WELL$ hasn’t been releasing music for too long, in fact we just discovered him in the past few months leading up to the release of his debut project. With just one project to his name, he’s already managed to leave an imprint on the internet, thanks to pensive rhymes and the right production. WELL$ seems to be aware of the fact that he’s got a lot to prove for his home of North Carolina, and thus he only stepped foot into the blogosphere rap game when he was at his most polished. We didn’t have to suffer a bunch of one-time-play freestyles from WELL$ either, he only dropped off a select amount of records leading up to his debut MTSYD: The Revenge Of The African Booty Scratcher, perhaps a calculated decision to get fans excited to cop the full release. Since the project’s release, he’s returned to low-key status.
MTSYD is a great introduction to WELL$ as it offers a range of sounds, styles, and rhymes. When we spoke to WELL$ for an interview, this was something he iterated: he wants to make music for every day of your life. He accomplishes that too, with a sprinkle of everything: conscious and socially-aware raps, new age r’n’b jams, slightly ignant records, old school sounds; although, generally speaking, WELL$ doesn’t seem to cross over into turn-up territory, his music is grounded in real life. With MTSYD out now, we’re anticipating what the future holds for WELL$ and we’ll be checking for his progression.
WELL$ says: "The music scene in NC is a mix between music with substance, music you ride to, and music niggas rage to. I'm tryna embody a little bit of all of them in my music .But music with substance is whats big out here. I feel like Little Brother, one of the best groups to ever do it layed that blueprint, than J Cole built upon it and took it another step further. So I'm just tryna take what they started further, and advance the culture while still building my own legacy."
King Mez, a native to Raleigh, is another piece of talent hidden within the confines North Carolina. He’s a little more deep into the game than newcomer WELL$, having four mixtapes to his name, beginning with The King’s Khrysis in 2011. The rapper’s throaty and slightly hoarse voice gives his music a distinct edge, while his choice in production cannot necessarily be pinned as North Carolina’s own sound (does NC have a distinct sound, for that matter?). He’s got a gritty and soulful influence perhaps courtesy of New York’s music scene, and coming up as a battle rapper has definitely elevated his lyrical game.
Mez may soon be headed in a similar direction as fellow North Carolina native J. Cole, with his April release Long Live The King serving as evidence. The rapper gives us an honest look at life, from his continuing struggle to come up, to avoiding wack rappers who only flaunt their excessive wealth. He’s got an everyman perspective of the world, which makes his music relatable. Mez is definitely one to watch.
Mez says: "North Carolina rap has deserved National attention for quite some time now. There is no other sound or perspective like ours to be real. Love to the 919 and every other city doing their thing. I'm proud I'm gonna be one of the main reasons it gets that attention. #FreshHeirs"
Deniro Farrar has already developed a cult-like following, something which he’s ingrained with his #CultRap movement. The rapper who inked a deal with Vice’s Noisey imprint, has been on his grind for a while, with a string of strong mixtapes and free albums, and most recently, an iTunes EP release (Rebirth), behind him. It was 2010 when Deniro first surfaced, and he was not playing when he dropped off his debut mixtape, a 31-track offering titled Feel This. ‘Feel this’ is something Deniro continues to iterate today, with dark, emotional music that definitely needs to be ‘felt.’ His 2013 free album, The Patriarch, is the project which really cemented his signature style and sound that put him on the map.
Deniro Farrar’s unique sound is important to mention, especially for a rapper who wants to leave a mark in the rap game. The Leader of #CultRap’s music can be described as other worldly, with spaced-out production that’s often snyth-y, dark, and haunting. This sound is tied into his content, as the leader of CultRap often documents his hardships through his music. Farrar’s experimental sound will soon develop a lane of its own in the rap game, so pay attention.
If lyrical is what you want, Rapsody fits the bill. The female rapper was influenced by the Greats who thrived in the ‘90s, and you can hear that influence all over her music, from her choice of production which often have a classic feel, to her flow and word play, even her slight lisp gives her an old school feel. Since her beginnings with a group of like-minded NC natives called Kooley High, she’s been able to connect with praised producer (and fellow NC native) 9th Wonder, who’s helped her get a leg up in the rap game.
Rapsody is the kind of artist you won’t find hopping on any and every trend that pops up on these internets. She stays true to herself, maintaining her sound and working on her come-up independently. She worked with 9th Wonder closely on her latest piece of work, which was also highly slept-on, She Got Game . In addition to being a free mixtape hosted by DJ Drama, you can cop it on iTunes free of Drama.
DURU THA KING
Duru Tha King is actually a Charlotte, NC native who is closely affiliated with another rapper on this list, Deniro Farrar, and Farrar’s CultRap movement. The two have been friends since they were children, so there is bound to be some overlap within their respective styles and sounds, but there are also some marked differences between the two, as is only necessary if they want to differentiate themselves from the rap pack.
Duru Tha King doesn’t have much in the way of music released at this point, however he’s dropped enough to get a feel for his sound and steez. The rapper often chooses ethereal, new age instrumentals, not so unlike Deniro, however Deniro’s music is often much more brooding overall. Duru makes music filled with haze, with a smoke-able vibe. New age stoner music, perhaps. We’ll definitely be checking for when Duru drops his first full-length project though, and if he continues along the road he’s been headed, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Duru says: "North Carolina impacts my music for the simple fact that it's a untapped sound the masses haven't heard yet really, but me and Deniro Farrar is making sure that gets done and where focus on doing it the right way. Besides the lack of support and envy towards our own artist, North Carolina is coming up in the music world. It's important for me to rep my state 'cause it's all I know, it's where I'm from and we have a story to tell.."
HotNewHipHop breaks down 5 different North Carolina artists on the come-up that you should know about.
When you think hip-hop, North Carolina is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind. Nevertheless, hip-hop knows no borders and thanks to the internet, we often don't know the regions of the music we receive either. Back in the mid '90s, the most well-known rapper from NC could very well have been Petey Pablo, but with J. Cole's rise in the rap game and his mainstream popularity, he's become the face and representative for the state on behalf of the whole genre.
Now that it's become acceptable for places all over the map to create rap music that doesn't necessarily 'sound' like where it's from, North Carolina's own scene is on the rise with a melting pot of noises. While a lot of states still have a definitive sound that they are associated with, NC doesn't appear to be one of them. The North Carolina residents seem to have the advantage of adopting whatever sound suits them, and sometimes that just depends on the day of the week.
With several rappers coming up from North Carolina and making waves on the underground radar, we've decided to use the opportunity to highlight five of them here.
Read on through the galleries for more.