Nickelus F delivers a chillingly potent visual for “I Ain’t Cried Yet”

Richmond, Virginia’s Nickelus F‘s 15+ year career has encompassed everything from mainstream acclaim on platforms like 106&Park, early collaborations with Drake, to cultivating a longstanding discography that has his name still circling among sonic connoisseurs.

With the first unceremonious visual release off “STUCK”, Nick creaks open the door for listeners to his mental state at his arguably lowest point on the album.

Holding full creative control of the self-produced visual, we get a simple, ominous view of life at the bottom of the tar pit.

Red tones and the lackluster views of Richmond paint the scene, as Nick paces whilst indulging in his vices and bouncing through his unorthodox delivery.

You rarely know what to expect with a Nickelus F drop, so take a look at the latest Petey.

Respect the Shooter: The Importance of Cinematographers in a Digital Age

The days of Soundcloud links across your Twitter timeline and cover art for singles flooding your Instagram feed are over. Or at least they should be.

By now, many artists have figured out that with social media and updates becoming more fast paced, you must find new ways to grab the attention of both viewers and listeners.

In many cases, you only have two seconds of scroll time before users flick their thumb and you’re gone off their radar forever.

With the ongoing fight to get a foothold on expanding your fanbase in a digital age, cinematographers have become the lynch pin to garnering engagement online.

Their work has sometimes been overlooked and they’ve often been skipped out on when it comes to credit, but now we see their stock rising more than ever.

Having a good and dedicated videographer as a partner can prove more valuable than the revered producer-artist relationship of the past.

Times are changing, and many have yet to make the shift towards visual releases over the usual streaming service premieres. So for that, we hope this article inspires you.

Pull out the brainstorming notepad, prepare to invest, and take a look at some of these talented creatives below who are pretty ill with the lens.

Will Tha Shooter

will tha shooter.jpg


757 area





ATL/Newport News




Manassas/DMV area


Dinero Visuals



Alexandria/DMV area


Aaron Dee





Keith Blvck








703/540 area


Spencer Sease





Eazy Max



703/ODU area


FLAM Films



703/DMV Area


Vontae Knight













757 area


Parkway Hypnotizes Viewers with “All In My Head” (VISUAL)

Manassas artist, Parkway has been well known in his city for his standout sound, charisma, and honesty on the mic.

Never one to bend for the mold, Parkway’s laid back but calculated flow and delivery serve him well in his latest release for All In My Head.

Making noise with releases have never been a problem for this budding artist and with the help of reputable cinematographer Spencer Sease, he creates a captivating Noir-inspired visual that’s due to leave listeners hitting the replay.

Doe$ki sets the tone for new EP with “T.H.I.C” (VISUAL)

“n*ggas say they hot, they not, stop it!”

Few artists can bring the same high octane, off the wall energy  that Doe$ki Da Wolf brings to the table. With booming instrumentals, layered adlibs, and infectious lyrics to boot, Da Wolf makes a mark on first listen.

He makes a strong return to the Tube with the help of 757 videographer, WillThaShooter for a visual of loose single, “T.H.I.C“.

With the hit-laced EP said to be on the horizon, it’s gearing up to be a hot summer in Norfolk!

What Happened to the Bars?!

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…


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.



al doms

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.

Mike $trong

mike strong

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.

Radio Blitz


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.

Keynote Illidge


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.

Mutant Academy

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.

J Slim


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.

Alondo Jackson


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.

Sheik Kargbo

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.


All in the Approach (A Few Tips for Press Coverage)

How you come off on first meeting, introduction, or correspondence is the premiere and often most pivotal moment when reaching out to people you don’t know.

Though many hip hop blogs/media do what they do because they genuinely are about pushing new, talented artists, a professonal approach will always help your case.

Here’s a few tips to make sure your “submission” gets a chance and stands out from the influx of junk and spammers.

1. Introduce yourself!

No platform worth submitting to is moving for fake love or impressions anymore.

That being said, come forward as honest and straightforward as possible . Even when maneuvering through social media DM, simply offering a “hey!”, where you’re from, who you are, can make a world of difference.

When someone you’ve never spoken to approaches you, and the first thing they do is ask you to do something for them, how do you view that person?

Are you likely to help?

2. Social Resume

Though in today’s climate, we’ve expanded and broken down many of the barriers and limitations that were used to divide and keep people in a box, image may forever hold a value.

