In my last column, I mentioned that local rapper Yowda got picked up by pear-eating, black bottle-poppin’ hip-hop mogul Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. High-five to Yowda. Much like his new boss’ rhymes, Yowda’s lyrics are heavy on money, women and flipping bricks, so I guess the signing makes sense. But in a newly diverse, mainstream soundscape, where Kendrick Lamar can dominate the airwaves in a positive celebration of himself, do we still need to rely on tired clichés? There’s space for more creativity, of which Las Vegas has no shortage. As we go into 2015, here are a few artists who have the potential to break out beyond the “local” box. Label scouts, take note.
Love at First Sound. This is the kind of artist you hate, not because his music isn’t good—he’s one of the most versatile rappers I’ve heard out of Vegas so far—but because of how little he releases. He’s like the Las Vegas Jay Electronica. The rapper, singer and producer teases us with unmastered demos on SoundCloud and rough video snippets on Instagram (most of which are later deleted), like the fuzzy, indie-rock inspired “Stupid Mistakes” or the short yet snaring “Reckless.” That will change in the new year, as he plans to drop his 10-track debut AUDRA in January. He gave me a preview, and songs like the stomping, anti-police brutality plea “Son Down” have me hoping it comes sooner than later.
Chop808. With everyone co-opting the Migos flow and/or trying to croon like Drake, it’s refreshing to hear Chop808’s lighthearted, feel-good jams. Like Love at First Sound, Chop doesn’t have an expansive body of work in his catalog, but what I’ve heard so far has piqued my curiosity. “Good Time” is the perfect summer song. Meanwhile, “Out of Control” displays his pop sensibilities with a bouncy beat and an Andre 3000-esque singsongy flow. He recently tweeted, “Attention Vegas Rappers: It’s about that time for me to destroy the rap game around here.” Let’s see if he’s a man of his word.
Toxsikk. The rapper came out strong with his debut album, 2 Moons, in late 2013. Since then, he’s only gotten better, developing into a style that’s uniquely his own. Dark, gritty and oftentimes sinister, Toxsikk is a menacing force on the mic. Armed with an animated flow and a brash delivery, he takes listeners along with him as he pulls a heist on recent single “Ski Mask.” “Psychiatric” is even more wicked. I know I started this column talking about positivity, but damn if “All I Give a Fuck About” doesn’t make me go nuts. His InTOXication II is coming soon.
What Las Vegas rappers should be on my radar? Holler at Zoneil.Maharaj@wendohmedia.com or @zoneil on Twitter.