Atlanta is home to a constantly rising number of up-and-coming acts — it’s quickly becoming a powder keg of talent waiting to blow. The most impressive quality of the city’s scene is that no one rapper or singer is the same, and they all reach wildly different demographics, from the influence of trap music on the Southside of Atlanta to the off the wall originality of Edgewood. Even though they’re different lyrically or cosmetically, they all share the same diehard mentality that keeps them in the spotlight through EPs, mixtapes and videos. Because of their will to survive and hustle, this list of Atlanta’s rising stars is a more of a warning: don’t underestimate the South, because its influence is multiplying.
Also known as “Dirt Cobain,” Reese is a regular Renaissance man (skateboarder, rapper, etc.) who can be seen hanging with anyone from Wiz Khalifa to Rich Homie Quan. He’s been connected with Atlanta supergroup Two-9 as well, but is an accomplished spitter in his own right, prepping his next release Bad Grammer on the momentum of his DJ Mustard-produced single “Parade” featuring OG Maco and Casey Veggies. Reese’s heavy southern drawl is his most defining aspect, as he mixes the seedy trap scene of Atlanta with every aspect of his own life, whether it be skateboarding or fashion. Reese has the co-signs and the skill — now it’s up to him to capitalize on his own uniqueness to Atlanta’s mixed musical culture.
Johnny Cinco has been on the verge of a major breakout for the past few months, with his first major street hit being last year’s unbelievably catchy “Wrong Ni–a.” Cinco gets a lot of credit for making catchy street tunes, but his most underrated quality is his unorthodox rapping style. Using a gruff baritone to spit his bars, Cinco has an incredibly distinct voice that sets him apart from other Atlanta rappers in his class. With the emergence of his label mates on Quality Control such as Migos and OG Maco, and a clutch feature spot on Jeremih‘s Late Nights album, Johnny Cinco is one step away from blowing up as he prepares the release of his new project, I Swear.
Notable Singles: “No Choice,” “No Trust,” “Real Hundreds”
PeeWee Longway has acted as the cipher that connects many artists in Atlanta to their destination. Holding claim to being the guy who got Migos a meeting with Quality Control Records, and also standing next to Young Thug as he catapulted to super stardom, PeeWee has started to break out as the next rapper to watch from Atlanta. PeeWee seems to rap in his own universe, combining multi-syllabic lines with his own created slang (“stuffed crust,” “boot me up”) making him stand out from the pack. With strong co-signs from A$AP Mob and Birdman, PeeWee Longway is finally stepping out from behind the shadows of the guys he helped push into the light.
Notable Singles: “Servin Lean,” “Sneakin N Geekin”
Rich The Kid
Rich The Kid is one of the hardest working rappers in Atlanta right now; he seemingly has a new video or song every week. Rich has been heavily co-signed by Migos on their mixtapes, and now he has a hit of his own with his west coast influenced “Goin Crazy.” Using his own version of the “Migos flow” that has the rap game spitting in double time, Rich sets himself apart from the trio by slowing the delivery down and adding his own witty punchlines. Rich The Kid has pretty much worked with everyone who is anyone in Atlanta; now it’s his time to show the world what he’s got.
Notable Singles: “Goin Crazy,” “Came From Nothin”
Southside Atlanta born and raised singer/rapper ForteBowie is a musical chameleon, blending a number of different styles in his music. His Vice Haus EP opened a lot of eyes to his brand of eclectic and progressive music, and his stand out appearance on Trinidad James’s “$outhside” introduced many people to his talents. He has a penchant for catchy hooks (“Gucci Mayne”) and surprisingly well-crafted songs, which speaks to his ability to connect with his audience. His close connection with other upcoming Atlanta rappers like MoneyMakinNique is proving beneficial in showing that the city has a more introspective side to its music scene.
Notable Singles: “Gucci Mayne,” “Nevermind”
Money Makin’ Nique
Money Makin’ Nique is interested in starting his own movement. He and his MMB (Money Makin’ Brothers) team have been putting out underground mixtapes in the city for a while now, and his groundwork is starting to gain him the attention of some major players. With an impressive showing at 2014’s A3C festival, Money Makin’ Nique is a captivating throwback to the Atlanta of years past. Not reserved to any type of lane, Nique is lyrical and capable of shifting his style to any type of production, which has given him the flexibility to work with a variety of artists. With new songs with K Camp and others on the horizon, Money Makin’ Nique’s grassroots movement is quickly starting to grow out of the confines of Atlanta.
Notable Songs: “100’s,” “Rent Money”
Young Scooter has been on the verge of breaking through for a while — his edgy, catchy single “Columbia” enjoyed a brief run on radio in 2012 — but problems with the law maligned his time in the spotlight. Scooter has been around for a while and is one of the few Atlanta trap rappers who enjoyed close proximity with artists like Gucci Mane and Future as they were rising to the top. His rapping style is direct and to the point, as he tells vivid street tales about hustling and staying out of the eye of the law. With a new song with Lil Boosie titled “Pots & Stoves” buzzing in the streets, Young Scooter could finally get his due when his mixtape Jug Season drops in 2015.
Bankroll Fresh is quickly becoming one of the most talked about trap rappers in Atlanta. His rhymes are straightforward and laced with an authentic viewpoint on street life. This authenticity has gained him fans from all over Atlanta, a quality shared by another ATL rapper who oozed believability in his rhymes — Gucci Mane. The omnipresent spirit of the incarcerated rapper lives on in Fresh’s Fresh, his Life Of A Hot Boy mixtape, which co-opts many of Gucci’s unique mannerisms, and even many of the producers who made him a star — Zaytoven, Metro Boomin and D Rich. Fresh adds his own twist to the trap vernacular, giving his songs like “Hot Boy” and “ESPN” a buzz that is reigniting street music in Atlanta.
Notable Songs: “Hot Boy,” “ESPN”