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11 Rappers Set to Make it Big in 2023

11 Rappers Set to Make it Big in 2023

The rap world is ever-changing, and 2022 showed us where we might be heading next. The year was full of solid releases from budding stars who set the stage for a lower-key sensibility within hip-hop. It was a year where fans turned away from the larger-than-life superstars towards more down to earth figures in the scene. The rise of homegrown acts like Babytron and newcomers Ice Spice proved that hip-hop's new landscape is abundant. In today's rap world, there's something for everyone.



Ben Reilly


After Kei Henderson -- who managed 21 Savage until late 2019 -- took a hiatus from hip-hop, Ben Reilly, an ATL transplant by way of Brooklyn, was the rapper to bring her back. In 2021, his first solo project, Freelance, caught her ear. Last year, a cut from it, "Maytag (Tax-Free)," acquired everyone else's with an artful TikTok featuring Reilly delivering a sharp acapella portion of "Maytag" took off on the app. Today, the clip has over six million views, and the full song has over 30 million plays on Spotify. He tells Rolling Stone he considers 2022 his first year as a professional musician.


"Being able to quit the burger joint I was working at and commit to my artistry because of one of my TikToks made me happy," Reilly says, reflecting on the year passed. "It was exciting to see my music be discovered in such unique ways. I'm looking forward to building 2023 into the year where I find new ways to utilize the superpowers within my voice and let people into my origin story. I'm preparing myself and my listeners for my next phase in building my world."


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His visuals are crisp and compelling; his songs and projects are conceptual. For example, Freelance was inspired by Reilly's time in pandemic isolation spotting red cardinals on every run. "And every time I seen them, I would feel at peace," Reilly told Complex. "As I looked more into it, I learned the longest that a cardinal has ever lived in captivity was 13 years. But in freedom, it was 28 years. I challenged myself to make 13 songs within the 28-minute mark, and that's what I did." -- M.C


Lola Brooke



"I just wanna talk about it how I want to do it," Lola said. Her self-awareness is paying off, telling Uproxx that the flow catching fire now is the same one she's been using since 2017 when she quit her job at a shelter to pursue music full-time. "2022 was my warm-up year," Lola tells Rolling Stone. "There's still more ways to go, but I'm thankful, grateful, and blessed for how this journey is going. Took me a while to get here, but it still feels like the beginning has yet to come. I'm coming into 2023 ready to show people more of me, more of my story. I made the introduction last year, so now it's time for a complete body of work. Here I Come!" -- M.C


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Real Boston Richey


After officially starting his rap career in 2021, Tallahassee's own Real Boston Richey released his first full-length project, Public Housing, which debuted at 60 on the Billboard 200 and number nine on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. On tracks like "I Want You" and "No Static," Richey shows off his gift for finding the most impressive pockets to place his flows.


As an MC, Richey's effortless knack for melody and his peculiar rap cadence, similar to Michigan rappers' but true to his Florida roots, cemented him a spot on our list. He explains that his patent flow comes from "God really," said Richey. "My flow is like how I actually talk, my regular swag. I just speed it up to catch the beat." Still, his stories of triumph from poverty on tracks like "Getting Better" could find Richey at the forefront of rap."Public housing is where I went through the most problems," says Richey. "Where I made the most money and learned how to rap. It's where I learned how to be a man and get through certain situations."

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"It's about not letting what I've been through be a hurdle," he explains. "I'm putting the things that hurt me the worst to the side. Nothing stopped me." After releasing Public Housing 2 at the top of this year, it is safe to say there are no signs of Richey slowing down. Last year was like a blur," he says. "I accomplished so much in a year, and it was really a learning experience. I learned that music controls everything. The biggest thing as an artist, even bigger than doing shows, is staying at the studio more than you do anything." -- D.G


Veeze


Detroit has been spearheading the rap game for the past couple of years. Among some of the new wave leaders, like Peezy, Icewear Veezo, and Babyface Ray, is Veeze. Those tapped into the Detroit rap scene are probably familiar with Veeze's clever wordplay and potential in his future rap career. He's already made cameos in a ton of Lil Baby and Babyface Ray videos sporting a fitted cap. He even made his debut on the Billboard Hot 100 with the Lil Baby and 42 Dugg-assisted single "U-Digg," which reached No 52.


