FRESHPEOPLE LIST 2021
The third installment of SleepWalker’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated Freshpeople List (FKA Freshman List) has finally arrived. Similar to the annual list put out by X*L, our list highlights artists who are relatively new to the rap game that gained a lot of attention this past year for their next-level work. However, our list differs from the increasingly out-of-touch list released by X*L's burnt-out publication by avoiding industry-sponsored choices, and keeping our roots firmly in the underground. We also include creatives from all facets of hip-hop on our list including rappers, producers and videographers. These creators had a great year, and we believe that everyone will be listening to and/or watching them in the near future, if they aren't doing so already. Enjoy our 2021 Freshpeople list and don’t forget to support these artists!
Qwest Milan // Milanstudio.s
Kody Grace // sheshotyou
Nam Mac // Lord Stingray
YN Jay (@ynjay_)
The 21-year-old from Beecher, Michigan has been rapping since 2017 originally under the name YN Jaylein, but he switched up his flow in 2020 and came to be known nationwide as YN Jay “The Coochie Man.” Last year, he went on one of the most exciting runs in recent memory, dropping a new video, song, or feature every three to four days for all of 2020 and most of 2021. His off-kilter delivery, energetic punch-in style, and outlandish references have made him one of the most absorbing artists to listen to through quarantine. YN Jay has an expansive discography, dropping over 100 songs on his YouTube page in the last nine months. His beaming personality makes every one of his releases a must-listen, with his signature “HOLD ONNN,” “DAMNNNN,” and “AHHHHH” ad libs becoming common use in Instagram captions and Tik Tok trends. YN Jay keeps his collaborations relatively in house working with Flint, Michigan’s finest Rio Da Yung OG (Free Rio), RMC Mike, Louie Ray, and producer Enrgy. He’s also worked with Lil Yachty, Coi Leray, and has a few unreleased songs with Lil Uzi Vert. The Coochie Man took the rap game by storm last year and it seems like he will only continue his trailblazing of the industry through the rest of 2021.
Tae Dawg - (@oozindawg)
The rapper from PG County, Maryland has been active since 2016, and played a large role in developing the nationally renowned “DMV Flow.” Tae Dawg had early collaborations with Q Da Fool, Shabazz, and Rudy Cash, and was one of the first frequent collaborators of producer-legend Sparkheem. Unfortunately, Tae Dawg was briefly incarcerated while his peers were receiving national attention for a sound he helped create. But in the middle of 2020 he was released, and flooded the scene with four different projects in only eight months. With Sparkheem and Spizzledoe handling the vast majority of his production, Tae Dawg has developed a unique sound that sets him apart from anyone else who's rapping right now. Every one of his verses are incredibly dynamic, he’s liable to sing, drop rapid fire bars in auto tune, or just outright rap over the hardest beats imaginable. Since his release, Tae Dawg has strayed away from features, but has collaborated with Rudy Cash, YG Addie (ASAP Ant), DuffleBagboog, and YungManny. The self-proclaimed “Ooze God” has a consistent output of unparalleled crankage that makes him one of the most exciting artists to watch this year.
Maassai - (@maassai_)
The Brooklyn native has been a present force in the New York underground Hip Hop community since 2017. Maassai was already featured on tracks from buzzing local artists, performing at concerts, and modeling at fashion shows before putting out her first official project C0n$Truct!0N - EP in 2019. She’s released four more projects since, including a collaboration tape with Hip Hop and Electronic producer JWords titled ve·loc·i·ty, which multiple publications included in their “Best of 2020” lists. Maasai’s lyrical versatility and genius wordplay stamps her as the best lyricist on this list. She often steers away from the exaggerated braggadocious lyrics that have become so popular in Hip Hop, and instead provides real life observations she makes of herself and those around her with an overall message of self-love and improvement. The realness is genuine and unrivaled. Not only can Maassai rap circles around anybody, she also has a pristine ear for beats seemingly going out of the way to find the rarest production that only an artist of her talent could get on. Over the years she’s worked with Nappy Nina, Akai Solo, Keiyaa, Pink Siifu, KUMBAYA, and Mavi. The raw talent Maassai holds becomes more refined with every release, making it exciting to imagine what she’ll deliver the rest of this year and beyond.
