Philly has long been the most lyrical city in rap, although that claim lacks the widespread awareness necessary for others to support me on such a firm opinion. A belief so bold is easy to dispute when so few Philly rappers get the shine they deserve, and it?s unfortunately always been this way. Meek Mill is of course one of the most notable names in the game, but aside from him it?s a lengthy roster of guys coming up or lucky to ever reach deserved stardom. In the early 2000s we saw the State Property line-up (Beanie Sigel, Peedi Crakk, Oschino, Omilio Sparks, and The Young Gunz) hit mainstream and sign with Jay?Z?s Roc-A-Fella, only to face issues within the group and with Jay himself, and eventually lose that deal. Such a bittersweet fall is so exemplary of Philly spitters? standing in rap ? they?ve wrongfully gotten the short end of the stick, or no stick at all.
The Philly sound, though it?s finally modernized, stemmed and hasn?t strayed from freestyles and battle-rapping. Much like the decrepit, historic city itself, Philly?s rap is gritty and raw. It?s both violent and sincere. Ultimately, the rap comes down to bars ? punchlines, plays on words, and intricate rhyme schemes, whether it?s real poetry about the struggle of poverty, or merely gun and drug talk. To even consider yourself a rapper within the city of Philadelphia, you have to be at the very least decent, and saying something of substance. Unlike rap in other regions of the country, there isn?t a whole lot of mumbling nonsense in the city of brotherly love?s hip-hop.
We could argue all day about why Philly rappers don?t receive a bigger spotlight in higher numbers, but I?ve theorized a couple simple factors: People within Philly generally aren?t known for supporting one another. There?s a great deal of bitterness, and therefore little comradery. The scene isn?t like that of Atlanta, for example, where rappers co-sign one another and work with a variety of artists from their zones. Philly is block by block, and more often than not every man for himself. Additionally, until recently many spitters in Philly refused to or couldn?t get with the times. They were still outside freestyling on corners; growing audiences locally as opposed to putting clips on YouTube and the gram where their chance of exposure is much greater.
Fortunately, both of those factors are changing, and a laundry list of Philly rappers are soon to (finally) be known and appreciated outside the city. They?re working together. They?re saturating themselves on social media. The scene?s growing, changing for the better, and at last getting notice. It?s now my obligation to put readers onto some of the nicest up-and-coming Philly rappers. Some are already close to charting. Others have a way to go but are more than worth a shot at stardom. We?ll touch on Philly legends who aren?t very known to the outside world, and rappers who are making their way to be Philly legends and beyond. These, folks, are the Philly rappers you should be listening to and talking about.
You won?t find a rapper with more passion than Kur. His flows are all his own; therefore untouchable, and he isn?t simply flowing to flow. Kur spits some of the rawest, most heartfelt material of any rapper ever to get on a mic. From his mom?s drug addiction, to friend?s deaths, to his own heavy guilt, Kur pours it all out with a tangible pain in his voice that may make you shed tears. I may be so bold as to say Kur is the greatest rapper few outside of Philly know about. He has an endless amount of worthwhile life experience to share, and he?s sharing it through some of the most original, addictive flows out there.
Notable Kur tracks: How It Never Was, Doggie Dog, Crack, Philly for You
Much like Kur, Leaf Ward is also one of the realist guys doing it, bringing nothing but wholehearted bars and tales about his upbringing and time locked up. Leaf, however, goes more for the smooth presentation than raspily accounting hard times. His rhythm is cold, and voice is deep, paired with a Philly accent that can?t help but may you think he?s a cool guy simply from hearing him. As with most rappers in the city, Leaf Ward has something to prove, and he?s shining above many others through his candidness, cool flow, and sweet 16s.
Notable Leaf Ward Tracks: Close Range, Concrete, They Forgot 2
Sosaa sounds as if 2010 Lil Uzi never strayed from his roots. He belts out melodic bangers over fun trap beats, but what separates him from everyone else in the subgenre is he?s honest and inspirational in the process. When he?s not melodically singing over a triumphant instrumental, he?s grittily straight spitting over something simple with heavy 808s. Zahsosaa is one to support on their inevitable rise.
Notable Zahsosaa Tracks: FWME, Checks, NeverSwitch, On My Own, Humble, Proud
$loan can most frequently be heard violently rasping over thumping beats with his collaboration partner Skiano. As a duo, these two are making some serious, gravelly noise throughout the city, and racking up as many YouTube views as rappers can when they?re not overly renowned. Their songs have a niche, angry sound, and even if grating lines about guns and murder isn?t your cup of tea you can?t deny these two are onto something.
Notable $loan Tracks: Wolf N Demon, Trapwoodz, Back At It, Whip Out Da Pot
Cinco is Philly?s resident crooner, smoothly singing over trap beats at a near whisper. His vibe is his very own, and it?s not solely pleasing to the ears ? Cinco also hits on real subject matter about the streets, the struggle, and even mental health. It?s growing easier to recognize his impending star status (and a co-sign from PnB Rock will be helpful throughout the journey to rap star.)
Notable Mambo Cinco Tracks: Prada You, Billy, Flex
Lil Na?s coming with the classic Philly style and vibing on every single track. He?s young and already sounding like a staple. There isn?t a lengthy amount to write up on Lil Na because he?s a true-to-the-art spitter with his heart in it. Assuming he remains consistent, Lil Na has a solid shot at being more than a mere Philly rapper.
