Few north of Richmond possess the cult following and strength of Huncho Heem.
The young artist’s rise has been awe-inspiring, smoothly making the transition from social media freestyles, to standout singles that ring at homecomings across Fairfax and Prince William County. Even signing to well known DMV independent label, IGM.
Through it all, Huncho’s life struggles and frustrations with the game were apparent, as he often went back and forth on social media stating his desire to get out of rap. Battling and fighting to find motivation for his former passion, the Woodbridge fan favorite took a hiatus.
With no music, freestyles, or leaks for months, many worried and outpoured support online, with many affirming his meaning to the scene.
Huncho had become a figure within his city. A prince, local celebrity, dare even a King of the Youth.
Thankfully, the time away seemed to have cleared Huncho’s mind as he gave a sudden drop of a new Eazy Max shot visual for “Whatever You Do“. Fans clambered to his page, and newcomers payed attention as his video clip garnered over 24k views, 300 retweets, and 900 favorites to boot.
The follow up to such a standout visual release could only be his highly anticipated, “I Got Me” LP.
The project covers a range of topics that sings to those in Woodbrige who were forced to jump off the porch, often early. Reoccurring themes of distrust, violence, and the heartache that can come with self reliance ring across the LP.
Some may argue this LP rings as repetitive, or ask what makes Heem truly stand out. One can admit that the subject matter of “I Got Me” is anything but “original”.
Yes, it’s a storyline we’ve heard before and from places even more gutter than where Huncho calls home. But one can never discredit this: Huncho speaks to a generation, & they unequivocally speak to him back. At the age of 18, many of us can relate to the growing pains that came with the molting of previous/high school friends. Some left memories, others left scars. Many a time at this age we felt alone, save for the loyal few who stayed down. Comparitively, we look at Heem and not only was he forced to stay down, but take a dive in that water. It gets muddy, it gets grizzly, it can get slimy. For that reason, he stands apart. As his story rings strong on its own.
Since it’s release, Huncho has received an outpour of support and one this is for certain.
The response was clear: the city, the 703… needs Huncho Heem.
Roanoke native and 540 representer, Smiff makes his first appearance on our site with a purposeful deliverance of “To Whom It May Concern“.
Smiff’s lyricism proudly sits at the forefront of his art, as he hones and delivers witty lines and paints thoughtful imagery across his soundscape. He’s not punching you to death or deep layers of entendres which you must scavenge through, but more so aiming to make each listener ponder his message and perhaps even interpret their own.
Songs like Blacked Out Jesus Piece, Good Kid, & Erase The Lies leap to life off of Smiff’s canvas and strut their conceptual prowess. Each effectively delivering an honest message and heaping plate of food for thought, left for the listener to digest as well as enjoy as it slides across each receptor of their Hip-Hop palate.
The title stands beautifully subjective and cohesive, as the listener traverses through the project we feel take a true walk with Smiff through his life and mindset, for anyone who cares to listen . He couples witty bars and a powerful message with a dope cover, in-which he stands within a frame, as his own portrait and divine work of art.
We see Smiff aim to wow listeners with his attention to his craft across this LP, but perhaps most importantly: he intends for it’s message and his life’s highs and pitfalls to resonate and guide those on the same path in little old Roanoke, Virginia.
Richmond artist Q! has made himself a notable MC for his frequent choice of bouncy production, and poignant careening flows whist delivering quick witted lines due to set off listeners.
His latest loosie is “WWW”, a single in which he opens the track with an honest description of his perfect day…filled with women, weed, and woods.
The track is a fun, summer-esque anthem without the deepest wordplay or lyrics but the combination of Q!’s smooth flow and energy of the production provides a soundscape that makes the listen enjoyable and worthy of many rewinds.
As we creep into fall take a look at Q! and the vibes he presents below.
Nickelodeon is commanding television, with shows like Hey Arnold! and Spongebob Squarepants breaking onto the television taking the world by storm.
Will Smith briefly puts down the mic has he emerges into one of his most pivotal and pioneering roles in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The Yankees become the first team in modern day memory to sweep consecutive world series.
The world has yet to be frozen by the grippingly unreasonable fear of Y2K.
Amidst it all, we see the inception of young Richmond MC Q! and he excitedly gives us a bouncy new single relaying and reminiscing on what a wonderful year.
