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.
B. Dolan and Sage Francis
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.”
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.