These are the rappers we recommend you get to know right now and you'll thank us later for putting you on to these DOPE indie artists on the rise. This list includes Black El, Black Josh Ape, thatboycurtis, Little Simz, and WALDO. If you feel like you were slighted and should be included on this list, holla at us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what's good for next time.
Known for working with producer Durkin (soundcloud.com/durkin) this Boston-bred underground rapper is a lyrical breath of fresh air, with hot beats to match. His samples will give you shivers - it’s a hip hop a little less nicely packaged than the R&B Rapper era of Tory Lanez and Drake - Black El’s voice is a little smoother, deeper. His tracks seem of the moment, but your big brother can also relate to them. The Durkin Produced track “5 to 6” almost melds the styles of Kid Cudi and Chance the Rapper for a refreshing and much-needed wake up call.
Black Josh Ape
This MC from Manchester draws inspiration from a hard-hitting boom-bap era, but his cute and clever stoner bars add unique layers to his songs. He always pairs his lyrics with top notch producers like Reklews, and too late He’s confident but not annoyingly cocky (even though with that spitfire delivery he might have the right to be) His flow can go aggressive, or mellow, or combine the two, like the smooth, fast Tribe Called Quest inspired jazz of “Sleepless”.
Otherwise known as Curtis Williams, this wild-haired artist is a diamond in the rough from Atlanta, Georgia who has close ties to rapper Key!, and is part of the rap collectives Two-9, FatKidsBrotha, and Retrosushi, that ensures all his tracks have jaw-dropping turn-up features, like OG Maco and production by Metro Boomin’. His direction on each project is so diverse, yet consistently delivers - he’s definitely worth a listen.
She might be small and shy, but don’t underestimate Little Simz - her swag takes over a room. The shyness quickly goes away as she demolishes a track, and continuously impresses with her freestyle skills. She always keeps her cool and that effortless London “it” girl vibe, drawing from role models like Lauryn Hill She brings a quick intelligence to all her tracks that will keep you guessing, and it’s hard not to make her your #WCW rapper.
Michigan has had some impressive rappers come out of it, like Eminem and Big Sean, but WALDO’s rapping chops make him one to add to that list of talent. Uptempo beats will keep your blood pumping. He’s one of the founders of AGO, a collective of artists including afro-punk producer Sango, and the international influence of the members in his collective shine through his own tracks, like the contagious, frenzied instrumental of Plaques, produced by none other than the homie Sango.
Born and raised New Yorker. I'm a leftie, (handed, and in all senses of the word), and a culture/lifestyle writer. With a Muslim mother, a Jewish father, and an upbringing at the United Nations School, my perspectives are often strong-footed, and have roots in many different pots.