Up and Coming Emcees: On A Scale of 1-10

With all the talk of up and coming emcees, I decided to throw in a couple pennies and let you know what I think. When reading this, I’m sure some Stans will get all worked up and dish me some hate; try to keep in mind that this entire post is my opinion only. I do not consider myself a professional critic by any means, so take it how you want. Here’s how I’ll break it down:

Delivery: For me, this is probably the most important category. Most of the time, I care more about how an emcee sounds than about what he/she is saying. Inflection, flow, tone, rhyme scheme, and voice all come in to play.

Lyrics: Whether it be some deep shit that makes you sit back and scratch your head, or some mean one-liners that make you crack a smile. If an artist can capture some shit that you’ve been thinking, or think of some shit that you wish you could have, then the lyrics are on point.

Beats: It’s impressive when emcees are also producers, but almost just as good when an artist has an ear for picking out beats that mesh with their style. It’s important to know what you sound good over, and what clashes.

Image: My least favorite category, but it’s part of the game. People want to listen to someone that they can either relate to, or that they wish they could be like. If you have no image, you’re going to blend in with the crowd. This is that “it” factor that you always hear about.

Consistency: Anyone can stumble upon a hit. Few can recreate that magic. Even fewer can come correctly time after time.

Here we go. Click on the “CONTINUE READING” button on the bottom right under the pics.


Delivery: 10
High energy, loads of inflection, and a great sense of timing. Wale has that adrenaline injected type of flow that can tear shit up during live performances and make your heart beat a little faster.

Lyrics: 8
Wale sprinkles his lyrics with some good punchlines, and he showed on the ironically titled A Mixtape About Nothing that he can touch on some serious subjects and stick to the topic. Too often, however, Wale just boasts about various unrelated things for 3 minutes.

Beats: 9
He’s got a knack for picking the bangers, and those go-go inspired beats give the music that sound unique to him. I don’t think 9th Wonder was the right choice for his last mixtape, but other than that, he’s made great production decisions.

Image: 9
He’s down with the in crowd, he’s always got the newest gear, his shoe game is flawless, and he’s got DC behind him. All good, but if you follow him on Twitter you know he can be pretty obnoxious.

Consistency: 9
A Mixtape About Nothing was great from start to finish. Back To The Feature is spotty. I’m loving his new joints that may/may not be on the album. I know if I see a new Wale track there’s a very good chance I’ll dig it.

Total: 45
Wale – Pretty Girls

KiD CuDi

Delivery: 10
I know people are going to disagree with this, because Cudder doesn’t have that high speed, lyrical prowess that hip-hop purists drool over. But his laid back, half-singing flow is so unique and so clearly spoken, that for me his verses become more catchy than most rappers choruses.

Lyrics: 8
KiD CuDi comes across as a real dude. He isn’t afraid to be a little vulnerable, but at the same time, he’s too cool to be picked on. Very relatable, and good word choice makes you able to listen to songs about being an outcast without feeling like a loser. Just a little too simple to get a 9 or 10.

Beats: 9
I love the beats CuDi chooses. Usually they’ve got that outerspace vibe to them, and unlike some rappers who go in over beats that consist of nothing but claps, air horns, and car alarms, Cudder’s beats always seem to have something called melody. Being friends with Ye (who in my opinion, has a great ear for music) doesn’t hurt either.

Image: 10
He’s got appeal that reaches much farther than the typical hip-hop audience, and he comes across as the type of guy you’d want to have a beer (or a blunt) with.

Consistency: 10
His solo joints are sick, his guest spots are sick, and even his on the spot freestyles get gobbled up faster than most rappers’ new album leaks.

Overall: 47
KiD CuDi – Man On The Moon


Delivery: 8
J. Cole also comes with a lot of energy on most tracks, but his classic flow is a little more straightforward and comes across as slightly monotonous on his slower tracks.

Lyrics: 9
On his latest mixtape The Warm Up, J. Cole proves that he can manhandle the English language and he gets his passion across with a fierceness that lets the listener feel how hungry he is.

Beats: 7
As more doors open for him, he’ll be able to be a little more picky when it comes to production. Up until now, his beat choices have been solid, but nothing outstanding.

Image: 7
Not that he’s got a tarnished image, but he hasn’t built it up enough to let people know what he’s about yet. A little more time mixed with a little bit of marketing and we’ll all (or just me, if you already know) have a better idea of who the man behind the music is.

Consistency: 7
Again, this is a matter of opinion. I know a lot of people put The Warm Up up there with the top mixtapes of the year, but i still find my finger itching to hit the “skip” button on a handful of tracks.