Notable Lil Na Tracks: Whatever We Want, Feelings
Diamond Street Keem
Keem has some of the hardest bars of these young bouls, and we can only hope he keeps pushing with that. His recent releases have been more sing-songy, which he also has a knack for, but when he really goes in it has an Eminem-type feel. Diamond Street Keem is a killer with the quick flow, and potent with the punchlines.
Notable Diamond Street Keem Tracks: Usain Bolt, CHAOS, Smoking Opps
G19 is heavy on the come-up, and rightfully so considering his consistency ? he?s been putting out exclusively hot music for over 3 years now. A notable trait of G19?s style, aside from his made-for-rap voice, is his versatility. He can get melodic, or plainly smash a trap beat. Everyone on this list is to be looked out for, but G19 is especially one to watch. He?s not hard to find as the blow-up is becoming evident.
Notable G19 Tracks: SaySlide, Don?t Try It, Run Up The Guwop, Bang Bro?s Freestyle
As mentioned earlier, Skiano is a frequent collaborator with $loan on their rocky bangers. Skiano?s just a little bit raspier, and a sizeable amount angrier.
Notable Skiano Tracks: Talkin? My Shit, Wolf n Demon, Trapwoodz, Whip out da Pot
Lil Zack doesn?t have much music out, but everything he?s dropped has slightly blown and received stanish reception. His voice is pleasant, and he sings with a passion. Not a whole lot more can be said because the consistency hasn?t been proved yet, but based on his first few songs Lil Zack is sure to stand out.
Notable Lil Zack Tracks: Stand Down, No Safety
Mir220 is experimental with the sound, and it?s working out very well. He sounds borderline west coast as he softly whimpers trap hooks and verses, but this is a thoroughbred Philly guy who puts on for the city. If anyone on this list is pleasantly unique, it?s Mir.
Notable Mir220 Tracks: Habitat, You and Me, Had Enough
It?s getting increasingly difficult to avoid SimXSantana as he pops off in an unPhilly-like fashion. Sim is continuously getting millions of views ? most notably with his thumper ?Flexin N? Flashin,? which is sitting at 11 million views as I write this. Sim has the voice for rap, and the bars to back that. His come-up is speaking for himself, but hop on the train now before he?s one of the biggest names in the game.
Notable SimXSantana Tracks: Flexin N Flashin, For a FAct, Get Groovy, Trapwoodz
Boodah Lok has that classic, angry Philly flow and some memorable punches. For the record, when I use the term ?angry? I?m usually insinuating a rapper?s hungry for success, which is almost always a good sign. Boodah is undoubtedly impassioned for his music, and that shows amidst his heavy-handed punchlines.
Notable Boodah Lok Tracks: Pop Out, Bounty
Jae has steadily been putting out fire for a few years, and that?s thanks to his stellar beat selection and undeniable current over said beats. The young man is textbook Philly, true to the roots, and not short on raw lyrics.
Notable Jae 100 Tracks: Turnt Up, Blackin Out, Gang Gang
Mr. Skrtt Skrtt
Mr. Skrtt is a one-of-a-kind joy to listen to. He walks the thin line between rapper and comedian, and at times it?s difficult to differentiate. Though Mr. Sktrt may be comical, you can?t really take fault with his bars ? the kid?s really spitting. He has appropriately proclaimed himself to be the world?s best entertainer; between the dances and silly voice he chooses to flow with, I?m not going to refute that label.
Notable Mr. Skrrt Tracks: First Week Out, Taking My Flows, Proud
The Philly crooner Poundside Pop has amassed an impressive fanbase, and that?s as it should be. He can sing with a suffering about poverty in the city and receive millions of views, or he can placidly pipe about his drip and cool demeanor and do the very same. Poundside Pop has a massive Philly audience, and is now onto some worldwide recognition.
Notable Poundside Pop Tracks: O.S.S, 2500, Rapid Fire, Dripping Again
Bry took off early last year with a couple fun hits (at the remarkably young age of 16,) and has since been growing darker and more sincere with age. Millions are still watching, so it?s safe to say this progression has been right for his art. Bry has also gotten a tad more alternative in his artful flows, and he?s experimenting more the Playboi Carti-patented ?baby voice,? which simply works for the kid.
Notable BryGreatah Tracks: Dome, Fear None, Dark Thoughts, Lately, Wrist Watch
Lil Doe is a man of the people, in that he seems to collaborate freely with just about whoever he wants in the city. He has just about anything you can look for in a rapper ? A good voice, a notable delivery, versatile flows, and strong lyricism ? and he frequently raps with an unfeigned blow that?s reminiscent of early 2000s New York rappers. He?s a modern hit-maker and a blast-from-the-past all in one.
Notable Lil Doe Tracks: Sabo World, Internet, Proud, Drip Alert
Ayo215 is a real storyteller with a beautiful voice who has been dropping genuine art for awhile now. Whether he?s singing a hook or smashing a verse, he?s never doing it for the sake. You can feel just how from the heart all of Ayo215?s music is.
Notable Ayo215 Tracks: 1942 Flows, Run it UP, Bother You
Jah does a little bit of everything ? triumphant trap bangers, lofi mumble tracks, and impassioned heat for the purpose of going in. He?s young, with the times, and taking chances. His social media presence is also something to keep up with. Jah really gives audiences a candid feel for the angst and inner turmoil of a young kid trying to make it out of the city. Even if he only gains cult notoriety, please know Jah$star is an artist entirely his own.
Notable Jah$tar Tracks: Slizz, Mood, 2 AM, SSS AHHH