Braggadocio is a rite of passage in hip-hop. While flexing on your haters is always crucial, it’s more so in the beginning, when it’s truly vital that you stake your claim in the game by creating your own hype and then believing the hell out of it. For this month’s edition of Special Delivery, we take a closer look at a handful of emerging rappers who do a pretty good job of stunting, flaunting, and bragging—of marking territory they’re on track to claim even more of as they rise. It’s part of rap’s legacy, after all.
K$ace’s initial success came as a tastemaker and influencer in New York’s nightlife scene. Now, he has his sights set on rap, releasing a steady flow of loosies over the last few months. His latest song “Chasing” is a full display of his rock star personality, where fun is the major key. The track is galvanized by his glamorous life, which includes being photographed for Teen Vogue with his girlfriend and appearing on an enormous billboard at Lafayette and Houston, as the face of YouTube Music’s national campaign.
On “Need Air,” Slayter proves that even with simple lyrical content, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. He matches a menacing beat with an equally intimidating bravado as he waxes poetic on the women who continually chase him. But the Harlem native doesn’t lose his grit or his trademark tough prose, his tone still instinctive while he raps, “I got a 40 clip extended like the family.”
No Panty—“Singin’ My Song”
Newly formed collective No Panty — Bodega Bamz, Nitty Scott, Joell Ortiz and production shark Salaam Remi — made its debut late in the summer, with the mixtape Westside Highway Story. All three emcees are either full or partially Puerto Rican. While Bamz isn’t new to rap, and Ortiz and Remi are veterans, Scott is more of a novice. Though she’s fairly green, she’s the highlight of “Singin’ My Song,” which also pays homage to “Still Not A Player,” by the late, great, fellow Puerto Rican rapper Big Pun, who was the first Latin rapper to go platinum.
Curly Savv and Dah Dah—“Can’t Hold Me Down”
There’s a tenderness to any emcee who’s fresh out the gate — a raw delicacy in their voice. Curly Savv and Dah Dah radiate that feeling on their debut 1st Quarter Mixtape, a fourteen-song project that maps their adolescence as sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, respectively. With “Can’t Hold Me Down,” the duo stunt on their haterade-drinking doubters with a furious energy you only really impart during the first quarter of your rap career. These two can already back up their cockiness: The strength of their mixtape garnered a cosign by 50 Cent.
Venture Cook ft. OutLaw—“Link Up”
From a young age, Venture Cook has been cozying up to hip-hop. He grew up skating and making music alongside fellow Crown Heights native—and Special Delivery alum—Gloss Gang, as well as hip-hop collective Phony Ppl’s Elbee Thrie. Venture fell into rap from those friendships, and his first outing is the eleven-track Alpha Omega. “Link Up” is one of the project’s outstanding cuts, blending auto-tuned vocals with an aesthetic suggestive of Venture’s Trini roots, which reinvigorate the familiar technology
Jay Critch—“Pull Up”
Some songs purely exist for the turn up, and this is one of them. The whole thing is one long boast, where Jay tells his girl to come to his function, a probable nod to his collective Shutdown Boyz. Like the catchy beat, the hook is just as charming, especially coming from a young rapper who’s trying to find his place.
Young M.A—“So Gone Freestyle”
This MC is New York rap’s current It Girl. Her infectious summer single “OOOUUU” remains in rotation coast-to-coast even though we’re solidly into fall. So when she took it upon herself to film her own version of the #SoGoneChallenge — an ode to Monica’s 2003 hit “So Gone,” where people freestyled over the song’s beat — we already knew she would bring the same kind of laid back Brooklyn swagger she exudes on “OOOUUU.” While on that hit she characterizes herself as a ruthless player, she appears softer on “So Gone Freestyle,” a song about her ex-girlfriend. Still, her tough exterior will always peek through.
With Corey Finesse, it’s all in the name. Over the last nine months, the former GS9 crew member has released a handful of singles, proving that while he’s still a hard rapper devoted to his borough with an ear for harmonies. His recent track “Vagabond” showcases his hypnotic flow over a haunting beat. Contrary to the song title, he substantiates that he isn’t a vagabond: “The shmoney calling, vamanos.”
Simbaa—“First of the Month”
Two years ago, Queens rapper Simbaa ran into Kanye and Kim on the street, and Simbaa made the quick decision to rap for Yeezy on the fly. Talk about the ultimate flex. While “First of the Month” wasn’t the song he spit to Ye, and while the track is certainly short and sweet, it’s evidence of why this aspiring emcee was confident enough to approach Ye.
Pineapple Citi—“Rose Colored”
The production on “Rose Colored” isn’t anything ingenious, but that’s not what we’re looking for: Pineapple Citi’s vocals are the star of the show. Her voice is raw, oscillating between slurred speech and enunciation, her raps fast and pointed. “Rose Colored” is a reminder that no matter how many women emerge in hip-hop, they’ll still have to work twice as hard as men to get half the recognition they deserve. So, a woman’s perspective in hip-hop will always be refreshing—and is much more often than not good enough to deserve a lot of praise.