Boston is not really known as a hip-hop mecca. You will see that this notion may change if you listen to these five songs by young Boston natives.
The most prolific MC to ever come out of Boston – Guru, one half of legendary Gang Starr, moved to Brooklyn in the early stages of his career and did not rep Boston much in his music. The next biggest acts – Edo G and 7L & Esoteric achieved prominence in the 90s underground scene but were not recognized on a national level. Benzino is thoroughly forgotten, too. However, hip-hop in Boston did not stand still and has come far since the 90s era. The rappers mentioned below are gifted, and their gift is recognized. They work with some very established names in rap, and get features in major publications, like Noisey and Complex. Their hard work and dedication is slowly but steadily putting Boston on the map.
Cousin Stizz – Shoutout
Cousin Stizz flows smoothly over this after party chillout anthem (courtesy of O’Beatz), and the “Shoutout to the money from the drugs/Shoutout to the money, love the drugs” chant is so catchy, it will inevitably get stuck in your head as you vibe to it. Blending influences from the South and taking inspiration from post-2010 rap (especially A$AP Rocky on his debut mixtape), this track, and the rest of Stizz’s Suffolk County tape have a solemn, yet psychedelic vibe – something you want to listen to late at night, blowing Os. Hailing from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Cousin Stizz is probably the leader of the Boston hip-hop scene right now. He has received extensive coverage by big-name hip-hop publications and was named one of the rappers to watch out for in 2016 by Complex. There is footage of Drake, dancing in celebration to “Shoutout”; Stizz must be doing something right.
Michael Christmas – Are You Around ft. Polyester the Saint
Michael Christmas easily wins the adoration of his listeners with his funny, easy-going, average dude-persona. He makes music that people can relate to, and more importantly, his music is always high quality. Like a lot of Michael Christmas’ music, “Are You Around” has a fresh, funky beat. This time, Polyester the Saint provides a wavy, sung hook, as Michael lays down hilarious bars like, “If Mom’s up, she probably gonna kill me/Broke a whole vase, smiling hard like bill me.” Michael Christmas does not rap about the “trap lifestyle”, but he is not a conscious, backpack MC, either. His honest and humble lyrics about everyday life shit (think Outkast or Big KRIT) make him very appealing, relatable and also entertaining.
He’s one of the most prominent figures in Boston rap today, having worked with the likes of Logic and Mac Miller and being featured on MTV and Noisey. Keep an eye on him, and check out his 2015 What A Weird Day project.
Black El – Kid Icarus
Black El made his name known by dropping quality cuts, frequently produced by his friend Durkin. Something that sets him apart from a lot of artists is the dark themes of his music – anxiety and alienation. El has struggled with anxiety for a large part of his life, but has been making progress fighting it. He is scheduled to drop a project, titled Anywhere But Here, which will discuss his journey to combating the negativity in his life. This new Durkin-produced cut, called “Kid Icarus”, may very well end up on the project. Black El uses a new spectacular style on this track, singing with a distorted voice and Travis Scott-inspired ad-libs over the crispy production.The quality of El’s music is very high, and his emotional style makes him a unique artist. His 2015 release L_ST gathered a lot of attention in Boston, and he just might blow up this year, when Anywhere But Here drops.
Jefe Replay – Sips Tea
A Roxbury native, Jefe Replay built a buzz in Boston by working with fellow Bostonians Michael Christmas and Cousin Stizz. Although he does not have an official release yet, his solemn but uplifting tracks make him someone to watch. His style is inspired by street rappers, and his Autotune-assisted flow is largely reminiscent of the late Chinx, or the recent experiments of another Coke Boy, French Montana. “Sips Tea” is a melodic, O’Beatz produced cut, very suitable for activities like sipping tea in the morning and gaining energy for the day before dipping your crib. Watch out for more stuff from Jefe Replay, and give “Sips Tea” below.
Cam Meekins – Sometimes
At a first glance, Cam Meekins is easy to box into the “frat rap” category. However, this cat sounds nothing like Lil Dicky or Asher Roth. Meekins’ music is in a more conscious, thoughtful dimension, closer to Logic and Mac Miller. Cam Meekins raps about something that everybody can feel, and “Sometimes” is a chill tune about the rollercoaster of life, which we all ride daily. “Sometimes I never even wanna get out of bed/Sometimes I think about the shit I heard that some said,” raps Meekins over a harmonious guitar riff and an old-school boom-bap beat (which he produced himself). His debut album Lamp City dropped in 2013, and he has been keeping quiet since. However, he is still one of the most talented in Boston and he has recognition in the scene, having worked with Michael Christmas and Jefe Replay, who are both mentioned here. Let’s hope he isn’t planning to retire just yet.
Bonus: OG Swaggerdick – We Don’t Need Donald Trump As Our President
The Bay Area has Based God, but Boston will have Swaggerdick. He is in the same crew as Michael Christmas and Cousin Stizz, yet his sound is, for the lack of better word, different. His dad worked for Benzino, he attended a culinary college, and now, he is somehow here making music. All jokes aside, his music is undeniably fun. Even in the wake of upcoming potential political catastrophe, OG Swaggerdick comes out with this politically-minded track to cheer America up, and also protest the possible election of a certain evil billionaire as our president. Set to a swagged-out remake of the American Anthem (with 808s!), Swaggerdick raps: “We don’t need Donald Trump as out president/Why they always make b*tch n*ggas relevant?” Support the cause and watch this hilarious video below: