Earning the distinction of oldest freshmen on the list at the age of 30, Michigan native Danny Brown has been showing off his eccentric style for years, but is just now garnering the following he deserves. The self described “Adderall Admiral” made his biggest move in 2011 when he signed to Fool’s Gold Records, where he released his highly acclaimed album, XXX. The project was named the best hip hop album of the year by Spin magazine. His ridiculous lyrics such as “Had Virgin Mary doing lines in the pick-up / Make Sarah Palin deep-throat ’til she hiccup,” make you realize how absurd he can be while still showcasing his ability. Shortly after dropping XXX, he teamed up with Blackmilk to release the collaborative EP Black and Brown, a perfect mesh of both artists abstract styles. The sky is the limit for Brown’s potential and he will continue to change the game.
Rakim Mayers, better known as A$AP Rocky, has put his city on his back, trying to reclaim Harlem as the hip hop holy land. After his track “Peso” leaked in August 2011, ASAP became an overnight sensation. Within a few short weeks, the single was receiving major airplay on the legendary Hot 97 radio station in New York. The Harlem native continued working and generating more buzz, dropping videos for “Peso” and “Purple Swag”, which culminated in a $3 million record deal with Sony/RCA. ASAP Rocky released his highly anticipated mixtape LiveLoveA$AP in October to positive reviews from critics and fans.
Queens emcee and proud, former chef Action Bronson has been holding it down for Queens for a while now. You can really see his love for food and the culinary arts in his rhymes where he frequently spits about the topic including lines such as “Just let me sharpen my knives, thrown on the apron / X’s mark the steak and the salad crumbled with bacon.” Check him out on YouTube where he hosts his own cooking show called “Action In The Kitchen.” He is often compared to Ghostface for their similar flow and way with words. He has released a number of mixtapes as well as a pair of albums including his debut album, Dr. Lector as well as his collaborative album with Statik Selektah, Well Done. Look out for his upcoming project with Party Supplies called Blue Chips dropping March 12th.
Cleveland rhyme slinger Chip Tha Ripper has been in the game for a minute but only recently has he been receiving the attention that he’s deserved for years. Although his debut album which is titled after his name, Charles Worth, doesn’t drop until later this year, he has still been putting out quality mixtapes since The Cleveland Show in 2009. He dropped both Independence Day and From Me To You: The Prelude To Gift Raps EP the following year. His next mixtape, Gift Raps was the project that really got fans talking and his name out there. His most recent and in our opinion most complete and quality mixtape, Tell Ya Friends dropped November 2011 and has still been in heavy rotation amongst fans. He really seemed to come into his own and became noticeably more comfortable with his style switching up flows track after track with ease. The mixtape includes big name features such as fellow Clevelander, Kid Cudi as well as super star production with hard knocking beats from the likes of Chuck Inglish, Lex Luger, High Tek and Dot Da Genius.
Maybach Music’s newest signee Kyle Myricks, aka Stalley, has been making his mark on the game since dropping his debut mixtape Going Ape in 1998. With his jazzy melodies and witty intellect, the Ohio lyricist has made a smooth transition from hometown celebrity to up-and-coming star. His recent release Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music) is able to balance sultry samples and blaring horns, while Stalley shows his ability to tackle bigger life concepts. His flow and lyrics will definitely open your mind and keep your head nodding.
Donavan Johnson, better known by his stage name XV (roman numeral for 15, the age at which he began to create music), is a talented emcee hailing from Kansas. He has developed a heavy following through social media sites like Twitter and through dropping his projects on various music blogs for free. XV has waited patiently for his opportunity to shine, releasing 14 mixtapes en route to his 2011 breakout project Zero Heroes. Heroes featured some of the hottest guest spots including verses from Donnis, Kendrick Lamar, Cyhi Da Prynce, Vado, and production from J. Cole, Just Blaze, Omen, The Awesome Sound, Swiff D, The Lieutenant, and long time production partner Seven Days. His project was regarded as one of the best mixtapes of 2011, receiving over 120,000 downloads and two singles in the Top 20 on The Hype Machine.
18 year old Cali rapper and former Odd Future member, Casey Veggies is the youngest artists on our list but certainly doesn’t lack anywhere in terms of skill. He has been featured on numerous records along side the likes of Chip Tha Ripper, Pac Div, Dom Kennedy, Rockie Fresh, Phil Ade, and childhood friend, Tyler, The Creator. His debut mixtape, Sleeping In Class dropped in late 2010 which was followed by the album of the same title less than a year later which featured all of the same songs with the addition of five new ones.
Donald Glover also known by his Wu-Tang Clan name generated alter ego, Childish Gambino is no stranger to the spotlight and has been all over the map as an Actor, Writer, Comedian, DJ and not until relatively recently; naturally gifted emcee. Before bulldozing his way into the game, Glover began his career as a writer for The Daily Show and 30 Rock where he earned the Writers Guild of America Award for best comedy. Donald has also done multiple televised stand-up specials and currently stars in the NBC show Community. Although he just released his debut album, CAMP last November, Gambino still has a slew of mixtapes and other projects he has been consistently putting out since his 2008 release of Sick Boi and later, EP as well as a hanfull of others. He will begin his twenty stop tour with fellow freshman Danny Brown on March 16th.
Award winning New Zealand rapper David Dallas has already developed a strong following in his home country, gaining popularity for his debut album Something Awesome. After signing with Duck Down Records in 2010, Dallas has been on his grind, trying to make a name for himself in the mecca of hip hop. He made his U. S. debut in 2011 with The Rose Tint, a project that went mostly under the radar and did not receive the credit it deserved. It was one of the few projects from 2011 regarded as a complete work, allowing Dallas to showcase his lyrical ability. His laid back but powerful lyrics are a relief from today’s mainstream music.
Another Flint, Michigan native Gilbere Forte moved around quite a bit as a child moving to Chicago with his mom before finally settling down in Philadelphia. Gilbere’s parents and their extensive vinyl collection had a huge influence in his love for music from a very early age. He began spitting verses at the tender age of nine years old and writing his own raps at twelve. Gilbere really started taking music seriously when he attended Temple University to study Entrepreneurship and Business Management. With the guidance of his brother and fellow classmate and producer, Rakib “Raak” Uddin, he was able to take his game to the next level and put together his debut project, 87 Dreams which saw immediate success. He later followed it up with his highly anticipated street project EYES Of VERITAS which further cemented his spot in the game. Gilbere continues to grind releasing two mixtapes in a very short period of time, Some Dreams Never Sleep EP and 87 Dreams To Reality LP. He showed a different style in his most recent project, Year Of The Dragon but still gained very positive attention from fans. Gilbere has a very large following as well as numerous quality projects which show his diversity and passion for the game.