Hip-hop is nationwide and gone global after nearly five decades. A common rapper origin story is the act that represents their hometown proudly. Each artist is slowly, but surely adding to their city or region's legacy when they contribute to hip-hop. Their music is pushed forward by not only talent but the fans that support them. Since the internet's inception, it's made it so that location isn't as much of a hindrance when it comes to releasing music. That levels the playing field for artists and has led to where rap is now. Multiple cities are producing notable talent at the same time.
Memphis has been riding high these last few years. A lot of their acts that were previously upstarts becoming solidly established, like Moneybagg Yo. What's truly amazing is the city hasn't eased up with the new acts that have arrived recently. Ever the charismatic street rapper, GloRilla took off with "FNF (Let's Go)" this spring, and is currently sitting on another hit with "Tomorrow 2" remix featuring Cardi B. Then there's Fresco Trey, a rapper and singer with pop sensibilities who has two solid songs with last year's "Feel Good" featuring Lil Tjay and "Need You" in February of this year. These two artists represent two drastically different sounds in Memphis, and that kind of variety in one scene is important.
There's also Philadelphia, which is known historically for its gritty, vivid rap. Nowadays, the rappers that are making waves out of The City of Brotherly Love are having more fun with it. Armani White, known for his viral hit "Billie Eilish," which samples N.O.R.E.'s 2002 smash "Nothin," is about having a good time. Armani raps about the street, women and money, but it's more light-hearted, and his infectious energy has paid dividends. The same could be said for 2Rare and Zahsosaa, two Philly rappers who rhyme over break-neck-paced Philly club beats. Philly club alone lends itself to dancing, and both artists feed into that. Zahsosaa rhymes more, as he showcases on his song "Shake Dhat," which began taking off earlier this year. 2Rare has more melodic qualities to his sound, which is why he can pull off a song like the upbeat "Q-Pid." The creativity in Philly right now is impressive and bodes well for its future as a rap hub.
Check the list below for a guide to 10 cities thriving with rising hip-hop talent right now.
GloRilla, the viral sensation behind the summer jam "FNF (Let's Go)," has won over millions of fans with her approach, lyrical skill and loyalty to her city's sound. She's also a great personality and relatable, which makes fans happy about her success. Add in her unique tone and confidence, and she's climbing higher toward stardom.
Fresco Trey, a product of Memphis, uses tight hooks and savvy songwriting to craft stadium-ready music. From hip-hop to pop, he's got all lanes covered. His first breakthrough track was 2021's "Feel Good," propelled by a version of the song with Lil Tjay.
Big Glo's CMG teammate Lil Migo has been putting the time in and growing his name, as he released King of The Trap 2 last July. He is unique in that he has somewhat reworked Memphis' typical sound, but has a delivery that feels somewhat similar to the city's old days.
Gloss Up and K Carbon, two talented women rappers from the city who rose up alongside GloRilla on Hitkidd's 2021 Set The Tone EP, are drawing more attention than ever. Gloss Up just signed to Quality Control Music, thanks to her sassy, in-your-face rhymes. K Carbon is a bona fide street rapper who collaborated with Pooh Shiesty early on. Now she's getting bigger opportunities to showcase how skilled she is in the booth.
Peso Peso, a member of Sauce Walka's TSF crew, has been a technically sound and increasingly sharp rapper over the years. Opening for Maxo Kream on his recent tour, plus the release of his early September EP, LA Fitness, have only added to Peso's momentum.
Lil Jairmy has earned the support of established acts with his spin on laidback trap rap. A 300 Entertainment signee, Lil Jairmy has been building his name up since breaking through with 2019's "No Luggage." He just dropped his Gas God 2 project in early September.
Of course, Monaleo must be mentioned when speaking of artists on the rise out of Houston. She turned her catchy 2021 viral hit "Beating Down Yo Block" into a fan base that supports her wholeheartedly whenever she drops. Monael's next big moment came with the April release of her "We Not Humping (Remix)" with Flo Milli. The Alabama rhymer fits in as a perfect addition to help push the song even further. Monaleo's attitude, lyrical talent and way with words are why she shows so much promise in hip-hop and beyond.
