Los Angeles. The album's executive producer is none other than Young Jeezy and features Kendrick, Nicki Minaj, more Ty Dolla Sign, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and so many more its borderline overwhelming. Pick up a copy of his latest album My Krazy Life on iTunes.
Best Known Song: “Who Do You Love”
Supported by: Rich Homie Quan, DJ Mustard
Listen If You’re into: Too $hort, 2 Chainz
Best Trait: R&B Sound but not R&B
Dominique Young Unique
Dominique Young Unique is a rapper and model from Florida. She started her career modeling along side British supermodel Cara Delevigne and graced the pages of Vogue. She's tall, gorgeous, and a very talented rapper. Prior to her modeling career, Dominique released a debut EP Hot Girl followed by a ton of mix tapes between 2010 and 2011. During the the past few years Unique got picked up by Sony Records and Mad Decent, developing her sound into something super special.
She released the song "Earthquake" last year, a heavy electronic track produced by Diplo. She performed at Electric Daisy Carnival in NYC, an electronic music festival. But, listening to Dominique, she doesn't sound like the typical Mad Decent, moombahton vocalist. She's a rapper, through and through, but can make electronic tracks sound like pure hip-hop. She has a handful of released planned in 2014, produced by DJ Fresh, Benga, and more Diplo. She's been recognized by NME, Pitchfork, Dazed and Confused more or less, as a rap queen. Get ready for more tracks from Miss Dominique this year.
Best Known Song: “Earthquake”
Supported by: Diplo, Mad Decent
Listen If You’re into: Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj
Best Trait: Versatility
May 02, 2014 via Pepsi