10 Rappers Representing New York’s Rap Renaissance
If you were born in the ’70s or early ’80s — or maybe even afterwards — you’re probably one of those fans who’s interested in rap’s history. Either way, there’s a good chance that you’re aware of what’s known as the Golden Age of hip-hop, and how New York rappers played a pivotal role in that time period.
MCs like Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and KRS-ONE set the stage for New York’s next crop of legends like Jay Z, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G., but somewhere between Biggie’s last album, ‘Life After Death,’ and the emergence of many southern lyricists, things went cold in the five boroughs, and fans lent their ears to rappers in other regions.
Now fast-forward to around 2011, when things started to turn around in the city that started it all, as a new crop of young and hungry MCs began to make noise. And what’s particularly interesting about this group is they somehow pull from that classic New York sound, but they’re still able to make it their own by incorporating styles and approaches from the modern era.
Some have said these new rappers are part of a major renaissance that’s going on in New York and they’re creating music that’s reminiscent of that classic sound, but also new and inventive. But out of these rappers, who’s contributing to the renaissance the most, and which acts should you be paying attention to if you’re not already? To answer this question, we’re highlighting rappers that are turning New York and the rest of the country on its collective ear. Here are 10 Rappers Who Are Part of New York’s Rap Renaissance.
Harlem rapper Vinny Cha$e has somewhat of an interesting story. Before picking up the microphone, he worked behind the scenes, making video documentaries for folks like Chris Brown and Lil Wayne. From there, he secured the right industry contacts, starting making music and began touring extensively.
Today, Cha$e has amassed a respectable following in his hometown and around the U.S., and with his last release, ‘Golden Army,’ he’s been able to increase his overall profile and become one of the major players in New York’s musical resurgence.
If you haven’t done so already, check out his latest cut, ‘Need That,’ produced by Young Chop, which will be on his new mixtape, ‘Kings Landing.’
Nitty Scott, MC
In the year that rapper Nitty Scott, MC was born, A Tribe Called Quest just put out their classic ‘People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm’ album. LL Cool J had a bit of a resurgence with his ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ LP and the king of rap, Jay Z, was still under his mentor Jaz-O.
But somehow, the 22-year-old rapper was still able to develop a deep love for classic hip-hop, as well as the overall culture, which many MCs her age haven’t developed. Scott’s deep passion for hip-hop is evident on her latest release ‘The Boombox Diaries, Vol. 1′ and it was that EP that catapulted her into national popularity.
But it’s not just her music that makes Scott part of New York’s rap renaissance, it’s her business acumen too. Before she’s even released a full LP, she started what’s known as the Boombox Family, which is a label and company that wants to preserve hip-hop culture. So it’s evident that Scott isn’t just your everyday rapper that wants fame, she’s interested in keeping rap fresh and innovative, which is a nice goal to have.
Rap crews are dope, especially the good ones, where all of the members are talented, but still different from each other. The rhyme collective World’s Fair, out of Queens, manages to fit perfectly into this category, as each member represents a unique style and brand of music all their own.
Members include Lansky Jones, Nigel Nasty, Remy Banks, Cody B. Ware, Prince SAMO and Jeff Donna, and whether they’ve released music all together, as the group Children of the Night, or as solo artists, the Queens crew is definitely making some noise in today’s rap circles.
Recently, the group put out there latest effort, ‘Bastards of the Party,’ which shows each member’s individual strengths and penchant for spitting lyrical gems.
There’s no doubt that this Queens crew is just getting started and it’ll be interesting to see if they can achieve the same level of notoriety that former New York crews have achieved like Wu-Tang Clan and Boot Camp Clik.
If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s something brewing up in Harlem as far as hip-hop goes, and some would say it started with the A$AP Mob, since they’ve been the last rap collective to blow since Dipset. But possibly the next crew to get that type of shine is the Tanboys, and their leader and head representative Bodega Bamz.
Bamz is certainly a big part of New York’s rap renaissance and he’s almost single-handedly given a new voice to the Latinos in the rap community. And Bamz just doesn’t make this list for his witty wordplay, but he also makes it because he’s created a movement, as the Latin presence in hip-hop has been restored back to the glory days of the Terror Squad. If you check out his website, it’s clear to see that Bamz is a busy guy as he has shows booked all across the country and in Canada, so don’t be surprised if you see people from all over the U.S. sporting tan bandanas to represent their Tanboys pride.
