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Fetty Wap - February 8, 2018

Summary

Based in New Jersey but influenced by Gucci Mane and other Southern hip-hop acts, Fetty Wap first hit in 2015 when he rapped and sang his way through his hit single "Trap Queen." Born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Fetty(sometimes known as Fetty Guwap after Gucci Mane's GuWop alias) launched his career alongside Montana Bucks, Khaos, and P. Dice in the hip-hop group Remy Boyz. In 2014, he released the solo singles "Addicted" and "Zoovier" and appeared on the Remy Boyz mixtape 1738. The mixtape was referenced at the beginning of Fetty's 2015 solo single "Trap Queen," a track that jumped into the Top 20 of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in its third week of release. The hit was soon remixed by French Montana and crossed into the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100, while Fetty joined Young Thugand Migos on Lyor Cohen's 300 Entertainment label. The follow-up single, "My Way," climbed into the Top Ten of the Billboard singles chart, and landed on Fetty's self-titled debut, a 2015 album that kept it in the family with all guest appearances coming from members of the Remy BoyzFetty Wap debuted at the top of the Billboard 200. A pair of mixtapes and Grammy nominations followed, as well as a steady stream of singles including "Wake Up," which broke into the Billboard Top 50 in the summer of 2016. His sixth mixtape, Zoovier, arrived later that year. In 2017, Fetty released "Way You Are" and "Flip Phone."

- Via AllMusic

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Ja Rule & Ashanti - December 31st, 2017

Summary

As the flagship artist for producer Irv Gotti's Def Jam-affiliated Murder Inc. label, Ja Rule became one of the rap industry's most commercially successful artists during the early 2000s, working closely with the hitmaking producer and his stable of talent.

With hitmaker Irv Gotti at the helm, Ashanti blasted into the urban music scene in 2002, topping the charts with multiple singles at once. She quickly became a sensation, gracing the covers of magazines and dominating urban radio. Ashanti built her reputation with duets, where she would complement an already popular rapper -- Ja Rule ("Always on Time"), Fat Joe ("What's Luv?"), the Notorious B.I.G. ("Unfoolish") -- contrasting the tough-guy male perspective with her own. It didn't take the young vocalist long to make a name for herself though: her debut album topped the Billboard album chart just as her debut solo single, "Foolish," was topping the Hot 100 chart. Her presence was inescapable.

-Via AllMusic

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Sonny Digital - December 22nd, 2017

Summary

An Atlanta-based producer who crafted hits for the likes of YCFuture, and 2 Chainz, Atlanta's Sonny Digital launched a second career as an MC in 2016. Born Sonny Corey Uwaezuoke in Saginaw, Michigan, Digital first created beats for various Atlanta rappers' mixtapes. In 2010 he went official when his work on Gorilla Zoe's "What's Goin' On" helped the track earn plenty of R&B radio play, but 2011 was his breakthrough year thanks to YC and the MC's Top Ten hit "Racks." In 2012 he produced hits for Future ("Same Damn Time") and 2 Chainz with Kanye West ("Birthday Song"), while iLoveMakonnenand Drake ("Tuesday") delivered the producer's big track of 2014. Work on Chief Keef's 2015 album BFD3 came next, then in 2016 Digital grabbed the mike on two of his own singles, "On It" plus "50 on My Wrist."

- Via AllMusic

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SYD - December 1st, 2017

Summary

One of the crucial figures in the 2010s Los Angeles music scene, Sydney Bennett -- Syd for short -- began as an engineer and eventually became known more as the front-person of soul-rooted alternative R&B band the Internet. During her teenage years, Bennett built a home studio, developed her engineering skills, and began producing material for a host of Odd Future and related projects. As Bennett continued to be a go-to OF collaborator -- she recorded and mixed Tyler, the Creator's gold single "Yonkers," for instance -- she established the Internet, who released an album every other year from 2011 through 2015. The last of the band's first three full-lengths, Ego Death, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album. While Bennett had used the Internet as a way to tap into the understated sides of neo-soul inspirations such as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, her uniquely frank songwriting set her apart. In 2017, she released her first solo album, Fin, which drew from mid- to late-'90s recordings by the likes of Brandy and Aaliyah. Like the Internet output, it was released through major-label Columbia.