Q! commands attention across the bouncy, reverberating instrumental with it’s arcade sound effects and unconventional melodies. He impressively catches the wave as he relays simile after simile, and couplets that pull at many of his own fond memories of when life was so much more simple way back in ’99.
Take a trip and give the budding young artist a listen below.
Richmond’s notorious Southside has been known for decades as a harsh environment, yet it’s never a surprise to see a rose rise from the concrete. With hometown legends like Michael Millions, Fly Anakin, the immortal Nickelus F, and more carving their names into the pavement and history books we look to the future as the next generation brings forth their own twist.
Perhaps on the flip side of those that came before him, the streets are buzzing of La Socket and his debut “Spray It Don’t Say It” mixtape.
The young star’s meteoric rise has been jumpstarted like many new artists of his generation, largely spurted by flossing on Instagram. Just take a scroll through his feed and you get a small peek into Socket’s lifestyle, water around his neck and an assortment of firearms for any willing to test their luck.
Beyond Instagram, we see LA Socket has made a name for himself with his notable aggression and the ferociously violent lyrics that lace his sub-bass riddled beats. With this tenacious style gaining a foothold in the community thanks to the emergence of drill artists in Chicago years ago, and most recently popularized by 17 year old Arlington’s Tay-K.
Despite the likely comparisons, La Socket stands in a league of his own with certified street credibility and a heavy following within his city. With the aid of talented home base cinematographer, Domico Phillips, La Socket has been able to create seamless visuals to further market his already fast moving work.
With singles sporting upwards of 40k plays, “Spray It Don’t Say It” hits streaming services already holding weight with many Soundcloud Surfers and street rap fans nationwide. The 21 track LP rarely takes its foot off the gas, with fast paced rhymes and the prideful charisma that exudes from a VA kid whose made his way off the porch, and thrived. LA Socket doesn’t slow down, but seems to switch into the right lane on a few notable tracks like “I’m Sorry” & “Why“. You won’t necessarily find LA Socket apologizing for the life he lives, but more so providing a confession to his wrongdoings and explanations of his environment and what drove him from the path many wanted for him.
Crazy thing is, it’s all coming from a youngin out of Southside Richmond, Virginia.
With shoutouts from Say Cheese Digital CEO, Shawn Cotton under his belt, opportunities continue to flow toward La Socket.
We excitedly wait to see how he maneuvers in his budding young career.
With The Juug Tape 2 on the horizon, Era Hardaway gears up with a few warm up laps, ensuring he is in top form for his new release. Well known for providing gems of knowledge amidst standout flows and dark visceral sounds, many excitedly await whats next for the Five-Forty frontrunner.
Until then, Hardaway staves off fans and brings a renewed resurgence to his sound with “Before the Juug“. Here we find a reinvented Juugamil, careening between flows and subject matter as he proves himself to be a student of his craft, capable of providing a variety of hor d’oeuvres for any hip hop palate.
“I was gone for a minute but I had to juug…”
At only 8 tracks, “Before the Juug” stands strong as a taste at what is to come from Hardaway, with Spitta-esque love tracks for your “Lil Shawty” and bold bravado in “No Shooters” to boot.
With plenty in store, keep an eye out as we see more and more of Era Hardaway.
The Hampton Roads area is well known for it’s deep well of talent that seems to run deep across all the seven cities. However, with heavy focus on areas like Norfolk and the talent that resides there, some may have forgotten about the talent that continues to sprout from the water beachside. Virginia Beach artist R.Locko is setting out to change that as he creates waves with new solo project, “Star Of A Lion“.
Giving varied looks and sounds throughout the LP, R.Locko shows his growth as an artist and the time spent on crafting his sound. With unsheltered honesty on songs like “On God“, and aggressive rabid flows on singles like “2shadesofgod” you can see the spectrum this young artist glides across through his creative process.
The new wave is on it’s way in the 757, with plenty of new artists and creatives previously gone unnoticed making noise and taking their future in their own hands.
We anxiously await what’s to come next for R.Locko!
540 raised and 757 based artist, Era Hardaway, is in full form as he gears up for upcoming fall release of “The Juug Tape 2”. In the meantime, he holds off fans with loose singles and teasers to whats new to come from Juugamil, the latest being bar-heavy “The Essence” freestyle.
