10 Baltimore Rappers That You Need to Know
The critically acclaimed HBO hit series The Wire offered a candid reflection of how drug-infested communities, a poor public school system and government corruption tainted the city of Baltimore. Though the characters and lifestyles portrayed were in fact based on true encounters, still there was one aspect of the city, which the popular series did not explore—hip-hop.
The evolving underground hip-hop scene in the town known as “Charm City” is equipped with talent who are determined to partake in the art to overcome adversities. With the Ravens taking home the Superbowl Championship last Sunday, and The Wire celebrating its 11th year since the show's successful premiere, the city, not yet known for its music scene, looks to flex its wings to be recognized as the next wave in hip-hop. —Kimberly Brown
Raised by a single mother with three children, Skarr Akbar witnessed the poverty stricken neighborhoods and learned early that if he remained in a stagnated situation it would cripple his growth which left him struggling with what would be his “out.” That answer came to him at the age of 10, and since then Akbar has poured his frustrations into writing and rhyming. In 1998, his fortitude paid off when he had a chance encounter to battle members of the Queens, New York hip-hop group Onyx. His winning skills landed him a gig as an opening act on Def Jam’s Survival of the Illest Tour with Onyx, DMX, Ja Rule, Cormega and the Def Squad. However, Skarr didn’t leave this accomplishment as a moment that he had arrived, but instead continued pushing his music without compromising his integrity for a fickle chance at fame. Since 2009's Ventilation, a part-song series of tracks about his life, family, relationships and haters, has been followed by loyal listeners since it’s initial release. Recently, Akbar released his feelings from a bottled jar with track “Conspiracy Theory," which revealed just why the industry needs him.
With an ever expanding fan base known as the “Major Leaguers,” it’s no surprise Baltimore native and hip-hop artist Mullyman is on this list. In 2009, Mullyman experienced what many would consider a "big break" when his music video “I Go Harder" was featured on MTV Jams and MTV 2. As if that’s not enough to stamp him as a force to be reckoned with, Mullyman was listed as one of the top-50 contenders for XXL's 2012 Freshman Class. He has collaborated with artists such as Sean Paul, The Clipse, Freeway, Memphis Bleek and Ghostface Killa. Though Mullyman currently resides in ATL, he was the first to officially release a track titled “Purple Reign,” noting it as an anthem for both his city and team, the Baltimore Ravens who won the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII.
C.O.M.P., which stands for “Clever on Many Perspectives,” hails from Baltimore City with a title none other can claim being the second youngest artist being signed to Def Jam Recordings through Chocolate City Music. During his Tenure with Def Jam in the early 2000s, C.O.M.P. was featured as a character in the video game Def Jam Vendetta. C.O.M.P. was also featured on a few major film soundtracks including Cradle to the Grave featuring DMX and Jet Li, which sold over one million copies. In 2004, C.O.M.P. was a featured artist along with Jadakiss in Ghostface Killa's single, “Run.” After achieving a level of mainstream success, C.O.M.P. has turned to focusing more on solo projects such as Man with a Hand, which released in 2009 and received a wide response from both fans as well as the media.
DBoi Da Dome
DBoi Da Dome grew up near Pennsylvania Avenue in an area of West Baltimore known as “The Dome” hence his name. He quickly put aside his turbulent past of the street life behind to focus more on expanding his brand as a hip-hop Artist. His first street album A Dope Boi’s Dream raised quite a response not only for the lyrics, but a photoshoped image of a then rumored “dope boy” DBoi posing next to Martin Luther King, which the rapper refuted stating, "People think just because you come from the bottom that you can't have a dream too. I've been through so much, but I believe in my dream just as strongly as he believed in his and that's why I stood next to the King." 2012 proved to be a year of more success gaining DBoi attention from label execs as well as the opportunity to open up for Bad Boy Recordings artist King Los. He also closed out the year dropping another project The Response, with the popular single "Taking Shots," it’s evident DBoi has evolved as an artist.
