Pundits and fans bemoaned about the state of hip-hop in 2014, but the climate may not have been as dismal as they think. Last year may not stack up as well when placed against rap calenders of years past, but there were more than a few projects that were far from lackluster. With veterans such as Jay Z, Kanye West and Nas letting their mics cool off for a year, the last 12 months were dominated by leaders of the new school like Big K.R.I.T., J. Cole and Freddie Gibbs, all of whom dropped breakthrough albums.
Another promising thing about 2014 was the development of rising talent. Artists such as Schoolboy Q and YG took the next step in their careers with lauded debut albums, infusing some new blood into the mainstream arena, while blog favorites Isiah Rashad, Kevin Gates and Logic managed to make good on their online hype.
2015 is looking to be even more fruitful, as a number of acts spent last year putting in major work in the studio and on the road and are now positioned to become household names off the 'net as well as maintain their place on it. These guys, and some ladies too, have consistently been making noise. The Boombox presents 10 Rappers You Need to Pay Attention to in 2015.
In a time when weird is the new normal and shock value is but a thing of the past, having a name unique enough to pique interest has lost its luster. But if there was ever one in this day and age that could, Jungle Pussy would definitely be a candidate. Shayna McHale, the woman behind the moniker, also manages to live up to the attention the name garners, with a style that is equal parts tropical, eclectic and abrasive. Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., the FIT student is slowly but surely making a name for herself and building on the hype garnered from her debut project, 'Satisfaction Guaranteed,' which dropped last summer.
Fans such as Erykah Badu are drawn to JP's quirky brand of hip-hop, which can be heard on the delectable loosie 'Nah,' as well as in its serene accompanying visual. This serves as an appropriate introduction to her colorful lifestyle. Over the next year, expect to get more familiar with Jungle Pussy, who is currently working on her sophomore project.
Everybody loves a good mystery. So when word got out of an unknown rapper coming out of New York that sounded eerily similar to one Nasir Jones, a large chunk of the rap world's interest was piqued -- to say the least. A 10-track eponymous EP that was posted on SoundCloud to much fanfare was the reason for all the hype. The clandestine rapper delivered rhymes leaning more to the heyday of old New York City over boom-bap-inspired production. Before long, the rumor mill began churning with some conspiracy theorists going as far as to claim that it was Nas himself releasing the projects. But when the smoke cleared, the man behind all of the hype was Your Old Droog, a 25-year-old rookie out of Coney Island, Brooklyn.
Finally revealing himself to the public at his sold-out debut show at Webster Hall last year, the rapper re-released his EP on Chopped Herring Records in November and made his rounds on the mixshow circuit in an attempt to get the public more familiar with the man behind the music -- as well as drop a few 'Nutty Bars,' of course. With his penchant for suspense, we're pretty sure that Droog will continue to wow listeners even further in 2015.
Once the epicenter of hip-hop, over the past decade, the crop of elite talent coming out of the Big Apple has dwindled. While locales such as California, Chicago and Atlanta have been churning out promising upstarts at a rapid pace, New York City has been in a bit of a rut and has struggled to regain its stronghold on the eyes and ears of fans. But Harlem representative Dave East serves as a bright spot in the city's musical reclamation project. A former ballplayer-turned-spitter, East is reminiscent of the classic NYC mixtape artist when it comes to giving a track a murderous row of dope bars, while still having the ability to craft well-rounded songs as well, which has been a knock on supposed heirs to the throne in the past.
Breaking out with his well-received 'Black Rose' release and showing no signs of faltering with his impressive 'Straight Outta Harlem' outing, Dave East has definitely got next. Cosigned by Nas, who tapped East to join his Mass Appeal Records roster, the promising MC is on the short list of of rappers bringing the hip-hop conversation back to New York.
TK N Cash may seem like overnight sensations, but that's far from the truth. The two Atlanta natives are well-versed in the industry, having been previously signed to Ludacris' DTP imprint, as well as having lent their songwriting talents for tracks with Trey Songz, Juicy J and Meek Mill, among others. But now the pair have decided to come center-stage with their song, 'Mind Right,' which has been gaining momentum for the past few months.
Signing a deal with Columbia Records last year, the tandem recently released their new mixtape, 'No Handouts,' an appetizer until their debut album arrives. The project, slated for a 2015 release, is yet to be titled, but will feature appearances from heavy hitters such as 2 Chainz, Ty Dolla $ign and August Alsina. With a youthful, upbeat sound and a knack for catchy hooks, expect to hear TK and Cash's name a lot in the months to come.
Outside of Wale, the District of Columbia hasn't had many notable rappers emerge from its musical landscape. But Washington, D.C. rep Shy Glizzy is on a mission to change that. He's been slowly building his buzz in his hometown for the past few years with his 'Law' mixtape series, with the second installment featuring contributions from notable acts such as Migos, Kevin Gates and Yo Gotti. 2014 was a breakout year for the rapper, who inked a deal with Lyor Cohen's 300 Entertainment. He also dropped his most recent release, the highly-acclaimed 'Young Jefe Tape,' which featured the fan favorite, 'Awwsome,' with a remix of the record featuring 2 Chainz and A$AP Rocky, bringing Glizzy's stock to an all-time high.
