The New New: 15 Florida Rappers You Should Know
Florida rap is having a resurgence. Whether it be through Kodak Black's somber street tales or Denzel Curry's galactic phonk, the Gunshine State is undergoing a renewal of musical spirit the likes of which hasn't been seen since the late 2000s. That period found Rick Ross revitalizing the state's rap scene with songs like "Hustler" and "Push It," though he was simply the latest in a long line of rappers who helped bring fame to the peninsula.
Florida's rich rap lineage stretches back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew were Banned in the U.S.A., DJ Magic Mike was a "Speaker Terror Upper" and Uncle Al was Comin Thru. While giving birth to key regional acts like Poison Clan and MC Shy D, the defining Miami Bass sound soon gave way to the gangster leanings of Trick Daddy, who helped establish Slip-N-Slide Records as Florida's premier record label in the late 1990s. That label would eventually turn other local acts like Trina, Plies and Rozay into national stars, while producers like the Drum Majorz crew, headed by Gorilla Tek, helped shape a modern new sound for the state.
Now, as Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group has spread itself out to many geographic areas -- Meek Mill in Philly, Wale in the DMV, Stalley in Ohio, to name a few -- Florida's sound is being pulled back underground, where SoundCloud stars rule the land. Even as SpaceGhostPurrp has fallen by the wayside, his impact is still faintly felt through those that moved on from Raider Klan to do bigger and better things.
So for our latest New New column, we wanted to explore who some of the best rappers in Florida are right now. A couple have been around for almost a decade; others popped up over the last few years. But all of them have unique sounds and growing followings, two aspects that position each artist for success.
A note before we start: though we didn't get to every single dope Florida rapper, one notable omission is Orlando rapper Woop. Back in May, he was sentenced to two years and six months for shooting or throwing a "missile" at a building or vehicle. His current release date stands as April 4, 2018, and though he has two excellent mixtapes (and one okay one) to his name, his career has stalled since being incarcerated earlier this year, hence why we didn't include him.
Check out The New New: 15 Florida Rappers You Should Know below.
Notable songs: "Haitians," "Quik Pik," "Lajan Anthem"
Sounds like: Creole.
Why you need to know him: When he was 5 years old, Lajan Slim wrote a rap and performed it as Santa Claus at a school play. Ever since, he's pursued rap as a passion, and in the past eight months, he's seen his prideful "Haitians" single lead to a deal with Def Jam. Now his Hood Olympian mixtape has arrived with standout tracks like "Projects" and "Ling Ling," while songs that didn't make the mixtape -- "Quik Pik" and "Lajan Anthem" -- color in the 22-year-old's large personality.
Hometown: Pompano Beach
Notable songs: "Do the Koly'On," "Rich Gang," "Gooked Out"
Sounds like: Boosie meets Soulja Slim.
Why you need to know him: Koly P's been a Florida phenomenon since at least 2011, when he was part of a duo with Dirty 1000. Since then, he started a regional dance wave with his "Do the Koly'On" single, dropped his first two solo mixtapes in 2016 (Koly Bible and Koly Luther King) and caught the attention of Boosie, who's brought him onboard the Bad Azz Music Syndicate. He went to prison for four years after robbing a McDonald's, got shot when he came out and now he's ready to shine. 954 is behind his soulful, relentless sound heavy.
Hometown: Pompano Beach
Notable songs: "Paper Soldiers," "Florida Drippin," "Dirty Muddy"
Sounds like: A more aggressive DeJ Loaf.
Why you need to know about him: With very little promotion, Teejay's seen his SoundCloud numbers balloon since dropping his Cold Summer Vol. 1 tape back in July. For the 20-year-old with a voice caught between puberty and manhood, his music also seesaws between the comfort of drugs and the determination to make his mama proud. But the kid's got a sound all his own, and with a voice naturally modulated like fellow Floridian Gank Gaank, it feels like we've only seen the tip of the iceberg that is his talent.
Notable songs: "Golden Bottle Boys," "Fly," "HA"
Sounds like: The heartfelt delivery of Lil B with more lyrical focus.
Why you need to know him: It's amazing Bruno Mali Kidd isn't bigger than he is by now. He seems prepackaged for underground rap heads, complete with an emotional side that makes him more than a technical MC. Born in the Bahamas but raised in Lil Haiti, he has a worldliness about him that other Florida rappers might lack, and though he's been widely ignored by media, his latest single "HA," modeled after Juvenile's classic, might finally break him into the blogosphere. He's even been featured on the latest mixtapes from Zoey Dollaz and Ace Hood, signaling his burgeoning popularity.
Notable songs: "Snap Mode," "Holy Grail" (Quice), "Frugal" (Dolla Bill)
Sounds like: "I'd rather not give anyone free promotion," says Quice, but they list Wayne, Boosie, Webbie, Soulja Slim and Master P as influences.
Why you should know them: Snap Money is Chop, Yung Quice, G Dez and Dolla Bill. They're one of the most well-respected crews in South Florida, despite having little recognition outside of their state. They've acted without regard for the conventions of rap today; there isn't a single mixtape between any of the four members. They just record and drop their shit on YouTube or SoundCloud—or even SoundClick. Though Dolla Bill is currently locked up, the crew continues to drop tracks with a consistency that outweighs the number of plays they get online.
Notable songs: "4 Me," "SF$G," "UpLike7"
Sounds like: When the molly hits.
Why you need to know him: Sushi is one of the harder spitters in this group, and he's at his best when he kicks his flow into a faster gear. He's yet to drop a project, but with an airtight click of Lost Vision$ rhymers (including Herb Indika, Sensei $moke and 1K), an exquisite ear for production and an ability to needle any beat he rhymes on, his ceiling is high.