Veeze's 2020 "Law and Order" caught viral attention thanks partly to producer Smerf Beats' sample of the popular crime procedural's theme song. All the while, the track showcased Veeze's smooth, slurred flow full of metaphors. His appearance on Babyface Ray's "Gallery Dept" and several appearances on Lil Yatchy's Michigan Boy Boat prove that Veeze is a capable wordsmith. With more music and time, he will only become sharper. His 2022 release "Close Friends" offered quotable lines filled with humor like, "I be ballin' more than I be rappin', I'm an athlete/Diamonds on me movin', look like Usher when he roller skate."


Veeze's slow build is poised to pay off soon enough, and he knows it. "I basically did an internship to become a Superstar in 2022," he says. "I got a chance to see how much more work I have to put in, but I had a lot of fun. I charted for the first time. I went overseas for the first time--I had moments I'll never forget." -- D.G


TiaCorine



Last summer, TiaCorine experienced her first show as a headliner and got to do so with a home-state advantage in NC. She told AltPress that her 6-year-old daughter is her biggest fan. "She knows all the words," she told AltPress tearily. "She says, 'You just got this.' The fans chant my name. They were like, 'Tia, Tia,' and I come offstage, she just starts crying. I ask her what's wrong, and she's like, 'I'm so proud of you, Mommy. You did so good. You're so amazing.' And that was just... whew."


"2022 was definitely a surprise," Tia tells Rolling Stone. "I had a lot of confidence in my new album, but the success of 'Freaky T' has become life-changing. In 2023 I'm looking forward to releasing more music and doing my first international tour." On her docket for the year are remixes to "FreakyT" (we hope Duke Deuce's is first), moving up the fliers for some music festivals, and a few surprises. -- M.C


Baby Drill


Before the evolution of "drill" music, there was "trap" music. Without the efforts of Atlanta rap pioneers like T.I., Young Jeezy, and Gucci Mane, drill music simply couldn't exist. The Chief Keef "drill" movement couldn't emerge from Chicago and create a cultural phenomenon, birthing a subgenre that artists all over the globe would go on to partake in. In a full circle moment, Atlanta's Baby Drill directly represents what can happen when the two worlds collide. His innate trap sound spills out thanks to his Georgia roots, not to mention his impressive new take on ad-libs, his signature one being the swift yell of "Baby Drill," almost crammed in the middle of his bars, but it works. While plenty of artists from Atlanta make drill music with trap influences, Baby Drill's persistent and aggressive bars over trap-like beats sit him at the forefront of his city's immense rap scene. With notable co-signs from Drake, 21 Savage, and Young Nudy, Baby Drill has pushed his way out of local recognition.



Stove God Cooks


"Stove God Cooks is that storyteller, that punchline king, that cocaine rap," Westside Gunn told Rolling Stone last year while extolling the components of Griselda's greatness. Almost everyone in the Buffalo-based crew released projects last year except Cooks, who instead made his presence felt with six show-stopping appearances on Westside Gunn's 10, and on "Blow For Blow" from Rome Streetz' Kiss The Ring, where he displayed his combination of vivid storytelling and wit with lines like, "Had the bread stuffed in a box, flame so hot, I dropped the pot / I caught it and the cookie still was good, I'm Magic Johnson."


The Syracuse native can stand bar for bar with anyone, but his mic presence radiates a charisma and a knack for melody that sets him apart from the gritty street rappers casual fans may lump him with. He emerged as Aaron Cooks in the mid-2010s, when he signed to Busta Rhymes' Conglomerate and was managed by Lord Jamar. Cooks didn't release a project but showed his skills on numerous freestyles that displayed the remnants of the rapper he'd come to be. His bars on DJ Vlad, Sway In The Morning stirred intrigue for what he had in store -- but his moment didn't come on Conglomerate.


Eventually, Cooks rebranded as StoveGod Cooks and met Roc Marciano, who produced Reasonable Drought, an underrated 2020 album where Cooks delivered an intriguing ode to the trap. Cooks' compelling lyricism shone on tracks like "Rose Royce Break Lights," "John $tarks," and "Cocaine Cologne," where he attacks Roc's loops with an unmistakably east coast mesh of ferocity and slickness.



"Stovey's Home! This year, I'm stepping into my destiny with a new album," he tells Rolling Stone. "I'm putting the stove on my back and carrying it out of the underground to the highest heights the universe sees fit for me." -- A.G


Cash Cobain


Cash Cobain is renowned as the Sample God for his ability to take any loop, throw quaking drums under it, and turn it into a banger. He's produced for the likes of Lil Yachty, B-Lovee, Shawny Bin-Laden, Chow Lee, Central Cee and numerous other rappers -- and he also has his own solo career.