One of the first steps to self realization when it comes your artistry is that when it comes to marketing your career, you are a walking embodiment and ambassador for your art. Your social media now serves as a near modern day resume or menu handed across the desk to die hard and potential fans alike in seconds.

From here they make the decision to give you a chance, support, or exit. Simple, quick, and in a hurry.

Bottom line: don’t look stupid on Instagram, filling your “Artist page” with memes/goodmorning posts. Frankly, its likely not they way to have blogs, media, or anyone take your career serious.

3. Professional Submissions

What makes blogs so great is that the most important aspect of the whole thing is our art. We feed the machine and keep the creative juices flowing, and developing these relationships keeps the culture alive.

This make that little email for “submissions” critical when you’re starting out making industry connections and making media connects.

Keep your submission clean, conscise, and prompt.

Include key aspects like a brief bio, image, song description, and social media links.

Bare emails with things like a soundcloud link, “hey bro, whats good”, SCREAMING TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS, and “stop sleeping” are often fast ways that get your  submission hurdled to the junkyard and name on a spam list.


With competition and talent everpresent, its often a daunting task of separating yourself from the pack or standing tall above the clambering locals of your favorite writers inbox.

In a digital age, almost anyone is accessible through an email or DM. Everyone from the 1st floor janitor to the CEO can be reached if you do great research.

Take this as a huge bonus for the upcoming artist or creative. Trying to figure out how to get press coverage on these blogs? Find writers from your favorite publications via twitter search or links on their profile on the publication’s site.

Politely reach out! It doesn’t even need to be for coverage, simply ask them what are some things they look for in new artists? Any advice they can give to make the submission process easier? Or even something so simple as what are some good publications you should reach out to?

Some may respond, many may not, but plenty have had opportunity successfully meet preparation by using this tactic, all while gaining positive insight.

The digital realm is only the surface level of the network! Get out there with your local scene, attend festivals, conferences, and just don’t be afraid to show face because increasingly more in life and especially this industry, its about who you know!


Dope Creatives Under 21

 Austin Skinner


Since early on in his career, Reston native Austin Skinner has always had a strong internet presence. Given the fact he’s one of the more consistent artists by releasing music often and collaborating with notable artists such as Nessly, Orion, and most recently with Lil Pump in “4 CHOPPAZ”

At only 19, this kid has already surpassed 600K streams solely on SoundCloud and is definitely someone to lookout for..|LOST LOVE EP



2017 was a vital year for the Manassas Singer. Buto just recently broke through 100K streams on his lead single “Blessing” which received tremendous attention from many. After seeing how much potential the record held, Buto stuck with his sound and used that momentum to later release the SPUDDIES EP.

His use of live instruments makes his sound more authentic and grasping to new ears. Check out his most recent work; The Man On The Boat EP

Cash Bently


Stemming from Manassas, young artist Cash Bently jumped on the scene hard with his heavy hitting auto-tune approach. Bentley has collaborated with the likes of heavy buzzing artists like I$AIAH and 909 Memphis. After building up his internet presence, Bently quickly started taking his production more seriously. He is now making his mark as the go-to underground producer for artists both in and out of Virginia. Whether its making songs or producing them, this kid is extremely talented.

Drew Famous


Early on releasing a handful of free online projects from 2014 to 2016, Drew released his EP “Running in Place” on November 18, 2016. The project featuring production from Juice Bangers, Draxum, Anatha Flay, and artist features from Topi Mandela, Levi Hinson, and Two-9’s Curtis Williams, “Running in Place” was a strong introduction to the then 16 year-old artist.

After a string of singles in 2017, Drew released his debut album, “Yearbook,” on October 27, 2017. Executive-produced by Adrian Stresow, “Yearbook” charted in the iTunes hip-hop top 40 upon its release. The bulk of the album’s production was handled by 1995, and the album featured artists Adrian Stresow, Asaiah Ziv, and PLAY from the Suffolk rap crew BreezePark, among others. 

In 2018, Drew Famous founded his own business, CIRCA2000 LLC., and is gearing up to release his next project, an album fully produced by 1995 through his CIRCA2000 imprint. Even if the album’s production all comes from Jersey City, the Virginia in Drew comes out in this album more than ever. The project is set to feature artists like Kaleb Mitchell and IIIDAZE, and is expected to release in this summer.

D$G Dae


Bred from AVA (Alexandria), D$G Dae has been rapping for a while but it wasn’t until he went to Old Dominion University when his rap career really started to gather attention. Fueling from Online Twitter Rap Challenges, Dae continued to inch closer and closer to widespread acclaim.