- Via AllMusic

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Lil Pump - December 21st, 2017

Summary

Rapper Lil Pump was born Gazzy Garcia in Miami, Florida in 2000. Though Garcia had little interest in making music growing up, he took to writing raps and making his own tracks after he was expelled from school in the ninth grade for fighting with another student. Already friends with Smokepurpp at this time, he began collaborating with the rapper/producer and releasing tracks online starting in 2016, the songs marked by a repetitive, reckless style. The response was overwhelming, with tracks collecting millions of plays in a relatively short time frame. Lil Pump's celebrity grew with each song, as singles like "Broke My Wrist," "D Rose," and "Elementary" expanded his catalog and fame. Videos, touring, and an enormously popular social media presence all followed, based on the strength of just a few online tracks. Various labels expressed interest but within the first year of his life as a rapper, he hadn't even released a mixtape, let alone a proper full-length.

- Via AllMusic

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Blackbear - October 15th, 2017

Summary

A native of Los Angeles, California's Hollywood region, Blackbear -- born Matthew Musto -- was known as a fledgling, rock-leaning singer/songwriter until he co-wrote Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend," a number two hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012. Around the same time, he reinvented himself as a rapper and more R&B-oriented singer through the self-released Sex, on which he was joined by fellow "Boyfriend" co-writer Mike Posner, along with James Blake and Maejor Ali. He also appeared on MGK's Lace Up. An EP, The Afterglow, followed in 2014. Another big stride was taken the next year with Deadroses, a self-released full-length that registered on Billboard's Uncharted listing of releases from upcoming artists. Deadrosesfeatured the singles "IDFC" and "90210" featuring rapper G-Eazy. An EP of acoustic interpretations titled Dead followed soon after, before Musto issued his sophomore set, Help, in 2015. The EPs Drink Bleach and Cashmere Noose both arrived in 2016, as did "STFU," the debut single from Musto and Mike Posner's alternative hip-hop duo Mansionz. Two more Mansionz singles preceded the project's eponymous debut LP, released in March 2017. One month later, Blackbear issued his third full-length album, Digital Druglord.

- Via AllMusic

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Lil Yachty - September 14th, 2017

Summary

With hair that looks like red-hot cheese curls and the wild Atlanta ATLien style to match, Miles McCollum, known as Lil Yachty, bounces between the party attitude of Migos and the druggy weirdness of Future with the greatest of ease. Part of this is due to the use of two personas, the wild Lil Yachty and the stern but strange MC Lil Boat. He began to break in 2015 when Drake's OVO Sound Radio show aired his bizarre, sing-songy number "Minnesota." In early 2016, his other persona became the name of Lil Boat, his debut for the Capitol- and Motown-affiliated independent Quality Control. The mixtape featured "Minnesota" along with "One Night," a woozy party cut that reached number 30 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and cracked the Hot 100. An appearance at Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 fashion show followed soon after, along with an appearance on Chance the Rapper's Top Ten mixtape Coloring Book. A second Quality Control mixtape, Summer Songs 2, arrived that August and debuted on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart at number 44. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman

- Via Apple Music

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SZA - September 8th, 2017

Summary

Known as SZA, alternative R&B artist Solana Rowe grew up listening to classic and avant-garde jazz ranging from Billie Holiday to John Coltrane, alternative artists including Björk, and rap, most notably Wu-Tang Clan, whose RZA inspired her performing name. During 2012 and 2013, she released her first two EPs, See.SZA.Run and S, which formed a dreamy, alluring, occasionally unorthodox introduction. Rowesubsequently signed to Top Dawg, home to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul. A fantasy-like video for the S EP's "Ice Moon" was released in November 2013, and additional exposure came shortly thereafter through "His & Her Friend," off labelmate ScHoolboy Q's Oxymoron. The digital download-only Z, a trippy ten-track set with assists from Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Isaiah Rashad, arrived in April 2014 and entered the Billboard 200 at number 39. Appearances on a string of well over a dozen tracks -- Travis Scott's "OK Alright," Rihanna's "Consideration," and Lamar's "Untitled 04 | 08.14.2014" among them -- followed in 2015 and 2016. Signed to major-label RCA, Rowe released Ctrl in June 2017, featuring collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Terrace Martin, and Frank Dukes.