Shawny Binladen - (@sb_bdz)
Woodhaven, Queens native Shawny Binladen has been releasing music since 2016 as a founding member of Yellow Tape Boys (YTB). He’s noted in interviews that he’d rather collaborate with other artists than record by himself, having multiple features from K$upreme, Dee Aura, and fellow YTB members. But this past year, Shawny has ridden the NY Drill wave into a lane of his own. While he still drops plenty of collaborative music, the solo tracks he’s released this past year offer a wide range of experimental takes on Drill. He has placements with producers like Cash Cobain and Y3TGA as well as talented keyboard legends like 1chai and Capncrunch. Shawny has made some critical moves to capitalize on his one-of-a-kind cadences, fitting them smoothly into even the most obscure beats. He took advantage of the rise in sample-based Drill, a subgenre pioneered by Evilgiane, attracting an audience interested in alternative takes on musical trends. This year, Shawny garnered recognition from artists and publications throughout the underground and mainstream, which will only continue to increase throughout 2021.
The NYC-based rapper drew a lot of attention after her single Sad B!tch Freestyle went viral last April. CLIP has been dropping beats, mixes, and singles on SoundCloud since she was 16, but did not begin releasing music consistently until 2021. Her growing discography has garnered her cosigns from notable legends in the underground like SickBoyRari (Black Kray), Aunty OK (Bootychaaain), CHXPO, 16yrold, and SlimeSito. This year, CLIP came out with a song every few weeks, each one showcasing a different aspect of her artistry. She could be singing over slow synths, or rapping in a pitched-up voice over a wavy beat. Her willingness to fully delve into her struggles with mental health can make her music painfully relatable. CLIP has multiple releases with producer Sachy and a track produced by EvilGiane and TommyToHotty. She also has features from David Shawty and Kae Coutur. The vulnerability and sincerity of CLIP’s bars and her openness, relatability, and great sense of humor on social media has everyone throughout the industry excited for what she has in store for the rest of the year.
WTM Scoob (@wtmscoob)
The 19-year-old Detroit native has grown a solid following this past year for his unique flow and amazing ear for beats. WTM Scoob has been rapping since 2019 as a member of World Tour Mafia, a group heavily affiliated with Whitehouse Studios, a Detroit-based creative hub that helps grow various stars throughout the city. Although he was steadily building a following, Scoob found a new wave of support last year when he began collaborating with renowned Chicago producer Plu2o Nash. They released a few singles from their collaboration project I Went To Plu2o throughout 2020 before dropping the entire project last December. Scoob’s taste for phantasmagoric soundscapes allows his raspy voice and nonchalant flow to effortlessly float over any beat he chooses, regardless of its complexity. And his slow delivery and long pauses allow all of his punchlines and humble flexes to fully sink into the listener. This past year, WTM Scoob has worked with other budding rappers in Detroit like Veeze, Baby Face Ray, Los, and Baby Smoove, and local producers Wiardon, Top$ide, Rocaine, and Michigan Meech. He’s proven that his sound is truly one of a kind, and his newest release Scoob & Sydney Tour The World reinforces this. With a recent signing to Republic, Scoob has all the resources to push his artistry to an even higher level this year.
Rx Papi (@rxch_papi)
The Rochester, NY native is one of the most based artists in existence. He’s been rapping since 2016, initially under the name Lil Fleechy before switching his name to Rx Papi in 2019. After a year rapping under his new name, Papi was universally recognized as one of the rawest in the game. His hookless songs have taken the punch-in flow style to a whole new level. Unlimited references and punchlines are unleashed sporadically with dynamic structures that are as genius as they are funny. Papi dropped multiple 20 minute songs going bar after bar saying anything that comes into his head. He also has superb beat selection working with some of the best producers out including Evil Giane, Bossup, Xangang, Spoonytino, and Top$ide. Papi and fellow group member RXK Nephew have amassed a sizable cult following through their unorthodox style and constant output of music. Both artists are liable to drop multiple songs a day for weeks on end. Other than his numerous collaborations with Nephew, virtually all of Papi’s releases are solo, but he has recently worked with Boldy James and RIP Eternal. Not only can he spazz on any type of beat, Papi can also create entire narratives within his barrage of bars making him one of the most versatile and exciting rappers to watch for the rest of the year.
