Bear1boss (@bear1boss)

Founder of Hotsauce Records and a key member of Popstar.FM, the Buffalo-born and Atlanta-raised emcee has been surrounded by music since he was a child, having familial ties to the ATL rap-mogul 2Chainz. Bear1boss started uploading tracks to his Soundcloud in 2013, and grew alongside the sound of Atlanta, making Trap and Plugg music throughout the 2010s. By 2020, Bear had established his own sound, frequently working with rockstar-trap producer 14GOLDS and longtime collaborator B-Rackz, while occasionally producing under the moniker HOTSAUCE (inspired by the streetball legend).

Bear1boss started adding sound effects to his tracks this year too, first seen on his Big Slime Like A Dragon tape. They would grow into an integral component of his music, spamming songs with ambulance sirens, airhorns, Luigi screams, Sonic rings, and his “Cross him up Hotsauce” soundbite. Bear then locked in with one of the most impactful artists in Atlanta’s modern underground scene, Popstar Benny. The two released their first collaborative project America's Sweetheart at the end of 2020. 1boss would go on a prolific run the next 18 months, dropping over 15 projects, a debut album, and a plethora of singles at an Rx Papi / Rx Nephewesque rate. He also established (with the help of Benny and 14) an entire superteam of producers dedicated to delivering ear-bending melodies and 808s for him to lyrically dance over. A few members of Bear’s single-name producer squadron include Cade, Ziti, Jackson, Tike, Aidan, Tylur [Ocean], firemane, and Baredex.

1boss and his camp have churned out futuristic Hyperop, Plugg, Trap, and Club music at an alarming rate, with over 350 tracks on his personal SoundCloud, and hundreds more throughout the internet. As his output increased, so did his lyrical creativity. Just like the streetballer who inspired his Hotsauce alias, Bear’s unorthodox flow finds him nonchalantly crossing up the listener as he goes in the complete opposite direction of wherever they expect with his flow, bars, cadences, and song structures. He may rap his heart out in quick punch-ins, lazily draw out his words over multiple beats, or do his whole verse as ad libs while his main vocal track hums and groans.

#Hotsauce’s talent has been universally recognized by Atlanta’s music scene working with the city’s OGs Key!, ATL Smook, Pollari, and 24Hrs, while collaborating with Popstar FM affiliates Tony Shhnow, Sharc, Divine Devine, Mercury, and MuddyMya. His appeal has spread outside Atlanta, putting out tracks with Matt Ox, Jah$tar, Warhol.ss, and Grimm Doza.

Bear1boss’ hands-on approach to all stages of music creation allows his vibrant personality to come through every song. He’s already regarded as a full-fledge popstar in various online communities, and currently rivals Tisakorean as the best dancer in rap’s underground. It ’s only a matter of time before the whole world acknowledges his greatness. If you like Hotsauce say “Uhh-huhh.”

Songs to Listen to by Bear1boss: BEAR1BOSS - Yao Ming (p. 14 Golds), BEAR1BOSS - Xan! (p. Ziti), BEAR1BOSS - #FreeHotsauce, BEAR1BOSS ~ Girl (p. 14 Golds + Ziti + Popstar Benny)

454 - (@squills)

The 25-year-old Orlando, Florida native started making music in 2013, originally under the name SQVXLLS. He produced a few SoundCloud classics during this time, including Playboicarti’s first underground hit, "YUNGXANHOE." Being a thoroughbred skater, SQVXLLS spent most of the 2010s gaining a following for his skating and beat-making skills. He started rapping under the name 454 in 2017, dropping music on Tommy Bohn's BONTANAMECANDY SoundCloud account.

After briefly living in NYC, where he learned how to record, mix, and master himself at a high level, 454 moved back to Florida at the beginning of 2020 as the pandemic was setting in. During this time, he put together the breakout single LATE NIGHT,” alongside his FAST TRAX mix. Both the single and mix find the emcee experimenting with the tempo of his songs, speeding it up or slowing down the track. His already higher-pitched voice takes on an angelically robotic tone when it’s sped up, and a clear and calming tone when slowed down. He applied this format to his critically acclaimed debut project in 2021 titled 4 REAL. 454 notes his experimentation with pitch was inspired by Quasimoto, but his modern-day interpretation of the technique is both refreshing and exciting.

The Florida artist also stands out for his positively honest lyricism. He’ll rap about serious issues of police brutality, gun violence, and dealing with the death of loved ones, while delivering braggadocious bars about skating, riding in big cars, smoking pressure, and the love he has for his girlfriend. The stream-of-conscious structure of his verses gives 454 the opportunity to talk about real life problems while still relaying the message of having fun and making the most out of life’s experiences. He’s able to fully convey the positive tone of his music through his genuine image. His music videos, normally shot by Tommy Bohn (BONTANAMECANDY), follow the artist’s day to day activities of skating throughout Florida and NYC, hanging out with his friends at a beach, and smoking in the woods. There's even a video that features him as a GTA character skydiving over the city, and tagging a water dam.