This past fall was really where he made his leap to social media stardom, dropping his first visual for an older record, “Walk In”. The visual quickly surpassed 25K views and quickly getting the attention of XXL landing a spot on one of their artist playlists.

With all this accumulating buzz, there’s nothing left but to wonder if and when can we expect an album or mixtape in the near future.



Sounds distort and walls bend as Hampton Roads collective IIIDAZE came up ceremoniously this past year. With SoundCloud hits and standout visuals, the trio proceeded to break grounds from the start.

Room shaking performances and word of mouth have created mass anticipation of a feature length project. The tone is set in their favor, as they are fully in house from production down to mixing/mastering.




The Soundboy out of Stafford is something of a king to the youth when it comes to the 540. His fan base is undeniable, with many anxious teens awaiting every release and frantically reposting every teaser he drops. Many of which quickly run up 100 retweets within 48 hours.

Kwad is a blended product of much of the “new wave” of music that has pushed its way to the forefront of today’s hip hop climate. As well as the meticulously crafted sounds and feel-based music we saw put on front street by artists like Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Lil Uzi Vert.

Kwad is an artist who we’ve seen develop quickly over the course of us running this platform and in this short time, he has made leaps and bounds when it comes to the music he’s been putting out.



The new IGM signee has been bubbling for years since his emergence as a premiere force in the Woodbridge area. Yet it wasn’t until the release of his highly anticipated single “Woah” with Tae Glocka when the two quickly became the voice of the youth in NOVA. From getting plays at homecomings and proms even down to radio stations.

Huncho topped off the buzz by feeding the streets with his latest project “New Pressure 2” with features from well known artists such as Star G & T, Yung Rahz, Reggie Reg, Big Kash, Trevy Trey, and more. Needless to say, there’s something about Huncho as he just has this natural pull from the high school crowd. Be on the lookout for his next move!

Eazy Max


If you’re from the NoVA side, then you must be familiar with EazyMax! She’s been relentlessly flooding the streets with content every couple days steadily since the New Year. You’d think she’d be slowing down but in fact, she’s elevating as her work ethic has gained attention from MMG artist Fattrel.

The future is insanely bright for the young videographer as she is only 19 years old!

YouTube Channel



NoVA’s Fridaynite has one of the strongest, cult internet following we’ve seen from a local artist on his side. With a solid base of over 4k followers on Soundcloud and songs crossing over the 20k threshold, this budding artist definitely has something to the formula.

Latest singles release, “Shoot“, serves as great intro to Fridaynite and his sound as an artist. The bouncy, ad-lib laced production pair well with his lighthearted, extravagant verse that serves as both a compliment and contradiction to the raw hook and theme from which the track’s title derives.

Welcome to Friday’s world.


Kou Sav


Kou Sav of GCD is as enthusiastic as they come, whether it’s a feature or his own record, he’s going to aim to have the best verse and best energy every time. Though he’s been on the scene for a while, it wasn’t until as of late since he has been gaining notoriety by releasing content more steadily and collaborating.

With the help of his conglomerate GCD Cruddy Gang, Kou Sav is set to keep snapping and pressing his foot on the necks of anyone who steps in his lane.

Kris Stasse


Kris Stasse, hailing out of Virginia Beach, proves through each song his will and dedication to being one of the greats in hip-hop. Stasse brings a refreshing sound to the game with motivational and moving music. With his latest release of “L.O.N.E.R.” Kris shows his versatility from having songs with heavy rock and roll influence all the way to tracks you think you would here on the billboard hot 100 charts. His mission is to make feel good music that connects with all sorts of people.



We stumbled across the young lyricist , JVN via Soundcloud. At only 17 years old, the Chesapeake musician has a lot of promising potential early on. Dropping his latest album “Yours Truly”, we see a variety of lyricism, melodies, & overall growth from his previous project the Black Tape.

With these promising aspects, coupled with the fact the young MC has still yet to find his definitive niche/sound, JVN has set the tone and stood apart from the crowd in his class as one to keep an eye out for as we look forward to the future and next budding artist from Virginia.

Miah Travis


 20 year old Miah Travis has continued to have an unwavering dedication to being persistent, polished, and virtuous in his craft.

His journey from the release of standout motion picture for “Mona Lisa” with budding cinematographer, Spencer Sease to now has been a rewarding but arduous one. An exponential rise from notable press coverage, to a journey on FOX’s The Four, to growing anticipation for a new Miah Travis.