Here we find Hardaway displaying not only his versatility, but his obvious passion for the art as he takes the flow from his trap-infused flavor and puts it on its head, as he takes it back to the essence of hip hop music.
Check the visual below and get excited for whats to come on the horizon from the budding Virginia emcee.
Virginia has been known to be a powerhouse breeding ground for collectives for going on 2 decades now. With groups like N.E.R.D, Divine Council, GWAR, the Clipse, and more sprouting from the soil of the commonwealth and taking flight, its hard to argue the talent that goes on here.In recent years we’ve felt the void, as attention has diverted from the state and many media outlets went elsewhere, searching and following the waves created by other regions.
Meanwhile a storm was brewing in the 757, god-like to say the least.
Hampton Roads based collective G.O.D.S Music Group has gone relatively under the radar on the scene, quietly working, collaborating, and crafting a sound and chemistry that gives an ode to the versatility and diversity presented to us all through the radio in the 2000’s. An unmatched sense of pride and Virginia flavor was present in the air, and I’m happy to see another young group bringing that back.
Their recent full length release, “Apollo”, stands at a hearty 16 tracks filled with everything from heavy sub-bass anthems, to honest symphonic introspections.
Pick any handful of tracks on this LP and compare & contrast them, you’re likely to find varied sounds but an overwhelming confidence and technical skill displayed by each artist on the tracks. Take a look at some of my favorites: “I-85 South”, “Rituals 1 & 2”, and “Royals”, each presenting their own flavor suitable for the ear of just about any hip hop fan.
It’s hard to stress enough how multifaceted and layered this project is, all while presenting itself in such a refreshing way. The project’s sound is as diverse as the voices and personalities of the artists making it, yet the end product stands as such a cohesive body of work you’d be surprised by the time you reach the end.
With each day we see the scene continue to grow and the once burning embers of creativity in VA has begun to smolder and smoke again, as we see some of our older artists breaking walls and thriving in new spaces. We eagerly await to see what happens next, but I ask you keep your eye out for those that will break the entire frame, after the door has been opened.
Perhaps we’ll be hearing of G.O.D.S. Music Group very soon.
Many artists leave the state and switch up, claiming their new buzzing city over the commonwealth that gave them their roots. This isn’t the case for ATL- based and VA bred Kenzie Tarantino. Proactively claiming the state that gave him his sound, he carefully crafts each bar that rings across new “Red Daze” EP.
A heavy proponent of lyricism, Tarantino makes the 5 track EP a barfest, dropping punchline, punchline ,euphemism, one after the other.
Kenzie makes for an artist that serves an easy listen for as much his even keel beats and delivery as much as his down-to-earth vibe portrayed through his each track. Standout track “Have To” serves as an honest reflection and ode to the pressure many young creatives feel whilst chasing their dreams.
“Nas said the world is ours…so we’re trying to make it happen cause I have to.”
These lines echo through the track as an honest self affirmation and motivation for Kenzie and many like him who are on the grind to manifest their dreams to reality, unabashedly taking the route of manifesting ones career rather than following the well-beaten and less fruitful path we’re often urged towards.
This young artist looks to make his way, and perhaps through him we all can relate. We must make it, simply because we have to.
Artists often take us on trips with each full length release. We download their latest body of work from our prefer streaming service and are subsequently enthralled in whatever soundscape they choose to present. A certain tier of artists with the likes of Dave East, Meek Mill, and G Herbo serve as benchmarks for Hip-Hop aficionados who have taken their “street” perspective to the highest level.
Translating their pain, lessons, and lifestyle across booming 808’s in a way that continues to appeal and spread to the masses while subsequently transporting listeners into their mind and hometown.
From this we gain insight and first hand experiences that shaped our favorite artists into who they are, making each listen more personable and enjoyable than the last. We can see the stark contrast of those hailing from the same area and blending lines of those with similar stories yet stand worlds apart.
July 20th served as a prime example of this phenomenon as Norfolk frontrunner Young Crazy and Alexandria veteran Young Moe each deliver standout EP’s that provide not only a view into their hustle to rise out the gutter, but an intriguing look at the cultural shift and similarities between two of Virginia’s premiere areas.
