12 newer rappers to watch (2022 edition)
Rap seems to move more quickly than virtually any other style of popular music; blink and you'll miss a whole slew of promising new artists. We listen to as much as we can, and we're always coming across new favorites, so we decided to put together a list of 12 newer rappers that really made their mark this year that we think any rap fan should be listening to. The definition of "newer" is always debatable, and some of these artists were more established prior to 2022 than others, but all of them really seem to have hit their stride this year, and we hope and expect that 2023 will be an even bigger year for everyone on this list. The list ranges from more traditional '90s/early 2000s style stuff to drill, trap, rage, Jersey club, bounce, art-rap, and more, and the rappers featured here are from all over the country: East, West, North, South, and in between. There are so many different types of exciting things happening within rap right now, and we aimed to highlight as much as we could.
12 is a very small number and if your new favorite rapper isn't on this list, it's possible we haven't heard them yet. So leave your faves in the comments and read on for our list, in alphabetical order...
Traces of Jersey club can be heard on the new Drake album and other A-list rap albums this year, but as for people actually in the trenches of that world, perhaps no one's made a bigger impact these past few months than rapper Bandmanrill and his frequent producer Mcvertt. Their work together is a thrilling take on the style, which pulls from both dance music and hip hop to create frenetic and assertive production, often featuring familiar-but-dancified samples. Bandmanrill's 2021 single "I Am Newark," sampling Frankie Valli's "Beggin" and highlighting Rill's gritty flow, solidified him as one to watch, and since then he has broken out from the NJ underground. His hard-hitting vocal style and recent collaborations with Sha Ek have situated him comfortably in the NY drill scene as well, and his great new album Club Godfather bridges the gap between both worlds. He explores even more sonic stylings with softer single "PIANO" featuring a smooth chorus by Lay Bankz and autobiographical lyrics from Bandmanrill. His ongoing experimentation with local sounds and collaborations with rising peers continues to shape him into a world-class rapper. [A.G.]
Big Boss Vette
St. Louis rapper Big Boss Vette caught her first taste of fame after her 2019 video for "Bad Bitch" -- which borrows the beat from Juvenile's classic "Back That Azz Up" -- took off, and she later signed with Republic and has been releasing a string of other great singles: "Outside," "No Fakin," "Big Boss Vette," "Eater," and this year's "Heavy" and "Snatched," the last of which ended up getting a remix with Flo Milli and Saucy Santana. As you might expect from the Juvenile sample, she's got a little New Orleans bounce in her DNA, and she also rides for modern rappers like Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, and Latto, and I think fans of those rappers would dig Big Boss Vette too. Like all three of them, Vette has a little nostalgia, a little modernness, and a loud, infectious, in-your-face delivery that's nearly impossible not to get sucked into. [A.S.]
Doechii had been gradually building up a following on her own thanks to her huge personality and her genre-bending sound, and since signing to TDE earlier this year, her rise has gotten even more rapid. There's seemingly no limit to what she can do, from maximalist, in-your-face rap songs ("Crazy") to airy R&B ("Persuasive") to songs that mixed hip hop and dance beats before that became the big trend of 2022 ("What's Your Name?"). She sounds just at home collaborating with her labelmate SZA on the "Persuasive" remix as she does with Rico Nasty on "Swamp Bitches," both of which appear on her recent She / Her / Black Bitch EP. That EP serves as a short-but-sweet primer as Doechii gears up for her next full-length, and judging by what we've heard so far, our hopes are high. [A.G.]
GloRilla started self-releasing tracks in 2019, but it wasn't until the middle of this year that her Hitkidd-produced single "F.N.F. (Let's Go)" spontaneously went viral. The meteoric rise of "F.N.F." showcased her infectiously fun Memphis flow, catching the attention of Yo Gotti's label imprint, CMG Records. She signed with them in July, and continued to put out banging singles, including "Tomorrow 2" with a feature by Cardi B (not to mention a verse alongside Quavo on a remix of Duke Deuce's "Just Say That"), which led to her debut EP Anyways, Life's Great... After her signing to CMG, GloRilla told Billboard, "I’m grateful for Gotti for believing in me and I’m not gonna let up. Trust that I have more new heat on the way."
Ice Spice got her start in the NY drill scene last year with the "Bully Freestyle" which was a great introduction to her characteristic style and chill-but-hardcore flow. Since then, she's churned out a string of singles -- most of which were produced by frequent collaborator RIOTUSA -- and this year's "Munch (Feelin' U)" became one of the major contenders for New York rap song of the summer. Anticipation was through the roof for a followup single, and Ice Spice met expectations easily with the equally witty "Bikini Bottom" and its instantly-memorable one-liners like "How can I lose if I'm already chose?". If she keeps this up, a pair of hot summer jams will be just the beginning of Ice Spice's rise. [A.G.]
