No matter how successful a rapper becomes, it’s a universal truth that every artist has to start somewhere. In fact, even current kings of the scene like Jay Z and Kanye West spent years struggling before taking the throne. And so while they may be on the margins now, these 20 stars are the most promising new acts the underground has to offer. What’s more, their successes so far may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Atlanta-based rapper Silentó – a.k.a. Ricky Lamar Hawk – has already found unprecedented success with his infinitely quotable debut single “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).” The song was released by Capitol Records in 2015 and reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100. Plus, it also earned Silentó an MTV Video Music Award nomination. Not too bad for someone still in high school!
Having worked with acts like Eminem, Drake and Kanye West, Boi-1da – real name Matthew Jehu Samuels – has achieved a level of peer approval unheard of for many young artists. The Ontario-based star has been active on the rap scene since the age of 15 but cemented his legacy in 2016, when he picked up a Grammy for his production work on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.