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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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