Before we begin – Not all of these artists are from Boston. There’s talent all over New England, but people from outside are much more likely to Google “Boston Hip-Hop” or “Boston rapper” than Lynn, Cambridge, Brockton, Massachusetts, etc… We’ll make it clear where each artist is from in their section but if we want to see growth, we’ve got to meet folks where they’re coming from. Right now, Boston is the window through which we’re seen. Long-time followers know that we #RepNewEngland all day.
Following that logic… Peace! You’re probably new here. Welcome. Our goal since the beginning has been to create a platform for independent artists while uplifting our community. We’ve done that mostly through in-depth interviews and FM Radio, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover. Boston media has been much more receptive to hip hop lately & has been doing a good job providing coverage. However, they can only focus on a handful of acts at a time. Nothing wrong with that! It takes a lot of repeated exposure to break an artist. And we rock heavily with the names you’re seeing in the spotlight these days. Still, we wanted to expand and shine a light on a few more folks as well.
Last but not least, huge shoutout to Graduation Music, Miixtape Chiick, & TheMUSEUM TV for their heavy blogging over the years. Killerboombox is a great resource for the culture, as well. It takes a lot of work to keep up with all that’s going on up here. Salute.
And now, the artists…
7981 Kal (Boston, Massachusetts)
7981 Kal has some monster records and major collabs with national artists like Polo G & Mozzy, as well as hometown records with artists like G Fredo, Dtheflyest, and more. He switches gears comfortably between styles – at times harmonizing, at others delivering straight bars. That’s one thing about Boston hip-hop: there’s no “sound” here, so you’re liable to catch a bit of everything.
We’re kicking things off with Kal, because he’s doing huge numbers with almost no media attention. Artists – you can do this on your own terms!
If you like what you’re hearing, tap in on his soundcloud for more.
Kaovanny (Lawrence, Massachusetts)
You may not see Kaovanny popping up in many articles, but trust she is active on the scene and in the culture. Hailing from Lawrence, the home of REKS, Termanology, Scientifik, and a whole wave of talent, she blends hip-hop, r&b, and her Latin roots to create a sound of her own. You might catch her on stage with Oompa, Brandie Blaze, or any number of Boston hip-hop artists making waves in New England. We first heard her at The Pull Up, where she stopped all the side-convos with a powerful Outkast cover. Didn’t get that on video, but you can see her belting out some Ari Lennox below. If you like what you’re hearing, she’s live every Saturday night at 7pm, performing her Noche Mahogany series.
al.divino (Lynn, Massachusetts)
al.divino is one of the wilder examples here, and again should be an inspiration to any artists reading who may be frustrated by lack of coverage. What makes his trajectory wild? It’s pretty well documented that streaming is not a good way for musicians to make a living; we hear a lot about the lack of venues and how that effects opportunities, too. It’s a nationwide story. And then we have an artist less than 30 minutes outside of Boston who sells digital downloads of his albums for almost $600. If you missed the physicals, you could cop a cassette or vinyl for a couple grand on the resale market. On top of all that, he’s been pushing the artform, collaborating with artists around the country, and is about to drop an album with DJ Muggs. When we were in Charlotte, LORD JAH-MONTE OGBON let us know that divino was his favorite artist.
He just dropped a new one with longtime collaborator Estee Nack, too. Tap-in.
Lightfoot (Boston, Massachusetts)
The producers in Mass know about Lightfoot for sure, and a good amount of the rappers do as well. He’s been successfully building an organic following through tireless creation and near-daily Instagram drops. Sometimes he’s working his SP from his living room, other times he’s tweaking his PO on his rooftop. The vibes are always breezy & comforting, whether he’s flipping Stranger Things, Griselda, or Zelda. His candid nature about what goes into these offerings really brings us along for the ride. He’s a fixture in the community too, creating spaces for and guiding Cambridge youth through The Hip-Hop Transformation Project. He’s got music available to stream here.
Milkshaw Benedict (Boston, Massachusetts)
Milkshaw Benedict doesn’t have a lot of videos, but this is a pretty good intro to the energy he brings. He’s a member of The Most High Kingdom, a Boston Hip-Hop super-group that includes Najee Janey, $ean Wire, and GIB DJ. In a city full of sounds, he stands out by bringing the funk. That’s not an expression either, Boston Block Party is funky as hell. We haven’t heard many artists do it like this. Listen for yourself below.
Dtheflyest (Brockton, Massachusetts)
Dtheflyest went extra hard this March, dropping four videos on his #PrivMadness run. They’re saying Golden Child is finished and set to drop this year as well. So far everything he’s put out has been well-received, including that Lil Baby record above, which is still an ear-worm two years later. We may have to do a follow-up article on Brockton hip-hop… There is most definitely something in the air there. That city really supports their artists, too. Anytime one of them is booked in Boston, they bring a crowd. Same goes for social media. It’s refreshing to see & hear.
Sidenote: Both Lil Baby & Jeezy have engineers based in Mass. Lots going on in the Northeast…
8 Zipp (Boston, Massachusetts)
8 Zipp has been getting extra active lately, and it really seems like his movement is gaining serious traction. He’s the newest artist here as far as releases, but you can tell he’s deep on experiences and has been putting in work on his craft. We’ll let him speak for himself, though. Press play & if you like what you hear, hit the follow button. If this spring is any indication, there’s definitely more on the way. Shoutout The Museum TV & ItsLitBoston for the heads up. Like we said at the beginning… you can get any type of flavor you could want from Mass Hip-Hop. Looking forward to seeing where he takes it.
Kadeem (Boston, Massachusetts)
Kadeem has been on the scene for a minute now but with these last two releases, it feels like he’s starting to command some of the attention that he deserves. The 10-minute visual that accompanies Passing Exchange adds a personal feel, bringing us right into his living room, neighborhood, life… These are just snippets, though – you can hear the full album here. Last year’s World Sport made quite a bit of noise when it dropped, as well. Active members of the beat scene will also recognize Kadeem as the host of Nightworks, a successful showcase that attracts producers from around the country. Combine his ear for beats with a sharp pen and you’ve got a recipe for success.
CAEV (Boston, Massachusetts)
CAEV is an artist who everyone on the Boston hip-hop scene likely knows about, but who gets most of his press from out of town. So if you got here via Google, he’s probably news to you. He’s been making moves for a minute & carries that outspoken Boston energy with him wherever he goes. Well, he takes that Boston energy and cranks it up to 11… You’ll hear it when you press play. Everyone around him is 100% committed to their artistry (RAMS, Raheem, JMP…) & it’s been dope watching them chase dreams and level up consistently.
Esh & The Isolations (Boston, Massachusetts)
Esh has been crafting his style for a while now and has really stepped into his own on Idiot Fingerz. The self-produced album also comes with a name change to Esh & The Isolations, which includes his band who are no doubt itching to get back on stage. It’s an anxious and animated look into his mental & right on time for your quarantine playlists. Previous work includes multiple collaborations with The Arcitype of STL GLD fame. He’s also been a part of some wild Alumni Cyphers.
That seems like enough homework for today. Dive in, get to know these guys; we’ll be back with more soon. Subscribe below so you won’t miss out.
And if you’re an artist… Let us know what you’re up to! We’re here for you.