He released Sliick Cobain in 2020, and in 2021, he dropped Nirvana and 719 Deluxe. Last year, his work on 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy with his creative comrade Chow Lee showed him exploring New Jersey Club and helping drill pivot in a new direction. "J Holiday" showcases Cash and Chow crooning to their next one-nighter over sparse drums and a catchy J Holiday sample. "Jenni" has a similar approach, with both songs paired in a video where the two are downing Henny and enjoying the company of a cadre of women.


The right sample can trigger a nostalgia that cures all generational fractures; a song like B-Lovee's Mary J. Blige-sampling "My Everything," which Cobain produced, bonds the 40-year-old Mary stan with the 19-year-old drill junkie. What Cash does with his samples doesn't just highlight the musicality of drill, but its cultural value -- which means a lot in a time when so many forces in New York vie to stifle it. With an album that he tells us is coming soon, Cobain says, "2022 was an amazing year. I feel like I set the tone and changed the sound waves with the sampling and even the Jersey Club the way I did--it was different from others, I made a new sauce. Going into 2023, I got a lot of different sounds and things in the tuck for y'all." -- A.G


Kidd Kenn



Signed to 4th & B'way/Def Jam Recordings, Kidd Kenn is gearing up for a big year with a slew of enticing opportunities under wraps. "I feel like 2022 was amazing," he tells Rolling Stone. "From sync in games like Need for Speed and NBA 2K to the visuals, to the features with Delli Boe, Erica [Banks], and Baby Tate, to me putting in the work and showing why I'm not going anywhere! I'm looking forward to more features and collabs, working with more brands, playing more festivals, and really showing my fans and the world a new side of me and breaking through in every way I can." -- M.C


Chow Lee


Chow Lee is at the forefront of an exciting fusion of hip-hop and dance music permeating the rap world (read: Lil Uzi Vert's "Wanna Rock"). He's a purveyor of so-called "sexy drill," a sound that achieved new fame last year through Chow's collaborations with Cash Cobain on their album 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy. In 2021 he dropped five projects which displayed the first glimpses of what his sound would come to be known as. Listening back to songs like "RN,' where Chow rhymes, "I eat her pussy like it's ziti," it's little wonder where the coinage comes from. He rhymes with a cool that one could expect from someone with such a erotic catalog, offsetting his often charged up production with slinky melodies rife with raunchy lyrics.


Chow Lee is already a Tri-state area cult hero, tearing down venues with turnt-up performances that take cues from their raucous videos. But with the public's newfound zeal for the frenetic, triplet kick-tinged soundscapes that Chow helped popularize, he may be primed to have the whole country doing the Blick dance.


"2022 was amazing. We dropped 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy, and It went crazy. I did my first Rolling Loud with my brothers Cash Cobain and Lonny Love, plus many other shows, and I gained a bunch of new fans," he tells Rolling Stone. "In 2023, I'm looking forward to dropping a new project and collaborating with more artists." -- A.G


CEO Trayle



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Drake knows. The rap icon DMed Trayle after his 2021 Rolling Loud Miami set (his first ever onstage performance), giving him kudos on his music. Drake also offered to do a song with Trayle "anytime he needs him," but to Trayle's credit, he hasn't needed any co-signs -- though the stars are still intrigued with what he's been putting together. Later in 2021, Gunna jumped on a remix of "OK Cool," and Thug actually offered to sign him to YSL, but Trayle passed, ultimately signing to 10K projects in May of this year.


He was a busy man in 2022, releasing four EPs as well as Happy Halloween 5, displaying a mastery of his sound. Trayle draws listeners in with chilling lyrics not concerned with over-the-top threats but by expressing the dread of being consumed by an environment where trust and love are hard to come by. That dynamic is most at play on "Alter Ego," a creative concept track from Happy Halloween 3, where he goes back and forth with his evil twin and tries to figure out which one represents his truth. He started 2023 with "Alter Ego 2," rhyming, 'I can give a fuck who don't like who long as my son richer." He'll have no worries in that department at the pace he's going. "My 2022 was insightful. In 2023 I'm looking forward to a bigger platform," he tells Rolling Stone. -- D.G


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