Social media/Social networks have brought us closer to unsigned artist than we have been ever before. Whether its unsolicited links or us willingly checking an artist. The abilities are endless and unprecedented. This list isn’t for your Tone Trump‘s, Push Montana‘s or Troy Ave‘s owho are literally social media giants amongst unsigned artist. This is for the artist you should be aware of but may not be or they aren’t trendy enough for whatever untold reason. However, I often check out unsigned artist based upon who co-signs them or if I attend a showcase/open mic and like what is presented by said artist. I figured I’d do my own list of guys before another mag ask me who do I think is nice and create their own list. Oh, and yes.. this is in order.
I moved to Miami in 2003. Left for Cali in 2006 and came back to Miami in 2007. Upon my return at that time I heard of Ghost. I recall coming back to Miami and hearing what was considered “Jook” music all over the radio. I immediately told everyone that it was trash and wouldn’t last. I asked “Where is the Miami rappers that can transcend Miami?” I was abruptly advised of Ghostwridah. I listened to his music and felt he was gifted but extremely raw. Fast Forward to 2010 Ghostwridah pops back onto my radar with “Red Bottoms” produced by Don Cannon that crossed my email inbox while I’m back in Cali working on music. The growth was evident, highlighted by Ghostwridah’s writing skill along with his impeccable flow and delivery landed him the opportunity to work with Dr. Dre on Detox. Every Ghostwridah project since has been damn near 2nd to none. I would almost be willing to put his last year and a half to 2 years of music up against any other unsigned artist with 10k on the line. The Quality is that great. That’s why he tops my list. AND in my opinion, Miami’s most talented rap artist. Dopest project? Any. However 305’s & Heartbreaks & American Alien are standouts.
Lurking in the shadows of a West Coast vet has its gifts and curses. Juice is living both. I don’t get too caught up on trends so I genuinely check for artist if I feel they are great. The Game is and always will be one of the better rappers in the rap game. When he first made his splash onto the scene, The Black Wall Street movement was tough. With artist under your wing like Ya Boy, Clyde Carson, Juice & Cyssero all of which who were hot at the time in their own regions it’s hard not to see the potential. Unfortunately, Game was building himself as an artist after his breakup with G-Unit and the talent that he cosigned was left to fend for themselves. Juice should be commended for loyalty, in an industry where loyalty is a forgotten characteristic, he is that. He’s been riding with BWS since damn near its inception into hip hop when “crews” were popular. When I first checked out the collection of artist game formed a team with Juice was a standout. The talent and marketability which is key was clear as day. However with The Game transitioning, Juice vanished. within the 2 years, Juice has been on a mission with dropping American Me 1, 2 & 3. He’s proving there’s only so much overlooking you can do of a talented individual. The downside? Juice is in the shadows of a West Coast vet in an industry where being from the West Coast make your climb that much tougher. The balance of Loyalty & self preservation is key.
3. Chill Moody
I kinda want to take SOME credit for this.. but the humble me shall prevail for a little moment. Chill Moody is a dope emcee from West Philly. If I had to give you an idea of his style it would be a Food & Liquor Lupe Fiasco mixed Black Thought of The Roots and a dash of Nas. You will never find yourself bagging up (if that’s your thing) to a Chill Moody project, however you will find yourself head nodding saying “damn this kid is nice” while cruising around town. His stage presence is amazing as well, knows how to rock out with a live band, keep the crowds attention and have the audience interacting. The downside, he may be often overlooked because he will never sell a kilo of cocaine in his music or fall to the delusions of grandeur that many artist become a victim to. He’s solid. The all around skill guy on a team. You need an artist like him. Oh, and when you do sign him.. I will then yell “I FUCKIN TOLD YALL SO!” claim some credit, And book him for a show free of cost to me. Yeah Chill, I don’t care if its for charity or what, but you will put on a free show for the people that I put together. “LOL”
4a. Apollo The Great
I’ve been aware of Apollo for some time now. He’s been on a constant and consistent upward grind. The young Camden emcee has a precise lyrical capabilities, a vintage style yet delivery and flow that you can appreciate. Holding your own or besting artist such as Wale, Freeway & Sean Price is nothing to sneeze at either. Not too many artist are going on tours, being booked for gigs, etc will the amount of material Apollo has. It’s a testament to his skill, will and team. If you listen to his ‘Apollo 21’ project you can hear a lyrical genius at work. Apollo isn’t the flashiest of artist however there will always be room for authentic emcee’s such as he in Hip Hop. Apollo 21 Deluxe dropping soon.
4b. Ball Grum (Aka BallGreezy)
Ball and I have history. There was an artist showcase I was booked to judge as well as a Def Jam rep and a Jive rep. The finalist were Ball Grum and 2 other rappers. Ball Grum lost as a 2nd place contestant 29 to 28. I gave Ball a 10 while the other 2 reps presented him with 9’s. I gave the other rapper a 9 and the other 2 reps gave said rapper 10s. Well the other rapper fell off the face of the Earth rap wise and because I’m the only industry person who floats wherever my mind takes me, the hood or the beach. I always see Ball and he gives me the “But yall didn’t give me that win” look or speech. I find it funny but interesting. I think for awhile that lost pushed him to prove people wrong. I find it funny because on my scorecard he won, but I never get credit for it. I have a few issues with BallGrum though. When we first met at that showcase you were BallGrum. Grum is more rugged, I hate “BallGreezy” as a rap name. Secondly his new label home is seemingly a good fit because I wasn’t too big on the skating rink Jook music sound Iconz had him on. Even though he got paper in his pockets presumably for the local hit records he had, he’s a gritty as well as witty street savvy rapper that I would co-sign any day. He is not a pop artist. Just because he has the talent to do, doesn’t mean he should. I look forward to his Gangsta Grillz mixtape. I really hope he keeps it true to himself and the title, “Gangsta.”
5. Pate (SpaceHigh)
This is an A&R’s dream artist. An artist with a sky high ceiling, that not too many people are aware of so you can essentially take credit for “keeping ya ear to the streets and finding a diamond in the rough” too late, I found him and he lands at number five. IF I was to start a label today, Pate would be signed, yesterday. In a city where almost every artist can tend to sound the same or rap about the same topics, Pate brings a whole new style, twist and flow to music. Newz Huddle dropped Pate onto my eardrums one day. I was actually considering re-forming a label and signing artist. The interesting thing was which is something I will always respect Newz for, he didn’t pitch himself. He said “You need to check out the bul SpaceHigh Pate” When another artist put you ahead of them, you have to be something of a gem. SpaceHigh currently has a solid movement. Brand awareness is building, and his buzz is going from a lil bubble to a decent boil. Pate recently landed on TheSource.com. How much longer before he lands on the cover of XXL is up to him. The negatives is the awareness is still lacking but on the bright side, building. Also with a ceiling as high as his will he see it before he gets frustrated with the grind of hip hop?
Well, that’s it for my top 5, well 6 but you get the point. Don’t question me about my list, make your own. What I did to factor in who’s on this may be different than what you’d do. If you never heard of them, that’s the point. TO HEAR OF THEM. You can’t be frustrated with current music if you’re not opening your ears to more than what you’re used to. This list is probably about a year late because I’ve been cosigning all of these talented artist for that long or better. Thank you to all of these artist for making me look like the worlds greatest A&R to the streets. (along with Iggy, MGK, etc etc.) Hope you Guys enjoy the music..