Songs to listen to by Rx Papi: Rx Papi & RXK Nephew - OJ Da Juiceman With 6 Rings, Rx Papi - Money Rag, Rx Papi - Dmx, Rx Papi - I Forgot Who I was, Rx Papi - Missy Elliot
Hailing from Flint, Michigan, Enrgy started making music with the Magix Music Maker game on his Playstation 2 when he was only three years old. He started uploading his beats to Youtube in 2018 under the name NRG. His signature speaker-shaking 808s and bouncy kick and snare patterns catapulted him to one of the most sought out producers in Michigan this past year. In fact, Enrgy has helped curate the entire sound coming out of Flint right now, producing the biggest hits for Rio Da Yung OG, YN Jay, RMC Mike, BFB Da Packman, and many more of the city’s rappers. This past summer, Enrgy had an instant sonic takeover. His production was blasted in seemingly every car driving through a hood, and used in numerous viral Tik Tok trends. It doesn’t matter who's rapping, what they're saying, or how they say it, if Enrgy made the beat it will crank. In the last year, He’s expanded beyond Flint working with Detroit heavyweights Baby Smoove, Kasher Quon, Veeze, and even Atlanta’s Lil Yachty. Enrgy signed to Beatstars / Sony Music Publishing this past March, so it will be exciting to see what comes next from the young producer with the resources of a label behind him.
Songs produced by Enrgy to listen to: Rio Da Yung OG - Legendary, YN Jay feat Louie Ray - Coochie, BFB Da Packman feat Icewear Vezzo - Free Joe Exotic, Kasher Quon - Wavy
Lincoln Minaj (@lincolnminaj)
The South African rapper and producer is by far the rarest person on this list. He’s been a present force in multiple musical communities throughout the world, and can claim a large share of responsibility for the global resurgence of Plugg music. Lincolnminaj's beats sound like the splashing of digital diamonds in a waterfall. One may recognize his beats from the layers of ethereal melodies that mesh together into pristine conglomerates. These, accompanied by wavy 808s, create an exquisitely unique product. Lincoln’s reach is international, putting out songs with artists rapping in English, French, Portuguese, or Russian. Anyone from any part of the world can float smoothly over his production. Lincoln’s discography is vast with over 900 beats uploaded to his Youtube (most of them are free to use so tap in). He’s collaborated with SoundCloud legends like SickBoyRari (Black Kray), Chris Travis, and Sahbabii, and has worked with budding European rappers like Serane, Rocket Skywalker, and Chico da Tina. LincolnMinaj has put in the work to have his music played around the world in all types of languages, so it’ll be exciting to see what new heights he’ll ascend to this year.
Songs produced by Lincolminaj to listen to: SickBoyRari (Black Kray) - Cat Staccs, Rocket feat LilDrugHill - AAA, Chris Travis - It’s On You, SahBabii feat T3 - House Party, Chico Da Tina - Todo o Dia
Detroit had the biggest comeback of 2020 and Top$ide should be given some credit for this. The city’s native came onto the scene in 2018 rapping and producing for World Tour Mafia and those affiliated with WhiteHouse Studios. Since then, he’s continued to be one of their go-to producers and has expanded his reach throughout Detroit and beyond. His slow tempo production features drawn out synthesizer melodies that accompany pithy 808s. Combined with various iconic percussion hits, these sounds roll smoothly into each other to create bay area-esque, uniquely recognizable beats. Despite his relatively private social media presence, Top$ide is one of the most sought-after producers in the underground collaborating with a wide range of artists including BabyFace Ray, Lucki, Los, Rx Papi, WTM Scoob, Icytwat, and Diego Money. His continual recognition by his peers as a great producer, and a potential OVO cosign, show all the signs for an incredible next year for Top$ide.
