Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Gang51e June first garnered a national buzz in 2020, breaking through with his heartfelt street stories of growing up in his hometown of Tulsa. Since then, he’s leaned even more into melancholic crooning. His voice is the main attraction on his latest project, This 2 Shall Pass. On “A Souljaz Cry,” a standout from the tape, June sings in a dejected tone, reminiscing about those who stood by his side and those who changed on him.
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
Marley Fox’s “watergun” starts and ends in two completely different places. The latest track from the Chattanooga artist builds slowly with a soft shaker in the background and delicate guitar noodling, before a groove grows around Fox’s off-kilter flow. “This is some hanging on the rim type shit,” he announces midway through the track, as a wandering drum beat clicks in. The song feels like a sharply focused jam session with Fox’s soulful voice keeping it all together.
Hometown: Augusta, GA
The muted melody that opens up YwmZay’s “Hooligans” sounds like it comes from outer space until the slumping drum pattern, and the artist’s own voice, quickly centers the fleeting track back on this plane. The recent tune from the rising Georgia rapper has deft touches. The hard-to-pin-down melody and the way Zay ad-libs behind his bars, making certain phrases sound like they have a chorus of voices behind them, makes for an impossibly catchy track from an underrated newcomer.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
On Girll Coddee’s latest project SHESTYLES, the Brooklyn duo showcase their chemistry over beats that range from drill flips of “Overnight Celebrity” to The Lox’s “Money, Power, Respect.” They hold their own over a variety of tempos, sounding just as comfortable over snarling ‘90s anthems as they do on their borough’s Gen Z sound. On “Luchinni,” they take on Camp Lo’s classic, boasting about designer bands and outdoing their competition.
Hometown: Norfolk, VA
Caal Vo clearly has an ear for beats. I first heard of him because of his extensive collaborations with New York’s Surf Gang collective, and the Atlanta-via-Virginia artist always found an interesting palette to paint from. True to its name, his recent Carnival project sounds a bit like a psychedelic fair: many of the beats take the driving synth lines of “rage beats” to both poppier and more distorted ranges. “Drakeo,” the closing track on the project, finds Caal Vo alternating between raspy falsetto and stuttered rapping, matching the playful beat behind him.
Hometown: Vallejo, CA
Since the dissolution of promising Vallejo rap crew SOB X RBE, DaBoii has been carrying the torch, reigniting the type of frenetic energy that made the group so promising all on his own. On “Kickdoe,” a track from his new Can’t Tame Us project, he revisits the freestyle-inspired beats that originally made SOB a Bay Area favorite, proving he never lost a step with agile bars like, “Lying to the judge, that ain’t muhfuckin’ change/Give a fuck if it’s a dime, need my muhfuckin’ change.”
Hometown: Boston, MA
Hailing from Boston, Rich Amiri has been gaining momentum online with Auto-Tune-heavy tracks like “Never Fail.” The 18-year-old has a natural penchant for melody and, on his recent track “Coppin Those,” his voice soars over a lush beat that never drops. “I was in the trap, 2011/Having Codeine dreams with a Smith & Wesson,” he sings on the song’s opening line over ethereal production that would sound at home on an Owl City album.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Since building a buzz with her 2020 rework of La Chat’s classic response track “Slob On My Cat,” Atlanta artist Mercury has looked more toward the future of internet rap than the past. Her new project tabula rasa is full of riffs and ideas, ranging from playful melodies to hard rapping and even sped-up jungle-inspired production. On “Matrix,” she’s joined by Surf Gang’s Evilgiane on production, and she turns a sparse beat into a catchy and playful come-up anthem about trying to make one’s way in the simulation.
Hometown: Savannah, GA
It’s hard to forget the hook on Pote Baby’s “Doof.” The rising Savannah rapper hardly gives the twinkling production room to breathe before going in, repeating emphatically, “I don’t give a fuck” before he starts rapping. The track’s title and its hook come from Pote Baby’s spirited imitation of metaphorical shots ringing out at anyone talking sweet or doubting his abilities. In the song’s last 30 seconds, the phrase almost becomes a call-and-response part of the beat itself, as he tries to hold himself together.
Hometown: San Jose, CA
If you’re going to make a plugg song in 2022, it’s best to go straight to the source of the sound. On “Wake Up,” San Jose rapper Suigeneris calls on the originator MexikoDro, who supplies him with a typically bouncy, bell-filled beat. The final result is an inspiring anthem, as Suigeneris encourages everyone listening to get up and go get it. “I woke up mad today, so I’m gonna go blow me a bag today,” he declares.
By Ben Dandridge-Lemco for Audiomack