FEATURE:The Next Next?

PHOTO: Gray Hamner

PHOTO: Gray Hamner

Gov’t Name: Gregory Skyler Taylor
Age: 25
Reppin’: Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Notable Releases: Cloud 9: The 3 Day High (with 9th Wonder), 2006; Corner Store Classic mixtape (with DJ Kay Slay and Mick Boogie), 2007
Currently Working On: The Power Of Words mixtape (with DJ Drama), Official solo debut, The Salvation
Label: Audioworx Entertainment
Sounds Like: Jay-Z mixed with Red Café
Side Hustles: Running his own label, Audioworx Entertainment
The Future Of Hip-Hop Is… “Looking pretty bright as long as the creative freedom can continue to grow. The internet allows people to be more creative, because you may not feel like, I gotta adapt to what’s on the radio, to what’s on TV. That’s the day we live in.”

PHOTO: David Walter Banks

PHOTO: David Walter Banks

Name: Elzhi
Gov’t Name: Jason Powers
Age: 30
From: Detroit
Notable Releases: Trinity (Past, Present & Future), 2002; Detroit Deli (A Taste Of), 2004; Prequel To A Classic, 2005; Slum Village (as a member of Slum Village), 2005; Europass, 2008; The Preface, 2008
Currently Working On: The Preface recently in stores now
Label: Unsigned
Sounds like: Mos Def meets AZ
Side hustles: Developing a clothing line; and a duo, Cold Steel, with Phat Kat
The future of hip-hop is… “A resurrection of classic material, reminiscent of what it was when lyrics was in the forefront and it was about the way you spit it, the finesse. Right now, you got people that’s focused on swag, which is cool, but I feel like the art of lyricism is lost.”

PHOTO: Jared Ryder

PHOTO: Jared Ryder

Name: Nicki Minaj
Government Name: Onika Maraj
Age: 23
From: South Side Jamaica, Queens
Discography: Sucka Free mixtape, 2008; Guest verse on Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” remix, 2008
Currently working on: Debut album, as yet untitled
Label: Unsigned (“affiliated” with Lil Wayne’s Young Money.)
Sounds like: Foxy Brown meets Lauryn Hill
Side hustles: Looking to get into acting
The future of hip-hop is… “Nicki Minaj! I’m hip-hop’s Wonderwoman. ‘Wonder’ is perfect for me, because a lot of people were wondering where I was gonna go—and I think now people are starting to realize I really do this.”

PHOTO: Elgin Jiggetts

PHOTO: Elgin Jiggetts

Reek Da Villain
Gov’t Name: Tariek Williams
Age: 24
From: Roosevelt, Long Island
Notable releases: Pharmacy Pts. 1-3 mixtapes, 2007-2008; For da Goons and Gangstas, 2007; Guest verse on Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me Now (Remix),” 2008
Currently working on: Debut album, The Secret
Label: Flipmode Entertainment
Sounds like: Fabolous meets Nas
Side hustles: Runway modeling for companies like Makasi, Coogi and Pepsi
The future of hip-hop is… “Going back to where artists have to really work hard. To get a record deal now, you have to have a ready foundation built. They don’t want to do artist development no more. But that benefits real artists.”

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  • Phil

    I haven’t really been sold on Skyzoo yet. His flow has too many points of reference for me at this point. Maybe with a little more evolution I could be curious, but right now…

    I been knowing about Elzhi! Can’t find his old stuff ANYWHERE tho. Gonna find that new one, “The Preface”.

    Nicki, Nicki, Nicki…I’ve been on this chica for good second now. So much so that I’m going to correct the writer of this piece in that they forgot to list her FIRST mixtape, “Playtime’s Over”. Her new jawn, “Beam Me Up Scotty” got the Carribbean massive buzzin’ now, so a new mixtape or a single would be great now, sis…

    For some reason, I have no curiosity about Reek.

    • Tha Ace

      elzhi is one of my top 5 favorite rappers……….he doesn’t have next, he won’t ever have his proper respect shown. Maybe its cause he’s a low key dude that sticks to the art form i dunno.

  • Vicious Seiger

    After downloading some of Elzhi cuts off of The Preface on Artistdirect.com I can’t lie. Elzhi is dropping some of that lyricism that is so rare today. Talking in my Sleep and Transitional Joint had crept up on me and I had to say he is better than alot of the rappers clearing those 6 figure and some 7 figure deals. As for Reek he shined well with his eldersmen on The Don’t Touch Me Remix, I haven’t really heard anything from Skyzoo and remember Nicki Minaj had a couple of tracks on this site a couple of months ago but nothing that was too memorable. Either way time will tell the tale if we have some Hip Hop Legends here or footnotes.

  • http://myspace.com/nouveauriche whammo

    singapore kane should have made that list. if you aint heard of dude he’s from boston down with the gang starr foundation. HOT! check out the video for “my boston” on youtube. dude went in on a classic premo track

  • Jomoses

    WHERE IS WIZ KHALIFA and Willie the Kid….you xxl niggas is killing me..Reek Da Villian, seriously…Nikki should make a flick already. Sky and Ezi is the only niggas outta them 4 worth mentioning, and Ezi is still in Slum Village aint he….

  • jamie

    if you “haven’t really been sold on Skyzoo yet”, then you prolly dont listen 2 music correctly. he’s a beast, and he’s pretty much your favorite’s favorite. why do you think he’s worked with preemo, pete rock. 9th wonder, wale, little brother, etc. he’s super underrated. he been dropping real lyricism, but i guess most niggas dont look for that no more.

    elzhi is another beast who’s been killing the game for years. that niggas crazy wit it. elzhi shouldve been signed and poppin. but thats the game.

    nikki minaj is dope, she had some good shit on her mixtapes, cant front. and she looks good so shorty definitly got next IMO.

    i havent heard too much from reek but ill look him up b4 i judge him, unlike most niggas on here. one

    • Phil

      I listen to music just fine, sir. I don’t care who you work with, if your flow got me naming more than 3 dudes before I even get to the hook, then you gotta hit me with something else. There are tons of people who want lyricism, so save the cynical BS. I gave my honest account of dude’s shit and that’s it. If I want more from an artist, that doesn’t mean I’ve written them off. So, who’s really being judgemental here.

  • capcobra

    where’s the 5th person?……

  • 619

    Elzhi is better than all ten on the cover put together. And everyone that don’t know any better or wanna question Skyzoo, listen to “Never Sleep”, that shit’s fire.

  • Manny78d

    Skyzoo and Elzhi are the truth. Never heard of that Reek da Villain dude. Is he any good ?

  • http://www.myspace.com/fullagrime shabazz


  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com/ DJ Daddy Mack

    The Incomparable Shakespeare, b.

  • Gerod

    I’m pretty skeptical about everyone on this list…

    Skyzoo – mehhhh
    Elzhi – 30 yrs old…he’s not a freshman
    Nikki Minaj- she has the best chance out of all of them
    And I dont even kno who the last dude is, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt

  • B-Bell84

    Thank you!!! Elzhi and Sky should be on the cover of that new XXL because these dudes are what’s keeping the art alive!!!

  • d

    STILL no wiz khalifa?????


    • Quan

      . . I second. Put some Wiz up here

      .. they should have saved a whole page and only showcased Elzhi ..

  • balaramesh

    Elzhi might have had the best verse on the song with canibus and royce (two underated super lyricist). therefore, i’d have to give him the number one spot. as far as commercial ability, i dunno about any of them. lyrically, i like skyzoo too

    minaj is fine. the chick is wack

    *** FYI, don’t ever compare this chick to lauren. not even today****