The Orlando emcee has remained pretty singular in his creative content only collaborating with his sibling Pig The Gemini and Plugg producers, but he's worked with Denzel Curry, and recently produced for Niontay and Zelooperz. He’s gotten write-ups from publications such as Rolling Stone, The Fader, and Office Magazine, and went on a cross-country tour with Aminé last spring. It’s clear the underground and mainstream are slowly falling in love with 454. He has all the cards in his hands, patiently waiting to deal out the project that will propel him to stardom.

Songs to listen to by 454: 454 - ANDRETTI (P. 454), DJ ORANGE JULIUS - UPHOLSTERY ft. 454, 454 - SKITTLES + GATORLAND (P. 454), 454 - THANKFUL (P. BNYX + DILIP + OTHELLO)

Muddymya - (@muddy.xo)

Hailing from the Stone Mountain neighborhood outside Atlanta, MuddyMya started officially releasing music at the beginning of 2020. She was primarily rapping over Trap and Plugg beats with the popular Atlanta punch-in style that she made into her own. Her soothing and light voice often delivers dark lyrics about sipping lean, driving fast cars, and getting money. The contradiction cranks. MuddyMya’s ability to find a perfect medium between singing and rapping throughout her verses, alongside her precise blend of autotune, makes her flow pretty intoxicating.

After releasing two EPs, and her single "CASHIN OUT," Muddymya shifted her Plugg-centric sound in the fall of 2021 with the release of her breakout EP MUDDYWORLD. Teaming up with North Carolina producer OK (who produced the entire project), she uses all 9-tracks to merge elements of EDM, Hyperpop, and ATL Hip-Hop into a new type of futuristic fusion genre. OK provides production reminiscent of 2016 MaalyRaw x Uzi tracks, but they are a bit more melodic and cinematic. It sounds like the music featured in a futuristic rave scene from Love, Death + Robots.

Muddy further embraced this sound in 2022, affiliating with Popstar Benny’s Popstar.FM group. She’s been featured on a handful of Hyperpop and Plugg tracks on the group’s SoundCloud page, and recently had the Popstar producer team host her May EP EDEN. Muddymya also tapped back in with OK this past June, releasing MUDDYWORLD V2, which saw them double down on their futuristic sound. The two have become a dynamic duo of sorts, creating fully fleshed out sonic experiences that sound like they were produced by a boss in an updated Scott Pilgrim movie.

A somewhat significant factor to Muddy’s recent appeal is the mysterious nature of her identity. Since her first music video, she’s always remained masked in public appearances and on social media, sporting various shawls, covid masks, and her signature bunny-eared ski mask. The anonymity creates a certain mystique around MuddyMya’s being, and forces listeners and audience members to focus on her music instead of what she looks like.

Muddy only has one SSGKobe feature in her mixtape discography, yet she’s appeared on tracks alongside Divine Devine, Bear1boss, and Nutso Thugn. She’s also worked with producers 14GOLDS, Trvsh, and Bsulv. Muddymya is still growing as an artist, but she has one of the best overall branding campaigns in the underground right now. This, paired with her new and refreshing music, makes it almost destined for her to skyrocket to new heights the rest of 2022.

Songs to listen to by Muddymya: MuddyMya - C*NT (p. OK), SKY / GOOD INTENTIONS (p. OK + Otwreg), G-LOCK (p. Cade+14 Golds+Adamsawake), MONEY KALL (p. CashCache + Ksubi1k)

Four50 - (@four50__)

The Woodhull, Queens native has been trailblazing his own path in NYC’s sample-drill scene since 2015. Four50 and fellow Woodhull native Shawny Binladen formed the group Yellow Tape Boyz (YTB) in 2016, dropping their first collaborative effort executively produced by Cash Cobain titled Gold Tips and Yellow Tape. They were eventually joined by groupmates Big Yaya, Big Gltaoww (FKA Big Baby), and Melly Migo, forming one of the hottest supergroups in NYC’s underground. They’ve gotten cosigns from the likes of influential designer Virgil Abloh (RIP), various members of A$APMOB, DMV hood-legend Lil Dude, and ATL punch-in flow innovator K$upreme.

On top of the various collaborative projects with his group members, normally released through the collective’s Soundcloud and Youtube pages, Four50 has put out 13 individual projects, with eight coming in the last year and a half. He stands out amongst the members of YTB and other rappers in the drill scene for his relentless lyrical barrage over the oddest beats he can find.

