When it comes to Las Vegas and Hip-Hop, the marriage hasn’t always been so fruitful. Sure, now you’re starting to see more middle-tier acts make stops at venues like Brooklyn Bowl, The Joint, Vinyl and some others; but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, until recently, Hip-Hop shows were highly frowned upon outside of the confines of the strip and despite an evolving relationship between the genre and Sin City, Metro Police Department is still on pins and needles when it comes to Hip-Hop shows – most recently a Ski Mask The Slump God show had to be relocated less than two hour prior to show time because of this – and will not hesitate to make their presence known.
Still, almost in spite of that, Las Vegas Hip-Hop has never been better, especially locally. What was once treated as some sort of Rap version of Lake Lure from Dirty Dancing; Las Vegas now has local events almost every weekend. Spearheaded by local promotions companies, JamNation – who threw the first ever local Hip-Hop festival which featured the cities best as well as Lil’ B, Maxo Kream and Xavier Wulf – and MagFort, who’s already been responsible for bringing out Ski Mask, Smoke Purpp, Max P and Robb Banks; Las Vegas has been quietly building a culture that the city can be proud of. That’s not to say that great Hip-Hop hasn’t been made in Sin City prior to now – OGs like Trade Voorhees, Interstate Fatz and of course Dizzy Wright all paved the way – it’s just that it now seems like the first time the city is truly embracing it & feeling prideful. With that being said, it’s only right that you have a proper introduction into what’s going on in the City of Sin right now. These are five tracks that have been ringing through the blazing streets of Vegas throughout Summer 2017.
Caterpillar Jones – “Dopeman Daughter”
Anytime the words, “I ain’t fucking with the dopeman no mo’, but his daughter want me fasho” are included in a piece of art, you have to anticipate that you’re in for a wild ride. Hell, just that line right there would be an interesting concept for a movie, let alone a record. So when North Carolina transplant Caterpillar Jones dropped this song and those words were uttered within the first few seconds, I put my seatbelt on and enjoyed the ride, which is a surprisingly smooth, yet eerie road to the end of the track. Utilizing his knack for harmonizing a great chorus and storytelling along with some chord heavy production, Jones follows up last year’s brilliant I’ll be a piece of shit till November with a single just as potent. With his next project on the horizon, I’d get familiar with Jones before the train leaves the station. You can check out, “Dopeman Daughter” below.
Lil’ Knight + Lil’ Koat – “Flex Up”
At this point, considering the climate of Hip-Hop at the moment, I’d put my money on Knight & Koat to be the breakout stars of this talented Vegas class. Now, I’m nothing if not honest so I’ll let you know that their music isn’t for everybody – old heads I’m talking to you. With a flow that resembles Famous Dex but more audible and with greater precision, Knight and Koat have built on top of and added to a mainstream style only to make it feel like their own. On, “Flex Up” the duo trades off bars about things like money, women and clothes, but bars aren’t the focus here. Melodies, catchy off-beat flows and anthemic hooks — “I just wanna fuckin’ flex up!!” – are the best qualities of this track and the overall calling cards of the Vegas duo. With a strong buzz on social media and an inclusion on GQ’s “Best of Street Style” segment from this year’s Rolling Loud festival, Lil’ Knight and Lil’ Koat are poised to have a fruitful 2018 and beyond. Check out the visual for, “Flex Up” below and be sure to keep an eye on LKLK.
T. Rabb – “Lock (Featuring G. Reed)”
Traditionally, I’m not a fan of unsigned rappers doing covers and calling them freestyles. Don’t get me wrong, the mixtape era was beautiful and No Ceilings as well as all of the early Wayne tapes are damn near flawless, but at this point in 2017, I’m don’t want to hear an up and comer trying to get his rocks off by rapping over, “Magnoila.” It’s just not my steez. Norftown, Las Vegas natives, T. Rabb and G. Reed do not infact care about said steez and in proving that, they absolutely murdered this beat from Cousin Stizz’s collaboration with Offset and made it feel like their own. Making claims of having the city in a headlock – which for a minute, Rabb sure in the hell did – and others, Rabb and Reed trade off bar after bar on this one. While “Flex Up” & Knight + Koat are meant for the teens, Rabb and Reed got them bars, and plenty of them. Check out, “Lock” below and be sure to go stream Free Throws, Rabb’s latest project which is out now, everywhere.
Asaiah Ziv – “Face (Featuring Ali-47 & Waldo)”
I’ve been championing Las Vegas rapper Asaiah Ziv as the best artist in Las Vegas for over a year now, and I’m not the only one as niche blogs like Daily Chiefers, Elevator and more post almost every one of his tracks. His ambient cadences and dense lyrical abilities throughout his 2016 project, Free Your Soul [Side A] were on a whole different level than anything I had heard coming out of the city at that time. While 2017 has seen Asaiah sort of switch up his style a bit, while also relocating to LA; a new crop of talent make the race a lot more competitive. That’s not to say Ziv isn’t aware of said talent, “fuck a local rapper, Ima move around the map” or attempting to body them, the former Christian rapper gives a scathing warning to the industry disguised as a verse over this self-produced gem. While Asaiah sets the table up nicely, it’s Ali-47 who demolishes the food. With an energetic closing verse that makes you feel war-ready, Ali is among those exact rappers I was just referring to who are separating themselves from the pack. The list runs about five deep. Check out, “Face” below and be sure to closely monitor both Ziv and Ali as both are set to be out of here any day now.
Kiari the Stone – “Wrong Reasons”
Off tops, I challenge you to find me a Las Vegas artist who’s had a better 2017 than Norftown native, Kiari the Stone. After releasing last year’s geniusly crafted single, “Smile 4 Me” the 20-year-old spent most of early 2017 gearing up for the release of his debut album, PRMSLND. What came with a lot of expectations and excitement, was met with validation and fulfillment as the album made huge waves locally and even broke through on the national scene, receiving press in publications such as RESPECT. Mag, DJ Booth, Dead End-Hip Hop and more. A big reason for this spike has to be attributed to the album’s latest single, “Wrong Reasons” which has carved a place among the summer’s breakout singles in the west coast. Meshing his tall tale rhymes, “I watch and toast to god with a gallon of Hen/ He said that Jesus and Tupac died for our sins,” with the sweet sounds of Fendi Sean on the trumpet, as well as Blair Norf on the beat, and you’ve got yourself a breakout single. One that was the number one trending song on streaming service, Audiomack and has amassed almost 15 thousand plays on the app. Take a listen to, “Wrong Reasons” below and be sure to go out and stream PRMSLND, out now.