10 New York Rappers to Watch in 2014
Rumors of New York City rap’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Don’t let people like Trinidad James fool you — there are a plethora of dope acts emerging from the five boroughs and the music scene there couldn’t be more exciting or diverse.
From Pro Era to A$AP Mob, the new generation of New York rappers are bringing new styles that borrow from the past, but also include new perspectives and fresh musical approaches.
While you may already know about Big Apple representatives like A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies, The Boombox has even more rap acts you’ll need to keep your eye on. We know the artists we’re highlighting have already done a wealth of work on their own over the last few years, and will only take their career to new heights in the coming year. Check out 10 New York Rappers to Watch in 2014.
The Incomparable Shakespeare
You can’t talk about New York rap without mentioning Brooklyn. And in 2014, it’ll be equally hard to talk about up-and-coming New York rappers without mentioning Franklin Rossman, also known as The Incomparable Shakespeare.
Combining a ’90s underground hip-hop focus on lyricism with a 2000’s hit-maker’s sensibilities, Shakespeare represents the best of both worlds.
Need proof? Then check out his #InvincibleDream mixtape, which collects a series of his freestyles over ’90s underground rap gems. Also take a look at his appearance on Sway’s ‘Sway In The Morning’ radio show, where he rhymed over fellow guest Scott Storch’s new beats.
Those with a keen ear to the scene (and a good memory) may recall his first couple of releases, ‘The Incomparable Shakespeare’ and the U.K. music-inspired ‘The British Invasion.’
Recently, Shake linked up with fellow buzzing Brooklynite Troy Ave on the song ‘Franklin Jackson,’ where he spits impressive money-getting rhymes over a bouncy, club-ready track. Look out for his upcoming EP, ‘By Any Dreams Necessary,’ which is dropping soon.
Bodega Bamz doesn’t just rap, the Spanish Harlem MC is building a movement via Latin pride with his crew, the Tanboys.
A young veteran of New York City’s underground rap scene, the artist formerly known as Nate Bamz got major attention with the video for his John Boy Beats-produced song ‘P.A.P.I’ featuring fellow Tanboys member Willie Hex. The visual also featured cameos from their A$AP brethren Yams and Ferg.
Want a sample of Bamz’s Latin Trap sound? Just listen to the cut ‘Mi Casa,’ where a charismatic Bamz displays his mic skills (and hand skills in the video).
In his latest clip for ‘Don Francisco,’ Bamz shows just why he and his Tanboys crew could be the next Terror Squad, as he perfectly merges Latin culture and hip-hop imagery to create a compelling visual.
In the latter half of this year, Bamz embarked on the Better Off Dead tour with the Flatbush Zombies, selling out shows in cities across the U.S. Look out for the follow-up to his 2012 release, ‘Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z,’ to drop in 2014.
On the 17-song mixtape, Cooper raps over classic hip-hop beats like OutKast’s ‘Ms. Jackson,’ while also showing that he draws inspiration from ’90s New York rap.
While slightly nostalgic, the Crown Heights, Brooklyn native also incorporates his own unique millenial style, which has caught the attention of fans the world over.
Right now, Cooper is in the lab cooking up his next project and a release date is yet to be announced, but based on his 2013 releases, fans are eager to to hear what else this young wordsmith has in his bag of musical tricks.
There’s no doubt that Harlem’s own Vinny Cha$e deserves a spot on this list. If not for catchy songs like ‘Money Tonight,’ featuring Kid Art and Harlem veteran Ma$e, it’s for his successful hustle, as Cha$e made his way from a video director to signed recording artist.
After turning down a record deal offer from none other than Diddy himself, Cha$e instead signed with Epic Records and joined up with his friend Aaron Reid, an A&R at the label.
With major label backing and a growing number of supporters both on and offline, it seems Vinny Cha$e is doing all the right things to become uptown’s latest rap superstar.
Nitty Scott, MC
Yeah, her first release is called ‘The Boombox Diaries’ but that’s not the only reason we love Nitty Scott, MC. She spits passionate bars, has songwriting skills and does her best to represent hip-hop culture from a woman’s perspective through her company, Boombox Family Entertainment.
And at 23, she’s already amassed a loyal cult following with videos like ‘Tell Somebody’ and dope cuts ‘Flower Child’ featuring Kendrick Lamar.
Most recently, Nitty dropped the video and song ‘Skippin Clouds,’ an ode to marijuana and the role it plays in her artistry.
Not just a pretty face, Nitty Scott, MC is the real deal, with her intelligent lyrics, deadly flow and overall star quality.