Overall: 38
J.Cole – Heartache

Frank Ramz

Delivery: 9
Ramz is another emcee with a more laid back flow, but it’s filled with attitude and emphasis at all the right moments. At times, I’d like a little more energy, but to his credit, Ramz sounds better every month.

Lyrics: 10
Real shit. Relatable. Story telling ability. Punch lines and metaphors that could only be born in the brain of Ramz.

Beats: 9
As with J. Cole, Ramz will soon have more options for production. So far, he’s done a hell of a job picking some top notch up and coming producers like Charlie Hilton to get behind him, and his latest mixtape Make The Road By Walking is musically backed entirely by a pre-recorded instrumental album. The results are incredible.

Image: 8
Again, it would be a 10 if more people knew what he’s all about. I’ve gotten to know him and from what I’ve gathered, Ramz is the type of guy that will win you over quickly. He’s a guy that you want to see succeed, and one that you can tell won’t turn into a total asshole when he does.

Consistency: 8
Ramz never puts out garbage, but (at least for me) his projects all have standout tracks that shine a little brighter than the others.

Overall: 44
Frank Ramz – The Traitor

Charles Hamilton

Delivery: 8
Charles has proven that he can bless the microphone with some greatness. His first couple mixtapes won over a lot of fans (including myself), but his massive output afterwards was spotty. At times it sounds as if he’s lazily thinking out loud over a beat, and his singing can be like listening to a high school talent show. Then again, one listen to the flow on “Brooklyn Girls” and you know why he has (had) the internet on lock.

Lyrics: 8
Great wordplay, sick metaphors and some hilarious one-liners. Charles isn’t afraid to get deep. He’s also not afraid to get raunchy. Sometimes he takes things a little too far, and sometimes his philosophies only make sense to himself. When he’s at his best, he can lyrically fuck with the best of them.

Beats: 8
Again, due to the massive amount of output, sometimes finding a dope beat among Hamilton songs is like digging in a pack of starbursts and only picking out the pink ones. Credit for producing a lot of his own material.

Image: 5
The sonic obsession, the stoner philosophies, and the large doses of pink. After a burst of popularity, Charles seems to be losing fans as quickly as he’s gaining them these days. I’m gonna speak up and let it be known that I still like Charles, and I think he can dig himself out of this, but he’s got some work to do. Right now, it’s all about damage control.

Consistency: 6
It’s hard to be consistent when you’re putting out a mixtape (or two) a week. He’s slowed down (stopped) for now, but when he returns I think he should put a little more work into each song instead of trying to put out every song that pops into his head.

Overall: 35
Charles Hamilton – Brooklyn Girls

Bobby Ray (aka B.o.B.)

Delivery: 10
Bobby Ray can rap his ass off, and even more often lately he’s shown us that he can sing his ass off too. His southern drawl add flavor to his sound and his personality shines whenever he lays down vocals on a track, whether singing or rapping. Andre 3000 comparisons are inevitable.

Lyrics: 9
Another great example of what it means to keep it real. Bobby Ray isn’t always caught up with being that cool motherfucker (although he can be). He also speaks about internal struggles with the way things are, and he isn’t afraid to play the outcast.

Beats: 8
Lots of melody, lots of production that crosses paths with other genres. I need to hear more non-mixtape tracks from Bobby before I really get a feel for what direction he’s going to take.

Image: 10
Bobby Ray is a down to earth (and out in space) guy that seems open minded, humble, and easy to root for. From what I know, he’s matured a lot in the past years, and I think he’ll be accepted with open arms by fans from all the niches of the music world. He’s also funny as hell.

Consistency: 9
I always like what I hear from him, and he’s definitely got a good ear for music. A couple of his mixtape tracks are skippable, but for the most part, if it has the name Bobby Ray on it, it’s gonna make it to my iPod.

Overall: 46
B.o.B. – Grip Ur Body

Mickey Factz

Delivery: 5
Nothing about Mickey’s flow stands out in my mind. Put him on a track with 10 other dudes and I’d probably have trouble distinguishing.

Lyrics: 6
Some good wordplay, but a lot of played out/slightly altered one liners and nothing that’s ever made me want to press rewind.

Beats: 7
Mickey can boast a diverse set of beats, and he has taken some risks and gone in over some stuff that most rappers wouldn’t dare to touch. Some work. Some don’t. Given his new status as a Roc Nation member (along with J. Cole), I think his musical backings will only get better.

Image: 9
The Bronx native has got style, he’s got connections, he’s got endorsements. Factz has little to worry about in this category.

Consistency: 6
Again, opinion. I think the quality of his output will get dramatically better now that he’ll have a team of musical experts around him, but so far it’s been miss and occasional hit.

