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