Florida Cities of Tallahassee, Orlando and Jacksonville
Tallahassee's Real Boston Richey has been surging quickly, thanks to his single "Keep Dissing," polished flows and impressive project, Public Housing. Now part of Future's Freebandz imprint, Richey has continued to go up and has charisma to spare.
Orlando's Kuttem Reese is a lyrically focused young street rapper. He first started to pop with last year's "No Statements," further launched by a version of the song that features Lil Durk. He took that popularity into his 2021 debut project, Kutt Dat Boy.
In Jacksonville, Seddy Hendrinx is crafting fleshed-out songs about love, loss, the streets and everything in between. Seddy has been riding high since his song "Lowkey" broke through in 2019. He's growing into a well-rounded artist, especially after the release of his July project, Well Sed.
Atlanta and Its Surrounding Areas
Bktherula's spacy vocals and blend of softness and aggression have made her a name to watch for the last few years. The success of track "Tweakin Together" and "Santanny" have also bolstered her rise. While she feels like an underground cloud rap mainstay, she's talented beyond her years.
A relative newcomer, Pap Chanel is about two hours away from Atlanta in the city of Milledgeville. She packs flows on flows with a level of confidence that should take her far. Her biggest moment so far has been 2020's "Gucci Bucket Hat" with Future, which started off as a viral snippet. Pap Chanel rose up from remixing existing songs and as her cache of original tracks continues to grow, her name will make even more noise.
Kenny Mason is an Atlanta native who packs a punch as a lyrical rapper with the confidence to dabble in rock and pop sounds. His 2019 song, "Hit," took off, and later came guest spots, like his verse on Dreamville's "Stick" this year. Kenny's impressive 2020 debut project, Angelic Hoodrat, set him up for a bright future that he's begun to truly deliver on. He appears on JID's new album, The Forever Story, on the tracks "Dance Now" and "Just in Time." Up next for Kenny is his new project, Ruffs, out now. The effort features tracks like "DIP!" with DavidTheTragic.
Tana, formerly known as BabySantana, is a Columbus, Ga. native who mixes viral hits and a distinctly clear but fast flow at just 15 years old. Loved in the underground rap scene, he is an internet success story, due to both his age and the huge songs he's been part of so far. "Antisocial" with Slump6s and "14" with Ka$hdami are among the tracks that have earned him recognition. Besides his ability to meld his melodic delivery and rapping to create streaming hits, he also produces and engineers much of his music.
Through her sharp lyrics and shining charisma, Lola Brooke has been making noise locally through her freestyles and the success of her single from last year, "Don't Play With It" featuring Billy B. Women being in regional rap scenes is important, and Lola surely brings the talented to compete with anyone in the scene.
26ar is fresh off of his debut major label release, Flyest Oota. The Def Jam Recordings signee is a solid rapper that pieces together clever lines and uses his sense of humor to offer a version of BK drill with mainstream sensibilities. As the sound continues to change and move, he brings a unique bounce with his track "Maneuver."
Cash Cobain is a rapper and producer who is changing the sound of New York drill through both mediums. He is one of the biggest proponents of "sample drill," in which the beat flips 1990's R&B songs. Cash is also an artist that knows how to take a joke and loves the ladies. The "JHoliday" collab with is one of their most popular songs right now.
Sha EK fits into the general sound of NYC's drill scene, but he seems more motivated to be the best rapper than anything else. He also got hot through a drill song that didn't sound like anything else with his track "D&D," a 2021 single with Blockwork that got him on everyone's radar. The track's pace and how good they were at rapping set them apart from others. Music like this opened the doors for Sha EK to eventually sign to Warner Records and drop his label debut, Face of The What, in early September.