With a debut album in the works for 2015, and his popularity steadily increasing, Mr. Folarin may not be the only name that comes to mind much longer when the average fan thinks of D.C.
When you of the word father, things like authority a nd responsibility come to mind, both of which the Father we're talking about definitely isn't associated with. Coming out of the loaded ATL scene, the quirky MC isn't your standard ATLien spitkicker. More slacker than trapper, his carefree and drugged-out sound has become a hit with the listeners, causing his stock to rise throughout the year. Case in point, his popular cut, 'Look At Wrist,' which features iLoveMakonnen and Key!. A slew of peculiar music videos on the net showcasing his off-beat sensibilities and nonchalant demeanor further ingratiated him to visual enthusiasts and put a face to the records.
Father decided to embrace his individualism and make a real go at a music career after being influenced by other free-spirited artists such as Lil B. He started Awful Media Group in 2011, cultivating what is now an impressive indie roster with plenty of budding talent. With his 2014 release, 'Young Hot Ebony,' proving that the hype is no fluke, 2015 should be an interesting year for the quirky rapper, who could be on the cusp of stardom with the right move or two.
Following the mass success of J. Cole's '2014 Forest Hills Drive' and upstart Bas' buzz-worthy release, 'Last Winter,' Cole's musical venture with Interscope, Dreamville Records, is one of the most promising movements in the game. Next up to help that promise come to fruition is South Central, Los Angeles spit-kicker Cozz. Inking a deal with Dreamville in summer of 2014, the MC gained momentum with loosies such as 'Dreams' and 'I Need That' before unleashing his mixtape, 'Cozz and Effect,' displaying his eyebrow-raising skills on cuts such as 'Knock tha Hustle' and 'Cody Macc.' With a style that is West Coast swag-meets-East Coast lyrical tendencies, the effect of Cozz's words are sure to be felt in a big way in 2015.
Twenty-four-year-old rapper Fetty Wap comes from the hard-scrabble streets of Patterson, N.J. The new jack made waves in the second half of 2014 with his single, 'Trap Queen,' which amassed millions of plays on outlets such as SoundCloud and YouTube. Produced by RGF Productions, the track sees Fetty crooning on the hook about his favorite trap queen and repping his clique, Remy Boys. Although raised on the East Coast, Wap's style and sound leans more heavily to the south, with musical influences such as Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, and the Franchise Boys, among other acts.
Despite having less than two years experience under his belt as an artist, Fetty Wap has managed to attain a considerable amount of buzz, with his lady-friendly turn-up tune garnering heavy radio play in his hometown of New Jersey, as well as press opportunities with various media outlets. The success of Trap Queen' piqued the interest of legendary exec Lyor Cohen, who signed Fetty to his 300 Entertainment label last November, with plans for an album release sometime in 2015. With the release of his new effort 'RGF Island,' definitely keep an eye out (no pun intended) for the rapper's next move.
Undoubtedly rap's most fruitful talent base of the last decade, Atlanta has been a dominant force in the game for some time now. Responsible for what seems like 10 star rappers annually, the home of Freaknik is definitely on top and showing no signs of taking its foot off the pedal anytime soon. And homegrown talent OG Maco has earned his chance to step up to the plate as ATL's current star-in-waiting. Plying his trade by uploading tracks to SoundCloud, he first gained notoriety from his local hit, 'Road Running,' before hitting pay-dirt with his high-octane single, 'U Guessed It.'
His musical tastes range from rappers such as Lucadris to rock bands like the Devil Wears Prada. Maco has molded these influences together into a hodgepodge of nihilistic, youthful ethos. The rapper, who continues to display his work ethic with two quick-strike EPs ('OG Maco' and 'Breathe') and rocking various shows across the country, looks to be taking the leap from buzz-worthy newcomer to power player.
Female rap talent is hard to come by nowadays. Outside of Nicki Minaj, the game has been in a bit of a drought when it comes to certified hits courtesy of the ladies. Dej Loaf is on a mission to change that and is already on to more than a good start. Building her buzz on the Detroit underground scene for the past few years, the femme fatale caught on with her catchy, thugged-out sing-songy cut, 'Try Me,' which quickly transformed her from a virtual unknown to one of the most talked-about up and comers in just a matter of weeks.
With a style that pays homage to the pimp aesthetic of the Motor City -- without neglecting the gutter realities of life in the D -- the 23-year-old was considered a breath of fresh air for those tired of the cliche female rapper shtick. She inked a deal with Columbia Records last year, finished off the year strong with a high-profile appearance on the 'Detroit vs Everybody' track and released her latest body of work, 'Sell Sole.' The stage is set for Loaf to show what the game's been missing with her upcoming debut album this year.