Despite being the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island’s rap scene offers a plethora of dope acts emerging from all cities. From Providence to Pawtucket, or from Cranston to Newport, the Ocean state couldn’t be more exciting or diverse musically – especially when it comes...
Despite being the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island’s rap scene offers a plethora of dope acts emerging from all cities. From Providence to Pawtucket, or from Cranston to Newport, the Ocean state couldn’t be more exciting or diverse musically – especially when it comes to those who spit.
This time last year—momentum had been steadily building and lots already dropped, providing Providence hip-hop heads with plenty to talk about during the year. In 2014, many acts focused on bolstering their resumes—we’ve seen some good lyrical consistency, we’ve seen some people make strong returns, and we’ve even seen some people emerge to dominate the streets.
Below we’ve listed rap acts you’ll need to keep your eye on. The artists we’re highlighting have already done a ton of work over the last year, and will only take their career to new heights in the coming year.
Eufradis Rodriguez, better known by his stage name Euro, is the most anticipated artist having released the biggest projects coming out of Providence. The South-Providence, Dominican Republic-born Euro was first introduced to the entire world on Young Money’s early 2014 compilation, Young Money: Rise Of An Empire. He later stepped out on his own for the ‘July’ mixtape. Euro’s ‘Don’t Expect Nothing’ project is still on hold due to the Cash Money Young Money tension between Lil Wayne and Birdman, but expect to see Euro shine through in 2015 and 2016. Our behind-the-scene record label sources tell us he’s supposedly supposed to be the face of Young Money and a lot of the recent beef between Weezy and Birdman was spurred due to the fact that Wayne didn’t want to sign Euro to the Cash Money imprint – just to Young Money exclusively. Word on the street is that Euro may in fact be independent from any contract agreement and that there’s a key piece of leverage on the sports management side that makes Euro of interest to Jay-Z and other power players in the music industry. Assuming he stays loyal to Young Money, we can expect to see him as one of the main faces of the organization in the future. Plus, he’s a humble celebrity, who’s given back to the Providence community in many ways that wider public will never hear about (also shoutout to Santi!). Euro’s recently been spotted in the studio with a number of artists such as Justin Bieber on various mysterious projects so hold tight – there’s lots in store.
The former Duke University pitcher Mike Stud is on his music grind independently and making lots of noise. Hailing from Cranston, RI, Stud has been steadily rising in the music industry after he had to leave baseball due to a career ending injury. Stud’s debut mixtape, ‘A Toast To Tommy’, peaked at #2 and #3 on the iTunes US and Worldwide Hip-Hop charts and his follow up, digital only project ‘Relief’ was #1 on the Hip-Hop charts and #2 overall within a few hours of release. His last single ‘Closer’ climbed up radio charts and Stud’s now selling out shows in markets all across the country. Right now, the Rhode Island native has more than 38,000 YouTube subscribers and 35 million-plus channel views. The numbers don’t lie. Finally, he’s signed to 300 Entertainment with principals Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz and Kevin Liles making him a force to be reckoned with in the music biz.
Couture’s a rule breaker and she’s putting on for the city of Providence. The Providence rapper is raw and gully, and rugged – and making her mark as a prominent female in the rap game. You probably know Coutore from her battle rapping. Her lyrical game is crazy and her tell-it-like-it-is lyrics earned her a spot at the 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards. Couture’s aggressively making her stake in the game and making no apologies. Her notoriety on a national level has won her the top three stop and we think you should keep your eyes peeled for her in 2015.
B. Dolan and Sage Francis
As you can tell, this list is going to have lots of rappers with commercial mainstream potential. B. Dolan and Safe Francis of Strange Famous Records are no different in the sense that they’re commercially appealing, but they live for the underground are not one to follow trends. The pair, which stand-alone, are very distinct rappers, spoken word artists and activists based in Providence, Rhode Island. These guys are a walking arsenal and have built a reputation for themselves as some of the smartest, most lively and entertaining musicians in Hip-Hop and Spoken Word. Dolan and Francis have been hailed by rap legends, critics and fans for their unmatched realness about real issues through real rap. Their massive success has been noted by the Alternative Press, which has asserted that these guys are “proof that underground hip hop still has bite.” Since signing to SFR, Dolan and the founder of the label, Francis have toured internationally, most notably as part of the Paid Dues, SXSW, Soundset, and Rock the Bells festivals. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are B. Dolan and Sage Francis fans and their impact is being felt as they continue to be some of the most inventive underground rap emcees in the game.