Overall: 33
Mickey Factz – Who’s Hotter


Delivery: 10
Out of all the up and comers, I would rate Drake the highest in this category. He has a way of putting syllables together that is unmatched. Even in rapid fire mode, his flow is buttery smooth and the man can sing too. Another thing about Drake is he can go from laid back smooth talker to high energy spitter to R&B crooner…all in one song.

Lyrics: 10
Just listen to “Say What’s Real” or “Successful”. Drake is an intelligent guy and he can put his thoughts together well. Even when he’s speaking ignorant shit, he does it with a great choice of words. Too many quotables to even get started.

Beats: 9
One of the things that loved about So Far Gone is that it was cohesive, and it had a feeling to it that was present throughout. A lot of that had to do with the production. Drake sounds great over those clean, minimalistic stylings that sound like they were dipped in white chocolate.

Image: 9
Right now, he’s that dude. He’s got famous friends, he’s got the buzz, ladies love him, he’s got wide appeal. Pretty much the perfect image. 1 point off for being in Degrassi.

Consistency: 9
I fuck with pretty much anything Drake raps on. I pass on a couple of his straight up R&B songs. And sometimes his guest spots are a little questionable.

Overall: 47
Drake – Successful ft. Lil Wayne & Trey Songz

Fuze the MC

Delivery: 9
Another up and comer with a great sense of when to fire things up and when to cool them down. Fuze also has an instantly recognizable voice so even when he switches up the flow from song to song (which he does effortlessly) you know who’s speaking to you.

Lyrics: 9
From his spoken word biography to his reference filled braggadocio, it only takes one listen to realize that Fuze has a lot of brain power and he isn’t afraid to use it. A lot of rappers talk about keeping it real, Fuze actually does it.

Beats: 7
Besides a few standout tracks, Fuze outshines the production on a majority of his material in my opinion. I’m hoping to hear him over some better beats soon.

Image: 8
Another good guy, instantly likeable, but in need of some promotion so people can get to know him. I think Fuze will be straight in this category as long as he gets more heads to pay attention.

Consistency: 8
No trash, but I keep going back to the same songs when I’m in the mood for some Fuze. As with other young up and comers, I think Fuze is getting better with time and still in the early stages of his progression as an artist.

Overall: 41
Fuze The MC – Here We Go

Izza Kizza

Delivery: 10
Izza Kizza has a flow like no other. With his highly animated delivery, touches of trippy vocal effects, and his thick Southern accent, every line is entertaining.

Lyrics: 9
It’s not so much what he’s saying, but how he chooses to express it. He often fucks with the English language so much that it sounds like he’s inventing his own slang. By the end of most tracks, I couldn’t even tell you what the song was about, but I’m absolutely okay with it.

Beats: 9
Bass heavy, Timbaland style synths (he’s worked with Timbo in the past), and sounds that you’d expect to hear in an extra-terrestrial cartoon.

Image: 9
Izza Kizza is just a wild ass dude. The type of dude that you’d expect to jump off a building, land in the middle of a crowd and start beating his chest like an ape. Relatable? Not sure, but very unique.

Consistency: 8
I’ve come to expect stuff so out of this world from Izza that when a track sounds even half way tamed, I’m disappointed.

Overall: 45
Izza Kizza – Connect the Dots ft. Colin Munroe


34 Responses to “Up and Coming Emcees: On A Scale of 1-10”

  1. 1 DannyLAVillegas
    July 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Great Post! I 95% agree with most of it.

  2. 2 K Skjal
    July 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Daps on this solid list. Glad to see my guys B.o.B, Cudder, and Izza scoring so well!

  3. 3 Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Why Isnt Norm Bates On This List lol… Look Out For Him, Hes Definitly Got That Fire!!!

  4. 4 Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Everyone always forgets about XV when it comes to up and coming emcees

  5. 5 Confusion
    July 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I know, there's a few emcees I left out. Not because I don't see them, just because it was around 3 30 AM when I was wrapping this post up. I'll get around to a part 2. Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, XV, Dom Kennedy…any other names you guys wanna see?

  6. 6 Fuze
    July 6, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    yea make sure add blu

  7. 7 Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    yea i think Quest, Outasight and Novel should be added. maybe XV but i don't know about him yet.

  8. 8 Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    sorry didn't see your post about XV

  9. 9 Anonymous
    July 6, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    two words..BIG SEAN!

  10. 10 Confusion
    July 6, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    oh for sure Novel and Big Sean good calls!