Paris Aden (@parisaden)
The 20-year-old Port Arthur, Texas native has been making music since she was fourteen, raising eyebrows in the underground as early as 2015. Paris Aden has maintained a relatively low public profile throughout her career, but her introverted social media presence contradicts her high-energy and attention-grabbing production style. Aden was born with synesthesia, giving her the ability to see sounds, which helps explain the vivid textures in all of her production. Hard-hitting drums and genius samples send waves throughout any listener’s body almost forcing them to unknowingly convulse to the beat. Over the years, Paris has worked with a large list of great artists becoming go-to producers for Bali Baby and BbyMutha while also landing recent placements on tracks by 645AR, Babyxsosa, Fly Anakin, Cashier Fresh, and Sauce Walka. Even though Paris has been around longer than other artists on this list, her ability to continue to progress her sound over the years while still maintaining her signature style makes her one of the most exciting producers to watch this year.
Originally going by missed calls, while a member of the Cacheclique producing team, CashCache is another producer that should be credited for the resurgence of Plugg music that took place this last year. The Conyers, Georgia native has been uploading content since 2017, producing early tracks for Lil Xelly, Slime Dollaz, and 10 Cellphones. His precise arrangement of simplistic melodies accompanied by complex 808 patterns creates a smooth and bouncy soundscape that gives any artist the space to float over. He’s the digital conductor of a Plugg orchestra. His consistent output of top-tier production led to the collective recognition of his talent by rappers across the industry. He produced the critically acclaimed DIS SHOULD HOLD U OVER collaboration tape with Tony Shhnow, and another tape for French rapper Serane. He also has placements with Mavi, CHXPO, BoofPaxkMooky, Cyrax, Eyedress, and 10KDunkin. CashCache’s nuanced approach to producing earned him well-deserved praise amongst his peers and various publications, which will only continue to increase for the rest of the year.
The Atlanta-based producer has been active since 2014, but recently became one of Young Nudy’s in-house producers, working on his Faded in The Booth project in 2019. COUPE then, alongside 20Rocket, handled the majority of production on Nudy’s critically acclaimed 2020 release Anyways. He also produced most of Nudy’s newest album Dr EV4L. His ethereal melodies and fast-paced kick and hi-hat patterns make every beat sound like they are being channeled live from an intergalactic radio station. And COUPE’s knowledgeable structuring of beats allow each of their diverse segments to phase in and out at perfect times for anyone rapping on the track. Although the majority of his producing credits are for Young Nudy, he’s also worked with PDE Escobar, 21 Savage, and Gucci Mane. COUPE is immensely talented, and he’s quickly carving out his own sound while expanding upon Nudy’s established artistry, making them one of the most exciting duos in rap right now.
Cash Cobain (@cashcobain_2x)
The Bronx rapper and producer has been evolving his sound since 2014, shifting his work to match all of the different phases the game has gone through. Whether it be early Chicago Drill, Plugg beats or Gunna-esque guitar samples, Cash Cobain’s been there and done that. Although he's already had success in his career, producing hits such as Lucki’s Peach Dream, the MHPG Sound member seemed to find his own lane within the New York Drill movement that took the country by storm this past year. Cobain stands out from the typical Drill producer through his amazing choice in nostalgic samples that are flipped at the highest of tiers. His samples range from obscure tracks by groups like Cortex, a french jazz fusion band from the 70s, to more well known classics from Isaac Hayes, Keith Sweat, and Lauryn Hill. In 2020 and 2021, Cash has become a go-to producer for YTB, but has also gotten placements with FLEE, Swoosh God, SlimeSito, Fivio Foreign, Warhol.ss, and even Casanova. He’s demonstrated the ability to evolve alongside the industry for all these years, and with Drill spreading across the globe, Cash Cobain will remain a sought-out producer for the foreseeable future.
