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WARNING: Some tracks contain explicit lyrics and sexual/adult themes

1. Joyner Lucas

Although he’s been releasing music since 2010, this Massachusetts-based rapper didn’t release his record label debut, ADHD, until this year. His thoughtful, socially conscious singles like “I’m Not Racist” and “Devil’s Work” along with teaming up with Chris Brown and Eminem hasn’t hurt his prospects or profile and he’s already a two-time Grammy nominee.

2. JID

J.Cole’s ear for young talent is nearly as impressive as his lyrical skills. Atlanta’s J.I.D. joined the Dreamville label in 2017 and soon made good on his early promise. His latest release DiCaprio2, a sequel to an earlier indie release dropped last year.

3. Megan Thee Stallion 

If you like Trina, Megan Thee Stallion is likely to be your latest fave. The boldly named, sexually explicit rapper hails from Houston, Texas and is a college graduate as well as an ascending rap star. Her debut full-length release Fever came out last month.

4. Freddie Gibbs

The Jacksons are not the only good musicians to come out of Gary, Indiana. Freddie Gibbs hails from there as well. After signing with Interscope and then Young Jeezy’s label, Gibbs went the indie route, finding success in his versatility and productivity. His latest, Freddie, came out in 2018.

5. Jay Rock

Los Angeles is known for its superstar rappers – everyone from Snoop Dogg to Ice Cube to Kendrick Lamar. Enter Jay Rock to stake his claim. The rapper’s latest release is the Grammy-nominated Redemption which came out in 2018.

6. Saba

Chicago just keeps cranking out great artists. Saba came to the attention of most via his collabos with fellow Chi-Town native Chance The Rapper, but his 2018 album Care For Me about the murder of a close friend, resonated with audiences and took his career to another level.

7. Dreezy

We did mention Chicago is still on the musical map for all of the artist that call it home? Well, Dreezy is one of them. The rapstress earned her reputation with a bold move – remaking Nicki Minaj and Lil Herb’s ‘Chiraq.” Well, who better to do it? Her latest album, Big Dreez came out this year.

8. Dave East

Put on by Nas, the Harlem rapper has enjoyed a high-profile despite not quite finding his breakout hit. But he keeps grinding and winning more fans, and has carved out a solid career out of music with a 90’s sensibility.

9. Phonte

He’s not new to the game. One of the co-founders of Little Brother, the seminal North Carolina that made great music if only for a too-short time. Phonte moonlighted as a singer working with Zo! and Foreign Exchange before releasing two solo albums. His latest  (as a rapper) No News Is Good News, was released in 2018. (And he just dropped a EP Pacific Time where he’s singing and rapping.

10. GoldLink

The DMV is fertile musical ground for R&B musicians but hasn’t always been known for its homegrown rappers. GoldLink should change that after his well-received 2017 album At What Cost and his latest Diaspora.