Hometown: Detroit, MI
Over the past few years, Detroit’s Los and Nutty have reliably been one of the city’s most exciting duos, playing to each other’s strengths on projects like last year’s Panagnl4e, Vol. 3. On his recent solo effort, Fuck What Ya Heard, WB Nutty more than holds his own. On “Taxin,” a standout from the tape and one of the stronger songs in his solo catalog, Nutty tells stories from his days on Daisy Lane over a beat filled to the brim with skittering horns and bass.
Hometown: Montreal/Saint Vincent
Montreal-via-Saint Vincent rapper Skiifall made a name for himself last year with the catchy anthem, “Ting Tun Up.” This past summer, he followed that up with WOIIYOIE TAPES Vol.1, a three-song EP showcasing his versatility. On “My Gully,” the opening track from the project, he coasts over the breezy production with his melodic patois, pondering the different paths his life could have taken.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Johnny Cinco won’t be a new name to anyone who’s been paying attention to Atlanta’s rise to the epicenter of the rap industry over the past decade. Still, he’s often underrated and confined to the status of your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. His new project, Hood Drake 2, came out in the first week of the new year and proves that the Atlanta veteran has never lost a step. “Look At Me Now,” one of the stronger offerings from the tape, is hypnotic and uplifting. As he raps on the song’s opening lines, “Already know what I’m ‘bout/ Already know I have it.”
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Almost exactly a year after dropping the emphatic “Moncler Bubble,” which added Babyface Ray and Peezy to its remix this month, Baby Money delivers “Long Time Comin,” his first single as a Quality Control artist. The recent deal seems to signal what has been apparent for some years now: the industry is looking closely at Detroit. The song itself, bolstered by a thunderous Helluva beat, is as triumphant as one would expect, as Baby Money recounts his days performing for $500.
Hometown: Fort Myers, FL
Soulja Creep is from Fort Myers, a small city on Florida’s Gulf Coast that’s also the hometown of Plies. After an impressive string of releases last year, Soulja Creep closed out 2021 with “Great Lake Baby,” an introspective track on which he charts the obstacles he overcame with a striking, guttural flow. “How the fuck I’m still alive?/ They tried to kill me 30 times,” he raps on the first verse, marveling at his own resilience.
Hometown: Rochester, NY
It’s hard to think of a rapper who released more music last year than RXKNephew. The Rochester rapper put out around 400 songs in 2021 and the material ranged widely; when he wasn’t sharing war stories, he was rapping about convoluted government conspiracies and making fun of the producers whose beats he was rapping over. Slitherman Activated, just one of the many recent tapes, is a strange entry in his catalog. The beats, which lean towards more experimental electronic territory, were sourced from producers who reportedly paid Nephew to rap over them. Though it makes for an uneven listen, there are some high points like “Beam On Ya Toes,” a five-minute jaunt that, complete with jungle breakbeats, sounds like the drug use it’s describing.
Hometown: San Diego, CA
San Diego doesn’t often come up in conversations about flourishing rap scenes around the country but there’s always a new name or two coming out of the Southern California city. Lil Maru, who first made a name for himself in 2020 with the breakthrough song “Change Up,” is the latest rising rapper to come out of San Diego. His latest single, “Nothing Into Something,” is a familiar come-up tale, but Maru’s wispy voice carries the track.
Hometown: London, UK
Dreya Mac first introduced herself as a fresh voice in the UK rap scene with tracks like 2020’s “Skippin,” a melodic track that came along with a visual set in her London estate. “Own Brand Freestyle,” her 2021 collaboration with FelixThe1st, has taken on a life of its own, becoming a perhaps slightly unlikely soundtrack for another TikTok dance trend. But, even without the visual stimuli, the track itself is an interesting combo: British rappers putting their own spin on a West Coast instrumental to great effect.
Hometown: Konongo, Ghana
Ghanaian rapper Black Sherif made an international mark this past summer with “Second Sermon,” building on Ghana’s growing Asakaa—the country’s take on drill—movement. For the song’s remix, which arrived at the end of last year, Black Sherif added Burna Boy, giving the already ascending track an instant injection of starpower. Sherif and Burna Boy trade verses on the new version, the former’s higher-pitched delivery paired up with the latter’s gravelly melody.
Fast Cash Boyz
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Fast Cash Boyz’s rise predated much of the Memphis rap scene’s recent buzz with regional hits like “Cash Walk.” The group, who released a collaborative project with Tay Keith last year, consisted of four members until a recent split with rappers Jizzle and CMoney carrying the Fast Cash Boyz mantle on their own. “Memphis,” the duo’s latest single is an ode to their hometown, where you might “get your ass whacked trying to have fun while you’re on Beale Street.”
By Ben Dandridge-Lemco for Audiomack