1. Lil Yachty
Miles Parks McCollum, otherwise known as Lil Yachty, is a quickly rising singer and rapper out of the hip-hop factory of Atlanta, Georgia. This is a place responsible for the rises of Future, Migos, and ILoveMakonnen, so if you’re a fan of any of them, you’ll be a fan of Yachty. He first came to prominence earlier this year with the release of his first mixtape Lil Boat, a lush, 14-track release that features the likes of Quavo and Yachty’s trusty producer, Burberry Perry. This release caught the attention of both Drake and Kanye West. Drake debuted Yachty’s song “Minnesota” on OVOSOUND Radio, and Kanye made him a model in his Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden.
Style-wise, Yachty falls into the trend of rappers that sing as a much as they rap, and who frolic across quirky beats in a half-hazard sort of way. A definite standout is his song “Minnesota,” where he quips about Minnesota winters and staying off the streets. “Run/Running” is another must-listen; Yachty raps over a sample from Super Mario 64, and even adds the coin ding from the game as part of the beat. These are great examples of his eccentric but appealing style that he’s honed at only 18 years old. Being so young with so much success already, the future is looking bright for Mr. Yachty
Winning the award for best name, JUNGLEPUSSY, aka Shayna McHayle, is a rapper from Brooklyn, New York. She first got her start by posting a few YouTube videos under this pseudonym. The first song she posted, “Cream Team,” was immediately picked up by none other than Erykah Badu, boosting her hype and creating some well-deserved buzz. This led to an opportunity to open for Lil’ Kim at a small New York show, which was all the momentum she needed to take off. She released her first mixtape Satisfaction Guaranteed in 2014 to rave reviews, and a powerful full-length LP entitled Pregnant with Success followed in 2015.
Her rap style is playful and powerful; she raps fiercely over her go-to producer Shy-Guy’s dynamic beats, rapping about a range of things from infidelity (“Stitches”), to hating texting (“Fuck Texting”), to having men take her to the zoo (“Pop for You”). A highlight is her song “Me”, which is an ode to herself and her black power. It captures her essence: a proud black woman who is unapologetically herself. These themes pop up frequently in her work, and for good reason. In such a male-dominated rap world, it’s refreshing to hear a strong, female voice cut through all of the noise. That, friends, is why she’s a forced to be reckoned with and why she’s worth a listen.
Key!, another talented rapper from Atlanta, is next up on the list. He founded the hip-hop collective Two-9 with Curtis Williams back in 2009, but left the group right as they signed with Mike Will Made It’s label EarDrummers Entertainment. This led to a solo stint as a ghostwriter for many large rappers, but no fame or recognition came from it. He finally gained traction with features on two huge underground hits: ILoveMakonnen’s “Look at Wrist” and OG Maco’s “U Guessed It.” This began a prolific solo career that spans multiple mixtapes and collaborative projects, with the likes of Skepta, Father, Ian Connor, and Lil Yachty filling up the features list.
He raps with a very unique flow, and his beats fall into line with the minimalism trend that’s sweeping Atlanta rap. “Give Em Hell”, off of his Give Em Hell EP, is a particular strong track, full of hyped up shout-verses from Key! and a quirky beat that’s based around a simple piano melody. Another standout is from his most recent release Before I Scream is “See No Evil” which features Skepta. The addition of the UK grime artist adds a unique twist to Key!’s heavy trap stylings, and shows a potential avenue that he may go down in the future. In any case, he’s definitely one who can’t be missed.
4. Fredo Santana
Fredo Santana, aka Derrick Coleman, is a Chicago-based rapper and record label owner. He’s Chief Keef’s older cousin, and he’s worked with Keef, as well as the likes of Mike WiLL Made It, Drake, Migos, Kendrick Lamar and Soulja Boy. His debut project was his September 2012 mixtape It’s a Scary Site, which he quickly followed up with another mixtape in February 2013 entitled Fredo Krueger. This led up to his first full-length album, Trappin Ain’t Dead, which he released in November of 2013. This highlight of this LP is the track “Jealous” which features Kendrick Lamar. This album is full of trap bangers, and full of Santana’s trademark aggressive flow.
Recently, Fredo has a few projects in the works. A dual album with Chief Keef entitled Blood Thicker than Water was teased back in 2015, and a few singles have been teased but no album yet. Another mixtape called Fredo Mafia is due out in 2016 as well. This would be seventh mixtape that Santana’s released in his career, maintaining his reputation of a workhorse in the studio. With such a prolific library of music, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy.
5. Playboi Carti
Another rapper repping Atlanta, Playboi Carti falls in similar succession to Lil’ Yachty. Still relatively young at 21, Carti is know more for his stage performances than his actual library of music. They’ve become stuff of legend, where the mentality is party first, music second. His most well-known song is “Fetti,” with Da$h and Maxo Kream on the track. The song, naturally, is a banger and is perfect in a live setting. Carti doesn’t have a mixtape or an album out, just a string of SoundCloud releases that have encapsulated critics and fans alike. His work caught the attention of hip-hop socialite Ian Connor, who boosted him and brought him out of obscurity.
Now, Playboi Carti is a force in the industry. He signed with the A$AP Mob, and has worked with artists like Skepta, Frank Ocean, and Father. He’s just recently appeared in OVO’s Spring Summer 2016 editorial, alongside Connor and John Ross. So while the rest of the world is anxiously waiting for Carti to release an album, he’s just having fun with it.
Last but certainly not least is Kamaiyah, a product of the the hip-hop heavy Bay Area. She cites her influences as 90s hip-hop artists Missy Elliot, TLC, and Aaliyah, and the influence can be heavily seen within her work. Her pursuit with her music is to channel that era, and she wants to garner fans through her talent and not her sexuality. Her breakout hit “Out The Bottle” is an example of this. Her lyrical acrobatics and talent are extremely clear, but the track is also extremely accessible for even the most casual of hip hop fans.
Her debut mixtape, A Good Night in the Ghetto, came out in March to rave reviews. The tracks “How Does It Feel” and “Swing My Way” are standouts, again showcasing her poise and her deft rhymes. Since this release, Kamaiyah has picked up steam in the rap community. She scored a feature on YG’s premiere single off of his new album, rubbing shoulders with Drake on the track as well. It seems like this is just the beginning for a long, lucrative career for this girl from the Bay.