Hip-hop is just as synonymous with New York City as yellow cabs and the Statue of Liberty. Not only is NYC where it all started, but it also consistently produces the genre’s premier artists. Buzz rappers these days come a dime a dozen, so here are our favorite new emcees, one borough at a time.
Brooklyn: The most exciting new voice to emerge from the BK this year goes by the name of Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire. Since the video for his grimy ode to drinking “Huzzah” went viral a few months ago, the hype around eXquire has been steadily snowballing around the web. Last week, he came through big time with his debut mixtape Lost in Translation, released through the red-hot clothing line/music source Mishka. eXquire’s style melds the ruggedy rawness of Ol’ Drity Bastard with the sleek wordiness of MF Doom and the gritty timbre of a young Method Man. Featuring production from El-P and verses from Das Racist and Danny Brown, the wildly colorful and startlingly diverse Lost in Translation is one of the most impressive tapes to drop this year. Download it for free here.
Queens: From the most culturally diverse borough comes the flavorful stylings of Flushing’s Action Bronson, a Jewish-Albanian rapper the size of Big Pun who, despite having a voice that sounds virtually identical to Ghostface Killah, manages to sound like no one else. Whether he’s rapping about fucking bitches and getting money, cooking five star dishes, or making esoteric references to late nineties WWF champions, Bronsalignio (as he sometimes refers to himself) his rhymes are consistently 100% fresh, and often as appetizing as they are entertaining. A choice line: “Damn I’m living reckless, smoking all day just like the brisket / My bitch is golden brown just like a biscuit / Everyday I’m thinking should I risk it? / Add another number to statistics or use the breast milk to eat my crispix” (“The Madness”). His 2010 mixtape Bon Appetit…Bitch!!!! and 2011 album Dr. Lecter are two of the most fun rap release in recent memory and are both highly recommended.
Action Bronson – Barry Horowitz by Hevehitta
Manhattan: Harlem representer ASAP Rocky is one of the fastest up and comers in rap today, and though he’s aligned himself with Internet phenoms like Spaceghost Purrp and Araab Musick, he has the kind of accessible appeal that could easily land him a radio hit before the year’s end. Riding high off the buzz from his sizzurp smothered video for “Purple Swag” and his swagged out banger “Peso”, Rocky has attracted praise from everyone from Drake to ambient beatsmith Clams Casino. Download his eclectic Deep Purple mixtape here.
ASAP Rocky – Peso by Official Hype
Bronx: The most commercially popularized emcee yet nonetheless buzzing emcee on our list is BX rhyme spitter Cory Gunz who hit it big with his closing verse on Lil Wayne’s comeback smash “6 Foot 7 Foot” earlier this year. Remarkably, that one highly impressive yet nevertheless singular verse somehow afforded him a level of popularity that qualified him for his own show on MTV, and undoubtedly helped him land a number of the high-profile guests on his Son of a Gun mixtape that dropped over the summer. The tape is unfocused and overly long, but displays a level of lyrical craftsmanship and technical prowess that towers that of, say, Drake. Gunz has the talent and, as a member of Weezy’s YMCMB crew, the necessary funds, to be rap’s next big time star.
Staten Island: Psych. NYC’s most estranged borough doesn’t have much in the way of buzzworthy rappers these days, although Staten native Ghostface Killah continues to kill it with his Big Ghost Chronicles blog.