By Paul Mwangi
If you’re a fan of the genre, you know 2013 was quite the year for Hip Hop. With artists like Jay Z, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Wale, and J. Cole each dropping solo albums, it was often hard to keep up with all the new music. 2013 was also a great year for relatively new talents that managed to jump on the scene like Chance the Rapper, A$AP Ferg, Childish Gambino, School Boy Q, and Travis Scott to name a few.
However, as much as I enjoyed listening to some of these big names in 2013, to my surprise, most of the songs featured in my “25 Most Played” playlist came from artists and projects that were overlooked and not very recognized. Hip Hop is a unique genre in that it offers a form of self expression to the artist while leaving room for open interpretation from the audience which is often in itself based off the audience’s ability to relate to the story or message being told behind the lyrics and flow. Simply put, hip hop is all about personal preference. I personally prefer the “lyricist” to the “street banger or trap artist” because that’s who I am usually able to connect with more. Because of that, here are 5 lyrically gifted artists you may not have heard of that I personally recommend keeping an eye on in 2014 in no particular order.
Baltimore’s very own, Ellis, dropped a recent mix tape titled “The Education of Ellis” which was inspired by the film “The Education of Sonny Carson”. In the mix tape, Ellis speaks on his experiences as an adolescent in Baltimore and the hardships he faced growing up in a tough neighborhood. What I really liked about the mix tape was not only his ability to flow well on some pretty soulful samples but also his ability to retain a positive uplifting message in his lyrics while still sharing these experiences. If you’re a fan of substance behind rap, you should really check out the mixtape. Look out for this guy in 2014. Salute.
Link to the mix tape: http://www.datpiff.com/ELLIS-The-Education-of-ELLIS-mixtape.539813.html
Schama, Schama Noel, is a young aspiring artist from Orlando, Florida that recently dropped his debut mix tape “God’s Playlist”. “God’s Playlist” offers deep lyricism mixed with fast flows. Simply put, “God’s Playlist” is the type of mix tape where you’ll listen to a song 3 or 4 times before truly picking up on the double and triple entendres. In “God’s Playlist”, Schama takes on multiple subject matters from being discriminated against because of his Haitian roots to his own hate for “light skin” girls who don’t text back. It’s a mix tape where lyricism and a fun flow keep you listening even if you cant necessarily relate to the songs. I have no doubt 2014 will be very promising for this guy.
Link to the mix tape: http://www.datpiff.com/Schama-Gods-Playlist-mixtape.560923.html
One of the more popular artists on the list, KR is a young rapper from Los Angeles, California. His most recent mix tape “I$0lyf3 2” offers insight in to the hardships of growing up in LA. On “I$0lyf3 2”, KR has a very strong and emotional west coast flow that in my opinion resembles that of Kendrick Lamar on Section 80 but with his own twist. Definitely an artist to watch in 2014.
Link to the mix tape: http://www.datpiff.com/mixtapes-detail.php?id=537808
4. Rejjie Snow
Rejjie Snow is a young artist from Dubland, Ireland, that recently dropped an EP “Rejovich”. Rejjie Snow is an artist, he uses imagery to paint an image in the listener’s head but follows with deep lyrics that leave you thinking and interpreting possible meanings. “Rejovich” has a real ominous and dark feel that I feel helps complement his flow, its the type of EP you’d chill and vibe to or play at a kick back. It’s hard to explain his style but it’s rather unique, almost resembles that of Tyler the Creator.
Link to the EP: https://soundcloud.com/rejjiesnow/sets/rejovich-ep
5. Vic Mensa
Probably the most popular artist on this list, chances are if you’ve heard of Chance the Rapper, you’ve heard of Vic Mensa. For those that haven’t though, Vic Mensa is a young rapper from Chicago who recently dropped his mix tape “Innanetape”. Vic Mensa offers a unique flow that is deeply based around word play, syllables, and delivery. “Innanetape” is probably the funnest to listen to because of Mensa’s ability to take serious subject matter like homicide and drugs in Chicago but present them in casual and playful songs that are easy to get lost in and almost always leave you head-nodding. Dope artist to watch for in 2014.
Link to the Mix Tape: http://www.datpiff.com/Vic-Mensa-Innanetape-mixtape.536504.html