He recently released the video for ‘Mi Casa’ and is currently working on the follow-up mixtape to 2012’s ‘Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z.’
If you’ve listened to his mixtape series, ‘Bricks in My Backpack,’ you can tell there’s something special about Troy Ave. It’s not only because of the vivid street tales that he writes, but it’s also his independent approach to getting himself seen and heard.
Some would say Troy has been a little under the radar compared to other people on this list, especially since he’s had a presence in New York’s rap scene for quite some time. But the fact that he’s even on this list shows just how effective his overall grind has been.
However, the real test will come when he releases his first LP, ‘New York City: The Album,’ which is rumored to drop in 2014. It’ll be interesting to see just how much his profile and brand will go up in the coming year.
After releasing his latest mixtape, ‘Black Bart,’ it’s easy to see why Bronx rapper Black Dave is on this list, as he appeals to fans who like their lyrics void of guns and crack tales. Plus, there’s something relatable about him, whether it’s his everyday-man approach to writing songs, his normal guy appeal or just the things he chooses to spit about.
And Dave’s skateboard references make him different too, as not many New York rappers can successfully pull from two different subcultures and create one sound and lyrical approach. There’s no doubt that good things are in store for this up and coming MC.
Despite their name, this Brooklyn duo has achieved a good amount of notoriety that’s stretched far beyond their Kings County dwelling. And with their latest musical effort, ‘The Lords of Flatbush,’ they’ve proved themselves to be major players in psychedelic rap, due to their references of mushrooms and other themes that are typically more associated with rock music.
Also, there’s not a whole lot of duo’s in rap music these days, which makes the Underachievers even more unique, plus, a two-man group is usually capable of giving two different perspectives, which can make a song that much more entertaining to listen to.
Clearly, group members AK and Issa Dash are contributing a large amount to what’s now called the Beast Coast Movement. Check out songs like ‘Herb Shuttles,’ ‘Melody of the Free’ and ‘T.A.D.E.D.’ to get familiar with their sound.
The Flatbush Zombies are another group that falls under the psychedelic rap umbrella, and since 2010, Zombie Juice, Meechy Darko and producer Erick Arc Elliott have made quite the name for themselves with their two mixtapes ‘D.R.U.G.S.’ and ‘BetterOffDead.’
And with an interesting mix of political raps and talking about the drugs they do, the Flatbush Zombies have allowed themselves to stand out among the countless number of rappers both in New York and across the U.S. There’s no doubt that fans are eagerly awaiting the group’s first full -ength album, as it’s bound to be filled with even more psychedelic rhymes over stellar production. Catch them in a city near you as they embark on their Better Off Dead tour with Bodega Bamz.
Since he left his former group Smoke & Numbers, Smoke DZA has been putting in a lot of work, which eventually caught the eye of Jonny Shipes, the CEO of Cinematic Music Group.
With Smoke’s latest release, ‘183 Ringside,’ he’s been able to increase his fan base and make himself one of the most popular up and coming MCs of the day.
Some might say he has a good chance of being the city’s new “it guy,” since he seems to be getting closer and closer to mainstream success every day. Plus, the rapper’s verses seem to pop up just about everywhere, as he’s made his way around the mixtape circuit, spitting on countless other projects, which shows just how versatile he is.
It doesn’t take a rap expert to understand that Smoke DZA is a major force to be reckoned with, and with a big honcho like Jonny Shipes backing him, the sky is truly the limit for this Harlem rapper.
Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era
Some might say that Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ is the face of the Beast Coast Movement, as he was among the first who broke nationally with his ’90s-style delivery and beats.
With his two very well-received mixtapes ‘1999’ and ‘Summer Knights,’ Joey has introduced a younger generation to ’90’s hip-hop and has toured extensively, bringing his message of no-nonsense rhymes and beats all around the country. And what’s even more interesting about this guy is the loyalty he shows to his Pro Era crew, as he’s taken them right along with him on his journey, and rightfully so, because each member has talent, especially fellow MC CJ Fly.
It’s been recently announced that Joey’s first LP, ‘B4.Da.$$,’ won’t be dropping until 2014, so until then, fans will have to tie themselves over with past mixtapes, guest features and future performances.
It’s safe to say that Joey and Pro Era will be around for a long time, as there’s a feeling they’re all just getting started — they are still teenagers after all — and will eventually hit the stride that will bring them the prominence they’re looking for.