Texas rapper Mike Dimes went viral on TikTok with 2021's "My Story," which was followed by his debut project DLOG that same year and then this year's even better In Dimes We Trust. The 21-year-old's influences include A$AP Rocky and Joey Bada$$, as well as earlier vets like OutKast and 50 Cent, and that makes sense. Like Rocky and Joey, he toes the line between honoring the classics and maintaining a freshness; his bold, clear delivery has already won over the TikTok generation and it'd probably win over the old heads too. He never sounds overly indebted to his influences, standing firmly in his own style. He filters all the music he absorbs through a strong Texas drawl and puts it over moody, hard-hitting production; the end result is something that never sounds like one artist in particular besides Mike Dimes himself. [A.S.]
One of the brightest new voices in Houston rap, Monaleo broke out last year with "Beating Down Yo Block," followed by a feature on Maxo Kream's Weight of the World. Later, she dropped "We Not Humping," which this year was remixed with a verse by Flo Milli--it's now her biggest hit. Monaleo brings a super glamorous aesthetic to her sound, along with an audacious confidence that suits her well. She's dug into different styles on a number of singles, ranging from cute-but-cutting in "We Not Humping" to tough and jocular in most recent release "Body Bag" (a personal favorite bar: "Bitch, I will kill you and let my cousin do a TikTok on your grave"). At 21 years old and with just a handful of singles to her name, Monaleo already has all the charm and sturdiness of an established star. [A.G.]
Omerettà The Great
Atlanta rapper Omerettà The Great (who also sometimes just goes by Omerettà) had already been on a gradual rise when she dropped "Sorry NOT Sorry" this year, and that's when she took the world by storm. The song takes shots at people who say they're from Atlanta but actually live outside of the city, and this understandably caused massive debate. But lyrical hot takes aside, the song went viral (and landed a remix with Latto) because no one could get out of their heads. Followup singles like "BABA," "Don't Play," and SLIDIN proved that she's got a lot more to her than just one viral moment. [A.S.]
Move over boom bap revival; one of the most exciting producers right now is NJ's Subjxct 5, who's in the midst of reviving the early 2000s East Coast production style cemented by artists like Swizz Beatz, Just Blaze, Timbaland, and Pharrell. He handled all of the production on the new Wiki album, and he's also produced two entire collaborative albums for fellow Jersey native Papo2oo4 and Western Mass rapper DJ Lucas, last year's Dirty Designer and this year's Continuous Improvement. Of everyone he works with, the rapper that most perfectly fits Subjxct 5's early 2000s vision is Papo2oo4, whose low, booming voice brings to mind mixtape-era 50 Cent (and also sometimes has echoes of another 50 acolyte, the late Pop Smoke). Papo2oo4's already extremely prolific and has been dropping projects left and right, and each one finds him further honing his style. Right now, he feels on the verge of something truly great, and we can't wait to hear whatever that may be. [A.S.]
The 18-year-old Maryland rapper/producer/pianist redveil grew up on art-rap visionaries like Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Denzel Curry, and now he's been co-signed by, toured with, and/or collaborated with almost all of them. His self-produced, self-released 2022 album learn 2 swim also has echoes of those and other likeminded artists, and it's quickly cemented redveil as a force of his own. He's already figured out how to reshape his influences into something new, and he's written some of the most memorable, enduring songs of the year in the process. [A.S.]
Portland rapper Yeat initially went viral in 2021 with his song "Gët Busy," but 2022 is really the year that his career skyrocketed, thanks in part to his great new album 2 Alivë and his momentum-keeping Lyfë EP. Yeat makes music that's been dubbed "rage rap," and as you might expect from that name, it's more about creating a mood and a vibe than lyrical prowess. (Given the amount of gurgly auto-tune he uses, it's not easy to make out his lyrics anyway.) Watch a live video of Yeat, and you'll see why they call it "rage," but his druggy songs are also often woozy and hallucinatory, just as good for zoning out at home as they are for turning up at a packed venue. Depending on who you are, Yeat's probably either bewildering, outwardly annoying, or life-affirmingly great. If an artist is toeing those lines, they're usually doing something right. [A.S.]
Also on the rise is Yeat collaborator and fellow rage-rapper Yung Kayo (their collaboration "YEET" is one of the best songs that either rapper has put out this year). He released his debut album DFTK earlier this year on Young Thug's Young Stoner Life label, and in addition to Yeat, it also features Gunna and experimental pop artist Eartheater. That last one is crucial, because in many ways "experimental pop" describes Yung Kayo even more accurately than "rap" does. The album is full of inventive melodies and production styles, and it's just got a great overall sound. But on closer listens, you hear that Yung Kayo is also a talented rapper, and he packs depth into his deceptively simple delivery. [A.S.]
top photos: Monaleo by Edwina Hay / redveil by James Richards IV / Doechii by Ellen Qbertplaya