Jinsu’s keeping his name relevant in the tabloids and the Providence, Rhode Island native rapper is extremely talented. Our sources tell us there are offers on the table – from places like Def Jam and Maybach Music Group potentially, but the rapper is riding it out independently and of course, in it for the long haul. There’s no doubt that Jinsu is commercially viable – with an image that’s often compared to Chris Brown – he’s taken his talents out to Los Angeles to expand his brand, slowly but surely. He’s been spitting lyrics since he was 6 and started performing onstage in Providence and being exposed to the industry at age 8. Now, he’s working with lots of big-time producers and artists and remains on the come up as a fledgling MC. Jinsu’s latest mixtape ‘Built To Last’ is being embraced on the West Coast and was hosted by one of the first ladies of Power 106, DJ Carisma. It also features appearances from Problem, Roc Nation’s Jahlil Beatz, Jereme Jay, J Bonkaz, TBHits and 8th Wundah. On a more personal level, Jinsu has previously been linked to Justin Bieber’s ex – Jasmine Villegas and was reportedly dating Kendall Jenner. Not bad as a kid from Rhode Island.
Rhode Island emcee Jon Hope has returned with a vengence and he doesn’t seem to be looking back. Worries that the Rhode Island representative would never return stunned us all, but when he announced his return he picked up right where he left off – with artistic, sonically daring sounds. Camp St. & Comstock was a smash that resonated throughout the entire Providence community and Jon Hope has since remained very active. After a two year hiatus, he released the Mondubu mixtape (XXL, The Source, 2Dopeboyz) and has been featured in Thisis50.com and most recently Sway In The Morning …creating undeniable momentum and himself as a NATIONAL buzzworthy artist….His story is a compelling one and his lyrics, tenacity, versatility and content is about longevity. When it comes to Jon Hope: just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. His upcoming project ‘A Guy Named Harry’ and his first ever book release is slated to drop later this year.
Cru Alxndr is a student of hip-hop and his structure and pace are untouchable when it comes to Providence rap. Cru is a work-a-holic and his good-natured rhymes and production make him a triple-threat. To add on to that, he can sing and always seems to bring us a classic narrative that we can all identify with – the love stories with his fiancée, the process of raising a first child, the ongoing hustle of growing his brand in a competitive musical landscape that can be cold and ruthless, and the overall realness that life brings. Cru is currently working on a collaborative EP (with singer/songwriter/producer CJ Tonic) entitled “Pink Treasure” set to be released in the beginning of the month of May. He is also in the works of shooting videos for Cre8ivity, and Anxiety, alongside a few videos for songs from Pink Treasure. As we mentioned last year, Cru is technically gifted striking a perfect balance between pride and sensitivity. His depth is undeniable and the strong move silent – he’s on pace to potentially being the next big star in Providence and beyond.
Cam Bells is in a league of his own. Arguably one of the most versatile musicians on this list, Cam Bells graced us with his much anticipated EP #ProvidenceCold last year. ‘The Prince of Providence’ straddles the fence of a conscious rapper who can still create bangers – as a rapper, an R&B singer, and producer. His range is broad, diverse, and politically correct. Plus, his messages and lyrics are personal and poignant. His storytelling ranks probably the best on the list and Cam is confident enough to claim the thrown as ‘Prince of Providence but humble enough to respect fellow rappers in the state. Consider him the Mayor – he navigates politically and behind the scenes, and pulls lots of strings. Cam will continue to make patient, quality music that incites the right connection with the audience and with his knowledge, perspective and talent, nothing but greatness awaits him in 2015.
