A List Of 2023’s Best Rappers From Brooklyn
East coast hip-hop is woven into the cultural fabric of New York City. Arguably no borough in NYC has been home to as many legends as Brooklyn. With its rich history, Brooklyn is filled with some of the best rappers to ever touch a mic. From the Juice Crew to Jay-Z, Big Daddy Kane and Biggie, New York’s largest borough has done its fair share of producing legends over the years.
It’s also not hard to see that Brooklyn has always been a breeding ground for emerging and burgeoning underground hip-hop. With its amazing music scene, multi-cultured population, and plethora of neighborhoods, there’s no shortage of talent waiting to be discovered in NYC’s biggest borough.
Who Are The Best Up-And-Coming Brooklyn Rappers?
Today I wanted to highlight some of the best Brooklyn rappers who we think are most worth watching right now and who have the potential to make some serious waves in the coming years. So without further ado, here are the best up-and-coming Brooklyn rappers who are worth your time and attention.
Related Reads: 10 East Coast Rappers You Should Be Listening To
Maassai’s music is a wide-eyed take on hip-hop, one that pulls from across the spectrum of past and present influences to create an innovative permutation of traditional flow and production. Her lyrics are uncompromising and insightful, equally poised cutting through dusty laidback beats and experimental soundscapes. She is a true poet and wise beyond her years. One of the best up-and-coming rappers in Brooklyn, her music is packed with insight and clever lines but, more importantly, it carries a powerful urgency that adds layers to her already rich lyrics. Setting Maassai apart from many other rappers is her ability to express herself with incredible grace and vulnerability while still being incredibly sharp and clever, as showcased on her brilliant 2021 album With The Shifts.
Rome Streetz was born in London and has lived all over New York City, but for the last 10 years he’s called Brooklyn home. “The last 10 years, I’ve been living in Brooklyn,” Rome said in a recent interview with Complex. “That’s where my music started to really bubble at, so when people ask, ‘Yo Rome, where you from?’ I’d say Brooklyn.” With an ear turned toward both London grime and east coast boom bap, Rome decided to become a rapper. His hard-nosed style earned him praise from underground circles and saw him team up with some of rap’s finest producers—including DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill), who produced Death & The Musician, one of 2022’s best rap albums.
Brooklyn rapper Lord Kayso’s style is idiosyncratic while his music shines with familiarity and warmth. Lyrically, he often tries to capture the essence of life, departing from the bling-obsessed bars that have dominated mainstream rap. Of all the music that came out in 2022, Lord Kayso’s MOOR CHORES really shined through. One of the finest rap albums of the year so far, it’s a soaring ode to family life and a reflection on the beauty and tragedy that can coexist within life. Across 17 tracks, Kayso spits gruff, bluesy vocals that tell stories of life in Brooklyn atop a bevy of soulful beats.
In AKAI SOLO’s music, raps are delivered in a stream of consciousness flow, but accompanied by tight rhyme schemes and a literary structure that puts his skills as a rapper on display. AKAI SOLO pulls inspiration from gaming and anime to tell stories about the ups and downs of life and love with a jaded wisdom – but they’re never without humor or playfulness, even when they take on more serious topics. His 2021 album, True Sky, is a 14-track mission statement, a highlight reel of the rapper’s strengths, as producer Navy Blue and AKAI SOLO use their prowess to carry listeners on a captivating sonic journey.
If you’ve been following Endless Crate, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Navy Blue and how he’s experimented with his unique brand of music. A rapper/producer has a solid discography of great songs and albums that everyone should be familiar with, Navy Blue is not only one of the best Brooklyn rappers, he’s also one of the best on the east coast right now. Navy Blue’s music is self-referential and deeply personal. He blends elements of jazz, hip hop and blues to create a unique style of experimental rap reminiscent of artists such as Earl Sweatshirt, Wiki and Lord Jah Monte Ogbon – all of whom Navy has worked with.
Oakland-born MC Nappy Nina has lived in Brooklyn since 2012, during which time she’s steadily become one of the best rappers in Brooklyn. When Nina raps, she creates a world that exists only for the duration of her lyrics. Her music is passionate and dynamic and her rhymes are cleverly crafted, a kaleidoscopic of wordplay that perfectly fits the beat. The best hip-hop artists are poets, and Nina is no exception. She’s as capable with words as she is with beats, so her rhymes are tight and sharp.