Hometown: Pompano Beach
Notable songs: "Catching Bodies," "Boomerang," "Don't Let It Make Me"
Sounds like: Mumble rap under a cozy blanket of codeine.
Why you need to know him: On Sept. 10, Drake's manager Oliver El-Khatib started his OVO Sound Radio set with a never-before-heard song by the young Humble Haitian. Weeks after leaving fans guessing as to what the song was, Humble uploaded the track to his SoundCloud, and though it only has over 3,000 plays in about two weeks, the fact that OVO Sound would premiere the song speaks to the respect Humble has amongst music heads. Months before that, he dropped his 20-song mixtape, Stay Humble, featuring the standout record "Catchin Bodies," which was also played on OVO Sound Radio. He's been down with Kodak and the Sniper Gang for a minute now, and even though he was recently hospitalized following a serious bike accident, his career looks like it's on the rise.
Notable songs: "Full Metal," Kill Bill," "Don't You Copy 2"
Sounds like: What Lil Ugly Mane wanted to be.
Why you need to know him: Like Denzel Curry, Simmie is a Raider Klan alum, and like SpaceGhostPurrp, he's got a heavy Three 6 Mafia influence. But while Curry's a rapid spitter, Simmie tends to lock into one deadpan flow and, minus a digression here and there, ride it out, creating a polyrthymic effect with his cadence against the beat. He's been steadily building a loyal fanbase for years, and with the consistency of tape's like 2015's Yung Smokey and this year's Simmie Season, he's gaining listeners with every new song he drops.
Hometown: Pompano Beach
Notable songs: "Intro," "Pain and Pressure," "Ryda"
Sounds like: Akon.
Why you should know him: Gank Gaank is by far the most unique artist on this list, and also the one whose music is closest to R&B. His voice is his strongest weapon, a tool that sounds so artificially manipulated, his own SoundCloud bio has to remind people, "no Auto-Tune." He used to sing in church, which might lend to the soulful touch of his music, and he's given powerful hooks to fellow Florida artists like Ice Billion Berg and Bravo Luciano. He dropped a new tape this year called Mo Pain, Mo Pressha, but his 2013 cut "Pain and Pressure" still shines brightest three years later.
Notable songs: "Don't Fuck With Me," "I Get So High," "Dat Thang"
Sounds like: Underground MMG.
Why you need to know him: Ice Berg is probably the most established artist on this list. Around 2007, he joined Trick Daddy's Dunk Ryders under Cash Money, but once they left C.M., Billion was at odd with Trick's brother Charles Young Jr. and soon parted ways with the team. Since then, he's blazed his own path, surviving with support from the streets despite being ignored by radio. His catalog is sprawling and he's never compromised his sound, continuously gaining steam by staying true to a style that's lyrically dense but accessible enough to have wide appeal. He was in negotiations with MMG for a deal at one point, and though it would make sense in terms of sound, he's doing just fine with his own Live House movement these days.
Hometown: Pompano Beach
Notable songs: "J. Doe Letter," "Keep Tha Water Runnin," "S.A.F.E."
Sounds like: Years of hunger pains.
Why you should know him: In 2012, Dirty 1000 and Koly P dropped a joint mixtape called Blood of my Brother, which did well locally yet never found its way online. Born in New Orleans but based in Pompano, Dirty has since persevered as one of the most relentless rappers in South Florida. Earlier this year, he dropped the excellent 1008 mixtape, the first project of his with mostly original material (his 2014 mixtape 2 Many 16's found him jacking for beats on a little over half the tape). His buzz hardly lives online, but one listen to how he molested the "Cut It" beat should tell you why you need to pay attention to him.
Hometown: Pompano Beach
Notable songs: "Where I Live," "Just Thinking," "Thug Love"
Sounds like: Experience in the struggle.
Why you need to know him: There is a soulful element to Choo Choo's music that can't be replicated through technique. His slow, steady delivery puts emphasis on the feeling behind his words, like he's looking you dead in the eye every time he raps. He's said we need less rappers and more thinkers, and his music sounds thoughtful in an industry where quantity tends to take priority over quality.
Notable songs: "Shone," "My Tears," "I'm the Shit"
Sounds like: Z-Ro.
Why you need to know him: Ball Greezy's been doing his thing for nearly a decade, garnering respect from as wide a range of rappers as Rick Ross and Flo Rida. His style is a gutter one, spouting from pain with a singing voice that's used at just the right moments. "Shone" is his biggest moment to date, but his 2015 EP, Feel My Pain, was lowkey one of the strongest releases of the year, striking the balance between grit and vulnerability.
Hometown: Palm Beach
Notable songs: "Light Skin Trick Daddy," "It Don't Matter," "Love the Feeling"
Sounds like: If Drake listened to Bones and sold zans.
Why you need to know him: Nineteen-year-old Puerto Rican rapper Wifisfuneral has a completely organic core of fans at his back. He's continued to refine his clean yet punk sound for years, culminating in Black Heart Revenge, his best project to date. The buzz around him has gotten so loud he even opened for Joey Bada$$ and ScHoolboy Q at a couple Florida shows in late September. A 2015 co-sign from Earl Sweatshirt was less a pivotal moment and more a simple signifier that Wifisfuneral continues to grow in popularity alongside his Members Only crew, which includes XXXTENTACION and Ski Mask the Slump God.
Notable songs: "Get Buck," "Scrubs," "41"
Sounds like: Bone Thugs over modern Memphis beats.
Why you need to know him: This lanky White boy has cornered a very specific market, perhaps best described as alternative for lack of a better word, and harnessed their energy with quick flows and a rowdy style of performance. He speaks to those at the margins of rap, and seeing how that audience is pretty large, he's managed to gain a cult-like following online. Rich Chigga just recruited him for the "Dat $tick" remix, speaking to the viral nature of his image.