When it comes to Providence rap, there isn’t anyone out there who has the streets on lock like Kemoney. The East Side, L.E. Mafia reppin’ spitter has remarkable bars and there’s a lot of people in the city of Providence who can identify with his story. Everything he puts out is real and authentic – scoring him hundreds of thousands and even millions of views on YouTube – meaning he can easily emerge as being the top on the list with a hit that takes him over the top. His street appeal is conventional – similar to a Chief Keef in Chicago or Rich Homie Quan in Atlanta – and if he leads off with a viral hit this summer, A&Rs in the music industry might be knocking on his door. He has a gift for writing about the real struggles in the streets of Providence, the pain, the hustle, the violence and as a result the need to get it by any means. Kemoney is focused and his dynamic presence and voice shines through everything he puts out. He puts on for his team and even has a more sympathetic side in his music than what many might see in the public sphere. Although this guy is painted as a monster by the press, we see him as someone who’s talking about his real, authentic and organic struggles in these harsh streets – a reality that many face here in Providence. The system’s broken and his story is extremely valid: as someone who lives, breathes and has to do what they have to do to survive in this ecosystem. No, we’re not condoning violence and offensive lyrics – but who’s to blame? A flawed system of education and inequity or the rapper who’s speaking his truth about his pain in the system? Music is his way out – and the fact that he has many in the city behind him, speaks to the people who love and believe in his story, because it’s a real one that relate-able and speaks to people.
Vick Mucka also has the streets on lock and could even potentially move up a couple notches on this list. He has a formidable talent for writing hooks and executes his niche sound, at a very high level. In addition to the street cred, Mucka has the image, charisma and the catchy, melodic bangers that are going to be catching the eyes of several record labels in the future. His brashness and Dominican/Colombian background, makes him appealing to the city and we wouldn’t be surprised if a viral hit record puts him in the national spotlight. Mucka gives us raw material and has the qualities of being a rap icon that will always keep local tastemakers satisfied and has the potential to captivate a much larger audience. Plus, he holds it down for his team the #F1 family and the rest of the rappers on his team, notably King OSF who’s spitting flame and also deserves to be on this list (don’t forget to vote him in). Being with Mucka though, the entire #F1 (Family 1st), ITHINKIMGEEK team inherits a top 10 spot. Vick Mucka’s buzz means that the streets are highly-anticipating his debut and he’s a crowning jewel in Providence rap. He too, speaks to the violent epidemic in the city, and the media will paint him as a menace to society. However, if anything, Mucka’s is a product of Providence’s streets and the systems inability to adequately deal with the problematic socioeconomic issue in the state. Mucka provides the raw, real and authentic and is bound to continue turning heads – in the music industry and in the streets alike – in 2015.
You may think this is a curve ball but we can’t lie. There isn’t another artist on this list who’s doing it like Sweens. The reason being is: Sweens is very connected on the record label front – from artists to A&Rs – and has done a lot thus far in his career in music. While you continue to sleep, Sweens is building a national brand and is doing everything he can to stand out from the normal scene of rappers. His style is new and fresh and his fans support him in every marketplace he touches down in. He has been touring the West Coast and has 25+ shows in marketplaces across the U.S. on the horizon. He’s recently done two shows in Oregon and another in Seattle back to back to back. Further, he’s carried the city of Providence on his back to places like Montana – virtually unheard of, especially if you’re a local-minded person who doesn’t see the national and global potential in Sweens. He will finish up his larger project in Miami this summer and fall and also be releasing a mixtape entitled “LighT uP”, the first week of April, which really tells you how he’s living on a daily basis. Sweens has been repping for Rhode Island from coast to coast and has even signed with superstar manager Dana Biondi (also Chris Webby’s manager as well). Sweens is a an untouchable hip-hop artist from Rhode Island who is just doing his own thing and we look forward to seeing what he has in store for 2015 and beyond.
Passionate MC is putting on for Rhode Island. Credit his impeccable wordplay, devoted fan base and independent hustle for making practically everything he releases a success. Arguably one of the best underground picks of them all, Passionate’s self-entitled “Lyrical Assassin” alias is undoubtedly an understatement. Not only is he killing records, but he is also torturing them with his tongue-twisting rhymes. Every year Passionate manages to raise the stakes and his coverage of a wide swath of concepts gives him a lane of his own. His artistic arsenal and ability to think outside the box is remarkable and he’s committed to redefining Hip-Hop and transcending the mainstream and underground. With his superhuman powers and outspoken qualities, he has some surefire hits for his niche again in 2015.