King Los formally known as Swagga Boy Los needs no introduction thanks to his effortless gift of freestyle rapping, battling, and consistently creating catchy wordplay. Raised in the Liberty Heights area of Baltimore, it’s evident the drive and determination behind Los would eventually work in his favor. In February 2012, he signed to Bad Boy Records and since that announcement the young artist has not taken that opportunity lightly. Rewinding back to his grind in Baltimore, Los developed a name for himself around the city as someone who could spit, but what took the cake was his mixtape release G5 series in 2007. Following the success of G5, Los collaborated with Baltimore Native and singer Mario on remix versions of “Crying Out for me” and “Music Made for Love,” which took him to higher heights. Shortly after accompanying Mario on his tour, Los continued his claim to fame as a featured artist on the Gangsta Grillz tour with Young Jeezy, DJ Drama, UGK, and B.G. Collaborating and writing for some of the industry’s biggest names, Los was recently featured on a new Kid Ink record (“Popping Shit”), and continues to stay relevant as Baltimore's most recognized artist.
Em Sea Water
Spoken word/hip-hop artist Em Sea Water balances his gifts of rhyme and words through hip-hop and poetry. Em Sea Water grew up mostly in the Randallstown area of Baltimore County and proudly proclaims to be the child of loving parents who have been married for over 30 years. A college graduate and former fourth grade teacher, Em Sea took his love for the music into the classroom as a hip-hop instructor and regularly used rap as a method of classroom instruction for his students; starting each day with the "TOASTER RAP." Writing and recording since 2000 developing a reputation as whom most would describe as a conscious rapper, Em Sea transformed his love for hip-hop to stage and in the studio as well. In 2009, he produced "My Pencil" for Maryland students taking the standardized test, reaching over 96,000 views on YouTube. A parody of the Wiz Khalifa's hit "Black and Yellow,” the record appeared in almost every classroom in Maryland. You can check out his most recent materials via his latest project Remembering Neptune.
Mooked Out prefers to utilize his talents on stage or anywhere in front of a crowd where his voice can be heard as opposed to rocking out in a booth. Born in the Yale Heights area of Baltimore, Mooked Out has been writing and rhyming since his younger days, which carried into his adult years. In 2009, Mooked Out connected with Mindbolic Entertainment, which helped the rapper to get gigs throughout Philly and New York. A recent success for Mooked Out was the release of his 18-track mixtape Mindbolic, which features “Made it My Job,” a testament of his life experiences and aspirations to translate his talents as a writer/hip-hop artist into a career.
In what many describe as a male-dominated industry, women consistently leave their mark as well. A talented singer and rapper, Miss Cream became known to the Baltimore hip-hop scene in 2005 when she joined a popular local group KARTEL. In March 2011, Miss Cream was crowned the winner in the “Queen of the Mic” competition, a performance battle which featured 15 female hip-hop artists throughout the DMV area. Another notable highlight soon followed when Miss Cream sold out Bourbon Street, a popular venue located in downtown Baltimore for release of her first official album The Cream Bee. The album featured a promising single “No Fear,” a track about domestic violence, which Miss Cream pulled from personal experiences to bring awareness to the issue. In 2013, she's looking to connect with mainstream artists. Should you need any verification, check out Miss Cream in “Bang Together,” which features the female MC standing on her own in a cipher full of male acts.
Jaxx, A-Boogie, Slim Devito and Sling Shot allowed the inevitable to collaborate on one song, which resulted the group known as Starvation. Thanks to a savvy support team, Starvation acquired an international fan base after the release of their 2010 track “WolfPack," when it was sent over to a radio DJ in Zambia, Africa. Laced with young energy, and an explosive variety of beats, Starvation looks to reach a much wider audience in 2013. The group recently collaborated on a track with former Universal Recording artist Tracey Lee.
Off Tha Edge
Baltimore natives as well as childhood friends, Off Tha Edge has been making music together since they were kids, but the team became official in 2009. Members HollyWood, L.G., Skola and Cam eventually took their promotional efforts a step further launching a radio show called Off Tha Edge Radio on the Radio-One network station WOLB to assure their music got airplay and it worked in their favor. In 2010, another major highlight for the group was performing at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland. Their catchy club hit “DJ Turn It Up,” is currently getting airplay in Florida, California, South Carolina and Virginia.