Rappers aged 25 and under – 10 favourites – Special

A continuous wave of youngsters, mostly not legally allowed to even order a beer, are shaping the Hip Hop landscape. Here is a list of young rappers, whose unique style and attitude is determining the direction of Hip Hop today.

A continuous wave of youngsters, mostly not legally allowed to even a order beer, are shaping the Hip Hop landscape. Some of them have signed massive record deals, some are going strong on their own or have even founded their own labels. While the future might look dire in other areas of the arts these juniors have found a gold mine to tap into and are proving that, perhaps, the American dream does still exist. The youthful voice of Hip Hop isn’t something new though – it has always been present. Mobb Deeps’ Prodigy, on the legendary »Shook Ones Pt. 2« rapped »I’m only 19 but my mind is older«, RZA was only 23 when Wu-Tang Clan formed and Snoop Dogg was still all baby-faced looking in his »Who Am I (What’s My Name«) video. What is different about Hip Hop’s young players though is their access to the internet making them more powerful, wider reaching and at the same time more tangible than ever. Having grown up with the internet they know how to milk it and see in it an infinite opportunity for collaboration, inspiration and a way to connect to their fans. Here is a list of young rappers, whose unique style and attitude is determining the direction of Hip Hop today.

Haleek Maul
Age: 16
Lives: Barbados
From: Brooklyn, New York City

There is a certain type of youngster that creates unease in adults due to their vast vocabulary and serious demeanor as they are just so unnaturally mature. Haleek Maul is one of them.
His Supreme Cuts and King Britt produced album »Oxyconteen« is full of operatic ambience, taunting violins and echoing layers of darkness. He describes it as »shedding light on the dark corners of people’s realities« which his dread-ridden lyrics no doubt do.
Though Haleek Maul deals with the same teen-angst as anyone else does or did, he’s got a very demonic way of confronting it. On the song Inebriated he copes with a failed relationship, »This shit gone cure the pain/ in my heart/ in my brain/ drift away/ inebriate/ drift away« and on 88 he reflects on his self-doubt, »Can’t stand to be alone, my life is a mistake, that’s why demons want my soul«. It’s horrorcore to the core.

Azealia Banks
Age: 21
From: New York City

Harlem’s own Lolita, Azealia Banks manages to look unbelievably innocent (the Mickey Mouse sweater helping no doubt) while spitting about her »cunt gettin’ eatin’« on her viral YouTube hit »212«. Since graduating from the esteemed LaGuardia performance school she’s signed with Interscope, performed a private party for Karl Lagerfeld, modeled for Alexander Wang, has had mad Twitter beef with Kreayshawn and moved to London to record her album.
More generally she is taking female rap into a new, exciting direction working hard to not be compared to Nicki Minaj or M.I.A.. Her mixtape »Fantasea« is somewhere between house, pop and grimey Hip Hop with a lot charmingly vulgar cheek. Though only 21 she’s not a newcomer having signed a deal with XL Recordings as a teenager. So, she might seem to have come out of no where with a big splash the little lady knows the game and is playing it well.

Tyler, The Creator
Age: 21
From: Los Angeles

He is the junior Renaissance Man of Hip Hop and ring leader of the wolf pack that is Odd Future. Tyler won MTV’s Best New Artist Award in 2011, independently released two albums, owns his own record label and stars in his own TV show on Cartoon Network. He’s achieved more than most dare to daydream about.
Big-eared and lanky he may appear but his lyrics are threatening, disgustingly funny and his sandpaper-rough voice sounds like its been around the block at least twice. And as if he wasn’t dabbling in enough projects already Tyler’s got more than one alter ego when he raps including a white serial killer called Wolf Haley, scary sounding Ace the Creator and Tyler Haley, which gives him the power to take the piss out of his critics by taking the piss out of himself like on his track Sandwitches: »Who the fuck invited Mr. I Don’t Give a Fuck/ Who cries about his daddy and a blog because his music sucks? (I did!).«

Schoolboy Q
Age: 25
From: Los Angeles

Just about young enough to make this list Schoolboy Q is a must mention with his fourth mixtape and second semi-official album »Habits & Contradictions«: a twistin’-n’turnin’ journey through unpredictable layers – ‘Contradictions in my thoughts, and I just execute my feelings’ he mumbles on »2 Raw«.
Schoolboy Q is part of Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy crew and part of the youthful re-invention of West Coast rap, which he does with a real remarkable style: he’s cheeky (taking a jab at Jay-Z on Nightmare on Figg St: »What’s 50 grand to a muh fucka like me, can you please remind me? Shit, I’ll remind ya/Put that steel behind ya/ Put the five inside ya’«, as well as mesmerizingly gloomy – a gloom that doesn’t force the listener to surrender to despondency but rather summoning them to explore his strangeness.