Young Crazy has been known for years around the 757 for his standout cadence and unabashedly blunt lines in the booth. Delivering resounding hooks and holding no punches, his witty quips and often hilariously honest bars make him an artist who commands your attention as well as respect.
With the help of producer/rapper Era Hardaway, from his viewpoint Young Crazy gives real criticisms on societal flaws and street taboos that make for an unequivocally standout project, “This Is A Crazy Era“.
Crazy and Era’s release was highly anticipated, with a short announcement for the release date that had much of VA’s creative circles buzzing. Though when it comes to unpredictability, they were contested by Alexandria’s Young Moe and his unceremonious drop of “LIFE TWO“.
Moe set the table again as he returned to feed the streets with a follow up to his recent projects: Street Scars 3 & preceding LIFE.
Taking a step back and look at Moe’s extensive discography, you can see “LIFE” stands as his most heartfelt, pain-induced, and complete body of work. It left Alexandria and much of the 703 hungry for more and excited to see an artist who’s faced public setbacks, comfortable and really producing some of his best work to date.
“…feel like I’m finding peace. Feel like I’m finding ME!”
With the follow up, LIFE TWO Moe gets straight to the point, delivering 8 tracks that speak to his unashamed relay of life events, good and bad that stand as benchmarks in his life as well as lessons he’s learned on the road.
Moe’s arsenal is deep, as his unique voice, melodic choruses,and prowess he holds in the booth and in the street’s of Alexandria make for a unique dynamic that’s enveloped and propelled him to a status which garners respect across the DMV area.
The similarities are apparent between these two, local legends who continue to strive and inspire many around them. Proving to those young and old that one can manifest a future for themselves with grind and resilience through life’s pitfalls. Yet let us take a harder look, and contrast of these two artists. Not only in the projects alone, nor them as individuals, but more so a look at the areas from which they reside and the impact that had on their development.
The 703 (nova) and the 757 ( the 75) many postulate are polar opposites. Different sides of the commonwealth separated by a 3 hour drive and exuding auras of entirely different states. The wealthier, more diverse 703 area code lacks the strength of solidarity in culture that the 757 holds and takes much of it’s influence from the cultural hubs that are DC and Maryland.
Somehow through it all, areas like Alexandria, Woodbridge, and Richmond Highway hold an undeniable flavor about them. We continue to see artists and creatives alike rise from these breeding points of creativity, sprouting their wings and shaking off the shackles that continue to limit those in their hometowns.
In the case of the 75, the area stands so rich in creatives that one can seemingly find a new artist every day of the year. But many scream of the lack of support, failure of OG’s, and “crab in a bucket mentality” that holds back the region from reaching a potential deserving of a place where creativity literally rains from one side of the water to the other.
Despite it all we’ve just seen events such as EDL Fest, hosted by Niyah Nel and accompanying family over at Everyday Dope Life, put together a literal creative festival with just about every major name intermingling in one space. 2 years in a row!
We look at Young Moe and see his undeniable originality, standing solid despite what any may say about the “easy street/soft” area that is Northern Virginia.
We marvel at Young Crazy and his rise over the past year, doing feature after feature, on tour, and proudly proclaiming Virginia everywhere he goes.
Perhaps areas of Virginia aren’t so different after all.
Perhaps things are changing, for the better.
It’s time for the culture shift.
LIFE TWO – Young Moe
This Is A Crazy Era – Young Crazy (prod. Era Hardaway)
Virginia songstress, emcee, designer, and visual artist OPAL continues to prove her boundless creativity and progression with each release. Newest single, “HOPSCOTCH” proves to be no different!
OPAL glides and slides through the creases of the bouncy production from Free Diesel, layering quick-witted bars and anecdotes suited for Instagram captions of many women who’ve quickly transitioned from sadly scorned to empowered empress.
Perhaps the most standout aspect of her latest release is the growth and comfort displayed as OPAL unapologetically rips into the instrumental with her even tone and solid delivery. As mentioned in her recent interview, in contrast to the usual euphoric vibes she’s known to present, OPAL is a true hip-hop artist and lyricist at heart and it shows on “HOPSCOTCH“.
Take the time to give a listen to one of the most promising young artists below!