The New New: 15 Atlanta Rappers You Should Know
In our first installment of The New New, we shined a spotlight on 15 young talents out of New York City who continue to bring hip-hop’s center back home, marked by a return to boom-bap beats and introspective rhymes reminiscent of the mid-'90s Golden Era.
But as we continued to explore new music emerging from other markets, we realized that the South isn't going down without a fight. Amidst 2 Chainz and Future’s rise to superstardom in the past year, Atlanta’s also seen Trinidad Jame$ come out of nowhere and attain national recognition, while the currently-incarcerated Young Scooter is well on his way to impacting more than just the regional club circuit.
Like New York, the A's got a crop of rookies who are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a rapper from Atlanta - embracing different sounds, aesthetics, and styles of production. ATL has arguably dictated the sound of mainstream hip-hop for years now, and by the looks of the talent the city’s got on deck, they’re not ready to relinquish that title anytime soon.
Click through our staff-compiled guide to New York’s upcoming rappers you need to know. This is the New New.
Notable songs: "Scottie 2 Hottie" and "Stayin True"
Sounds like: Honestly - a lot of things. The crew is more a collective than a band, comprised of a lot of different personalities. From the West Coast-influenced FatKidsBrotha to eclectic weirdos Retro Su$h!, there's a lot going on here.
Why you need to know them: These guys are young, energetic, and represent an interesting, at-times dark and at-times soulful side of Atlanta that the world's never seen. You could say they're inspired by the mob mentality of Raider Klan and the A$AP crew, but they've got their own style, swag, fan base and more than one style of music to back up all the hype. Also surprising - they're all good, rather than just one talented leader riding around with his tag-alongs.
Notable song: “Another One” ft. Future
Sounds like: An Atlanta twist on Tyga’s versatile flow, with a knack for club smashes.
Why you need to know him: Slicey’s got a great team around him and is regularly in the studio with Future. At 19, he’s already seen a fair share of success in Atlanta’s club scene and is on a fast-track to breaking out beyond his city as part of Future’s Freebandz imprint.
Notable songs: "No Sticks, No Seeds" and "All the #03$"
Sounds like: A cross between a young Big Boi, a swagged-out Big K.R.I.T., and a more contemplative Slim Thug.
Why you need to know him: He's really, really versatile. He's just as adept at rapping over a guitar rock-inspired beat like the one on "No Sticks, No Seeds" as he is on an Organized Noize-sounding slow banger like "My Grandaddy Car." You get the feeling that he could do anything without sounding forced or awkward, and that's a great asset to have for a potential crossover artist.
Notable songs: "Foreign Dreams" and "Real Talk" (with Cyhi The Prynce)
Sounds like: Falls somewhere between a more-understandable YC and a slowed-down Future.
Why you need to know him: He is still signed to Desert Storm/Def Jam, and after his standout performance on Cyhi's Lex Luger-produced "Real Talk," Dose got the entire city buzzing. He plans to follow up the guest appearance and his recent "Foreign Dreams" single (which features fellow buzzy artist Young Scooter) with his Foreign Dreams mixtape, slated to drop next month.
Notable song: "Balcony"
Sounds like: A rhyme-slinger in the same atmosphere as Stalley and Big Boi.
Why you need to know him: Rome Fortune popped up on music blogs this month after dropping his A Beautiful Pimp mixtape. He’s got an ear for otherworldly beats---spacey, with a bit of thump--that go well with his deep-thinking rhymes. Not only does he have a way with penning entirely different perspectives on typical hip-hop topics, he’s also got quite the production team on side--C4 and Childish Major--both budding talents in their own right. Expect to hear a lot more about Fortune in the coming months.
Hometown: Atlanta via Nashville
Notable song: "Right One / Wrong Time"
Sounds like: The South's answer to indie R&B-inspired hip-hop. His sound falls somewhere between a So Far Gone-era Drake and Childish Gambino.
Why you need to know him: He's a hipster visionary of sorts compared to his at-times repetitive Atlanta counterparts. He's quirky, confident, and he's not afraid to embrace an eclectic mix of beats to rap or sing over. Billboard also just cosigned him as an emerging Atlanta artist, as the world looks forward to the release of his upcoming Life in Technicolor LP.
