Los Angeles rappers have a propensity for giving themselves two letter names. YG is the city’s most well-known export, but there’s also RJ (pictured), AD, T.F, and KR. Most of these artists have collaborated with each other, and are a hit or two away from breaking through at the national level.
This playlist contains songs by these two-letter rappers, as well as the rest of the city’s best young talent. “Young,” of course, might not be the best description. Some of the artists, such as RJ and G Perico, hover on either side of the 30-year mark. Many of the artists have been releasing music for several years, cultivating loyal regional fan bases. But no matter their ages, all of these rappers are poised to have lengthy, promising careers ahead of them.
They were certainly born in a good place to become a rapper. Los Angeles has long been a hub of the music industry, as well as an historic hip-hop city. Still, L.A.’s scene can be as insular as any other town. Many rappers achieve local hits on Power 106, but never make it across the country to Hot 97’s airwaves. Part of the reason is the specific sound the city embraces, largely fueled by the distinctive production of DJ Mustard.
Many of the rappers on this list, especially those who’ve collaborated with Mustard, hail from South Central Los Angeles. Gang affiliation, either red or blue, plays a significant role in the music of rappers like G Perico, AD, and Boogie. But, given L.A.’s massive sprawl, there is, naturally, diverse music being made in various pockets of the city. Natia and Cam & China hail from Inglewood; Warm Brew is from the beachside community of Venice. It’s easy to detect a slight difference in the tone of these artists, simply based on their being born a few miles closer to the beach.
Despite the hyperlocal loyalty that pervades L.A. hip-hop, many of these rappers are putting the pieces in motion to move beyond the borders of Greater Los Angeles. Cozz has signed with J. Cole’s Dreamville Records. Hugh Augustine landed a feature alongside Jay Rock on Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade. Bricc Baby’s “No Smoke” features Young Thug. And though Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, and YG are already popular enough that they probably don’t need to be on this list, they’re good enough (and still young enough) that they deserve to be.
Although New York is the birthplace and Atlanta is the current epicenter of hip-hop, these artists prove that the west coast is continuing to push the genre in creative directions. Soon, the rest of the country should recognize the music being made in the nation’s second biggest city. And if they don’t like it, then—as YG says on his track with Sad Boy, AD, and Bricc Baby—“Don’t Come to L.A.”