Blaze and Beats: Here are the First Half Heroes of 2017

Imoh Ekpo

By Imoh Ekpo

Imoh Ekpo

26 Jun 2017

WARNING: Proceed with caution when you touch the first half of the year in Mixtape Madness because it has been an absolute scorcher so far.  The game is super hot right now, with fire-spitters raising the bar at a dizzying pace.  Veterans of the scene and newcomers to the game leaving their mark for first time are proving that the DIY approach is as strong as ever.

Underground rappers and grime artists don’t need major labels or marketing muscle to get huge followings and a million YouTube views.  A sick flow and a message that deserves to be heard will always find an audience in the underground.  Much of the appeal is in the way artists are able to capture raw emotions, revisiting a serious matter like a tough upbringing or the rags-to-riches narrative that seems to even more of a trend than ever in the news and across the board.

Let’s a take a look at a few of the unforgettable rappers and their bangers to date in 2017.

The myth known as MoStack has been a big fixture since 2014 when he dropped his breakout single “No Body” on YouTube.  The notoriously antisocial Londoner declines most interview requests and shrouds his face with sunglasses and puffy hoods.  All of which is fine, as MoStack lets his rhymes paint the persona behind the bombastic bars.

His latest mixtape hit in early June and is propelled by the single “Screw & Brew” featuring Mist.  This electronic bounce-fest grabs the listener with its trippy background vocals and deep biographical lyrics about rising to the top despite a past environment of gangbangers and bad situations.

One of the bombest new faces to blow up this year is her highness Stefflon Don.  The 25-year-old first appeared last year with the mixtape Real Ting and has been up to no good (in a good way) ever since.  Her Jamaican-dancehall-meets-London grit sound is winning fans in high places — she recently dropped a hint of connecting with Drake in the studio to work on new tracks.

For the time being, enjoy the thrills of her latest release “Envy Us” featuring Abra.  The easy backbeats and hip-shake appeal are guaranteed to light up clubs this summer.  Over a million YouTube views in the single’s first week can’t be wrong, right?

Mist might be a feature on Mostack’s “Screw & Brew”, but the dude has been crushing it on his own lately.  The Birmingham native racked up five million YouTube views in the first three months on his blazing single “Hot Property”.  It’s a straight up hypnotizer with an ultra-chill video shot in Iceland.  When Mist proclaims that he’s “hot like saunas”, you better believe that he is.

Speaking of hot property, a rundown of this lot would be incomplete without an appearance from J Hus.  Although he joined the big leagues by signing with Epic Records in May, make no mistake that J Hus bootstrapped his career by dropping a series of online singles and the debut mixtape The 15th Day on his own.

Originally hailing from Stratford, J Hus recently exploded to new heights with “Did You See”, a little ditty with a spectacular 25 million YouTube views since March.  Dems numbers are usually reserved for an Adele release!  His newest joint “Common Sense” is quickly racking up the plays and should not be missed.

Perhaps most recognized from her viral Queen’s Speech series (of which the 5th installment was named “2015’s crowning freestyle” by Spin), Lady Leshurr takes a backseat to no one.  She possesses one of the tightest flows around, thanks to years of dropping epic mixtapes.

This Brummie by way of the Caribbean island of St. Kitts masterfully mashes up cultural influences into her own unique blend.   Leshurr recently dropped the dope single “Juice”, which definitely leaves the fans thirsty for more.