by Layne Weiss

Known mostly for its country and rock music, Nashville is seldom recognized for hip-hop. But Nashville is “music city,” not “country music city” or “rock music city” and the cross-pollination of many genres creates a thriving creative scene that extends into the rap world. While often overshadowed by its other neighbors down south like Atlanta or Memphis, Nashville nevertheless has made many notable contributions to hip-hop, starting in the ’80s when groups like the Blow Pop Crew came into the fore. Inspired by what was happening with the burgeoning hip-hop and B-boy scenes in NYC, the BPC sparked a new regional style with their 1987 hit “Drop The Bass. ” In the late ’90s, a young hip-hop connoisseur named Eothen Alapatt (now known as Egon) came onto the scene. A student at Vanderbilt, Eothen took his love of hip-hop to the airwaves with the college radio show “9.11 Emergency,” which went on to influence many of Nashville’s best artists and DJs. Egon would go onto become the VP at Stones Throw records and later founded his own label, Now Again Records.

Nashville’s current hip-hop climate reflects the city’s rich jazz and soul history with a hint of Southern charm. Hip-hop heavyweights such as Young Buck, Starlito, and Yelawolf have established themselves both regionally and nationally, paving the way for a new generation to come out of Music City. Below, we take a look at 10 rising young stars of the rap scene.

Brown 22

Brown got his start at only 10-years-old, rapping and performing for friends to cheer them up when circumstances were tough. Inspired by his older musician peers, Brown began taking his career more seriously at age 17 and a huge turning point came at age 20 when he freestyled over Rapsody’s “Extra Extra” song. He sent her his version, and she offered feedback, further fueling his passion and motivation. He is currently working on a track with Alabama rapper/singer JayDotRain for Rain’s #TheDixieRenaissance.