- Via AllMusic

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Isaiah Rashad - March 3rd, 2017

Summary

Affiliated with ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, and the whole Black Hippy crew, rapper Isaiah Rashad hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Raised with thoughts of becoming a preacher until his stepbrother's copy of OutKast's ATLiens album turned his head around, Rashad eventually began ditching school to record demos. His big break came in 2012 when he joined Juicy J on the 2012 Smoker's Club Tour, then in 2013 he signed with Top Dawg Entertainment, the label where most of the Black Hippy crew landed. One year later the label released his debut effort, Cilvia: Demo, an EP that debuted at number 40 on the Billboard 200 chart. The Sun's Tirade, his first proper album, followed in 2016. Created throughout a period in which Rashad dealt with numerous personal and professional struggles, it landed at number 17. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

- Via Billboard

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Juicy J - January 27th, 2017

Summary

Together with production partner DJ Paul, Juicy J played an important role in the South's rise to prominence within the once East- and West Coast-dominated rap industry. Behind the duo's leadership, Three 6 Mafia rose from an underground phenomenon in Memphis to a nationally recognized rap empire, spinning off numerous solo albums for the collective's many members in the mid- to late '90s. Juicy also raps as a member of Three 6 Mafia and contributes rhymes to most of the albums he produces for such artists as his brother Project Pat, Gangsta Boo, La Chat, and Tear da Club Up Thugs. Moreover, Juicy J ventured into filmmaking with Choices (2001), and helped launch Wiz Khalifa's imprint Taylor Gang in 2011 as the label's co-owner. A fruitful solo career followed, along with the collaborative chart-topping 2013 hit "Dark Horse" with pop superstar Katy Perry.

- Via Billboard

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Lil Yachty - December 16th, 2016

Summary

With hair that looks like red-hot cheese curls and the wild Atlanta ATLien style to match, Miles McCollum, known as Lil Yachty, bounces between the party attitude of Migos and the druggy weirdness of Future with the greatest of ease. Part of this is due to the use of two personas, the wild Lil Yachty and the stern but strange MC Lil Boat. He began to break in 2015 when Drake's OVO Sound Radio show aired his bizarre, sing-songy number "Minnesota." In early 2016, his other persona became the name of Lil Boat, his debut for the Capitol- and Motown-affiliated independent Quality Control. The mixtape featured "Minnesota" along with "One Night," a woozy party cut that reached number 30 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and cracked the Hot 100. An appearance at Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 fashion show followed soon after, along with an appearance on Chance the Rapper's Top Ten mixtape Coloring Book. A second Quality Control mixtape, Summer Songs 2, arrived that August and debuted on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart at number 44. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman

- Via Apple Music

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Lil Uzi Vert - November 10th, 2016

Summary

A rapper who grew up on the beats of Marilyn Manson and Kanye's 808 & Heartbreak, Lil Uzi Vert came out of North Philadelphia with a relaxed style that connected the dots between Young Thug, Chief Keef, and the A$AP Mob. Debuting by featuring on some DJ Diamond Kuts tracks, Uzi kicked his career into high gear in 2015 when he dropped "Dej Loaf," a dedication to the Detroit vocalist. Don Cannon hosted his mixtape The Real Uzi that same year, then DJ Drama helped broker a deal with Atlantic Records, which released his Luv Is Rage mixtape late in 2015. Don Cannon was back for the early-2016 mixtape Lil Uzi vs. the World, which also featured beats from Metro Boomin and Maaly Raw. Two of its tracks -- "You Was Right" and "Money Longer" -- crossed over and reached the Billboard Hot 100. Led by the Future collaboration "Seven Million," The Perfect Luv Tape was out by the end of that July.

- Via Billboard

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DMX - August 19th, 2016

Summary

Following the deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., DMX took over as the undisputed reigning king of hardcore rap. He was that rare commodity: a commercial powerhouse with artistic and street credibility to spare. His rapid ascent to stardom was actually almost a decade in the making, which gave him a chance to develop the theatrical image that made him one of rap's most distinctive personalities during his heyday. Everything about DMX was unremittingly intense, from his muscular, tattooed physique to his gruff, barking delivery, which made a perfect match for his trademark lyrical obsession with dogs. Plus, there was substance behind the style; much of his work was tied together by a fascination with the split between the sacred and the profane. He could move from spiritual anguish one minute to a narrative about the sins of the streets the next, yet keep it all part of the same complex character, sort of like a hip-hop Johnny Cash. The results were compelling enough to make DMX the first artist ever to have his first four albums enter the charts at number one. Ruff Ryders posse -- of which DMX was a core, founding member -- released a showcase compilation, Ryde or Die, Vol. 1. With contributions from DMX, as well as Eve, the LOX, and multiple guests, Ryde or Die, Vol. 1 debuted at number one in the spring of 1999, further cementing DMX's Midas touch. Toward the end of 1999, DMX released his third album, ...And Then There Was X, which became his third straight album to debut at number one. It also produced his biggest hit single since "Get at Me Dog," "Party Up (Up in Here)," which became his first Top Ten hit on the R&B charts. The follow-ups "What You Want" and "What's My Name?" were also quite popular, and their success helped make ...And Then There Was X the rapper's best-selling album to date, moving over five million copies. During its run, DMX returned to the big screen with a major supporting role in the Jet Li action flick Romeo Must Die. Not long after DMX's release from jail, his latest movie, the Steven Seagal action film Exit Wounds, opened at number one in the box office. DMX also contributed the hit single "No Sunshine" to the soundtrack and signed a multi-picture deal with Warner Bros. in the wake of Exit Wounds' success. With his legal problems finally resolved, he returned to the studio and completed his fourth album, the more introspective The Great Depression. It was released in the fall of 2001 and became his fourth straight album to debut at number one. The artist was burdened by legal issues in the following years, serving 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to charges of animal cruelty, drug possession, and theft in late 2008, and 2010 saw a 90-day sentence for reckless driving turn into a full year after alcohol consumption triggered a parole violation. DMX returned to recording with 2012's Undisputed, an effort released by the Seven Arts label with production from Swizz Beatz and J.R. Rotem.

