Why: Other than uniting the Hot Boys on the remix of his standout track of the same name, Bankroll Fresh offers up his all-too-real, hand-to-hand tales of the trap as opposed to the kilo rap that every other rapper holds close to heart. Bankroll's from the mud swag and authenticity is reminiscent of a young Gucci Mane. But moreso, in a city where Migos and Future hold the titles for trap rap, Bankroll's crooked flow and raspy voice meshed with his rugged persona sets him apart from his hip-hop contemporaries. As a plus-one, it’s rumored that Marilyn Mason is also a fan of Bankroll’s music.
Projects: Life of a Hot Boy, Life of a Hot Boy 2 (Real Trapper), Bankroll Fresh
Dope Songs: “Hot Boy,” “Hot Boy (Remix),” Featuring Lil Wayne, Juvenile and Turk, “Behind The Fence,” "Screen Door"
Team: Street Money Worldwide
Soundcloud: Bankroll Fresh
Why: The Toronto native released one of 2015’s most chilled-out, addictive and hypnotic projects with Up For Days. Shortly thereafter, Jay Z inked the Palestinian to the coveted Roc Nation team. Now, some of you are probably just now hearing about Belly, but he’s no rookie. Back in '07, the rapper/singer got his buzz up with his debut album, The Revolution, which equated to relationships with the likes of Snoop Dogg, and Juiciy J. And more recently, Bel' bossed-up in 2015 with six co-writing credits on The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness album. Clearly, Belly's pen game is ready to carve his name among the stars of hip-hop. Canada, we have a problem in 2016.
Projects: Up For Days
Dope Songs: “No Option,” “Might Not,” featuring The Weeknd, “White Girls,” Featuring Travi$ Scott.
Team: Roc Nation
SoundCloud: Belly is Dead
Why: With Boogie’s clever wordplay, solid songwriting skills, and intriguing insight on growing up in the church and gangbanging with his Compton Piru comrades, the budding rhymeslinger doesn't fall victim to trends. And, although his stories are rooted in the streets, they serve as a form of motivation, just like his fellow Cali' hittas K.Dot, Vince Staples and Cozz.
Projects: Thirst 48, The Reach
Dope song: “Oh My,” “Bitter Raps,” “Black Males”
Team: Interscope Records
Why: Dave East is arguably New York City’s hottest spitter. The former basketball star-turned-trapper-turned-rapper has that organic ‘90s play on words, packed with engrossing storytelling, and a FedEx delivery—on point all day. That's why hip-hop vet, Nas inked grimy, pretty boy (pause) to his Mass Appeal imprint. But what's even more attractive about East is the fact that he didn't come into this game on Nas' back. After a flood of hard work and effective rhymes, somehow Dave East appeared on Esco's radar. And with his solid DJ Drama-hosted mixtape making noise in these streets, the East Harlem kid definitely has a promising career ahead of him.
Projects: Black Rose, Hate Me Now
Dope Songs: “KD,” “Call My Coach,” “No Coachella For Me”
Team: Mass Appeal
Soundcloud: Dave East Music
Why: After nearly a decade of putting in work, D.R.A.M. had a breakout 2015 with his ubiquitous Mario Brothers-sampled “Cha Cha,” a song that Beyonce and Drake are apparently big fans of. D.R.A.M. (Does Real A$$ Music) fuses old soul, disco and rap with a knack for penning memorable melodies and hooks. But even before “Cha Cha” had Beyonce on Instagram dancing, the Hampton, VA native was already having meetings with hip-hop mogul Rick Rubin. Also, his 2015 effort Gahdamn! was executive produced by Chance The Rapper. Look for D.R.A.M. to roll into the new year with a hefty dose of momentum and capitalize off his 2015 success.
Projects: Gahdam!, #1EpicEP
Dope Songs: “Cha Cha,” “$“ Feat. Donnie Trumpet, "Caretaker" Featuring SZA , "50/50"
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Why: Kodak Black’s real-life stories about the frustration and agony that comes with being a fatherless child of Pompano Beach, Florida's Golden Acres projects is the stuff that hip-hop was made of. Black's authenticity in real life (read: his kidnapping, robbery and assault charges) and on wax are very reminicent of a young Boosie Badazz, who just so happens to be Black's favorite rapper. Black's local buzz caught flame with his 2013 project Project Baby. He capitalized off Project Baby with his 2014 effort Heart of the Projects, which contains his street hit and Drake favorite "SKRT." Black concluded 2015 with his steller Institution effort. With KD's uncanny charisma and heartfelt rhymes, he's arguably the most promising up-and-coming rapper in the game right now.