With a new EP and plenty new sounds in his repertoire, the Chesapeake native has set the stage to elevate and make a name for himself in major ways.

Renzo Beats


RenzoBeats is a name you’ve probably heard before. The young producer is still in high school but has worked with many artists the past two years. He quickly started realizing everyone in NOVA was a part of some clique or
music group, so he was then welcomed to YBG alongside fellow producers
Snowzart, Taequan Barbour & GMG2x. A short while later, Renzo and GMG
started collaborating quite frequently and  sent a beat to
WillThaRapper. That’s when the two later found out that WillThaRapper
dubbed the song “223” and shot a visual which is doing close to 60k
views. Renzo has a track coming up with RudyCash which is produced by
Sparkheem and himself along with an unreleased song with TooEasyBlack.

“Watch out as his promotional tape coming up in July titled “Toxic Parties”.

Ricky Rick


Ricky Rick, an 18-year-old producer from Woodbridge, has had arguably the quickest come up out of the are. Still in high school, RickyRick, has been making major moves not only in the DMV scene but on the East coast with big acts such as producing Bali Baby from ATL’s hit record “Elastic” and Da Baby from Charlotte’s record “Tax Time” Recently,  he even sold a beat to A Boogie’s manager.

Watch out for him as we anticipate this young producer to go Global!

Production Credits: Bali Baby • Da Baby • Big Don Bino • Reggie Reg • LeakNoStallin & Many More!


 Rizzo Da Great


Rizzo Da Great is no strangers to hard times & the struggle. As you can hear in his music, the 17 year old rapper has learned a lot from the streets & has translated them in his music.

Wether its something for the streets or something for the ladies, Rizzo is your guy. His latest visual features Kahri 1k in “The Walton’s”.

Ryan Henry


Ryan Henry is a director and screenwriter from Alexandria, VA. He has involved himself in multiple realms of creativity, from filmmaking and visual art, to music, blogging, and clothing design. The young artist is on a mission to not only expand in his areas of expertise, but to allow the opportunity for other creatives from across the map to truly hone their crafts and explore their potential.

Ryan founded Cut x Sewn Magazine in 2015, a digital magazine and creative platform that features editorials and articles placing unheard talent under the spotlight. The following year, Ryan applied his skills in creativity and branding to throw his first major event; Sense: A Creative Culture Convention. The event was laid out like a large scale art convention, featuring over 35 performers, designers, and visual artists from across the country, including an appearance from Goldlink.

The success and acclaim of the event led to Ryan creating Sense, a forward-thinking clothing brand where he worked and designed as the creative director for nine months before realizing it was time for him to pass the torch and focus on his true passion; filmmaking. Now, Ryan spends his days and nights working on an array of projects, hoping to one day take his throne as one of the most prominent filmmakers to reach the big screen.

His upcoming film is centered around the struggle of the black woman, the oppression of all women, mental health, and abuse titled, “And Home We Came”

Zara Bash


Music serves for some as an outlet and a direct funnel for honest expression and emotional turmoil, whilst creating the open conversation and connection with your fans. Suffolk artist, Zara Bash, unabashedly delivers this aspect to his art on a consistent basis whether it be through his live performances or his tracks.

His album “SkyFall” made a promising debut. Proving doubters that he is capable of holding his own while switching his flow and approach throughout the project, all while delivering a quality sound across booming instrumentals bound to have your car thumping.




All Virginia Artist 1990Bishop knows how to do is run it up. From starting a collective to dropping hit singles 1990Bishop has been working non stop to get the top spot. He has dropped many that became popping in a very short amount of time from “Bank with Curt McGurt” which racked over 18 thousand streams in a month to “No Lean” which gained 13 thousand streams in a little under a month. Bishop has also been gaining steam for starting the collective 1990 which is a music group where he combined many of the slept on underground artists to work together and build a brand. Bishop frequently works with manager “Ali” the two together are on the road to winning. Keep your eye out for what he got in store for us.

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What are we working for? (A Creative’s Dilemma)

Those long nights filled with countless hours spent working at our craft. With that constant pressure and anxiety that comes from wanting to be the best. Wanting everything you deserve but aren’t promised. Itching to prove your doubters wrong, even your family.

Everyday we get up and often slave doing something we hate for nothing more than a glorified piece of paper. At this point you either place your creativity in a box or you take that leap out of your comfort zone and channel your inner passion.

Whether it be music, modeling, painting, designing, directing, or even sports, there’s something in us that’s itching to get out and we must translate this fire and creative energy into something tangible. It gives us an overwhelming sense of release, accomplishment, and often happiness as this is our art plus our outlet.