- Via MTV

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Lil Uzi Vert - June 10th, 2016

Summary

Hip-hop could certainly use a real bona fide rockstar. That’s where Lil Uzi Vert comes in. The Philadelphia rapper flaunts a vision and fashion sense just as loud as his “futuristic trap” sound and dynamic voice. He doesn’t simply stand out in a crowd; he draws everyone right to him. “I try to create a world,” the 20-year-old declares. “It’s rap, but I get a lot of influence from rock music. When you see me or hear me, I want the experience to be dark and crazy with a lot of mashing.” Growing up in the city Schoolly D, The Roots, Meek Mill, and Rocky Balboa call home, Lil Uzi Vert first picked up a microphone in high school. He spent countless hours honing his craft, making sporadic trips to New York City in order to record through his friend William Aston’s studio connection. Along the way, he carved out a distinct style that reflects his love for Wiz Khalifa as much as it does his passion for Marilyn Manson. “I take influences from everything and put them into what I do,” he says. “It’s a really delicate balance, and it’s something I’m proud of. You can wear skinny jeans and still be hard.” In 2015, he began to set the internet on fire. There was his explosive appearance on Carnage’s single “WDYW” alongside A$AP Ferg and Rich The Kid and later his turn on “Big Racks” for Young Thug’s Slime Season 2. In addition, he spent the summer with DJ Drama, priming the crowd for Wiz Khalifa and Fall Out Boy on their “Boys of Zummer” Tour. However, everything set the stage for his newest mixtape, Luv Is Rage. With support from The FaderNoiseyXXLVibeHotNewHipHop, and more, Lil Uzi Vert naturally took the spotlight when it dropped. “Luv Is Rage is just the beginning,” he declares. “It’s the first statement.” “Yams was the first person I met from A$AP,” he admits. “He reached out to me, and we talked a lot for a whole year. I never met him in person though, but he meant a lot to me and Thug. That’s why we needed to shout him out.” Now, signed to Generation Now – founded by DJ Drama, Don Cannon and Leighton Morrison, alongside Atlantic Records, Lil Uzi Vert stands poised to ignite hip-hop with his own fire. “I take modern rap and put more musical influence to it under the trap,” he leaves off. “I want to show people the future and what’s possible with the sound. This is who I am. This is my world.”

- Via Atlantic Records

Migos - March 24th, 2016

Summary

While their rise to fame was somewhere between fast and meteoric, the Atlanta trio Migos are steeped in the Southern tradition of hip-hop groups, having come together due to their shared love of acts like the Hot Boys and OutKast. Members Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff came together in 2009 under the name Polo Club, with the name Migos becoming official in 2010. In 2012 they released the mixtape No Label, which featured the cut "Bando," a regional hit that caught the attention of producer Zaytoven and Kevin Lee aka Coach K, the manager who launched the careers of Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy. The year 2013 was a whirlwind as June saw the group drop its Young Rich N*ggas mixtape, which featured the instant hit "Versace." That same year, Coach K got them on the Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash, a popular Atlanta festival where Migos came across their newest fan, Drake. The rapper added a verse to the "Versace" remix and put the cut on his 2013 album, Nothing Was the Same. Featuring the hit single "Fight Night," 2014's No Label II was the group's next high-profile release, as it was a mixtape distributed by major-label Atlantic. In 2015, the label released the debut album Yung Rich Nation, which featured the single "One Time.

