It's a New Year, filled with anticipation and prospects. For the hip hop landscape, it is no different. 2011 is upon us, and I foresee many positives on the local and national hip hop scene. I want each and every one of us as artists and consumers to respect the craft, and take a look forward at what this 2K11 timeframe has in store.
From a local standpoint, there are some artists to seriously consider as viable hip hop talent. Gods'illa, a DMV hip hop collective of like-minded brethren, has been on the underground circuit in the DC region for quite awhile, having performed with hip hop luminaries such as Brand Nubian and the Duck Down collective. 2010 saw this very talented group release the debut Up And Up Presents...Gods'illa: The Album. The album is dope indeed, and I am fortunate to have seen them perform and interview Acem, Truth, and Powerful, the three who collectively form the breakout group known as Gods'illa. I am sure that this group will be on the national hop hop radar on a grander scale, spreading conscious hip hop. You can follow Gods'illa at www.twitter.com/gods'illa. They have a nice Twitter presence and following. Also check their UAU Open Mic Series at Club Liv in DC.
Also hailing from the DMV region is Phil Ade', a crafty and talented lyricist signed to the 368 Music Group imprint helmed by Raheem Devaughn. 2010 saw Phil Ade' release his very quality mixtape The Letterman. The standout track that 93.9 WKYS blasted during the second half of the year was "Toast 2 Life", featuring Kevin Ross on the silky smooth vocals. The anthemic tone of the song was accentuated by sharp, witty lyricism, a staple from the artist known as Phil Ade'. With the DC/MD/VA area supporting this dynamic talent, he is poised to showcase immense abilities on a broader scale in 2011. He can be followed via Twitter at www.twitter.com/philade301.
A little closer to homebase here in the Baltimore area there are artists on the rise that deserve serious attention here and elsewhere. The name that should garner immediate attention is Mullyman, an artist who has been on perpetual grind mode for the better part of the 21st Century. Recently relocating to the music mecca of the South, Atlanta, for more visibility and networking opportunities, Kevin Muldrow is setting himself in position to do bigger things for 2K11. With his Harder Than Baltimore album circulatimg throughout the underground, and media exposure on MTV2 and other outlets, it only makes sense that the new year will place Mullyman on the national stage. With Major League Unlimited as his independent base, the business side of this tried and true lyricist is in a good state. Mullyman can be followed at www.twitter.com/Mullyman.
In Baltimore, say the name Nephew, and you will find a faithul following. Nephew brings an energy and vigor to a scene often noted more for Baltimore Club than true hip hop music. Witness this artist perform numerous alvum and mixtape cuts, and you will see how the audience reacts to his spirited persona. Phewturistic Biography set the stage for a full-fledged takeover. It will take one time, and one time only, to feel the passion behind Nephew as a reality-based emcee. From personally witnessing his ascent through the Baltimore underground, 2011 and beyond holds promise. Listeners and consumers can trace the steps of Nephew via www.twitter.com/bmorenephew.
Jade Fox is a name that rings volumes around this region. She is not only a dope female emcee, but a DOPE emcee period. She has been trudging the underground scene for a good while, blending sharp lyricism with sometime eclectic musical stylings. Her most recent mixtape offering, JFK Mixtape Vol. 1: Eternal Flame, is a collection of original beats, allowing it to feel more album than actual mixtape. On the mixtape, she flexes lyrical muscle over production from dope peoducers such as UnheardOf and Tytanium. With her model looks and rugged lyrics, Jade Fox brings a unique perspective to the hip hop game, because there is indeed substance beyond the allure. She is poised to unleash her talents on an unsuspecting hip hop world, and I envision the next twelve months as the launching padf or Jade Fox on the national front within this hip hop spectrum. Look for this complete package on www.twitter.com/jadefox410.
On the national hip hop radar, there are a few individuals to look out for this year. I base this off of certain criteria: buzz, potential, lyrical ability. The first artist that comes to mind is a NC emcee that goes by the name of Rapsody. She is a potent blend of lyricism and wit, with a razor-sharp delivery. She comes from that MC Lyte, Jean Grae, Bahamadia school of true underground hip hop. Truthfully, I've been noticing this 9th Wonder protege for a few years now, going back to 9th's Dream Merchants album. What struck me about her was 9th only including her in a few snippets between actual songs, but the snippets were better than some of the actual material! Not taking anything away from the artists on that slept on 9th Wonder compilation joint, but Rapsody showcased how dope she was from that standpoint on sheer lyrical talent in just a few seconds with each snippet. As part of the NC collective known as Kooley High, Rapsody has been a key component on various group mixtapes and albums, including the most recent Kooley High release Eastern Standard Time. More recently, Rapsody has released her anticipated solo offering, Return Of The B-Girl, a free downloadable joint that raised a few eyebrows. Her buzz is definitely apparent, it is just a matter of time before this North Carolina-based artist has the ears of the hip hop nation. Once that occurs, listeners will catch more than just a glimpse of the lady known as Rapsody. Check her out via www.twitter.com/rapsodymusic.
Another emcee creating a buzz through media outlets is Dee-1, a New Orleans-based artist. He is what you would consider a thinking man's emcee, bringing thought-provoking imagery to the forefront of his lyrics. Want proof? "Jay, 50, & Weezy" could be deemed as a track looking to promote hip hop beef, but it is just the opposite. When I first witnessed the video to this gem a few months ago, I was instantly amazed at how Dee-1 positioned himself as a witty, clever lyricist that could actually stand toe to toe with other industry behemoths. The song is a testament to this notion, because it actually is a wake up call instead of an actual diatribe or verbal attack. Dee-1 is a force to be reckoned with, and the world outside of the N.O. will soon catch wind of his verbal dexterity. David & Goliath was the first independent album released by Dee-1, garnering praise throughout the Louisiana underground for his dope lyrical content. I Hope They Hear Me and I Hope They Hear Me 1.5 are also attention-grabbing mixtapes released by this independent artist on the rise. Visit Dee-1 at www.twitter.com/dee1music to see what this former middle school teacher is about and to connect with him. I'm sure that the hip hop world will be blessed with Dee-1 on the horizon, ready to bring his Louisiana viewpoint to the world.
There you have it, local and national hip hop artists that are on my 2011 and beyond radar. Each emcee mentioned has a unique flair, talent, and God-given ability, and I strongly believe that Gods'illa, Phil Ade', Mullyman, Nephew, Jade Fox, Rapsody, and Dee-1 are poised to have a larger impact on the hip hop nation during the next twelve month period. Remember, artistry is not necessarily about numbers, so looking for first week Soundscan results comparable to Eminem may be an unfair assessment. What I believe these artists possess is the ability to bring a different, positive spin on this thing we call hip hop, and I think that the Hip Hop Nation as a whole is ready, willing, and able to deal with some upliftment and mental challenging. There are others that are poised to do big things in 2011, so if you know of an artist that has the potential and drive to be a true hip hop artist, let us know! The Jay Electronicas, J. Coles, Lupe Fiascos, Georgia Anne Muldrows need company as newer artists with equal buzz and artistry.