The Internet has changed everything for rap rookies. Instead of begging record labels for attention, artists can now upload music online and reach listeners direct. For young hip-hop obsessed rappers, dreams of becoming a household name is what they all aim to accomplish. To help spread the word on the emerging talent, VIBE compiled a list of five under-the-radar-rappers that are posed for stardom in 2017 for our new Ear To The Streets feature.
This 22-year-old emcee has lyrical abilities that outmatches much of his contemporaries. His 2016 EP, EBRO Dreams, only racked up just over 7,000 spins on Soundcloud, but after one listen to the 5-track EP — you can can hear that the ATL rapper is more Andre 3000 than Future. With a fluid flow, a sharp ear for beats, and content that carries below the surface to deliver deep messages about family, friends and his lifestyle, he approaches rap music like a veteran.
DAE’s promising potential shines on the kid’s latest single, “Show Out” which has garnered over 29K spins already.
The Alabama born, Atlanta-bred Translee may be under-the-radar, but he’s been on the grind for years on years. With a number of projects under his belt, he’s slowly getting his due recognition. Translee’s auspicious and noteworthy 2016 project, M.A.O.T.P. Pt. 1 (an acronym for Mind All Over The Place) caught the attention of music tastemakers. The burgeoning rapper even managed to show up on T.I.’s latest effort, Us or Else: Letter to the System on song’s “Ah No No,” and “Letter to the System.” A few labels are already knocking on Translee’s door, so you probably want to make yourself familiar with this kid.
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3. Rico Nasty
Rico’s music is a guilty pleasure that I love. Hey, I’m a PHD student but I love that ignorant sh*t, too. Largo, Maryland rapper Rico Nasty provides just that — fun-filled and raunchy themes that has DMV kids going crazy. Her Nickelodeon-inspired “iCarly” even inspired Lil Yachty to hop on the official remix. Nasty’s 2016 mixtape, Sugar Trap has 22,541 downloads, and 63,169 spins.
4. Oswin Benjamin
New York City’s own Oswin Benjamin’s microphone prowess attracted the ears of veteran hip-hop journalist Sway in 2016. The rookie rapper digs deep into mind to unearth raps about society, his personal life and spirituality. Noteworthy songs like “Conformation,” and “Miracle,” and his latest “Beat the Odds” have 84k, 33.4K and 27.2 spins on Soundcloud, respectively. Benjamin’s promising career is backed by potent lyrics — and encouraging and morally instructed content.
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5. NBA Youngboy
The Baton Rouge native is from the school of his hip-hop elders like the late Lil Phat and Boosie Badazz. The 17-year-old emcee is in the habit of bringing harsh realities of poverty and violence to his studio sessions. But he also expresses raw emotions of hope and love. It’s this raw emotion that allows NBA (Never Broke Again) to create authentic street tales.