The strong move quiet, and that’s exactly what Randyn Julius has been doing. Maintaining a low-key profile while he continues to perfect his projects in Atlanta now (he was in Miami not too long ago), you’ll be fooled to think he won’t reemerge in Providence to re-establish his position as one of the most commercially viable artists in the region. The 22-year-old rapper will continue to catch the eyes of major record label A&R’s and when the deal is right, you’ll watch him blossom and thrust suddenly onto the national stage. In other words, if you’re not on the Randyn Julius bandwagon, your best bet is to hop on it now or otherwise risk being left behind. Moreover, if you’re an artist aiming to collaborate with him, now is also the time, but it’ll also come with a steep price tag. The reason being is that Randyn’s track record and resume is incredibly long. Google him and find that hundreds of credible blogs have already mentioned him and anxiously anticipate his release. In fact, in August of 2013, The Source Magazine noted that Randyn Julius is going to “break into the music industry with a buzz like no other” and it seems only a matter of time before that actually happens. His new project will feature an overabundance of rap affiliations including DJ Khaled, Chief Keef, and King Los – not to mention his previous collaborations with artists like the Game, Cassidy, Cam’Ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Jadakiss, Styles P, Ray J, Bobby V, Uncle Murda,Teyana Taylor, Faith Evans, Junior Reed and more. In essence, “Young Ju Supreme” has a lot in the vault and can only get bigger. The pressure he’s experienced over the past few years has only served to humble him and make him a better, more rounded person and artist. Despite his ties and associations with mega superstars, he understands that he’s not there yet, and that he has quite a long ways to go before he reaches that level. However, he knows the only way to go is up, and will continue to do what it takes to get himself where he wants to be. Save the hate or unworthy attempts to stop his grind, because he’s just going to wind up winning anyway. He is a light ready to be fused that has already been primed. Once the wider Internet world catches onto who he is, it will be a domino effect and this marquee act will likely become a staple. For all great rappers, like Randyn Julius, who will create and maintain the aura of triumph, success will inevitably follow – and he’s on track to be a star.
Flawless is undoubtedly a true Rhode Island representative – both here in the marketplace and beyond. In 2010, he started his company “Team Flawless Ent” in Atlanta, GA looking for exposure in a bigger market. Through winning numerous contests in the Atlanta area, including a performance in front of a sold out crowd of 20,000 in Philips Arena with Ludacris, Rick Ross, Juicy J, and many more, he’s gained an incredible buzz and has put on for the state of Rhode Island. In Atlanta, he was also getting spun by Hot 107.9, and in turn opening for every major artist in the city. In 2011, he went on to open up for “Tech N9ne” of Strange Music, who was so impressed by Flawless that he invited him to join him on a 48-city nationwide tour entitled “The Lost Cities Tour.” Since then, they’ve been on more than 12 independent nationwide tours and continue to dominate national competitions. In 2014, Flawless won Funk Volume’s “Don’t Funk Up Our Beats” Worldwide Competition and beat out emcees from all over the world leading to features on TheSource.Com and HipHopDx on a consistent basis. This May, he’ll be headlining TeamBackPack’s “Mission Underground LA” and also an “Independent Takeover Tour” right after in the Midwest with Mayday and Ces Cru of Strange Music. Without a doubt, Flawless has been putting on for Rhode Island all over the country since 2011 and plans to take it to even bigger heights this year. Be sure to check out his latest mixtape titled the “RI Invasion.”
Jesse James is one of the closest things to a superstar Rhode Island has ever seen. He proves himself to be a heavyweight and his vision of grandeur is demonstrated in everything he puts out. His content is ‘Timeless’ as is the record company he owns (Timeless Records). Jesse James’s commercial interests, are so fundamental in his identity, and he has some legendary traits that focus on rich lyrical content, and quality over quantity. His last release was a song about Bullying called “Outcast” Ft David Correy from X Factor and the face of Coca Cola FIFA World Cup. The video hit close to 900K views on YouTube and received lots of attention. In fact, CNN wrote an article about the song as well as 150 journals across America. Locally, Channel 12 News did a story about it as well. The reason why Jesse is ranked #15 on this list is because he’s not done. He recently went to LA to finish up his first official project and has had several major record label offers. In light of finishing his project, he put touring with Future on hold and is getting ready to shoot his first video and single out in LA and Miami. Following the project, which is set to be released in June, expect him to be in the top rankings, where he’s supposed to be.