Hometown: Southside of Atlanta
Notable song: “Art vs. Hustle”
Sounds like: Not many new A-town rappers. A mix of Big K.R.I.T. and T.I.
Why you need to know him: The Clarke Atlanta University graduate has been toiling in the underground for a few years and is just now starting to get his mainstream props. His video for the single “Flick‘n,” off his recent mixtape Scoundrel, recently appeared on "106 and Park." More lyrical than the average A-town MC, Tez combines food-for-thought grind music with a sprinkle of flash and swagger, which allows him to make a gamut of different records.
Rich Homie Quan
Notable song: “Differences”
Sounds like: A fusion between Future and Roscoe Dash.
Why you need to know him: Quan’s melody-driven tunes fit right in with today’s musical landscape. His 2012 mixtape Still Going In birthed the single “Differences,” which has been blowing up in the Southeast. With Roscoe Dash recently retiring his hook services, Quan might be looking to take over the reins.
Hometown: Atlanta via Brooklyn
Notable song: "Thieves Theme"
Sounds like: A New York rap-inspired rhymer who grew up rapping listening to jazz and rapping over Flying Lotus beats.
Why you need to know him: He's a deep thinker and big dreamer, and sounds like a Queens version (he's outspoken about his love for the 90's NYC rap scene) of an Atlanta rapper. Lyrically he comes across as both book and street smart and has the direct cadence of a great live performer. Also, the cover of his Ill Street Blues LP is as interesting as the songs on it.
Notable song: “No Manners”
Sounds like: Gucci Mane with clear nasal passages over booming production.
Why you need to know him: When it comes to producing rappers, the East Side of Atlanta once played second fiddle to its counterparts in the South and West. Not anymore. Chill Will is one of latest on long a list of stand-out trap rappers to come out of Zone 6, including Gucci Mane, Future and Rocko - some of whom the new jack already split bars with on his October 2012 mixtape, Real Shit. No frills here. Just edgy street tales over dope beat selection that provides a score for riding around and getting it.
Notable song: “Zan Man”
Sounds like: Lil Boosie, Lil Wayne and Future rolled up into one smokey blunt.
Why you need to know him: Young Thug doesn’t have an inventive name per say, but that doesn’t hold him back from making some of the most artistic trap music you’ve ever heard. The 1017 Bricksquad member created a street buzz off his I Came From Nothing mixtape series, and numerous co-signs from Gucci Mane for his standout 1017 Thug mixtape brought his name to the conversation of ATL’s new school, simply because he’s such a different entity. At times, Young Thug sounds like a Future replica, at other times taking cues from Guicci's rhyme book. Still, he creates his own lane by consistently writing/freestyling catchy choruses and bars and his voice and delivery make him standout as one of the young Atlanta acts who truly brings something refreshing to the table.
Hometown: North Atlanta via Athens, GA
Notable song: "Bando"
Sound like: The sons Gucci Mane always wanted.
Why you need to know them: The Migos have been getting significant spins on Atlanta radio off the strength of their dope-boy anthem “Bando” (Atlanta slang for an abandoned house-turned-crack house). The three youngn's have reportedly recently landed at Gucci Mane’s 1017 Brick Squad imprint, which has a surprisingly impressive track record in breaking ATL artists.
Notable songs: "Bussin' (Remix)" and "It's Time"
Sounds like: An updated, new-school B.G.
Why you need to know him: Trouble has been putting in work for a minute. He may not be the best lyrically, but the content and hunger behind dude's delivery damn sure makes up for it.
Hometown: Atlanta by way of St. Louis
Notable song: "So Good" ft. Future
Sounds like: A swagged-out version of The-Dream.
Why you need to know him: It won't be long until Stuey becomes a star beyond the A - he has a penchant for churning out club hits and radio-friendly jams, which has proven to make for a successful combination in former standout Atlanta artists.
Notable song: "She Wanna Be You"
Sounds like: The neo-soul child of Bentley Fonzworth and Trinidad Jame$
Why you need to know him: After cutting his teeth with Hollyweerd, Go Dreamer broke out on his own as a solo artist. With a spaced-out sound that fuses Atlanta's trap rap stylings with the genre-bending appeal of Future, Go Dreamer has cornered a very niche market that will ensure he's a name to check for in the...future.