Basing his name off the temperature to set the oven to before he cooks up, Four50 holds a palpable energy in his delivery that's been present since he started rapping. Over the years, he’s honed in that intensity, rapping like a calmer and more refined Ski Mask The Slump God, or a prime Twista if he was off the lean and punched in. Four50’s fast-talking delivery and ability to choose the perfectly random word to elongate to get himself back on beat, makes all of his verses extremely unpredictable. His eccentric delivery is complemented by a true skill with the pen, casually dropping triple entendres in a storm of syllables that can easily fly past untrained ears. Four50’s unique sense of humor and knowledge of pop culture is apparent through the onslaught of punchlines that fill his verses. He’ll make references ranging from God Of War, DragonBall Z, and Call Of Duty to Futurama, Spongebob, and Suite Life of Zack and Cody, weaving it all into his storytelling of drugs, guns, women, and money.

Four50 has also developed a fearlessness in his beat selection, rapping over any type of sample no matter how obscure or commercial. He used the Jimmy Neutron intro, John Cena’s walkout song, and even the “Boots Are Made for Walking” country classic. Despite his good taste in somewhat comical samples, Four50 finds himself at his best when rapping over the oddly ethereal and melodic Drill production of NATTTCarlos and Chubbyelhefe, blacking over their beats in no way anyone else really can.

He tends to only work with YTB, but FOUR50 has established working relationships with rapper Grinchn4$, and producers Cash Cobain, Stronghold, and TBlossom. Four50’s overwhelming lyrical capabilities and eclectic references make his music accessible to almost anyone who listens. He is one of the most lyrically gifted Drill-rappers in Hip-hop, and it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world recognizes this fact.

Songs to listen to by Four50: FOUR50 - AND 3 (p. Cash Cobain), FOUR50 - Turbulence (p. ChubbyElHefe), FOUR50. - "916" (p. ChubbyElHefe), Four50 & Big Baby - Ps & Qps (p. ChubbyElHefe)

Lisha G (@theonlylishag)

The Camden, South Carolina native started her music career in 2017 after delivering an epic freestyle in a studio session with her friends. Lisha G’s peers pushed her to fully pursue music, and she started uploading tracks to SoundCloud later that year. She would eventually grab the attention of internet DJs in 2019, with underground curators like DJ PHAT, DJ FINNAHITALICK, DJ Gren8de, and Shoku Radio featuring her in mixes, dropping singles with her, and using her voice for tags.

One reason why people were so drawn to Lisha was her distinct voice and southern drawl that makes her delivery naturally melodic and effortlessly rare. Also, her frequent use of autotune, and ability to sing and rap throughout her verses showcase the full range of her unique voice. The effect makes good bars great and great bars timeless. Lisha always had an ear for beats, but she entered a new stage of sound with her 2020 project HIGH MINDED. The tape found her starting working relationships with Atlanta producers PedroFlexin, Nutso Thugn (who also raps), and Yuneylae. Although Lisha continued working with these producers, she seemed to make a special connection with Yuneylae. His new-age, ambient Plugg production contain dark, slow, and unusual melodies that sound like he took a Surreal Gang beat, reversed all the stems, and added subtler 808s over it. It’s a sound that really can't be recreated, and Lisha’s raw lyricism about not being one to play with makes all of their collaborations instant classics.

After taking a brief hiatus for most of 2021, Lisha dropped her Fortune After Difficulty project at the end of the year. She further tapped in with Yuney and Nutso, while forming a new relationship with Atlanta-based new-gen-Plugg producer Nerdcoke. His music falls on the other side of the Plugg spectrum with light piano and synthcentric melodies that are propelled by poignant 808s. Lisha finds a way to aggressively float over his beats, making a pleasant sonic clash between the two’s styles. NerdCoke has become a go-to producer for Lisha this year, producing multiple singles for her in the past months. Although she's consistently dropped music throughout her career, Lisha stepped into a new gear in 2022 cranking out over 15 singles on streaming services, and a recent EP with RXK Nephew.

The underground is well aware of Lisha’s talents with her landing placements with Boofpaxkmooky, Tonyshhnow, 10KDunkin, Woo Da Savage, and 106th and Park battle rap legend Blind Fury. She’s gotten even more nods from producers, working with notable names like Mexikodro, Dani Kiyoko, and Dylinci. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the populace becomes aware of this South Carolina legend.

Songs to listen to by Lisha G: Lisha G - Lie 4 What (p. Nerdcoke + 1Sonvta), Lisha G- Dont Panic (p. YuneyLae), LISHA G - MEET THE STICK (p. Nerdcoke), SLIMEY SNAKE 🐍 (p.Frozehki)

Jah$tar (@jahstarshit)

The 21-year-old Northeast Philadelphia native has been dropping music since 2017, initially going by Jah. He started off storytelling about life as a teenager in Philly with songs like 2am showing his high-energy delivery and lyrical talent at a young age. Although Jah$tar encountered success early in his career (a lot of his most played songs on SoundCloud are from 2017-2018), he’s since undergone multiple rebrandings and sound evolutions.

