2012 has been exceptionally exciting for Chicago’s rap scene. Artists have been hustling to grasp the nation’s ear and, finally, the spotlight has come back to shine brilliantly on the city. Chicago has a plethora of styles to offer and this buffet of new hip-hop has something for everyone to enjoy. Take a look at the top ten rappers to look out for in Chicago this year.
10. LEP Bogus Boys
The LEP Bogus Boys have been around for quite some time, but the duo has been in heavy demand as of late. Leaning towards the more gangster side of rap, LEP (Low End Professionals) consists of Moonie and Count. LEP has a diverse host of collaborations from Gucci Mane and Mobb Deep to Lupe Fiasco.
BBU (Bin Laden Blowin’ Up) is a trio of rappers that support a positive movement. Epic, Illekt and Jasson have been rapping together as group for a few years. The group’s single “Chi Don’t Dance,” an ode to Chicago’s dance culture, was released in 2010. It quickly became an anthem for young kids to be proud of their hometown. BBU’s style of music is inspirational and educational. The group’s latest mixtape, bell hooks, was released this February and named after the feminist writer. BBU is all about uplifting the community with a dose of reality.
8. Chance the Rapper
This 19-year-old artist has brought somethin new and refreshing to Chicago’s hip-hop. He brings different flows of rap with his debut mixtape, 10 Day, a title that was inspired by Chance being suspended from high school for ten days. He also brings a stage prescence that is so vibrant and energetic. You can’t help but to shut up and listen.
7. Treated Crew
Treated Crew is a collective of creative artists, producers and DJs that all bring different elements to the table. Founded by Kanye West’s DJ, Million Dollar Mano, rappers Hollywood Holt and Mic Terror of the Treated Crew have started a movement in Chicago. The group garnered buzz by donning black fitted hats with white old script lettering of the word “Treated” that brings back memories of NWA. The Treated Crew has not dropped a mixtape yet, but they realease a single every Tuesday in their "Treated Tuedays" series.
6. Lil Reese
A member of Chief Keef’s GBE crew and a newly signed Def Jam artist, Lil Reese has been making moves with his vivid music videos and a strong connection to the streets. With singles like “Us” and “Beef” Lil Reese is a rising star and a little more lyrical when it comes to the drill style of Chicago music. Reese has collaborations with Freddie Gibbs and is also featured on the original version of Chief Keef’s "I Don’t Like."
5. Chief Keef
Chief Keef, 16, is the youngest out of all the upcoming artists. His fame skyrockected through the roof within the past few months. The teenager heads his own crew, GBE (Glory Boys Entertainment). Keef has co-signs from some of the hottest artists out, including Kanye West who added a G.O.O.D. music remix to Keef's "I Don’t Like." The original video for “I Don’t Like” now has over three million views on YouTube and has spread like wildfire, thanks to high school kids and people that love to shake their dreads every now and then. Although Keef is still currently on house arrest at his grandmother’s southside Chicago home, he is unsigned and sitting on his very own goldmine.
4. King Louie
With an army-like following, King Louie is impossible to avoid in Chicago. He has promo stickers scattered all over the city so there is hardly any way to have not heard about this guy. Louie’s single, “Too Cool,” won’t let up with heavy rotations on the clubs. It caught the radio's attention and the ears of 2 Chainz and Red Cafe, making them want to hop on the remix. Louie has also signed a deal with Sony/Epic, as well as a management deal with John Monopoly (Kanye West’s former manager). He has quite a promising future ahead of him.
3. Rockie Fresh
Another artist that's part of the new generation of Chicago rappers, Rockie Fresh has been making his mark in the game since his debut mixtape, Rockie’s Modern Life, dropped in 2009. The mixtape release party in Chicago was his first show and it was sold out. Rockie has dropped two mixtapes since then, including his latest Driving 88. Rockie has toured with the likes of Wale and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump. With mentions and nods from XXL, The Source, and Complex, Rockie Fresh is definitely a hot commodity.
2. Katie Got Bandz
This female artist stands out and stands up for the ladies, the youth and Chicago’s drill-hop scene. At only 19-years-old, Katie got Bandz has a style that reports whats goes on in the streets. She has no mixtape out yet, but her single "I Need a Hitta" expressing what kind of guy she’s looking for has over 180,000 views. Katie, who is already famous locally (she admitted being approached by fans while attending college classes and her job), is on the brink of gaining nationwide renown.
This Eastside Chicago artist has made the city more than proud this year with his freshly inked deal with Universal Records. YP has worked very hard over the past few years to get where he is now. He started rapping in 2007 and has evolved into a beast over the years. He has opened for the legendary Raekwon and Q-Tip has also co-signed YP’s talent. He also released his latest single and video for his song "Gettin Money" featuring Jim Jones. YP gets regular radio play on stations in Chicago. The rapper’s upcoming album, No Doz, will drop sometime this summer.