Since building a buzz for themselves through underground releases, live shows and word of mouth, this rap collective from Queens has garnered the attention of industry folks and fans alike. Their brand of energetic yet thoughtful rhymes is on full display on their latest project ‘Bastards of the Party,’ released by DJ A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs’ Fool’s Gold Records.
Just last month, the group released the video for ‘Sammy Sosa,’ a dark, melodic offering that shows just why World’s Fair can potentially join the ranks of legendary New York rap collectives like Wu-Tang Clan or Boot Camp Clik.
What’s also different about World’s Fair is the fact that they’re a super group of sorts, comprised of three solo acts (Cody B. Ware, Prince SAMO and Jeff Donna) and the three-member group Children of the Night (Remy Banks, Lansky Jones and Nigel Nasty).
We’re eager to see what this multi-ethnic collective has in store for 2014, because they’ve done an excellent job of sparking fan interest so far.
B.I.C (Bitches Is Crazy)
Simply put, there wouldn’t be hip-hop without the Bronx, and since those days when rap music was still played in the parks, acts like Boogie Down Productions and Big Pun have represented the borough well.
But now, a four-man group consisting of rappers Ill Spills, Yesus 199, Pete and Izzy Oz are starting to gain local and national attention ever since dropping their free debut album, ‘Influence,’ on the label High Water Music. And their buzz grew even bigger when industry heavyweights such as Peter Rosenberg, Just Blaze and Ebro co-signed them after the group released the video ‘Yo Soy Widdit,’ a catchy tune with a sing-along hook that truly works on all levels.
Also, check out the cut ‘DOPM,’ produced by Chuk Le Garcon. On the four-minute track, B.I.C display their gritty lyrics over spacey synthesizers that makes for a very interesting, almost hypnotic listen.
It’s clear that fans will be hearing more about this group, as B.I.C is off to a good start in terms of carving out their own lane within the New York independent music scene.
Comprised of frontman Wiki, rapper-singer Hak and producer Sporting Life, Ratking combine the energy of punk with experimental New York hip-hop.
Ratking occupy a space comfortably left-of-center, with an avant garde approach to hip-hop that made them darlings of the indie and alternative music scene as well.
After just a few listens you’ll get a sense that Ratking is on their way to mastering the art of making music that’s loud, disruptive, but still palatable.
Check out cuts like ‘Piece of S—,’ which was turned into a mini film by famed Dutch filmmaker Ari Marcopoulos, and you’ll get a real sense of Ratking’s sound, which is a little bit punk, a little bit ’90s rap, with a lot of chaos thrown in for good measure.
It’s easy to tell that this Manhattan-based group will make a huge splash when they drop their new LP, ‘So It Goes,’ in 2014.
The new New York has psychedelic rappers, fashion rappers, and even gourmet MCs but what about that good ol’ fashion street s— we’d get from 50 Cent or Kool G Rap? Enter Troy Ave.
The Brooklyn hustler-turned-rapper has made a name for himself since dropping the first in his series of ‘Bricks in My Backpack’ mixtapes in 2010.
Currently, Troy has been getting a lot of praise for his recently released ‘New York City’ album as it’s a well-crafted release that embodies the sound of the city as he sees it. And with features from lyrical giants like Raekwon and Pusha T, ‘New York City’ is just one reason why this Brooklyn spitter is bound to get the shine he deserves.
Granted, Troy has been holding it down for NY’s crime rhyme faction for awhile, but based on his recent moves, it seems that he’s just beginning his ascension to mainstream popularity.
Check for the next installment in his annual ‘White Christmas’ mixtape series to drop on Christmas day.
Spiritual enlightenment (aided by psychotropic drugs) is a recurring theme in the Underachievers music and the duo of AK and Issa Gold might be the most hardcore hippies from Brooklyn you’ll ever hear.
One third of the Beast Coast collective (which also includes Pro Era and Flatbush Zombies), UA are hyper-focused on higher states of being and better living through chemistry. Just listen to songs like ‘Herb Shuttles’ or their dope 2012 cut ‘Gold Soul Theory’ from their ‘Indigoism’ tape (one of our choices for the best of 2013) and you’ll understand why their turnt yet trippy brand of New York rap is so appealing.
Also, be sure to listen to their latest effort ‘Lords of Flatbush,’ as well as the cut with Joey Bada$$ ‘My Jeep,’ along with the Flatbush Zombies.
Expect to hear more from this Flatbush, Brooklyn duo when their new album, ‘#TheCellarDoor,’ arrives on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label in 2014.