In the middle of 2018, Jah$tar switched up his flow, becoming far more animated in his delivery. He started screaming and whispering, experimenting with autotune, and breathing hard between his words, as he worked to find a balance between being lyrical and engaging. In 2019, Jah started punching in more, and became even more alternative in his beat selection, locking in with his go-to producer larry. The duo has a Young Nudy and Coupe-like chemistry where larry’s futuristically intense yet ethereal production provides a perfect canvas for Jah$tar to lyrically paint-splatter over.

At the start of 2021, he fully settled into a distinct sound with the release of projects KRAMP TWINZ (entirely produced by prolific London producer Jay Trench) and Melodies & Emotions. With the former showcasing his ability to make upbeat mosh pit music for parties and shows, while the latter displayed reflective and relatable tracks that could be listened to cruising in the whip, or taking the train to work. Jah$tar rode this momentum into 2022, flooding his SoundCloud and Youtube pages with over 20 singles and music videos, two EPs, and a new tape ITYGMFU. He started working heavily with Philly artist SIMITOBI during this recent run, making structureless ambient lo-fi music that highlights Jah’s ability to carve out different flows and cadences over what sounds like an 8-bit orchestra.

The young artist has remained fiercely independent throughout his career. He’s been recording and engineering himself since 2017, and stayed away from major label deals. Jah$tar also edits a solid amount of his music videos, designs and screen prints merch, and organizes shows often in collaboration with creative boutique Ammo Stillo. He is embodying a new generation of artists who are retaining ownership of all their work and looking to build a true organic following off the strength of themselves.

Although Jah$tar tends to keeps his content in-house, he's collaborated with Lancey Foux, Cashier Fresh, T$AN3000, and Bear1boss, as well as producers Ike Beatz, $orato, Evil, Jewelssea, Popstar Benny, and NoiseOfCory. Jah’s ability to handle almost all modes of creative output, while still capturing his raw energy, sets him apart from any young artists in the game right now. He's in position to really take off this year.

Songs to listen to by Jah$tar: Jah$tar - KRAMP (P. JAY TRENCH), Jah$tar- BACKSTAGE PASSES (P. NOISEOFCORY) #WTFWOULDSHEDO?, Jah$tar - Run The World (p. larry & Kgtrax), Jah$tar - I'M DA 1*★ #JAHSTARCLASSIC (p. larry)

Bandmanrill (@bandmanrill)

BandmanRill, originally from the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey, made immeasurable waves in the pandemic-era of music. His subgenre, which some describe as Club Drill, is inspired by the culturally foundational genre of his state, Jersey Club. Some music connoisseurs will be quick to exclaim that Bandman did not invent the concept of rapping over Club music, but nobody can deny he pioneered the Club-Drill crossover subgenre, and widened the world’s awareness to it.

The avenue Bandman traveled during the summer of 2021 perfectly exemplifies the trajectory of both Hip-hop and Club over time, almost finding an apex where the two were naturally meant to cross over. Club producers rarely experimented with tempo until about 10 years ago, and since then, tracks have been getting progressively faster as the preference for sped-up music increased. At the same time, Hip-hop exploded in hundreds of directions, lots of which (in the past few years especially) involved sped up and sampled beats. Bandbmanrill wed the two genres in an almost poetic crossover with the release of his breakout single Heartbroken. On the track, he delivers flagrant Drill lyrics over a Jersey Club beat. This marked the birth of Club-Drill.

His extremely lit video for the single came at a time many still considered to be the height of the pandemic. The combination of his unique sound with energetic (and potentially jarring) visuals was something that felt genuinely new and different. Bandman's work the last year carved out a pathway for the crossover subgenre, which has flourished in the last few months with Club-Drill songs emerging throughout Philly, Jersey, and NYC. Jersey club artists like AceMula continue to rise, while rappers like Dsturdy and Cash Cobain have brought the sound back to their respective cities. Even Drake rapped over a Jersey Club beat on his new album. It’s clear the subgenre is overtaking Hip-hop at a rapid pace, and as it continues to increase in popularity, so will the man who started it all, Bandmanrill.

Songs to listen to by Bandmanrill: Bandmanrill - Real Hips, Bandmanrill - Mr.Dontcuffthat, Bandmanrill - Jiggy In Jersey (ft. Sha Ek & DJ Swill B), Bandmanrill - BANDTHOVEN (TRENDSETTER)