A List Of The Best Rising Rappers From Florida
If any state can claim a distinct cultural identity, it’s Florida. It’s a place where one minute you’re drinking margaritas poolside, and the next you’re watching gators swim in the swamp. The Sunshine State brings a lot to the American cultural table, especially in terms of hip-hop. Thanks to its diversity, it’s also become home to some great rap artists who have made their mark on the musical world.
From Miami to Jacksonville, Orlando to Tampa, Florida is home to many of the top rap artists around. While MCs like Kodak Black, Denzel Curry and Rick Ross are all widely know, some of the best rappers in Florida are flying under the radar.
With this in mind, we wanted to explore who some of the state’s most promising rappers are right now. In this column, we’ll be looking at some artists who are changing the hip-hop game in Florida. They’re not all big names, though they’ll likely be big soon enough. Their sounds are unique and they’re growing a name for themselves in their respective cities at a rapid pace.
Junkyrd isn’t just a rapper — he’s an artist. For starters, he’s a visual artist who tattoos pieces and does freelance design, creating album covers for artists like Pink Siifu. He’s also one of the best new rappers in Tampa, Florida, showering his tracks with orchestral arrangements, chopped-and-screwed voices and complex verses. With a melodic flow and versatile beat choices to back it up, Junkyrd’s diverse musical output is unrivaled by few and he’s just getting started. Having already released an excellent two track mixtape (Junktape 001), Junkyrd is currently readying the release of his debut album JUNK FOOD so stay tuned!
An MC who can churn out lyrical flows with elegance, Tampa rapper Rahim Samad’s music carries a story-telling sense of smoothness that grips the listener. With roots in hip hop and jazz, the producer and lyricist has gained attention for his signature style of hip-hop that blends jazz and soul influences, multi-syllabic rhyme schemes, witty lyrics, and a charismatic delivery. At the heart of it all is an appreciation for classic hip-hop—the assertive and intelligent style found in the wordsmiths of rap’s golden era. Rahim’s versatility shines through on Nubian Tapestries, an album showcasing charged punchlines, rich soundscapes, and hard-hitting grooves.
Related Reads: 10 Southern Rappers You Need To Know
It’s no secret that Florida’s rap scene is booming, but Lafayette Stokely stands out from the crowd. His laid-back sound, which weaves a mix of soulful beats and smooth verses over sparse production, has earned him fans in his city of Orlando and made him one of the Sunshine State’s best-kept secrets. Bypassing the shock value and easy rhymes of many Florida rappers, Lafayette Stokely’s clever lyrics, warm beats and cool demeanor make him one of the best Florida rappers around.
Stokely’s smoky, soulful beats and smooth flow earn him comparisons to contemporaries like Chance The Rapper and Anderson .Paak, but he brings a unique brand of Southern hip-hop to the table. His latest release, Such Is Life, is a soulful rap-R&B hybrid that combines his signature flow with an infusion of raw instrumentation and funky production.
MidaZ The BEAST
When it comes to Orlando emcees, MidaZ The BEAST is the real deal. In a state dominated by the trap sound, MidaZ The BEAST takes an unorthodox approach. His beats manage to evoke the raw sounds of a bygone era without coming off as corny. His flow is way smoother than your average rapper, but at the same time, he has that rugged sound in his voice. His style is raw, with a godly delivery that will make even the most hardcore hip-hop fan drop their jaw and listen. With his unique flows and no frills approach to rapping, dude is a true beast on the mic and also has an original sound that combines elements of both old school and modern hip-hop.
With an undeniable passion for music and an inclination towards all things esoteric, Chester Watson burst onto the rap scene in 2013. Since then, he’s made waves as a rapper, producer, and writer. His unique sound has been likened to a loose conglomeration of psychedelic jazz, soulful hip-hop beats with influences from a variety of other genres and sub-genres. An artist that thrives on self-expression and experimentation, he weaves together the sounds of jazz, soul, and hip-hop to create an immersive experience. His lyrics paint vivid imagery in his listeners’ imaginations as he raps with a laidback demeanor, sonorous delivery and impeccable lyricism. A versatile artist, he’s also proven to be just as adept at producing as he is at rhyming. With a handful of stellar releases under his belt, Chester Watson has solidified himself as one to watch in the coming years.