Qwest Milan // MilanStudio.s
The 22-year-old visual artist has been active since 2017, initially doing portrait photography and videography in Greensboro, North Carolina. Qwest Milan gained a following in the North Carolina creative community for producing thirty second photoshoot videos that mesh still photography, animation, and music into a new and extremely distinct product. He relocated to Brooklyn in 2019 and tapped into their underground fashion community, producing even more cutting edge photoshoots with budding artists in the area. Last summer, Milan began directing music videos that incorporated artistic elements from his photoshoot films. His fast-paced cuts are enhanced by quick transitions that briefly turn everything on screen into krinkled, still portraits. This, mixed with his grainy footage, paintbrush filters, and animations, create the feeling one is watching a fast-forwarded, dystopian-urban-western film. In the last year, Milan worked with Moh Barreta, Shawny Binladen, Bobainee, Lite Fortunato, Polo Perks, and PPG Casper. He has one of the most distinguishable video styles out, and his unconventionality will get him even more opportunities this year.
Videos directed/edited by Milanstudio.s - Lite Fortunato feat Charley Osama - HigherThanJimi, Bobainee - Mosquito / Bobainee Sanders, Lite Fortunato - Move How I Move, Moh Baretta - Livin 4 The Moment, Shawny Bin Laden - Sleep Walking
Kody Grace // sheshotyou
The videographer from Washington D.C. has been making videos since 2017, consistently putting out great visuals for what feels like every single trap rapper in the DMV. Since 2020, Kody Grace has uploaded over 45 music videos on her YouTube alone, working with SlimeGoon9, Kayvo, No Savage, Baby Fifty, Cruddy Murda, and Semi Homie. Her clever edits and cutaways perfectly match the tempo, mood, and lyrics of every song she brings to life. Explosions, assault rifles, spaceships, soccer stadiums, doves, and a man running on fire are just a few things one may see flash across the screen in a Kody Grace video. The constant movements and zooms in her camera work heighten the intensity of every perfectly timed bar any artist delivers. Grace’s ability to make people doing ordinary things like smoking in their backyard more cinematically engaging than most feature films, and her rapid output of videos this past year, makes her path to even more success inevitable.
Nam Mac // Lord Stingray
The skater from California, and creator of the 3D animation hub VIRTUA PANIC (FKA PANICWARE), has been uploading art to his Instagram since 2013. Nam Mac started putting out 3D animations in 2020 that were reminiscent of the Animal Crossing video games. He soon turned these animations into full music videos, working with the late Juice WRLD, Bladee, CartierGod, and Lil Darkie in 2021. His nostalgic videos insert the viewer into a Gameboy world that's complexly designed from start to finish. The video's protagonist could be strolling through an enchanted forest and get transported to heaven by devilish looking angels, or be exploring an underwater cave that leads to a psychedelic ecosystem. Mac’s digitized camera work uses grandiose zooms and pans to create cinematic effects that could never be replicated in the human world. Every one of his videos is a full experience that becomes increasingly immersive each watch-through. Lord Stingray has found his niche in the videography world and will only go up for the remainder of this year and all that follow.
Devin Williams Nam Mac // Lord Stingray
Born and raised in the Westside of Detroit, Devin Williams is a photographer, videographer, clothing designer, and a vegan chef. He began his creative output in 2014 doing portrait photography, and became one of the most coveted photographers in the city. He’s worked with Big Sean, Danny Brown, Baby Smoove and Baby Face Ray, alongside superstars that passed through Detroit like A$AP Rocky, Steve Lacy, and Toro y Moi. Williams began making music videos in 2018, often shooting for his friend and frequent collaborator ZelooperZ. He pushed his creative output to another level this past year, directing some of ZelooperZ most captivating music videos. He also worked on videos for Meg Thee Stallion, A$AP Ferg, Na-Kel Smith, and Jhené Aiko. Although he’s collaborated with a long list of high-ranking names, his more personal projects and collaborations are what set him apart from other videographers in the underground and mainstream. Creating self proclaimed “Portrait Videos,” Williams uses offset and grainy footage that is briefly interrupted by eye-grabbing stills that give the viewer brief moments of beauty, lasting just long enough to burn into the mind. His on-tempo edits, creative layering of different video clips, and great selection of location settings make his experimental videos pristine, compact, and professional. William’s ability to mesh his photography and videography skills into his music videos make him one to watch for the rest of the year.
