Rap is expanding. New sub-genres, especially alternative hip hop, have come out of the shadows and into the mainstream. Shout out to “America’s Favorite Boyband,” Brockhampton, for being at the forefront of all of this awesomeness. With their cult-like impact and ability to capture younger demographics, those that fall into this genre (or lack thereof) make some wonder where this music has been their entire life.
With the recent release of Brockhampton lead man Kevin Abstract’s latest track & video, we curated 6 rappers (or groups) who are also ready to make a splash in the world of hip-hop. These six artists are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of pushing the current boundaries, and we must say the future of rap looks pretty good. Go on, read on!
The trio that makes up Injury Reserve hails from the unexpected city of Tempe, Arizona. Formed in 2013, the group consists of producer Parker Corey and rappers Stepa J. Groggs and Ritchie With a T. Reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest and Black Sheep, Injury Reserve pushes the boundaries of hip hop, not only with their beats but also with their lyrics. Their song topics range from criticism of the music industry, to racism in America, and even to hype-beast culture. Since releasing Live From the Dentist Office in 2015, the group has released two more full projects and singles while captivating the ears of many. Their most recent single, “Jawbreaker,” which dropped in 2019, featured Rico Nasty. Plan to dedicate a lot of your time getting to know Injury Reserve.
There’s something about Texas and its ability to produce highly talented rap groups. Pronounced Pantheon, the 10-man rap collective from San Marcos is building off groups like Wu-Tang Klan, A$AP Mob, Odd Future and of course Brockhampton. Although those groups opened the gates, PNTHN only further widens them. They have hit the ground running since forming in March 2017. The collective has already released two EPs and has toured with acts like Vince Staples and Freddie Gibbs. Their diversity and ability to produce both chill and hype beats has put them on the radar. Recently, the group showcased their live performance abilities at SXSW. If you want to say “I told you so” to your friends in the future, peep these dudes.
Not that much is known about Dre’es, which adds to his mystique. Born Dre’es de la Pena, he grew up in Wilmington, California. Dre’es is signed to Futile Sounds, which had led him to collaborate with artists such as Mia and Pontiac. The first single Dre’es released was in 2017 and since then, it has gone on to reach nearly 7 million streams. His songs are wavy, yet he still maintains an amazing ability to turn it up and tear into a verse. Dre’es is not only different, but also exciting. It is clear that Dre’es is influenced by pioneers Frank Ocean and Tyler, The Creator. Although he currently raps about being a struggling rapper, don’t be surprised if 2019 is a huge year for Dre’es.
Sophisticated is a good place to start when talking about JPEGMafia. JPEG, AKA Peggy, often greets listeners with “damn Peggy” in his intros. Hailing from East Flatbush, New York, JPEGMafia is one the newest rapper to embrace the role of genre expander. At the age of 13, JPEG had his first experience with racism which not only affected his mindset, but also his future music endeavors. JPEG later enlisted in the military where he served time in Iraq and also started to let his creative juices flow. Between 2009 and 2015, JPEG released 7 mixtapes and since 2016, he has released 3 studio albums. JPEG’s most recent project Veteran will leave you wanting more. Buckle down and dive deep into the gifted brain of JPEGMafia.
Born in Alabama but raised in Chicago, Mick Jenkins was exposed to other Chicago rappers Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa as early as 2013 – but his rise has been slow and steady. Many are familiar with his hit single “Jazz,” but Jenkins is more than that. Collectively, he has released 4 mixtapes, 3 EPs, and 2 albums since 2012. His bars are smooth, filled with meaning, and draw emotion from listeners. As he has grown, he also has become more confident. His true capabilities shine through on his newest project, Pieces of a Man, which further prove that Mick’s rapping is true talent. As he rounds out his international tour, don’t be surprised if his popularity continues to rise.
KOTA the Friend
Brooklyn based KOTA the Friend is crafty. Growing up listening to the likes of Ms. Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, Nas, and Eminem, it’s no surprise KOTA got into rapping. As he grew, music became a way for the artist to communicate with those who previously misunderstood him. KOTA would now describe his music as a fusion between Jay-Z, Jimi Hendrix, D’Angelo, Bob Dylan, Ingrid Michelson and more. Not many other rappers can say that they incorporate Dylan into their bars. KOTA is the complete package, and his music not only inspires but also unites his listeners. His unique voice melts over the beats making it impossible to not bop along to the music. His vibe is simplistic, but don’t be shocked when he’s the next one to get stuck in your head.