Projects: Project Baby, Heart of the Projects, Institution
Dope Song: “Skrt,” “Skrilla," "In Too Deep"
Team: Dollaz N Deals
Soundcloud: Kodak Black
Why: Not too many MCs in the game can pen a hook better than Manolo Rose. After a few hardships with allegedly having his song, "All About The Money," stolen by fellow Brooklyn rhymer Troy Ave, Manolo chalked it up as a lesson learned. So what happened next? Well, Manolo rolled into 2015 with the crazy, amped "Run Ricky Run," and his mixtape Concrete Rose. And his most recent banger, "Super Flexin" has been seeing heavy air and club play. With Rose’s knack for waxing memorable verses, catchy hooks and getting much love from the Big City of Dreams, he's definitely on the cusp of something big for 2016.
Project: Concrete Rose
Dope Songs: ”Run Ricky Run” “Superflexing”
SoundCloud: Manolo Rose
Why: In what seems like it was out of nowhere, Chicago’s Mick Jenkins surprised the world with his stellar 2014 effort, The Water[s]. Then, he bounced back in 2015 with the equally impressive Wave[s]. A child of Chicago's poetry scene, the 6’5’ lyrical monsta’ offers a fresh perspective on keeping ones mind sharp. And he does it with a clever metaphorical approach over jazz-influenced backdrops. There's much room in the lanes occupied by J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples, and it looks as if Mick Jenkins is one of the chosen few to fill in one of the gaps.
Projects: The Water[s], Wave[s]
Dope songs: “The Waters,” “Healer,” “P’s & Q’s,” “Perception”
Team: Free Nation, Cinimatic Music Group
SoundCloud: Mick Jenkins
Why: Post Malone had a very successful 2015 with his addictive, bodacious, yet motivational “White Iverson.” After the song leaked in early 2015, the rest was history. With his equally tantalizing singles "Too Young" and "Boy Bandz" surfing the 'Net, it's safe to say that Post is more than an one-hit wonder. After ending 2015 with a feature on 50 Cent's The Kenan Tape, Malone announced that his debut album is dropping in March, which should make room for bigger things to pop in 2016 for PM.
Dope Songs: “Too Young,” “Boy Bandz” Team: Independent
SoundCloud: Post Malone
Why: Coming out of the ATL, Scotty ATL isn’t taking the trap-rap route. Instead, the former Savannah State University B-ball star is carving his own lane by using his talents to motivate listeners with music “to get by to” as opposed to celebrating the trap. But Scotty’s motivation isn’t preachy; it’s spoken from a street POV, which keeps his gangsta' intact. He’s boasted features with heavyweights like Bun B, Killer Mike, Eight Ball and Big K.R.I.T., among others. And he has the backing of B.o.B.'s No Genre label. With two mixtapes under his belt in 2015 and a tour with Big K.R.I.T., look for Scotty ATL to carry that mementum over into '16.
Projects: Traffic Jamz, The Cooligan
Dope Songs: “I’ont Really,” “Lying In My Ear,” “Cloud IX (Go Up),” “Art of War”
Team: Cool Club/No Genre
SoundCloud: Scotty ATL
Why: First off, if you’ve heard his 2013 effort, Innanetape, then you know that Vic Mensa can hold down a solo project filled with memorable and jaw dropping sixteens. Coming off 2015, which was stamped by a co-sign by hip-hop's royality, Kanye West and Jay Z, Mensa secured a deal with Hov's Roc Nation. But what's even more intriguing is the fact that Roc Nation rep, Lenny S, had a hard time trying to convice Mensa that Roc is the place to be. The fact that Roc Nation chased the "U Mad" rapper around these hip-hop streets with hopes of landing him on Team Roc, speaks volumes of Mensa's talent and potetntial.
Dope Songs: “U Mad,” Featuring Kanye West “Married to the King,” “Codeine Crazy (Icarus Story),” “Heir To The Throne (Freestyle)”
Team: Roc Nation, Save Money
SoundCloud: Vic Mensa