Angel Haze
Age: 20
From: Michigan
Lives: New York City

This childhood cult survivor is out of control. On her track »New York« (beat courtesy of Gil Scott- Heron’s »New York is Killing Me«), filled with distant thunders of vibrating bass lines and violent claps , she spits fierce lines (»I’m satan/and I’ma take your ass to church now«) at such ferocious speed, only giving the listener a chance to catch up on the sweet, sing-song hook that’s actually anything but sweet; it’s a proclamation about her reign over New York.
But she’s not just a potty-mouthed hardliner repping herself: she became a YouTube phenomenon with half-spoken, half-rapped rhymes for teenagers contemplating suicide or with drug abuse problems. On her tracks she tackles her own problems just as fiercely as she attacks others making it a refreshingly honest listen.
On her mixtape Voice she offers her version of Kanye West and Jay-Z’s »No Church in the Wild« and kills it lyrically (»Know that I don’t believe in the curse of generations/ know that the fucking past is only intimidation/ just know that it’s a reminder that only hinders your greatness«) and stylistically making the original seem like an unfinished thought.

Age: 20
From: London

He shook up the London grime scene with his 2010 anthem »East London is Back« and the rest of his album »The Maxtape« proved him to be one of the freshest and most innovative rappers in the English capital.
Alas, his fame attracted a lot of hate: He was stabbed and abused making him move and take a break from the game. He came back strong and changed, steering into a different musical direction with his acoustic cover of Tracy Chapman’s »Fast Car«.
He wanted to prove that he had grown-up and left the grime scene behind and he succeeded with his blazing single »I wanna Rock« – though traces of Grime remained, which isn’t a bad thing – it made it an addictive, hard-hitting party track. He’s made it clear though that he doesn’t want to be the new face of London Grime – he wants to forge his own path and he’s off to a pretty good start.

Age: 21
From: Miami

Spaceghostpurrp’s album »Mysterious Phonk« is one of isoloation: it’s just his voice and his beats through out its entirety. This 21 year-old is disillusioned and fed up with life (‘Living here in hell now, known as the motherfuckin’ Earth, a.k.a the fucking world now’ on Osiris of the East) and expresses this with such mature candor creating a clenching, sinister atmosphere uncommon for a 21 year-old.
He describes his music as dark metal-folk rap, his art work is clad in skulls, graves and crosses and he uses Space Cadet pinball machine sounds to lace his tracks – he’s more than just a little spaced out.

Big Baby Gandhi
Age: 22
From: Born in Bangladesh, raised in Queens

As the only Indian kid in class it was rap that made him fit in – now it’s the thing making him stick out. B.B.G got the attention of Das Racist by leaving negative You Tube comments underneath their videos and sending them his beats. Since then they’ve collaborated on his mix tape No1 2 Look Up 2 and Big Fucking Baby. His often times self produced beats are heavily layered with samples, lo-fi and catchy as hell. His rapping style is a combination of nonchalance drawling and highly animated spitting that charmingly tends to miss the beat.
His lyrics are entertainingly cocky at times (»I love her like a lot of fat kids love cake/or like a lot of whack kids love Drake« on Drink a Lil Pepsi) and other times provokingly consciousness when dealing with the outcast feeling from being an Indian immigrant in New York.

Kilo Kish
Age: 21
From: Orlando
Lives: New York City

Fame’s what happens when you aren’t trying. Or something like that. Though fame’s still a bit far fetched, Kilo Kish she is continuously building up her fan base to include Syd the Kid and Mos Def. Rapping was never her aspiration but something the Fashion Institute of Technology student did at home for fun with her rapper roommate Smash Simmons. The result is a pretty spaced-out and strange sounding self released »Homeschool EP« (produced by The Internet) that has Kilo Kish whispering and giggling sweetly in an ultra mellow, girly voice. She stands out with her humility and innocent lyrics rather than with flesh-baring clothes and provocative lyrics like a lot of her female contemporaries.

A$AP Rocky
From: Harlem, New York City
Age: 23

It seems like the 23 year-old has been around the scene for years yet it was only in the fall of 2011 that he penetrated the rap scene with his codeine fever dream inspired tracks »Purple Swag« and »Peso« sporting his thick braids and high-fashion swag. He’s since signed a 3 million dollar deal with Sony/RCA before he even dropped his since highly acclaimed mix tape »LIVE.LOVE.A$AP«.
Rocky’s got a flair for what is good and how to present it. He’s known for his fashion as much as Kanye is, with outfits constructed out of a mix of high-fashion designers like Rick Owen and Harlem street style. This mix’n’matching applies to his rap style also: sedated weed rap, narcotic New York, Midwestern and Memphis rap. It’s cultural sampling at a masterfully, high level.