- Via MTV

YG - March 11th, 2016 (Las Vegas) | March 12th, 2016 (Phoenix)

Summary

Like so many rappers after the turn of the millennium, Los Angeles-based rap artist Keenon Jackson (otherwise known as YG or Young Gangsta) got his start by accumulating a wide Internet following after leaking "She a Model" and "Aim Me" to the Web. The success of these songs earned him a bid from Def Jam, and he signed to the pioneering hip-hop label in 2009. Several mixtapes followed, including 2010's The Real 4Fingaz and 2011's Just Re'd Up, each of which boasted a charting Billboard single. He also became a popular MC, guesting on tracks by Freddie Gibbs, Travis Porter, E-40, Nipsey Hussle, and Young Jeezy. In 2013, it was announced that the latter would be producing his debut studio full-length, Im 4rm Bompton, which was slated for a summer release that year. The planned album never appeared, as YG signed with Def Jam and entered the studio with a different producer, DJ Mustard. The album My Krazy Life finally landed in 2014, with Drake, Rich Homie Quan, and ScHoolboy Q among its guests.

- Via MTV

Earl Sweatshirt -  May 15th, 2015

Summary

"Earl Sweatshirt is a Los Angeles-based rapper and member of the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) crew. Following in the footsteps of Eminem, Natas, and Esham, his languid style is a blend of highly personal alt-rap and morbid horrorcore. In 2010 he released his Earl mixtape to critical acclaim before mysteriously going on hiatus later that year. It was subsequently revealed that Kgositsile had been sent to a Samoan boarding school by his mother during this period. He returned to L.A. at age 18, determined to build on the success of Earl, and he ultimately signed a deal with Columbia Records, enabling him to issue material on the major label through his own Tan Cressida imprint. Ahead of November 2012's "Chum" -- his first solo single since his return -- Kgositsile eased himself back onto the scene with a number of collaborations. After live appearances and recordings with Odd Future, he made numerous guest appearances, most notably on Frank Ocean's acclaimed debut studio album channel ORANGE and Flying Lotus' summer single "Between Friends." To coincide with the release of "Chum," he announced that his next album would be titled Doris. Preceded by further singles "Whoa" and "Hive" -- featuring Tyler, the Creator and Vince Staples, respectively -- the album arrived in summer 2013."

- Via Grand Central Miami

Curren$y -  April 23rd, 2015

Summary

"Louisiana-based Curren$y landed a label deal in 2003, but it took three labels and seven years of underground releases before the rapper made his official debut. Born Shante Anthony Franklin and raised in New Orleans, Curren$y was originally signed to Master P’s No Limit label, but in 2005 he made the move to Lil Wayne and Birdman’s Cash Money imprint, Young Money. He appeared on Wayne’s Tha Carter II album that same year, then in 2006, Curren$y's “Where da Cash At” single was released -- both on its own and as part of Wayne’s Dedication 2 mixtape -- but a promised album never materialized. Not one to sit idle, Curren$y started Fly Society with professional skateboarder Terry Kennedy in 2007. The brand was originally planned as a line of apparel, but evolved into a music label as the rapper’s relationship with Young Money soured. After leaving the label at the end of 2007 with Fly Society in tow, a series of underground mixtapes appeared before Curren$y hooked up with the digital-only Amalgam Digital for the early 2009 release This Ain't No Mixtape. The relationship continued that October with the download-only Jet Files, but in early 2010 he joined the Def Jam family via Damon Dash’s DD172 imprint. With the label’s in-house producer Ski Beatz handling most of the production on both, Curren$y's Pilot Talk album appeared in July of that year, with Pilot Talk II landing in 2010. The stopgap release Weekend at Burnie's followed in 2011, with the retro backing tracks coming from producer Monsta Beatz. Beatz, along with the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Leauge and Pharrell, was back for the rapper's 2012 street release, The Stone Immaculate."

- Via MTV

IAMSU! - March 27th, 2015

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Summary

After a flurry of mixtapes released during the 2010-2012 season, Richmond, California-based rapper and producer Iamsu hit in 2013 with the single "Let Go." Born Sudan Ahmeer Williams, the rapper kicked off his career in 2010 under the name Su. In 2011 he joined 50 Cent and LoveRance on the hit single "Up," while 2012 saw him decide to monetize his previously free work, moving all his mixtapes to download services. Wiz Khalifa, Juvenile, and frequent collaborator Problem joined as special guests on his 2012 mixtape Suzy 6 Speed, while 2013 saw him return to the world of underground and free with the mixtape Kilt II. The single "Let Go" dropped later that year with guest vocalist Tank. Plans for a debut album entitled Sincerely Yours were announced in early 2014, and April of that year saw the release of the album. The leadoff single from the album, "Only That Real," featured guest spots from Sage the Gemini and 2 Chainz.

- Via MTV