Every year, the Hip-Hop game produces a new batch of rappers who have their sights set on global stardom. Usually most of these rappers have been working for years in relative anonymity, waiting for the chance to show the whole world what they can do. For 2016, there are a group of talented rappers from all over the United States (and even Canada) looking to make a huge splash on the scene. Some of these names you might recognize, others that you might be just getting to know. Either way, there are big expectations resting on these rookies’ shoulders. Check them out below.
10. Dave East
It’s been a while since NYC has really produced a great rapper in the same mold of the Notorious B.I.G or Jay-Z, but Harlem rapper Dave East is displaying some great potential. He’s only 27 years old and in the last 3 years, he has been making some really important strides on the rap scene. His last two mixtapes Black Rose and Hate Me Now have received critical acclaim and boasted features from Hip-Hop generals like Jadakiss, Nas and Styles P. He continues to score features with recognized names like Fabolous and Trey Songz, and he’s actually signed to Mass Appeal Records, a label co-owned by Nas. His profile is rapidly rising. He has the perfect balance of lyrical ability and charisma, and you can expect huge things from this Harlem native.
9. Allan Kingdom
In the current state of the music industry, an artist’s life can literally change from one day to the next. That’s exactly what happened to young St. Paul, Minnesota rapper, Allan Kingdom. After honing his skills in relative obscurity for many years, his music got in the hands of the one and only Kanye West through his manager Plain Pat (who worked with both ‘Ye and Kid Cudi in the past). That introduction led to a recording session that ended up with Allan scoring the hook on Kanye’s much-buzzed single from last year titled “All Day.” Late last year, he released an eclectic and expansive mixtape called Northern Lights to much critical acclaim. His sound has been compared to Hip-Hop icons like Mos Def, and that is definitely very high praise.
Los Angeles is a hotbed of talent, so for a rapper to truly standout above all the rest, he/she needs to have endless reserves of innate rapping ability and star power. The rapper Cozz is only in his early 20’s, and but he has a confidence on the microphone similar to that of a seasoned veteran. He is currently signed to J.Cole’s label Dreamville, and he released his impressive debut album Cozz & Effect last year. Early this year, he started things off with a scorching new mixtape titled Nothing Personal. Cozz has tons of raw potential; with a little more polishing and the right push, he might be the next breakout star from the West Coast.
7. Tory Lanez
When you mention rap stars coming from Toronto, the name that comes to mind is usually Drake, and rightfully so. However there is a new era of Toronto artists looking to make their own mark on the scene. Tory Lanez is a rapper/singer with a very unique style. Lately, he has become one of the singers constantly called upon by rappers to provide hooks to major hit songs. He has been featured on songs by Freddie Gibbs, Meek Mill, YG and Kirko Bangz. His debut album is scheduled to drop in 2016, and he might just be Canada’s next breakout rap star.
6. Cousin Stizz
Boston is not really known for producing Hip-Hop superstars, but that might all be changing soon. There’s a rapper named Stizz representing Beantown who’s getting heaps of accolades from all the right places. He debuted in 2014 with a hypnotic, stripped-down banger called “Shoutout” that was remarkably one of Drake’s favorite songs that year. Last year, he released an accomplished mixtape called Suffolk County that kept his name ringing in the ears of Hip-Hop enthusiasts everywhere. With such a quality string of releases, it’s only a matter of time before he shoots to the very top.
5. Tate Kobang
Sometimes it’s all about the company you keep. Roll with the right crowd, and most likely, you will ascend to the same heights of all the people in your circle. This formula applies perfectly to the young Baltimore rapper known as Tate Kobang. He has been active on the Baltimore music scene since 2011, but he was recently scooped up by the hot new music label 300 started by industry vets, Kevin Liles and Lyor Cohen. The label currently features Hip-Hop stars like Slim Thug, Fetty Wap, Migos and Rich The Kid. All these rappers are quickly ascending up the Hip-Hop hierarchy. Tate Kobang already has one monster hit to his name called “Bank Rolls” and you better believe he has a lot more to come.
Compton has produced a long list of some of the greatest rappers in the Hip-Hop industry. The City of Compton in Los Angeles is home to great rap groups like N.W.A. (Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren), Kendrick Lamar, MC Eiht and newcomer YG. Add to that list a young and very promising Compton upstart called Boogie. This talented emcee rose to the public eye in 2014 with his smart and intelligent mixtape titled The Thirst 48. His latest album titled The Reach was released a year later and the buzz from that release got him signed to Interscope Records (the same label behind Eminem, 50 Cent and more). He’s just at the beginning of his career but there a lot of big things in store for this Compton representative.
Ever since Nicki Minaj blew up on the scene a couple of years ago, there have been several new female rappers trying to explode on the Hip-Hop scene. One of those new names is a young 21-yr-old female rapper named Dreezy. In April of 2014, she released a solid remix of Nicki Minaj’s street single “Chiraq.” She capitalized on that buzz by releasing an accomplished mixtape called From Now On featuring production by Metro Boomin’ (Future, Drake) and a feature from popular Detroit rapper, Dej Loaf. If you’re betting on the next female rapper to set the rap game on fire, you’d be wise to put your money on her.
2. Nef The Pharaoh
The Bay Area of California has produced its share of rap legends. Some of these notable names include E-40 and Rappin 4-Tay. The Bay Area has a certain sound and unique bounce that is extremely popular in Hip-Hop, and the young rapper Nef the Pharaoh is looking to ride that sound to the very top of the game. To date, Nef has released buzzing singles with rap legends like E-40, and his tracks have been remixed by new school Hip-Hop stars like YG and Ty Dolla Sign. His official debut album is scheduled to be released this year, and all signs are leading to another West Coast smash hit.
1. Vic Mensa
Hip-Hop is definitely a young man’s game, and nowadays rap stars are blowing up on the scene at very young ages. One of the new standouts on the scene is the surging Chicago rapper, Vic Mensa. He is only 22 years old, but he has already released an impressive catalog of music and made connections with some of rap’s most powerful stars. He is affiliated with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management agency and has collaborated repeatedly with Kanye West. He is due to drop his official major label debut this year, and the expectations are sky high for his highly anticipated album.