2015 and beyond will be massive for Providence rapper, producer, and Founder of the ‘HiYer Learning’ society, Krews. The reason being is that Krews is fearless and brilliant. Every track he releases goes harder than anything on your playlist. Raw and relentless, the Twi$ted Religion rapper is claiming his superiority locally. Krews spits with a vengeance, gives us a peek into his inner life and his lyrical intensity is absolutely unmatched. His slick quoteables and larger narrative of money, power, respect, loyalty and loving the block and crew that made him who he has become is impressive and potent. He has the ability for mass appeal and mass respect, and he’s raising the bar for Rhode Island artists as a whole. Krews’s “Ain’t Gold” record is a MUST listen to – displaying his great, raw and formidable talent. With a volatile mind frame, and opulent flows that share his inner demons and memories, Krews displays a remarkable precision and channels multiple voices. The vivid lyricism, the concepts, and structure come together to prove the fact that Krews holds a more in-depth lane that allows listeners to visualize his story. There shouldn’t be a a single doubt in anyone’s mind that Krews will be a bona fide Providence rap superstar and even has the potential to elevate to national success in the coming years.
This pick is pretty self-explanatory. Theo Martins has been making moves for years now and has worked incessantly to showcase the type of talent that exists here in Rhode Island. His accolades are innumerable and ‘Wonderland’ was nothing less than a hit EP. Fresh out the BET Backroom – where he completely annihilated it – Theo Martins is getting good looks nationally and is on the verge of even greater things in 2015.
Willie Moatz deserves to be on this list. With recent releases, we like to see what he’s doing and the buzz he’s generating organically. Willie has the image, the vibe, image and the streets to keep growing in 2015. Be on the lookout for Willie Moatz.
What’s this list without the veterans. Chachi is an international and multi-talented performing artist, poet, emcee, and songwriter that has blessed greater New England’s music scene for over a decade. In 2007, VIBE magazine voted him one of the top 50 emcees state by state and in 2008 he was the first ever to win on BET’s 106 & Park Wild Out Wednesdays. His close to home lyrics, soulful and sultry style makes it evident that he has a higher calling in Rhode Island. Born and raised in Pawtucket, where he comes from a long lineage of Cape Verdean musicians, Chachi knows what it means to bring culturally relevant music to communities, and in turn empower them through it. Not only is Chachstadamus a hard-working father and inspirational youth advocate, but he’s also a tireless proponent of spreading music arts, serving as an engaging teacher and innovative entrepreneur. He is the co-owner and founder of Beat Box Studio, where he provides an outlet for children, adolescents and independent music artists alike to express themselves musically. His legacy set through life-long collaborations with J. DePina and DJ Therion is a mainstay here in New England. Look out for what he has in store for 2015 – more game changing and distinctive music that will infuse afro house with hip-hop in Cape Verdean Criole. Effective global musicianship requires a global international mindset and one of the most celebrated hip-hop artists of New England, Chachi, is ready to do it.
Hilmatic is quiet and strategic – taking all the steps in the right direction when it comes to Rhode Island rap. As he continues to soar upwards, Holla proves himself with some monstrous records and a lyrical knack that adds to his formula of success. His music is honest and quality, personal and insightful; showing signs of even more promise in 2015. Holla doesn’t fall short of being deep, conscious, contemplative and introspective but don’t let that fool you into believing that he’s not out for paper-chasing motives. In fact, Holla’s a go-getter who’s going to get it by any means. His versatility and hard-hitting rhymes separate him from the rest of the pack, and his quick and astute ways are hard to ignore. With Hil’s consistency, and gift of delivery one will never be able to dismiss what he brings to the table. Plus, his anchoring posse, which includes Cam Bells, and ultimate Providence music power couple and prominent trendsetters – Saybz and DJ International Nasty of Beautiful Silence Media, it will be fascinating to watch what Hill Holla does in 2015.