  11. 11 Alex Drake
    July 7, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Siiiick post confusion.It must have taken you quite while to write up but I really think its worth it!Occasionally the blog can lack character when its so focussed on only posting what's new and not adding some conscious opinion but this was a great post.Im definitely for Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and Novel making the next list…

  12. 12 Confusion
    July 7, 2009 at 2:12 am

    @ ezra : about J. Cole – cool…I didn't know how much of his own production he did. Thanks for the info. Definitely more credit to him for producing and I'm sure with a good team behind him he'll be able to expand on that.about Cudi – Dat Kid From Cleveland wasn't an official mixtape and I don't think Cudi had anything to do with it. It was just a collection of recent songs and guest spots. So it didn't have that same cohesive feeling. Can't hold that against Cudi though. And I think some of the album leaks are unfinished. We'll see.

  13. 13 Confusion
    July 7, 2009 at 2:14 am

    @ alex: Thanks I appreciate that! I know what you mean. I'm gonna make an effort to throw some posts in the mix to keep things interesting. Let me know if you (or anyone reading) has any good ideas for posts! Youve got my email!

  14. 14 Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Hey, loved the post,agreed with everything but Drake 100%, for the next list add Asher Roth, I know that I love College is pure shit but check out his A Milli Freestyle and the Greenhouse Effect, pretty dope kid. And I would like to second (third?)Dom Kennedy

  15. 15 Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Well, Asher might not be up and coming anymore, I guess. Are you doing groups? If so, The Knux, Cool Kids, and Chiddy Bang off the top of my head

  16. 16 Confusion
    July 7, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Wasn't planning on groups, but shit, sounds like a good idea for another post! Thanks.

  17. 17 Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Don't forget about Theophilus London!

  18. 18 Confusion
    July 7, 2009 at 4:12 am

    ooh very good call as well

  19. 19 MeByMe
    July 7, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Hmmmm… I don't hugely disagree with any of your specific rankings, but I think this whole ranking system is dangerous. You're assigning equal value to every category, so a 10 in image is just as important as a 10 in lyrics? It's tempting to want to be able to come up with tangible proof something is better than something else, but it's hard to find a legitimate way to do it.

  20. 20 Confusion
    July 7, 2009 at 4:50 am

    You're absolutely right. This is why I usually steer clear of ranking. I think it completely depends on the artist too. Some artist are all about lyrics. For others, lyrics are a small part of the big picture. This is in no way intended as a way for people to decide who is better. Just a fun, easy-to-grasp way to share my opinions on some up and coming talent.

  21. 21 MeByMe
    July 7, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Coolio. Fair enough. I like the blog, btw… my buddy Connor pointed me over here from mebyme. Keep it up.

  22. 22 Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 8:14 am

    What about CJ The Genesis?!?!?

  23. 23 OMARvelous X
    July 7, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Cudder FTW!

  24. 24 Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Damn good look to the guy who said about Chiddy Bang, never heard of them til now. do they got any mixtapes out?

  25. 25 Anonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    How are you just going to forget about Khalifa?…

  26. 26 Confusion
    July 8, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I didn't forget about Khalifa. Part 2 coming.

  27. 27 B. Young
    July 11, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    J. Cole is the best rapper on this list. Kid Cudi is EXTREMELY over rated as an MC. His style undoubtedly feels forced, as if he's trying TOO HARD to be cool and hip. Even Wale's style/swag seems to come off more natural. But as far as the best ALL AROUND, polished rapper on this list…It's J. Cole hands down. Just from listening to "The Warm Up" you can tell he knows how to put together an ACTUAL SONG, instead of just over loading tracks with punchlines. Which, in turn will give him more longevity in the industry.

  28. 28 Confusion
    July 12, 2009 at 1:21 am

    I would pay attention to what you are saying, but you used the word "swag", so I can't really take what you're saying seriously.A lot of it comes down to opinion. But point taken.

  29. 29 Robotto
    July 19, 2009 at 1:29 am

    where the fuck are Ash Roth & Big Sean!!?!!?!?!? ARRRRGGGH MY BRAIN HURRRTS!!

  30. 30 Ivan Townsend
    August 1, 2009 at 2:20 am

    http://www.reverbnation.com/ivantownsendIm new so give me one of those reviews

  31. 31 Anonymous
    September 16, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Kooley high

  32. 32 J.P.
    November 2, 2009 at 12:40 am

    99% agree with your rating system…thats the reason why i fucks wit this blog…good fuckin taste Confusion!!like them 45+ on wale and b.o.b.

  33. 33 Anonymous
    January 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    vegna ekki:)

  34. 34 Anonymous
    January 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    blu is the dopest mc out right now, emilio rojas should be on here too, good job though

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