The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant has given rise to some of rap’s all-time great MCs, from Biggie Smalls to Big Daddy Kane, to name just a few. Eddie Kaine, a native son of Bed-Stuy, is a natural-born MC with the lyrical prowess to carry the torch for his predecessors. He carefully cultivates and crafts dope hip-hop music. His lyrics are truthful, and his flow never falters. The beats match his style, and the cohesion of his music is top notch. Case in point – his album with Rim entitled META, an instant classic featuring top-notch boom bap production and tight flows through and through.
Your Old Droog
Ukrainian born, Brooklyn-based rapper Your Old Droog has been hustling and turning heads in underground hip-hop circles for a while now through his signature gravely flow and witty lyrics. The budding star is already a New York City legend, having built a cult following thanks to his self-released mixtapes and albums. Your Old Droog has been compared to Nas (at first some even suspected he was Nas’ alter-ego), and while their voices may sound a bit similar, it takes no time at all to realize that Your Old Droog is a completely different artist with a completely different style. Your Old Droog delivers oddball humor laced with pop culture references over beats from some of the finest producers around, including Nicolas Craven, Madlib and more.
Amani is an emerging Brooklyn artist who’s one of the most original voices in hip-hop today. His constant flow of ideas and vast knowledge of music have made him into a cult favorite in his hometown of Brooklyn. Surrounded by music since day one, Amani was born into a family of musicians and poets, and the influence of his father—rapper Talib Kweli—is evident throughout Amani’s growing discography. Like Talib, Amani’s aim in music is to break barriers and look at a broader picture of what it means to be Black in America. His music draws inspiration from disparate genres and he delivers his words with the cadence and flow of a seasoned poet. Those looking for a starting point in Amani’s discography should check out ill be right black, an odyssey through the cosmos that finds Amani collaborating with fellow iconoclast Robalu.
Brooklyn rapper Skyzoo’s rise has been steeped in the tradition of hip-hop culture. With the inspiration of fellow Bed-Stuy native Notorious B.I.G., he’s taken real life experiences and turned them into songwriting gold through his lyricism and eye for detail. Skyzoo is a gifted emcee who looks to the life around him to draws inspiration, creating music that’s both relatable and thought-provoking. His smooth flow has been praised far and wide and his storytelling skills have made him a beloved artist amongst fans and critics alike, and his ability to paint a picture through his music has gained him a following that encompasses all corners of hip-hop culture. A noted collaborator with other artists and producers, Skyzoo has worked with a veritable who’s who in hip-hop, from Just Blaze and Dr. Dre to Black Thought and Washington, DC-based producers The Other Guys, who he worked with on the 2023 collaborative album The Mind Of A Saint.
ELUCID has been involved in the New York rap scene for over a decade, building up his accolades with an impressive discography. Over the years he’s grown into one of hip-hop’s sharpest lyrical minds and his wisdom and command over language has only sharpened over time. ELUCID is one of those rappers who’s been quietly putting out great songs for a long time, but he’s gained a lot more attention in the past few years through his work as one half of the duo Armand Hammer with billy woods. While Armand Hammer’s output has undoubtedly been groundbreaking, ELUCID’s solo work remains fiercely forward thinking and thought provoking. Balancing the line between cerebral and visceral rap, each subsequent ELUCID release continues to surprise with dynamic rhymes and beats that blend New York grit with futuristic energy.
Jam-packed with sharp lyrics and experimental beats, ELUCID’s 2022 solo album, I Told Bessie, is a good jumping off point into his music, and features guest appearances from Pink Siifu, billy woods and Quelle Chris.
Ace SL is one of the latest and greatest in a long line of Brooklyn rappers who bring a classic sound and style to modern hip-hop. He flows atop the type of soul-influenced, boom bap productions that rap legends made popular, and his skills behind the mic are up to par with the best rappers today. He’s still new on the scene, but he’s picking up steam. For a taste of what Ace has to offer, look no further than his 2022 album, F.M.T.Y, an exquisite throwback that shows Ace has a flow that’s as classic as his beats and wordplay.