For years, when people thought about Boston hip-hop, there was only one name that popped up—Guru, as one half of Gang Starr with DJ Premier. The city, long a hotbed for punk and indie rock—not to mention the arena-sized egos of Aerosmith and Boston—has slipped under the radar for decades on the hip-hop side of things; even Guru left the Bean for the more hip-hop-savvy shores of Brooklyn. But these days the city has a thriving underground scene spearheaded by veterans such as Moe Pope and Rain and Grey Sky Appeal (though the latter group also just relocated to Brooklyn) which is bringing Boston regional notoriety as a bubbling hotbed.
Boston’s always had a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to New York City—no shots fired, we swear—and the latter’s reality as the birthplace of the genre, not to mention headquarters for a good chunk of the music industry, has meant that Boston has historically been overshadowed by its neighbor to the South. But the city has one main thing over the Big Apple—a constant influx of dedicated, determined college-age kids from the 50-plus colleges in its metropolitan area who have the ability and passion for building their own hip-hop community. The last few years have seen an explosion of raw talent in this arena—and that, among other things, has caught XXL‘s eye.
With the New New, XXL tries to spotlight burgeoning acts who we feel haven’t gotten the shine they deserve, the up-and-comers who haven’t received the notice outside their communities that they should be getting. On that note, the XXL staff has pulled together 15 rappers that we believe you need to know—and because it was such a tough list to narrow down, we tossed in a bonus artist as well to bring the number to a square 16. It’s Boston’s time to assert itself as a heavyweight in the hip-hop world. This is the New New.