So what are we working for?

The answers differ from everyone. Some do it has an escape from reality, some for the passion, others for the loved and lost, and sometimes just to channel unwanted feelings. Sure, as a creator, sooner or later you’ll reach a point where you often question yourself. But, as life throws obstacles your way, it’s up to you to maneuver through them and channel whatever feelings we have into this outlet.

Never forget why you originally started doing whatever it is you love. Never forget that the doubters and naysayers will only serve as fuel to your fire. Never forget that only one person is in control of your happiness and drive.

You hard work, dedication, and creativity can take you anywhere you want to go. 

You deserve this sh*t.

Weekly Rotation

With new artists popping up left and right, plus new underground hits seemingly dropping out of the sky on various streaming services it can be hard to keep up.

For this, we bring you our own little take on a weekly rotation, or simply: Heat of the Week. With talented artists homegrown in Virginia and beyond.

All tracks and full playlist below.

Peace and Happy Listening.

Kanye’s Intro by J Slim

The Northside Richmond representer’s latest release finds his strong voice and steady cadence flowing across soulful, vintage Kanye production. Slim kicks some flavor on this intro track, unapologetically laying out his life journey and ripping into the eerie, gritty picture the beat provides.

The end product gives that hard, honest feel we got from Freddie Gibbs as he unexpectedly slid across every Madlib etched beat.

With a strong core following and a story you can’t deny, versed lyricist J Slim prepares to make a statement this year.

Brick Talkin’ by Young Crazy

(Prod. Era Hardaway)

Norfolk general and VA frontrunner Young Crazy serves to be an example of someone coming from the gutter of VA, and making it out off solely their own hustle, ambition, and steadfastness in staying true to themselves.

Since the release of his first major debut LP, Crazo Damn, the buzz surrounding this young artist has only increased as we all eagerly await to hear his notable voice sliding and snapping on the next instrumental.

Music Artist & Producer, Era Hardaway, answered our prayers with a clean, trap infused beat that set the stage perfectly for Crazo to come in and do what he does best…

Marci w/ Boku Maru by .Peter $un

When in need of a pick me up, something new in your rotation, or just simply some music you can feel good about…please feel free to turn to .Peter $un.

The talented Richmond artist has made a name for himself as one who is never afraid to push his creativity and pave his own lane. His vibrant sound, melodic production, and willingness to bend his vocals in any which way he sees fit, make him one of the most intriguing and enjoyable artists around right now.

Late Night by Huey Supreme

Portsmouth artist, Huey Supreme has served as one of the most most exemplary and forward thinking creatives to come out of Pistol city. Continuously creating content and sounds that push his barriers as a artist, as well as our imagination as listeners.

Supreme continues to show his progression with another standout single for Late Night, a sweet sounding track devoted to the balance of the grind chasing dreams and situations with possible lovers.

Teeth In My Neck by Kali Uchis

Colombian-American songstress Kali Uchis has been making major strides over the past couple years.

With growing fandom in her home country, a relatable yet high profile relationship with DC’s Yung Gleesh, and a budding modeling career to boot, the stage was set for a long awaited LP that was bound to shake things up for the Northern Virginia artist. With that, we received “Isolation“.

Bouncing, showroom single “Teeth In My Neck” finds Kali sweetly crooning her woes and dissapointment in the industry, with those who will suck you dry of your talent and energy seemingly behind every corner.

With such a strong debut, the future is bright for this bubbling international star.

Shoot by Fridaynite

NoVA’s Fridaynite has one of the strongest, cult internet following we’ve seen from a local artist on his side. With a solid base of over 4k followers on Soundcloud and songs crossing over the 20k threshold, this budding artist definitely has something to the formula.

Latest singles release, “Shoot“, serves as great intro to Fridaynite and his sound as an artist. The bouncy, ad-lib laced production pair well with his lighthearted, extravagant verse that serves as both a compliment and contradiction to the raw hook and theme from which the track’s title derives.

Welcome to Friday’s world.

Louder by Big Lo$

big los

“B-B-BIG LO$ ON THA TRACK BOY!” is a tag everybody has heard, respects, and knows one way or another. If you dont, you just aren’t paying attention!

757 super-producer Big Lo$ has had his name in rotation across various music circles for a long time now. With hits under his belt with everyone from Lil Yachty, to Chris Travis, Lo$’ resume speaks for itself.

