If I had to pick one thing that makes the rap game so exciting right now, I’d go with “youth”. Sure, rap is more obsessed with The New than most genres, but the kind of young rappers that really make you sit up and take notice. It’s less ‘Cute kid in the big brother’s clothes’, more ‘Hey, wow, that 18 year old can spit’. If the obsessive popularity surrounding kids like Earl Sweatshirt (16 at the release of his self-titled mixtape) is anything to go by, then younger rappers are certainly being taken more seriously as acts of real, raw talent.
Brooklyn rapper Joey BADA$$ ticks all the boxes on this one. At seventeen he’s definitely young, but he has an air about him that belies something far more mature. His Progressive Era crew have a Tumblr (what else?) where you can cop their free mixtape, which gives a great insight into their collective potential. Listening to the track Survival Tactics, taken from the forthcoming Joey BADA$$ solo project ‘1999’, you can really feel the lasting impact of New York during the time of Nas’s ‘Illmatic’, another example of a 17-year-old . There’s a sharpness, a seriousness, a real thirst in Joey, and he sounds seriously dope.