Written by @isjonespoetry
As many of you may know, this August marks my first year in New York. It has been a difficult year—this was my first time being far away from anything familiar, being in a graduate program which does not stimulate much growth in my writing, the most brutal winter New York has seen since the 1930’s, the muggy summer, not having my car, and dealing with New Yorkers alone has been an ordeal. I have been run up by homeless people. Screamed at by crackheads. I have been touched and grabbed without my consent. Cat-called. Lost my financial aid. Almost got evicted. I could go on. Music, most notably hip-hop (as I do listen to other genres, but hip-hop is my Alpha & Omega) has always been my reprieve. I could be angry, depressed, anxious, my life falling to pieces, elated and music is always there. I didn’t get to travel or do many things like I wanted to, but the following artists really made my summer special. Since I became editor-in-chief at UpcomingHipHop.net, I have been exposed to so much raw, unrecognized talent, and it has been an immense blessing to witness the first kindling of what I believe will blossom into a prosperous career for many of these artists. It has been a summer of growing pains, but it was because of these artists’ music, my days were easier. If you haven’t heard of the following rappers, I implore you to make the last bit of your summer special with these rising stars. Thanks so much for chasing your dreams and showing us with your talent. As always, thanks so much for reading.
Many New York natives who are deep in the indie hip-hop scene have heard of the spiritual, sensual duo Thandiwe Young & Niamni Sala Scott-Murray that make up Oshun. As someone who is Nigerian by heritage, American by practice, it’s nice to see pieces of myself touching and nourishing an ever expanding audience. I was instantly in love with their first major project “Asase Yaa” especially the song “The Next Day”. What I appreciate the most about Oshun is how confident they are in their strength and their message; Oshun is the kind of collective every Black girl needs to be listening to. It’s to the point where I want to get my freestyling game up that I love them so much.
The first time I saw Chyna live was at an UHH event, and damn, the crowd went insane. Chyna reminds me that female MC’s are still here and are coming for that crown. Chyna and Rome Streetz gave me my whole life when I first saw them tear it up. She’s a menace on the mic, especially in her single “Mask and Glock”. Her rhymes and flow are so smooth it’s a little absurd. Chyna is also a woman about her business—she lives what she rhymes about. I’m inspired by her to do more work with my poetry. I’m excited for her next project and everything incredible I know she will do.
Kid Named Nova
I know now in the future to prepare my whole spirit for when Nova has a feature. When I tell you my body was vibrating after finally seeing him live, even liquor couldn’t do for me what Nova did that night. My soul was called out of me to witness the glorious beads of sweat upon his forehead. It was in that moment, I knew Nova was Kanye long lost child. In all seriousness though, you may think he’s just some rapper from New York, but I’m telling you now if you sleep on this man, it’ll be the biggest mistake you’ve made in a while. Nova draws from that classic Brooklyn, “late night cypher with the homie” sound, but is paving a new road for hip-hop’s future. Nova, unlike my boyfriend Frank Ocean who won’t return my calls anymore, will be coming out with RAPVILLIAN next year. Prepare your spirit for departure.
During an iSpitNYC event, Butta Cool commanded the stage like this is was his blood and bread. His song “Mackin’ N’ Hangin’” (accompanied with a dance) was so catchy I was singing and doing the dance the next day at work. Most times when I go to a show it’s either to support or to find new artists. I didn’t know how blessed I would be to see him rock out. Butta shook away the troubles I had that week. He’s a serious artist, a professional, and with how much he loves his work I know he’ll be successful.
Favorite Song: “Mackin ‘n Hanging”
Nossis is fearless on stage. If she is 5”1 in stature, then her rhymes make her 6’3”. More importantly than her ability to hold her own against the most vicious male MC, her stage presence is warm and inviting. Nossis could have a crowd of two or 200 people and could still create an intimate ambiance. During one of her shows I went to, she said “No matter what you do in this life, make sure people remember your name”. Her latest mixtape “Gawdess” is now available on her website and SoundCloud. Best remember she is the N-O-SS-I-S.
EDotNigma’s music makes me believe in magic again. Call me nostalgic, but his mixtape “Circadian Rhythms” took me back to the classic, solid era of hip-hop, which is not to say there is something hip-hop’s current sound, but I feel the EDotNigma’s approach pays homage to how far hip-hop has come and everything current artists still have yet to bring to their listeners. But the magic he conjures when he touches a stage, it’s like love arrived. That is the only way I can describe it. It’s like the first time I heard “Illmatic” and I knew I was in the midst of a legend. I could be preempting this, but EDotNigma is still very young in his legacy and “Circadian Rhythms” is a gift available for you on SoundCloud.
Favorite Song: “For The People”
I’ll probably never get tired of saying this, but if not for UHH I would have never known about such stunning gems such as Xkeban Jones. Any song with a tight beat, political undertones, and take a jab at Donald Trump, is an instant win in my book. Now, you know I had to save the very best for last and Xkeban is it. It’s rare for me to become a fan after hearing one song, but with her brilliant sampling skills, sharp and witty rhymes, she’s a breath of fresh air at long last. All I can say is “Lord, please give me her mixtape. I need it!”
Favorite Song: “White Picket Fences”