Each day Zumo Kollie is making his mark on the Rhode Island rap community. Defined by his clever wordplay and slick delivery, Zumo is the epitome of a renaissance. Although he may be one of the most slept on, there is no doubt that he brings a profound revitalization and awakening to the Rhode Island rap scene with The Idiot Savant and The Last Showing. If there’s any one who displays an unprecedented amount of potential in 2015, it’s Zumo Kollie. “You’re A Good Sport, Zumo Kollie” is now available on iTunes and Spotify.
Tony Tuesday is catching the eyes of MMG and G-Unit so there’s no question that he deserves to be on the list. Still, content is king and we’re excited to see what he will release that will take the game by storm. He’s almost there in terms of getting signed – plus he’s being managed by Euro’s manager – so he might be making lots of noise in 2015. Again, the strong move quiet so be on the look out for some heat coming from Tony Tuesday.
Roger is arguably one of the hardest working rhyme spitters on this list. But he wants more and that’s also why he’s on this list. In 2015, he’s working on an EP titled “Self Willing” with Bongo the Drum Gahd and The Hitlist and also has two new videos dropping (both off his last LP) ‘No Time’ Dir. by Colby Blanchet
and ‘Tomorrow’ Dir. by GREENE FILMS. Too often we see those who become musically complacent and stagnant but rest assured, that won’t be Roger. If you give him a listen you’ll find that he has a likable, summery and breezy flow that surely has the energy to ascend to omnipresence. His lyrics are relevant and relate-able, bringing to light the things that we often fuss about in life – but sometimes are afraid to admit. His honesty has a nice sentiment behind it, and his delivery conveys the type of confidence that make his rhymes feel even more organic and effortless. Caught up in his own thoughts, Roger’s lyrics are usually a potent mix of empathy and emotion, and his style is absolutely contagious. Vulnerability is a strength — not a weakness, and Roger’s frank talk let’s it be known that he’s not following the suggestions of the weak. In fact, he’s critically watching the moves of other rappers in the city and showing them what not to do. Still, don’t let his un-showy demeanor confuse you – he’s on a mission to live the lifestyle that people can only dream about and if he keeps it up he’ll reign among the New England elite. Just know he’s not stopping, and he’ll simply be emboldened by his future success. Roger is his only competition – expect his fuel to garner greater respect in Rhode Island during 2015.
Dru Barrells knows how to keep it 100. However, he’s been a little quiet and we’re excited to see what 2015 will bring. When it comes to rap, he’s – as we mentioned last year – coming to a corner near you. His unapologetic flow and brutally honest storytelling makes his work nothing less than promising, and he has the potential to climb to in 2015. The whole M.H.D.G team, he came to play for keeps. No one on this list is going to out grind these MileHighMuzik MVPs, and their clique is deep and mobbing with them. A menace on the beats, Dru Barrels sheds his blood, sweat and tears on every track he jumps on and his hustle is lethal. If you’re not eating with him, prepare to share or he’s going to take what’s yours. Honestly, a lot of real Providence rappers feed the streets and embrace nothing but authentic content – whether it be M3, C.O., Hammer Beanz (all who rightfully deserve to be on this list) – it will be good to see who emerges this year. Nevertheless, there’s something that all these rappers have in common which Dru Barrells epitomizes; they’re street solders speaking an unprecedented truth, validity and reality. To put that into otherwise simpler terms – they spit no liar bars. In a day in age when it’s hard to separate real from fake musicians, just know that these individuals are as real as they come.
To Be Continued…
There are two spots left! Rappers 1-15 we’ve ranked and wrote about, but the list is NOT definite. This list can be changed at anytime and YOU, our listeners, have the power to knock people off, move people up or vote new people on the list. Once people move onto the list (from your votes and support), we’ll re-rank the list and do a write up on them! So share this with your friends, get them to vote and leave your thoughts in the comments below.Finally, this list isn’t about creating conflict or controversy – this list is about UNITY. Recognizing the talent in our city and state and giving them a platform. So if you think someone didn’t make the list, needs to be higher or someone needs to be knocked off, again,let us know in the comments below.