With so many fire beats in the cut, Lo$ continues to take a stab at them himself as only one can kill his production like he can! 

Cool It by Bucky Malone*

Bucky Malone is one of those independent artists who we’ve seen truly been on the grind since we began our platform. From Manassas to ATL, NYC, to DC, this 703 artist has been making a name for himself nationwide.

Whilst continuing to kill shows with his high energy, rambunctious style, Bucky has been putting together his first major release set to be released on all major streaming platforms.

In anticipation he unleashes his bouncy new single “Cool It” Produced by DC’s own Handsome Jones.

Deathmatch by Ceo ft. ConFromThe703

There’s just something about that daily dose of that aggresive, profanity laced, bass booming the walls, type hip hop?

This one comes by way of a collaborative effort from Woodbridge’s ConFromThe703 and Mechanicsville’s Ceo, “Deathmatch“.

The two both reach into their bag for this one. Both MC’s shine on the heavy, grungy production while displaying their fiery, in-your-face style.

Catch the two spilling blood on this beat with the ferocity of nothing short of late night Celebrity Deathmatch.

Full Plate by Ainae

 “Tastefully fusing her love for soulful R&B and Contemporary Pop Ainae Nielsen has created her unique sound. Her awareness of the world and need to learn has given her the tools to create meaningful lyricism and melodies that encapsulate all the colors being produced in her head. The vocalist and songwriter was raised in South East Washington DC, using her poetry and melodies she has translated her experiences and hopes into every song she has poured out onto paper. Her household was full of music and silence was a foreign entity that wasn’t always welcomed into the doors.

She released her first song “Full Plate” on SoundCloud in November 2017 and received much attention earning 2,000 plays in the first few days of its release. With the release of her first song, she has worked ferociously on her first EP “Contort” to feature “Full Plate,” which was released on March 16th,2018 to start the New Year strong and full of meaning, energy and as a present to herself for her birthday. She has created a name for her self through the performances she has done and events she has organized and curated for the benefit of young DMV artists like REM SLEEP and works to create more events like these to highlight young artists like herself.

Ainae brings new breath to the overly saturated market she is working to influence. If you don’t believe, make sure to listen to her newly released EP -“Contort,” which shows the immense talent and uniqueness that Ainae can bring to 2018.

The world is writing a story that Ainae has the pen to translate.”

Say About Me by Rozwell Fitzroy

The more we delve deeper and deeper in the 757, the more apparent it seems that something is clearly in the water. Artists of all lanes seem to be making some of the most impressive, mold-breaking sounds to date that we’ve heard out of Virginia.

Virginia Beach native Rozwell Fitzroy serves as living, breathing testament to this statement. With a sound and style that cannot be put into a box, and continued press coverage from reputable platforms such as Pigeons & Planes, Fitzroy’s hard work has now put him in position to become one of the major lights shining from VA.

Say About Me” finds Fitzroy in his bag sonically, channeling electronic, what sounds close to vintage T-Pain, and R&B vibes to create a short conflicted ballad for his lover.

Promise Remix by Fly anakin, Koncept Jack$on, & TUAMIE ft. Freddie Gibbs

Mutant shit worldwide…Fly Anakin and Koncept Jack$on have been putting in overtime over the past 5 years, carving a name for themselves nationwide. Their hardnosed, high energy style and flow make them a difficult duo to compete with on the mic. Couple that with the fact they seemingly step to the booth with 64 bars ready every time, the Mutant Academy standouts can easily by heralded as apart of the top tier artists doing it right now.

The devotion to originality and grind has been paying off for the two as they managed to link up with the Gary, Indiana legend Freddie Gibbs who provides a verse to be reckoned with on this one.


How Does It Feel by Orion

Fairfax’s Orion comes into 2018 with both tenure & well-earned confidence.

With underground hit “TTG” clearing 1 million plays, opening for VCU Homecoming, and growing support under his belt, many eagerly look to the quick-witted artist for his next release.

How Does It Feel” finds Orion in his comfort zone, sliding in the pocket of the beat with quick, unfiltered lines and stretching chorus.

More dope sounds and tracks can only be in store for the 703 standout.

A Few Artists You Need To Know From The 540

The Virginia scene stands now at what many natives see as a precipice for the culture, either we go all in and take off…or we plummet.

Artists have begun to release music in droves, with an emphasis on standing out from the crowd of talented individuals who have gathered in VA.

When it comes to looking for the next big artist, we often turn our eyes to the “Big Three”: Richmond (804), Hampton Roads (757), and Northern VA (703). These three areas predominantly garner the attention of the community when we talk about whose running things and the development of local scenes.

