Hip-Hop in it’s essence is about freedom of honest, unfiltered, genuine expression. This over time developed and molded a culture that respected those that brought their real life emotions, struggles, and often frustrations to the mic. Freely letting it spill into the open space and clean motions of the Boom Bap beats of old.
Today we sit in a time where Hip Hop music stands at undeniably its most experimental, and arguably most interesting point in it’s history. The beloved lane stands as the most streamed, listened to, and followed genre in the world right now with modern day hip hop stars catapulting into the limelight and garnering the attention and cultural influence that we marveled at and previously gave to worldwide rockstars.
With Hip Hop now standing tall on the pedestal, we’ve seen a large cultural shift within the genre and community. As with much attention and fandom, came the intersection and infiltration of many who have their own viewpoint of what the art form should sound and look like. With the freedom the genre provides, we tip toe the lines and sometimes can wonder…
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BARS?!
Have no fear, as fans of lyricism can still find a safe space in some of the below VA MC’s who still unapologetically and prophetically kill mics.
The Norfolk MC has made himself a fixture in the scene when it comes to lyrical ability in his hometown.
Born and raised in Shark City, Al-Dom$ has always been surrounded by talent and the richness of the culture, yet continuous has made a name for himself with his abilities to go bar for bar with anyone on the mic and arguably smoke most of them.
With the help of the machine that is iLPackMobb, and hometown love and support from popular 757 radio station 103JAMZ on his latest single “Pray” (prod. FakeUZUMI), the sky is the limit for the young wordsmith who appears to be coming to the table with a chip on his shoulder.
It’s only up from here.
When listing off artists with a wicked pen in an area as rich in talent as the 757, it’d be a travesty not to mention Virginia Beach veteran, Mike $trong.
$trong made waves from the minute he stepped in the water with the sharks in the booth, unapologetically flipping words and flows from track to track, his music creates that unmistakable head knock.
It’s hard to put a tag on $trong, as his lyrical prowess and raw, gritty lyrics over star production from frequent collaborators like Andre Joyner help put him in a lane of his own.
4 albums in, with progression in each body of work evident, he stands 10 toes and poised to make #5 “the one”.
This is one case where you really need to check it out yourself. You won’t regret it.
Richmond veteran and wordsmith Radio Blitz has proven himself to be a testament to the principle of 10,000 hours.
His latest release, Jesus Never Wore A Suit exemplifies what many of us who are fans of lyricism, bars, conceptual albums and everything that made us fall in love with the genre. That feeling when we first heard Blueprint, first saw the “The Way I Am” music video creep across our tv screen, first heard Ghostface kill a verse, or first time Yasiin Bey made us unapologetically proud of the skin we’re in.
The work speaks for itself, check it out below and tune into some of the Hip Hop coming out of Richmond, Virginia.
Few artists bring the level of ferocity to the booth and passion for the art of Hip Hop music than Dale City’s 90wyse. His gruff, commanding voice rips through instrumentals and instantly grabs your attention.
Couple this with intricate wordplay and schemes that could rival the hottest PG on Smack URL, 90wyse makes himself a verbal contortionist worthy of respect and an honest listen.
Woodbridge artist, Keynote Illidge, will likely not be the artist to wow you with a prominent social media presence, image, or even statistics when it comes to his music.
Flying relatively low on the radar across the scene as a whole, Keynote has never been the artist flashing and begging for support or the limelight. Perhaps this serves as a testament to him as a person first, more so than an artist. With a knack for storytelling socially conscious subject matter, and relatable struggles as a college kid attempting to make his way, Keynote has drawn a crowd of supporters who faithfully stand behind and eagerly await his releases.
With a recent J.Cole esque approach to his releases, Keynote is often hush-hush on when his next body of work will release but one thing he has proven time and again is the quality he is sure to deliver when he decides to push the button.
No Face, Rapper
No Face, Rapper arrives to the game in a different space than many of his younger lyricist counter parts but one thing stays the same, a steadfast determination to provide his real story and struggles in the booth.