Ice Spice is the voice behind "Munch (Feelin' U)," the inescapable drill song that's playing on every phone and radio station you can find. Loaded with NYC slang and a memorable hook, the track has catapulted the Bronx native into a lot of conversations both on the internet and off. She's the talk of the city's drill scene right now, with many fans wanting to know more about her and what she has coming up next. The rising newcomer hit the Rolling Loud New York stage with Fivio Foreign in late September to perform her growing hit.
BlueBucksClan are an L.A. duo consisting of Jeeezy and DJ, longtime friends and former college athletes. Their niche is crafting obscure sports references, hilarious one-offs about wealth, fashion and women, and their one-of-a-kind chemistry within their music. It feels like their next bar is always a surprise, plus their subject matter and charisma has made them rise quickly. Their 2020 single, "Walkin' In," really lays out all their talents perfectly and they improve with each new release.
Baby Stone Gorillas are a four-man rap group out of Los Angeles, featuring members P4K, Top5ivee, EKillaOffDaBlock and 5Much. They're street rappers with plenty of block talk, and have the creativity to match, from their flows to turns of phrase. A certain energy permeates the space whenever their music is played, which makes listening to their songs an exhilarating ride. Baby Stone Gorillas have dropped three projects this year alone: BabySt5xneGorillas, LionHeartedGorillas and GotDamnit BabyStones with Gotdamitdupri. "STL Caps and Jay Hats" is their biggest song yet.
Currently riding high off the viral success of his song "Billie Eilish," Armani White is a rising artist from Philly who's been elevating his sound over the years. The Def Jam signee's music is of a lighter fare, with its contrasting, sing-along energy helping him rise up the ranks. Armani just wants to have a good time and it shows in the energy he delivers on each track.
Zahsosaa is a young Philadelphia rapper who rhymes over local club music, which feels like fast-paced house songs layered with vocal samples. Club music has existed in the northeast for decades, but Zahsosaa keeps reeling fans in with how creative he is with his releases. His most popular song, "Shake Dhat" featuring D Sturdy, which dropped in late 2021, is a fun, dance-centered effort that finds both rappers spitting for real.
2Rare is also a Philly rapper who prefers club music beats, but his style is more similar to the melodies of Lil Tecca or Lil Uzi Vert's singer-inspired moments. He isn't shy about singing his hooks or lyrics, which is definitely a positive when it comes to catching on amongst the masses. He's currently having a breakthrough with his song "Q-Pid" featuring Lil Durk on the track's latest version, which samples the 112 hit song of a similar title.
Detroit and Surrounding Areas
In a highly competitive region, Detroit’s Baby Money has been a standout artist. He first rose to popularity based off his 2021 single, "New Moncler." The hip-hop newcomer signed to Quality Control Music in January, and dropped Easy Money, his first project on the label, the next month. Baby Money's sound has similar cadences to early Detroit rap, but his flows and references are more advanced. He rhymes with an air of confidence, as if he already knew he would be in position and find success. New Money is his most recent project highlighting his Midwest sound.
A wise-cracking, punchline-heavy rapper, RMC Mike is part of Michigan’s ongoing rap renaissance. Hailing from Flint, which is an hour away from Detroit, Mike is in a circle of talented artists like Peezy, Rio Da Yung OG and Babyface Ray, who all have their own style. Mike's sense of humor and sharp technical skills are an interesting blend within his music. He keeps fans interested in his verse from start to finish and has a litany of popular tracks in "Wait That’s It," "Paranoid," "S.O.T.B." and more.
The Flint native behind the #TooLoud challenge—don’t Google that at work—which kicked off thanks to his 2021 song, Cash App," is Louie Ray. He first got on the national radar via his 2020 song "Coochie" with his close friend and fellow rhymer YN Jay. While Jay took off as a result of the track's catchy quality and instant meme status, Louie Ray kept building a name for himself as a solo act. Ray is a tightly-coiled rapper, dropping line after line without wasting a word or negative space. He’s dryly funny but also serious, fitting in well with the Michigan scene. Get more familiar with his rhymes by listening to his new album, My Signature.