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.

Previously: The New New: 15 Seattle Rappers You Should Know
Previously: The New New: 15 Atlanta Rappers You Should Know
Previously: The New New: 15 New York Rappers You Should Know


Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @AvenueGF
Notable song: "I Love My" featuring Last Days
Sounds like: Versatile and energetic rapper who fits in equally over an amped-up jazz sample or a spaced out acid groove
Why you need to know him: Avenue is one of the most buzzed-about Boston rappers out right now, with his youthful energy allowing him to let his rhymes fit in to any situation. His first release Words Speak Life and the recently-released Summer of '91 EP raised his profile to the point that the city started paying attention, and his tracks like "I Love My" and "Your Re-Up"—both produced by frequent collaborator HiFadility—bode well for the duo's upcoming release The Chandelier View, which should only push him further.


Black El and Durkin
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @Black_El / @CaptainDurk
Notable song: "DOJA"
Sounds like: Smoke-soaked stories told over beats that sound like if Harry Fraud walked off in the middle of a dream.
Why you need to know him: Black El is the rapper. Durkin is the DJ. The two come together to make some of the most lush and evocative music the city has to offer. Durkin operates in a similar realm as Fraud, but vacillates more violently to the extremes, either going super spaced out and wavy or keeping a strong root in the bassline, while Black El's evocative lyrical style make these two the number one go-to soundtrack to zoning and chilling out. Their 2012 project The Collage EP has been scrubbed from SoundCloud, but their recorded material lives on in a series of music videos on YouTube.


Catch Wreck
Hometown: Roxbury, MA
Twitter: @CatchWreck
Notable song: "Spliff Lifta" featuring Retrospek
Sounds like: Deep-voiced and self-proclaimed "average guy" whose flexibility allows him to twist words to fit any beat.
Why you need to know him: Catch Wreck's style exudes the almost lackadaisical confidence of someone along the lines of a Prodigy from Mobb Deep. His Collective Consciousness mixtape references The Beatles' "Hello Goodbye" and Nas' "It Ain't Hard To Tell" in equal measure, and if that doesn't scream "versatility" loud enough, he also performs in the rock band Sweatshop as their resident MC.


Charmingly Ghetto
Hometown: Dorchester, MA
Twitter: @CGhettoTheMC
Notable song: "Glory"
Sounds like: Nas-like street poet rhymes with a strong socially conscious bent and a global world view
Why you need to know him: CG has been dropping mixtape after mixtape for the past few years, gaining acclaim from all those who have heard him for his deft and smart lyricism. A natural performer who grew into his own after winning the BK Hip-Hop Fest's Show and Prove tournament in 2012, he was on the shortlist for Boston's best rapper in the Boston Music Awards last year. From his gloablly-minded Study A'Broad mixtape that utilized producers from seven different countries to his most recent On The Meaning of Progress made entirely with Brooklyn producer ATG, Charmingly Ghetto knows how to navigate hip-hop's choppy waters.


Dutch ReBelle
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @DutchReBelleFN
Notable Songs: "Sunday Morning" and "Ammo/Freddie"
Sounds like: Lauryn Hill in her Fugees days with a bit of a Foxy edge.
Why you need to know her: Dutch went to Penn State and studied communications and journalism, but she's parlayed her awareness of social issues and infuses them into her music. With her visceral honesty, she's a perfect representer for her bleak, grey-sky city.


Esh The Monolith
Hometown: Boston, MA by way of Providence, RI
Twitter: @ESHtheMonolith
Notable songs: "Soap Scum" and "Bored Games"
Sounds like: His enunciation and passive aggression screams Asher Roth, but he definitely takes inspiration from boom bap. You can also hear hints of Ratking and Earl Sweatshirt in the subject matter.
Why you need to know him: From his wordplay and delivery, you can tell he's a witty dude with flexible vocal abilities, and he's definitely different. His live show is probably an all-inclusive shitshow that we'd love to attend.


Gio Dee
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @IAmGioDee
Notable songs: "Growth" and "#TOTB This Is Only The Beginning"
Sounds like: His voice sounds eerily similar to Casey Veggies', but his content and tone is more reminiscent of Wale and Wayne.
Why you need to know him: Despite similarities to mainstream acts, he sounds nothing like most of the artists from his hometown. Through introspective raps and street tales, Gio lets his confidence do the talking on tracks.