Money Mogly is one of the best rappers in Florida, breathing new life into the state’s hip-hop scene. The Miami rapper is an MC, storyteller and a lyricist with a penchant for complex wordplay. His tongue-twisting, vocabulary-stretching bars with their hard-hitting beats provide both lyrical treats and scintillating soundscapes. Stitching together verses from everyday life and wrapping them in narrative-rich rhymes, his delivery is just dense enough to allow each word to breathe and be heard with the utmost clarity. But Mogly isn’t purely a rhymer; he’s a linguistic magician, turning language into spells that hypnotize you with their street tales.
Eschewing the rough and rugged style for which his city’s rap scene has become known for, Miami rapper Bernz seamlessly mixes rap with beats rooted in yacht rock, churning out laidback cuts perfect for cruising palm tree-lined streets in a vintage Cadillac. His voice sounds like the freshest ocean breeze, sailing through your ears and spawning a lighthearted grin on your face. The sound may be easy-going and carefree, but everything is held together by a rapper with serious skills behind the mic. Pulling from crisp beats crafted from ’80s bangers, Bernz’s Yacht Club Vol. 1 mixtape evokes feelings of a summer sojourn to South Beach (or any tropical locale for that matter) for a weekend of frozen drinks on the beach.
Tampa Young 40 is a rapper with a poetic flow and sunny beats, crafting potent songs reminiscent of the late Mac Miller. 40’s songs tell his story with a fully immersive visual through his lyrics. His sound is smooth as he raps about the struggles of life and love over jazz-inflected lo-fi beats. 40 was influenced by hip-hop legends such as Gang Starr, Big L, and Nas on his way to creating his own lyrical boom bap style driven by poetic flows and raw emotion.
J. London is relatively new to the rap world, but has a way about him on the mic like very few other Florida rappers out right. The young rapper specializes in stellar lyricism, clever wordplay, clear emotion, and unique production value. He belongs to a new class of Florida rappers who are bringing back the old school, reminiscent of the ’90s (think Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep) mixed with the newer experimental stylings of MCs like Earl Sweatshirt. For a prime example of his unique sound, check out “Shadows,” a single with a beat that’s haunting yet hard-hitting, with a sinister feel about it that makes you want to listen to more.
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, raised in The Bronx and now based in Tampa, Mike Mass is a rapper bringing the classic east coast style to Florida’s rap scene. When it comes to Tampa hip- hop, Mike Mass is becoming an unquestionably potent figure. He’s been infusing his lyrical talent into the local music scene for years now, racking up a solid portfolio of work. He also brings a lot to the table in Tampa’s scene, crafting a potent style of boom bap-inflected hip-hop and helping local artists get their music off the ground via his production talents and local record label, Wave Theory.
Tampa rapper Vinny Virgo is a genre-bender. Taking influence from artists as disparate as Kanye and Radiohead, his albums feature a variety of styles, sometimes within the same song. Both dexterous and reliable, Virgo also has an ear for melody, arranging words like beads on a necklace through intricate tracks that do wonders to highlight his precise flow and vocals. At the same time, he’s able to write some of the catchiest hooks you’ll hear in hip hop today, and does it without sounding like anyone else. His latest album, Thank You For The Inconvenience, drips with vintage breaks and crisp beats (produced by Virgo under his pigsonvinyl alias), presenting a wide-ranging cinematic sound that’s captivating from the opening bar to the last.
They Hate Change
What is it about Tampa Bay, Florida that inspires musicians to push sonic boundaries? Is it the withering heat of summer, the oppressive humidity of late spring or maybe it’s just the bay area notoriety for thriving counter-culture. Whatever the cause, hip-hop duo They Hate Change are some of its most dedicated practitioners. The two halves of the duo, Dre and Vonne, first came together over their shared love of digging for rare and radical musical sounds from around the world. As DJs on the Tampa scene they figured out how to pull their disparate musical taste into a style that fit together seamlessly. When they started making beats and rapping, they brought their eclectic approach to DJing with them, creating exciting works of sonic adventure, as showcased on their latest album Finally, New.
Tough Junkie is a Jacksonville, Florida rapper who’s gained attention for his unique soundscapes and abstract lyricism. An innovative hip-hop artist, music started found its way into his life through beat production. Drawing inspiration from various genres and becoming fascinated with beat production, he quickly redirected his energies toward creating music rather than just appreciating it. Since then, Tough Junkie’s tale is one of love for music but also for experimentation. His sound is a unique fusion of boom-bap beats and artistry, and his lyrics are grounded in reality but not limited to it.