However, an area which is beginning to bubble with talent, shows, and creative spaces often goes unspoken when it comes to these conversations. It’s seen as just another region cut by I-95, which you quickly jet through on your way to DC/NoVa or on the way back to Richmond. For some, it’s just a little too country, a little too spaced out, and frankly a little too “whitewashed” to be harboring any embers of the soul that comes with R&B or the outspoken fire that comes from Hip-Hop music.

We call this the 540, harboring cities such as Fredericksburg, Stafford, and many more smaller towns, this area is slowly gearing up to make a name for itself and an undeniable respect for their artistry.

Here, I hope to simply put you on to a few gems from around this way. Some of these artist might get your attention, maybe even make you a believer.

After all, this is still Virginia.

Era Hardaway


Hardaway stands as one of the premiere artists on the scene right now. Dabbling in everything hip hop, from production to bars, to the intersection between our beloved hip-hop music and streetwear.

As a member of the powerhouse Norfolk collective iLPackMobb, some often forget that Hardaway’s career sprouted and grew in immense ways in the 757, but holds roots true to Fredericksburg.

Hardaway’s music serves as an embodiment of versatility. His catalogue stretches over 5 years and after digging through the crate, there’s one major takeaway from his music: He serves as a direct reflection of the impact one’s life experiences can have on them. Thus, shaping his own sound & content all while staying true to himself.

His sometimes dark, visceral production makes for the perfect back drop to his candid lines and honest story telling. While also serving as a balance to his occasional wavy, flavor infused tracks.

Surely an artist you want to keep tabs on rolling into summer 2018! Until then, you can stream and find everything Era Hardaway on his website.



Few artists, if any, sound like this fiery MC from Fredericksburg, VA. With a delivery that packs a punch and a relentless flow, $inbad has quickly risen out of the dirt in the 540 to make a name for himself.

His lane is a unique one, combining a dark sound with heavy synths and a booming bass.  He snaps on every beat with his sharp voice that cuts through the mud is right there in your face.

Don’t get it confused though, this is one guy who is never short on bars when he comes in the booth. He frequently delivers hay-maker after hay-maker with little time for build up as his quick triggered flow steam rolls through every gate on the beat.

With a stage presence to match some of the best, it’s no surprise he’s managed to land opening slots for artists such as Pouya, Xavier Wulf, and Chris Travis.

I suggest you get familiar quick, because $inbad doesn’t look to be taking the foot off the gas anytime soon!

Bandman Smoke


If you been to the other side of the Burg, you know it ain’t sweet and blue collar everywhere.

Bandman Smoke has created a strong buzz in the streets with anthems like “Traphouse Wide Open”, as well as utilizing social media to continue to interact and gain relationships with fans.

His gruff voice, and visible authenticity has quickly made him a well known figure in the 540, known to turn up tracks and stages left & right.



The Stafford songstress took VA and much of Soundcloud by storm a little under a year ago with the release of her full length LP, How Singers Cry. This was her first music release in close to two years yet she masterfully used her social media presence and raw talent to deliver a series of teasers and performances that had the whole state buzzing in anticipation.

The project stands at over 70k total streams, with 4,000 fans on her SoundCloud anxiously waiting for the next bit of sonic soul food.

Even to those that are no usually fans of her soulful genre, it’s obvious almost on first listen what makes Vesta so special. In the most simplest terms, it’s her raw emotion and ability to deliver relatable stories within each track.

Her overwhelming transparency and pain in her music is only matched by her ability to create nothing short of modern-day ballads that incite a level of serenity and happiness in her listeners.

Now living in Los Angeles, Vesta’s gearing up for her next release as we all sit and ponder what one of VA’s most talented singers is preparing to offer up to us next with her sophomore release.



The Soundboy out of Stafford is something of a king to the youth when it comes to the 540. His fan base is undeniable, with many anxious teens awaiting every release and frantically reposting every teaser he drops. Many of which quickly run up 100 retweets within 48 hours.

Kwad is an artist who we’ve seen develop quickly over the course of us running this platform and in this short time, he has made leaps and bounds when it comes to the music he’s been putting out.

He’s not going to bar you to death and he doesn’t make the type of music your aunties want to hear at the family cookout. But Kwad’s unbottled energy and and over-the-top lines on many of his tracks make for a listen that’s both interesting and more often than not, enjoyable.