Jeff Replay
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @JefeReplay
Notable songs: "The Runway" and "Know Love"
Sounds like: A swaggy blend of Chief Keef, Waka Flocka and a cooled-out Meek Mill (sans screaming).
Why you need to know him: He embraces notes of cocky, Southern rap and meshes them with menacing, decidedly Northeast production. For a young dude, he's got a lot of lyrical charisma, and his crew Pilot Nation is another outlet to watch for. And fun fact: he can dunk!


Mr. Fritz
Hometown: Mattapan, MA
Twitter: @itsmrfritz
Notable song: “Dollar Menunaire” and “Work”
Sounds like: Down on your luck, recession era rap delivered in a low Biggie-ish baritone
Why you need to know him: It’s easy to do a gruff, tough-guy routine, but Mr. Fritz invests his puffed-out-chest persona with moments of disarming honesty and a winking sense of humor. Also, he has a song called “Ric Flair” where the chorus is just “Ric Flair, Ric Flair/Fuck you I’m the best here,” and it’s hard to argue with that.


Hometown: Milton, MA
Twitter: @natural617
Notable song: “I Don’t Play” and “Monsters”
Sounds like: Introspective working class narratives coated in boom-bap production flourishes
Why you need to know him: While Natural doesn’t have a style that fits into a neat box or a scene—he’s not a frat-rapper and he’s not a socially conscious Macklemore-type—he does have songs that carefully mimic the kind of laid-back, comfort-food rap he grew up with. His recent 20 Something mixtape is a varied and eclectic collection of songs that displays an ear for soulful, melancholy beats and an eye for mundane, relatable details.


Hometown: Roxbury, MA
Twitter: @Moufy_SG
Notable song: “Boston Lights” and “Throw My 3s”
Sounds like: A slick, synth-heavy take on the inspirational but emotive raps of Big Sean, J Cole or Drake.
Why you need to know him: With an ear for bleary eyed but anthemic beats, Moufy mixes the club-ready atmospherics of EDM with the lyrics and themes of a more world-weary and wise rapper. He’s not afraid to be earnest, but he manages to avoid the pitfalls of sad-sack cheesiness.


Chilla Jones
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @chillajones
Notable song: “Over Under”
Sounds like: Intensely lyrical raps packed with wordplay and flow shifts
Why you need to know him: When you Google Chilla Jones the first you’ll see is a long line of “Chilla Jones vs.” search results, which reveals probably the most important thing about the Boston MC: He’s a wildly impressive battle rapper. Like many battle rappers, on record he doesn’t always capture the appeal of his voice, but his work with fellow New England rapper Riznut shows he’s coming into his own as a studio artist.

michael christmas

Michael Christmas
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @MickeyChristmas
Notable song: "Goodnight” and "Daily"
Sounds like: A calmer OFWGKA member whose expertise is “regular guy” rap.
Why you need to know him:  He has this expressionless, comedic tone to his delivery that pulls you in as he tells you his story, hitting the listeners with light humor and witty punch lines. He also makes playing XBOX and eating chicken seem a lot more interesting than it sounds.


Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @retrospek1
Notable song:  “Chem Trails”
Sounds like: Introspective group cut from the same cloth as Fly Union and The Underachievers
Why you need to know him: They are a socially conscious group that paints the picture of what’s going on in the world. The two MCs have their unique sound with A. Spendacash’s poetic-like bars and JuneLyfe’s deep, dark delivery.


Cam Meekins
Hometown: Boston, MA
Twitter: @CamMeekins
Notable song:  “Rain”
Sounds like: Asher Roth mixed with Stalley, a great narrator with clever humor
Why you need to know him: Cam Meekins has a collection of witty, concept-driven records and equally humorous visuals. His bars are genuine and he doesn’t waste any words, detailing every situation as he paints a picture for each verse.


Dominik Omega 
Hometown: Stockbridge, MA by way of St. Louis, MO
Twitter: @DominikOmega
Notable songs: "One Of The Greatest Doing It" and "I Do It"
Sounds like: A chill mix of a young, less over-your-head Lupe Fiasco and a less socially-militant Mos Def with the blue collar content of Rhymefest.
Why you need to know him: Omega's lived a hell of a life. After moving with his family from St. Louis to the Northeast, he was kicked out of his house and lived in foster homes for years. Since then, he's created several rap crews, had a kid and took a hiatus from rap. It's guys like this who have things to rap about, and Omega's got an arsenal of ways to rap about real life shit.

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