Black Music Month 2012: 10 Rising Rappers Including Lee Mazin, Ca$h Out & More
Black Music Month is upon us and to celebrate, The BoomBox is highlighting one of the most influential genres of music: hip-hop. Derived from the ghettos of Bronx, N.Y., hip-hop has grown into much more than the pioneers ever could have imagined. From project hallways and cramped closet studios to gated communities and lucrative endorsement deals, MCs have defined a lifestyle strictly through the power of words.
On their way to the top, rappers showcase lyrics describing pain, passion, success and perseverance, which can ultimately turn into chart-topping hits and playlist favorites of fans around the globe. The BoomBox has been keeping a close eye on 10 rising rappers who are climbing their way up the music industry ladder as they continue to drop lyrical gems. They've been making a name for themselves in their respective regions and now it's time to give them the props they deserve. Here's a few fresh faces that are sure to be familiar in the months to come.
In 2009, Atlanta-bred rapper Ca$h Out was facing a decade behind bars, and it appeared that any attempt at pursuing a music career was futile. Once the rapper was exonerated of gun charges, he took close heed of the advice of a juror, who was sure to emphasize the importance of Ca$h's second chance to do things the right way. That bit of encouragement pushed the rhymer to hit the ground running and he finally saw some of his hard work come to fruition with his grand slam of a breakout hit, "Cashin' Out," off of his debut album It's My Time.
Seemingly out of nowhere, San Francisco has a national hit on urban radio and 24-year-old LoveRance can take complete credit for the Bay's resurgence onto the Billboard charts. With the success of his first official single, "Up," featuring 50 Cent, he's earned countless fans and a contract with Interscope Records. Currently, LoveRance's sole priority is "bringing sex back to rap," continuing the momentum with his debut album, Freak of the Industry.
New Orleans-based MC Na'Tee has been earning stripes in the rap game for a few years now. Her fiery delivery and clever wordplay puts her above any hum-drum gender label. She's not "dope for a girl," she's just dope and her latest project, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, is chock-full of remarkable, reality-driven bars. We're sure that her next mixtape, The Coronation, due July 30, will offer more of the same.
What better way to taunt industry gatekeepers than to include an expletive in your stage name. Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire is nobody's puppet. The Brooklyn native dropped his debut, The Big Kill, years before people noticed his movement. He was actually ready to quit when he started, but he couldn't help but revisit rap years later with 2011's Lost in Translation. His standout track, "Huzzah!" led the tape's momentum and now the ornery, abstract rhyme slinger is signed to Universal Republic and set to tour with El-P, Killer Mike and Despot this summer.
Philadelphia has always yielded some of the most incredible flows hip-hop has heard and Lee Mazin is simply carrying on the tradition for the next generation of spitters in her city. After winning local competitions, dropping her debut, simpLEEaMAZIN, and receiving regular spins on Philly's Power 99, Lee is ready for the next level. She's currently preparing her next rap project, LoveLEE, and earning cosigns from people like hometown hero and Maybach Music Group signee Meek Mill.
Houston rapper Marcus Manchild is at the forefront of what outsiders are calling "the New Houston Movement," although the "members of the movement" don't necessarily believe that there is one. The MC is mainly known for his spitfire flow showcased on The Preseason and most recently his Space Jams mixtape series. His quick-witted lyrics are clearly influenced by East Coast rap but still Manchild remains true to Houston's laid-back aesthetic -- always respectful to the OGs -- simply creating something to ride to. He's currently working on his next project, Free Yo Mind Music.
It's rare to find a balance between any two extremes, however, Chicago rapper Rockie Fresh has mastered the art of blending cultures with finesse. Moving from the inner city to the suburbs when he was young, Rockie found inspiration in both hip-hop and alternative rock genres and has somehow found a way to incorporate both into his music. His most recent project, Driving 88, has garnered much attention from label heads and rap followers alike. Last year, he toured with Wale on a few Ambition tour dates and within a few months, there have been talks of him possibly signing to Bad Boy Records.
Little Rock, Ark. rhymer SL Jones is no stranger to the grind. In fact, he's an integral part of Killer Mike's Grind Time Rap Gang and has been for years. Snarky one-liners and a versatile flow have been Jones' signature qualities since his debut in 2008, with his mixtape C.O.L.O.R.S. Five years later, the "sophisticated gangster" shows exactly how much he's grown on his third project, Paraphernalia -- a collaborative effort with burgeoning beatsmith DJ Burn One.
Grand Hustle rapper Spot has been blessed enough to have had a couple of runs in the hip-hop industry since his beginnings in 2004. The New York native worked with people like Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond within the first few years of his career before taking a hiatus between 2006 and 2012. Now, Spot has found a home on the label that T.I. built and he's back to business, pushing the recent release of his infectious, DJ Drama-hosted street album, The Price Iz Right.
Mississippi is slowly carving out its own position in the rap scene, gifting hip-hop with some of the most talented MCs -- none of whom can be compared to one another. Tito Lopez is the latest wordsmith to come out of the Magnolia State. Committed to straight lyricism since the age of 5, the Capitol Records signee has finally been seeing his hard work pay off. His 2010 offering, King With No Crown, has caught the ears of industry insiders. It's obvious this self-proclaimed "Voice of the Underdogs" is on the come-up.