Frequently visiting topics spanning manhood, adolescence memories, to common struggles many listeners can relate to.
With a few projects under his belt and plenty bars left in the tank, the Woodbridge native is definitely one to keep on your radar.
Richmond collective Mutant Academy has been shattering barriers, with work coming out of their camp in droves with a ferocity and level of quality to rival indie powerhouses like TDE and vintage Roc-a-fella.
At the forefront of this conglomerate of creatives stand some of the most skilled, versatile, and flat out vicious MC’s in the state in Fly Anakin, Koncept Jack$on, and Big Kahuna OG.
With Kahuna supplementing his slick talking charisma and swagger filled lines to Fly and Koncept’s rabid flow all over in-house production, there’s often magic on those pressed Mutant Academy CD’s.
Take notice, ’cause this mutant sh*t going worldwide.
From Richmond’s northside comes a commanding voice with a knack for storytelling and translating his pain into his music. This voice comes from J Slim.
With a resume that speaks for itself and a presence on the stage that can’t be duplicated, Slim has made himself a local legend in the city of Richmond over the course of his career. From selling out clubs, to the “Premeditation” tape hosted by Don Cannon, to a long awaited EP executively produced by Kanye West, Slim hasn’t taken a day off.
His work ethic has served him well, aiding him in gaining attention throughout the state and making the release of log awaited debut LP “MVP” fervently talked about among hip hop circles.
Few outside of the gritty city may have heard the sharp voiced, emphatic delivery that arrives everytime Easalio steps to the mic.
He’s one of the artists from which you can tell he was a true student and fan of hip hop first, with flows and energy the greats would give due respect to.
His latest LP, “Mood” serves as the perfect introduction to the witty but versatile artist, offering a platter of flows and subject matter that serves the young lyricist well at setting the mod no matter the time.
Norfolk’s street poet, Alondo Jackson, has seen his stock and notoriety skyrocket in recent years and for good reason. His latest body of work, Shadows of Poetry, served as a near gospel for the struggle and pain that comes with growing up out of Tidewater Park.
Alondo won’t necessarily bar you to death with double entendres, extended metaphors, or word flips but rather, he brings a heartfelt honesty and palpable emotions on many tracks. Never one to shy away from testing his vocals or being open about all the things we deal with in this human experience from love, family loss, hate, poverty, and maneuvering through life with the scars left from your experiences.
Give this young Norfolk legend a shot, because the whole world will be listening soon.
The Alexandria MC, Sheik Kargbo, has been making a name in his city for awhile now with a rollout of tasetful releases for a
Nowadays any and everybody picks up a microphone and suddenly want to rap but very few actually master the craft of putting together a Industry ready project. Sheik Kargbo, originally from Sierra Leone, is arguably one of VA’s best kept secrets with his storytelling & producing.
Sheik has been getting a lot of recognition as of late from multiple outlets shortly after coming from SXSW he released his debut “The Speakeasy Experience” project containing 18 songs. The beautiful production set the mood for the project.
Sheik really took his time with this debut, combining records as early as 2014 to 2017. Couple this with the fact Sheik executively produced this project himself, it’s safe to say he caught our attention. The authenticity & originality in his music seems rather effortless coming from him, the scary part is.. he’s just getting started!
Find “The Speakeasy Experience” on all streaming platforms!
Rich city’s Noah-O stands solid as one of the most versatile and seasoned artists mentioned within this article. With a respectable resume that screams independent to the death, Noah has done everything from throwing his own parties, shows, album releases, hand to hand promo, and just hustling anyway he can to further advance his career.
With this longstanding grind came a polished flow, and entrepreneurial skills which have allowed him to elevate his career and make genuine connections with fans.
Serving as an example to many of the terms “self-made” and “independent artist”, Noah has managed to pave his own lane out of a small city. Still riding off the success of collaborative album with NYC/RVA producer DJ Mentos, the stage is set for Noah to continue to break ground with their next body of work.