Kwad is a blended product of much of the “new wave” of music that has pushed its way to the forefront of today’s hip hop climate. As well as the meticulously crafted sounds and feel-based music we saw put on front street by artists like Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Lil Uzi Vert.

This seems to have served Kwad well in his recent endeavors, his fan-base and views have continued to rise and frankly…he’s creating some of the most exciting music we’re seeing coming out of the 540.



The PHRXH VZION general is one of the veterans doing it out of his city, and you can tell. Pvvli is an artist who has found his rhythm, as well as comfort in his sound, which all are openly displayed every time he touches the stage. You’d be hard pressed to find a flyer going around the 540 without a mention of Pvvli or his RXH brethren.

His down to earth demeanor anda  knack for production that gets everybody moving, has served Pvvli well. Garnering a local fan base in the Burg that consistently draws out a crowd of 20 or so for every performance I’ve witnessed and worked with him on.

Yet, his local acclaim and obvious talent sonically hasn’t translated yet for the budding young artist like some of his peers when it comes to statewide success. As a consistent networker, and never being scared to do a feature or offer up a beat, Pvvli’s name is hard to miss no matter where you are. You just have to pay attention.

With projects like Virginia Lottery and Heat 3 under his belt, one can’t deny that Pvvli is neither new to this or lazy when it comes to perfecting his craft. We hope to see the 540 standout achieve much success and continue to spread this year!

Give him a listen here.



Stafford’s SmokeWithHutch has gone relatively under the radar since surfacing on the music scene in the 540. He’s a member of Baggy Boys alongside the notable 540 native, Loner Avenue. Their frequent collaboration has made them somewhat of a well known duo across the area.

Hutch’s music relies heavily on production and his ability to create a mood and euphoria with his sound.

Lighthearted, bass infused beats characterize and paint the scene for Hutch’s canvas as his heavy voice often bounces across the soundscape with bragadocious lines and humble tales of his simplistic lifestyle. Money, a few nice blunts, and a bad chick. It could all be so sweet.

I wouldn’t write him off as some “mumble rapper” though, as he’s not afraid to tackle a variety of flows and getting honest in subject matter in his more melancholic, drug laced tracks.

With a true full length project still yet to peak across the horizon, its hard to quite figure out the 22-year-old artist. One thing for certain though: We’re excited to see his potential and where the waves take him.

KuKu Kelz


At only 19, Kuku Kelz has made a case for himself as one of the hottest youngins out in his area. With a notable grip on his hometown, Kelz social media presence is daunting. You’d be hard pressed to find a visual or tweet without many fans and supporters chiming in or retweeting with their support.

Many of his visuals on YouTube stand strong with well over 5k views and whenever a link is dropped, fans swarm to shoot it to 100 retweets or more. This large support in a small city garnered the notice of platforms such as ourselves, as well as notable publications like Artistic Manifesto.

Kelz frequently mentions “I never thought I’d do this rap sh*t” on his tracks, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell with his booming sound, and memorable hooks.

With a no fear of flash, Kuku Kelz continues to draw attention and seems determined to beat down the door in the 540 until we know him worldwide.

Artist Insight: Huncho Heem

1. Q) How long have you been making music for?

A) “I been making music… I wanna say for about 6 years now since middle school forreal forreal”

2. (Q)How do you feel about your progress over the past couple years?

(A) “You know I’m actually proud of myself cuz not a lot of Virginia artist are getting the same type of attention as me so I’m blessed and thankful and definitely gonna keep on working!”

3. (Q) How Important is networking?

Continue reading “Artist Insight: Huncho Heem”

Huey Supreme’s got what you need with “Antidote”

From Pistol city to New York in a flash, Huey Supreme has made himself an example for many when it comes to attaining your dreams. After premiering his standout visual, “Never Fall“, through media powerhouse The Fader, we’ve seen Huey’s career take leaps and bounds.

Late nights in NYC and a relentless work ethic have served Huey well, as he has continued to work on crafting his sound. His melodious style, unique voice and uncanny ability to switch cadence mid-delivery are only a few of the tricks the Portsmouth MC pulls out his bag.

With promises of new Hue all 2018, Supreme drops off a loose single in Antidote.

Huey slides on this one with a newfound, or more so, a newly displayed confidence in his artistry and place in music. Aware he’s been quiet on the scene for awhile in terms of music releases, Huey promises he’s returned to fill the void left in his city and is bringing the game and success he’s achieved back with him.

The year is looking real bright for Huey Supreme and we eagerly await his next supply of audio dope.