By now, we all know one thing to be true – hip-hop requires incredible skill. Beyond the tough beats, the growling lyricism, rap breathes an honesty that expresses the struggles and triumphs of life, and emcees have the incredible gift of capturing life in a way that no one else can. This is their contribution to the world – to feel life happening, and use that experience to write and say something inspiring, jarring, or just plain slick.
When you think of rap, you don’t necessarily think of the Caribbean, instead your mind is whisked away to the gritty streets of New York, the sunny, hard edges of Los Angeles, or the grimy rhythmic sound of Atlanta. But, hip-hop is far reaching and has a global impact, as seen in some of the culture’s most influential rappers who are Caribbean or of Caribbean descent – Biggie Smalls, Wyclef Jean, Doug E. Fresh, and Nicki Minaj to name a few.
Here are fourteen such rappers (in random order) on the ascent, who spit without gimmicks and butchered metaphors.
1. Zac Jones
Zac Jones’ lyrics are effortlessly crafted tales of his life experiences as a young man in the city of Kings and the city of Angels. Songs like Love Docta cleverly narrate youthful, sexual vitality and the reality of horny, oversexed girls lusting for his time and potency. While other songs, like Tommy Hillspitta, illustrate his relaxed confidence and lyrical strength. Part of $tony Crew – a group of young, musical masterminds based in Kingston – Jones possesses the originality most others lack which, upon discovery, can ensure his longevity in hip-hop culture.
2. Qwase Anderson
“It’s kind of funny the same people you closest to, wanna see somebody make it but they not hoping it’s you.” Hailing from the island of Barbados, Qwase Anderson is one of several rappers in the 246 region, who illustrate the versatility of the island. He is lyrically gifted, which is evident in his thought provoking rhymes, and he promises his fans new music, quite soon. Keep It Real is a throwback, previously unreleased yet heavy track that illustrates his skills and depth as a musician.
Part of Deh Fam collective, which also includes witty lyricists – Sincere and Snipes, Prya’s rhymes capture the layered textures of Cruzan life. His style cleverly infuses his Virgin Islands jargon over tight beats. The creative lyricism broaches heavy concepts about the joys, trials and tribulations of ghetto life, while still drawing the audience into what his island feels, sounds, and smells like. He is open and honest about his personal struggles, and his music accurately reflects that.
Johnyver van Sichem, artistically known as Mason, is from Willemstad, Curaçao, where he has amassed a following with up-tempo beats and life inspired concepts. He started rapping at the age of fourteen, after writing lyrics to Sean Paul’s Gimme The Light. He has worked closely with fellow musician and child of Curacao – Chris Strick. Their collaborations have been well received in the Dutch Caribbean and Europe. His most recent collaboration was released at the end of May. A track with Nette Jongens – titled Wijs.
5. Danay Suárez
Cuban artist, Danay Suárez, began her musical career as a vocalist before transitioning into the world of Cuban rap. Although she has a genuine love of R&B and hip-hop, she has a deep love and understanding of jazz music, which adds to her depth and adaptability as a musician. A lot of versatility can be noted on several of her tracks, like Open Letter and Siempre Que Llueve, where she seamlessly weaves rap and soft R&B. She has garnered a wide range of fans in Cuba and across Europe.
6. Wendyyy Traka
“The game has only one king-” this according to rap kreyol artist Wendyy Traka. The young, Haitian musician has a long-standing love of rap music, and developed his craft and moniker on a song with his friend Lil’ G in 2006. Since that time, he has collaborated on several mixtapes and songs, including Only God Can Judge Me, This Is Not Normal, and We Are Not Afraid. His quick, rapping style and braggadocio lyrics make him distinct. In more recent years, he founded Traka Records to continue his work as an independent artist.
RLG (Royalty, Loyalty, & Greatness)- made up of rappers Trizzy, Chuck Larry, Nate Wiles (formerly Jonny K), and Ashley Kimberly – is a collective of talented musicians and creative with “nothing but aspiring dreams and talent.” The group has a solid collection of tracks including D.O.P.E., High, and Centerfold. They’re a mix of thought-provoking concepts, hard lyrics and genius production, courtesy of member Shaayz and co-founder, Haleek Maul. The group also includes the soulful sounds of singer – Jay Tremaine.
8. Imari Wade
Imari Wade possesses a gritty voice and natural lyrical ability. Her verbal acrobatics, enthrall the crowd and leave them begging for more. At the top of the year, she moved a crowd of hip-hop fans at Magnum Sting in Jamaica. Prior to that, she lyrically conquered fourteen other rap artists at the first annual Hott 107.5 Hip Hop Challenge in 2013. Her music represents the streets of Bermuda, as well as places outside the island, which is what makes her sound relatable.
9. General Pye
General Pye (pronounced Pi-yeh) started rapping at the age of 15, after being influenced by Bone Thugs N Harmony. As the years passed, the rapper – born Jeremy Reed – adapted his style to something more suitable for him and his audience. He forged his musical path with sharp concepts and catchy beats and lyrics. He has a growing collection of songs, including Slow and Beautiful, which showcase his sense of melody and growth as an artist.
10. Slim Benett
Slim Benett burst onto the Curaçao scene during the first annual Magnum Rap Battles in Willemstad in 2014. Since then he has grown into an island sensation captivating his audience with his hard hitting, explicit lyrics. His music is an honest reflection on the ever changing reality of women, weed, friends, and life in Curaçao. He raps in Papiamento which helps him to revolutionize the Dutch Caribbean hip-hop scene.
11. Nitty Scott, MC
Born Nitzia Scott, the female emcee of Puerto Rican and African-American descent began her rap career at the age of 14. Her rap was forged out of her love of creative writing and poetry. She spits socially conscious lyrics that push the boundaries of what a typical female emcee is supposed to look and sound like. Her fifteen track mixtape – The Art of Chill – released in 2014, is filled with dope beats and edgy lyrics.
12. Blo Smallz
Reco O’Brian Greene – more commonly known as Blo Smallz – has a genuine love for all musical genres. His musical influences range from Bob Marley to Tupac Shakur. He started writing poetry and songs at the age of 11. However, it wasn’t until he began listening to Eminem and 50 Cent and turned 20 that he decided to start recording music. He has a natural lyrical ability and talent to rapidly change rapping speed and style.
13. Black Jonas Point
From Santo Domingo, Black Jonas Point is a rap artist that has experienced local and international success. He was featured on the 2010 Pitbull track – Watagatapitusberry – along with Lil Jon and several other Dominican artists. Black Jonas Point’s arrival in New York city afforded him more opportunities for collaboration and growth. His versatility as an urban music artist is felt in songs like Tikita, Tikita and El Capo, which have received both radio and club play.
14. Jimmy October
Jimmy October is amassing quite the fan base with his music. The newcomer, from Sangre Grande, is the co-creator of the Trinbagonian hip-hop crew – OverDose – along with his friend, Nicholas Subero. The collective has a wide variety of talented young individuals, which includes fellow gifted lyricist – Jay Nahge. His recently released track Winning celebrates his innovative style and identity, with a hard beat and catchy lyrics. His confidence and machismo resonates more loudly on his older track, Go$$!p.
To listen to more tracks from these featured artists, check out our playlist.