For those of us who grew up on New York hip-hop, we remember the glory days of the Golden Era, when there was no shortage of incredibly diverse rappers in the game, delivering their own unique brands of hip-hop to the world from the genre’s main stage. From party rockers like Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, to lyrical wizards like Rakim and Gang Starr’s Guru, to left-field Native Tongues affiliates like Tribe and De La – the city sparked a renaissance in hip-hop and made it a legitimate cultural force and relevant art form. It’d be an understatement to say the 2000s was something of a drought for New York hip-hop, though. As regional markets like Houston, Miami, and the Bay each took their turns in the spotlight, New York’s last hopes Papoose and Saigon struggled to find crossover success and their albums ended up on shelves for close to a decade. Meanwhile, fans and washed up rappers continued to bicker about bringing New York rap back.
Then the summer of 2012 came, and the super-young Brooklyn newcomer, Joey Bada$$, dropped his 1999 mixtape. The stellar 15-track tape was a smooth, boom bap-inspired, bold opus, expertly calling back to the good old days of New York hip-hop. Sure, there were plenty of artists buzzing before Joey blew up, but the dude demanded attention for his city, and he got it. And the truth is, there are a lot of rappers repping the New New York – some of them like to rap about selling coke, some of them like to rap about skateboarding, and some of them just like to rap about swag – but what made the Golden Era great for hip-hop was its diversity, and there’s definitely a lot of that. And as a mutually respectful wave has washed over our city’s young rappers, XXL feels like the more New New York rappers there are, the merrier.
Click through our staff-compiled guide to New York’s upcoming rappers you need to know. This is the New New.