Videos directed by Devin Williams: ZelooperZ - 2 (Two), Zelooperz - Head 2 The Sky, Big Sean feat Ty Dolla $ign and Jhené Aiko - Body Language, Na-Kel- Smith Feat Zelooperz - Henny & Apple Cidar
The LA-based videographer originally made skating and concert recap videos before he started directing in 2018, normally for Bravoo Hunnidz (LilBabyGoat) and Diego Money. In 2020, PG3 picked up his output and became a frequent collaborator of both SIG and Surf Gang. His deep bag of editing skills make his videos excitingly unpredictable. High quality video can turn infrared, grainy, or X-ray at a moment's notice. This is accompanied by intriguing animations like a hand that moves paper cutouts of lyrics onto the screen throughout one video. He also incorporates elaborate intros into his videos; some examples being a person powering up the music video like a Playstation 2, a 3D animation eating the screen, or someone getting pulled out of a trunk. In the past year PG3’s worked with Slimesito, Bobainee, RealYungPhil, Polo Perks, Caal Vo, ATL Smook, Zellyocho, and Dee Aura. PG3 is one the most exciting artists in the underground, and his videos are something everyone should look forward to experiencing this year.
Daniel Mangosing (@danielmangosing)
The animator and videographer, working out of New York and LA, has been creating content since 2017. However, in 2019, Daniel Mangosing began to incorporate high level 3D worlds into his visual content. His work pushes 3D audiovisual content to another level. Mangonsing’s dystopian realms are so detailed and captivating that experiencing his videos feels like one has uploaded their consciousness into the motherboard of a futuristic supercomputer. Whether it is a 10 second clip or a 40 minute livestream, his videos will keep one engaged for its entire duration. He’s worked on videos for Saweetie, ize, Lil Yachty and Prison Religion, live concert animations for London on The Track, Goldlink, Eel Tank, and April + Vista, directed multiple ads for the fashion brand GRVTY, and created a 3D environment for an Adidas X Alexander Wang S6 event. Mangonsing has already received write-ups from notable publications like Boiler Room, Vice, and Pitchfork, and he will certainly receive even more accolades for his innovative work in 2021 and beyond.
The videographer currently residing in the LA-area has been active since 2014, originally doing commissioned illustrations via his Instagram. In 2017, however, Filo5ofi started taking clips from popular interviews and adding quick zooms, reverbed audio effects, and photoshopped images to the videos, making them far more dramatic, exaggerated, and entertaining. Eventually, A***m22 came across his videos and invited him to be the main editor for the No Jumper Exposed! series. The spinoff came to an end in 2018, but Filo stayed in LA and used his new connections to do music videos, photoshoots, interviews, and vlogs. He’s worked with bonafide underground stars like Zelooperz, Cashier Fresh, Tisakorean, and Warhol.ss, while also working with budding artists like Jah$tar, RXK Nephew, and Quadie Diesel. Filo’s music videos incorporate the quick zooms and creative animations he used in the Exposed! series into high-paced action shots that are accompanied by clever plotlines and references. Filo is one of the most consistent and hardest working people on this list pumping out 2-3 videos every week for all of 2021. The sky seems to be the only limit on Filo this summer and the rest of the year.
SLEEPWALKER FRESHMAN LIST 2019
(THE GRAPE, WOBC BLOG)
First edition of our annual Freshppl List. We got our top 7 rappers, producers and videographers to look out for in 2019
Go read about all the creatives you love now
Read on WOBC Blog or Below