Top Street Poets For 2020
I built a list of the BEST STREET POETS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR 2020 and beyond.
Before we jump into the collection of our vicious verse vocalists, let’s talk about;
1. Why Street Poets matter or Why is this list important?
2. Describe Street Poetry. Is it different from Gangster Rap or hardcore Hip Hop?
1. Street Poets are not mere lyricists. They don’t consist of rappers from the street that have a lot of punchlines. Street Poets are architects & pioneers that create cult followings from brilliant bar bending mixed with passionate beats, distinct voices, and custom cadences.
These are the people that will last into the future, being the ones we call on to paint classics with their pens (or punch-ins)
We will see Street Poets making unique business decisions, upholding the standard of hip hop to the highest level, putting quality before quantity, inspiring the next wave of talent and refusing to compromise. Our Poetic Street Emcees will break down barriers and erase stigma for the genre.
The music will be so good and mentally stimulating that is will erase stigmas, eliminate commercial concerns, and travel internationally.
This list is important because it is easy to always preach numbers, money, and moves.
We will do the hard thing, and recognize those that may not be the trend.
Let us discuss the musicians that choose not to follow the formula.
You can debate with me on the level of artisan detail of their songs.
Because the people on this list deserve rewards for their fine work and it can help you find their work, as we enter this new decade.
2. We cannot try to explain Street Poetry without touching on Hip Hop. Hip Hop is one of the newest forms of music in the world. It originated ‘in the streets’ from the disenfranchised, underemployed, young rebels with insane amounts of soul. Rap used harsh melodies and computerized buttons. A fresh beast was birthed from the lack of: harmonizing, happy/straightforward topics, verbal etiquette, traditional structure and mainstream pressure.
Hip hop was so unrestrained, storytelling, braggadocios, and competitive that the only adjective left is – innovative.
Rappers wanted to hone their skills and challenge themselves to say the most entertaining lines in the most complex fashion. They moved crowds, impressed listeners, and projected mental movies WITH MERE WORDS. The deliberate deliveries of those strung together words beget energy, graffiti, dancing, DJing, beats, battles, fashion and more. Hip hop is one of the few genres that is conversational, narrative AND sometimes even like a lecture.
The lifestyle of rappers was different from what was portrayed from media outlets and producers. Running from police, styling fits, dealing drugs, creating slang, shooting fellow community members, battling, getting beat up, dealing with imprisoned parents, having drug addict relatives, oppression, poverty, and all of these topics were kind of new & different from the previous music (especially in the delivery). The focus was on the lyrical vocabulary and pronunciation, rather than the structure & flow of the song like other genres. Hip hop was basically poetry mixed with rock and roll. And it kept evolving.
Street Poetry is broken down into two words.
Street means that:
A. The rapper is from the ‘streets’ where there was easy access to drugs & guns, heavy doses of oppression, and passed down trauma.
B. The emcee talks about detailed aspects of the streets
C. They rap their experience in urban, crime infested neighborhoods
D. These rappers discuss how their life surviving in these minority communities, affects their values and thought process, even if it has nothing to do with the streets (especially in the future after they move out).
A. Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature.
B. Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.
C. Poetry is a type of literature based on the interplay of words and rhythm. It often employs rhyme and meter (a set of rules governing the number and arrangement of syllables in each line). In poetry, words are strung together to form sounds, images, and ideas that might be too complex or abstract to describe directly.
D. The art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.
So Street Poetry is the complex, emotional display of skilled literary technique that tells abstract metaphors or powerful stories of a life influenced by crime, hardships, systematic oppression, and broken families. Street Poetry represents the musical diamonds found in the rough. It is what happens when the pressure and dreadful conditions produce gems that outshine all expectations.
Like I said earlier, it is MORE THAN intelligent punchlines, crime tales, big word backpackers, soulful melodies, catchy hooks, easy to catch rhythms, record sales, trends and radio play.
Street Poets are devoted emcees who risk their livelihoods by admitting crimes, creating observable material for opponents, and exposing personal lives of those around them for the sake of absolute artistic achievement & the conveyance of their spiritual journeys.
They must be recognized and rewarded for their rigorous rhyme regimens.
THE LIST (no particular order)
Dark Lo –Philadelphia, PA – Might be the only person on this list that doesn’t have a song for the club or party scene. His beats selection is usually soulful, eerie, and slow. It contrasts his grimy criminal streak and aggressive content. He interchanges his relatively soft voice with his serious yelling. Dark Lo the Crook doesn’t try hard to be lyrical, its like he was born to be a poet but ended up being a street general. I feel like if a diamond heist mastermind retired and decided to rap, it would sound just like Dark Lo.
Payroll Giovanni – Detroit, MI – Not the richest, but definitely the bossiest man on this list. He was one of the pioneers of graphic storytelling in Michigan. Set trends that still reverberate today. Fenkell Payroll changes his flows, rhyme schemes, wordplay; syllable counts, topics, and creates his own beats. He is the epitome of Street Poetry and a Ghetto Superstar.
Baby’s World – Detroit, MI – Man oh man. The way he strings rhyming syllables together is mesmerizing. His beat selection is so mature and the insight he gives on dealing drugs is profound. He is probably the least emotionally expressive on this list but his words hold so much weight that it doesn’t matter.
Mozzy – Sacramento, CA – His voice stands out the most on this list. That helps sell his dirty delivery of vivid visions of the ghetto. The slum landlord is known for telling 1st hand and 2nd person stories that make you remember that gang related activity is not just for movie scripts. You can tell he puts effort into having a poetic intricacy to his songs.
Montana of 300 – Chicago, IL – The FGE boss is the Punchline king of the list. He will TAKE YOUR SONG, do it better, MAKE IT HIS, and transform the topic to some real street shit. He declared himself the Rap God and no one challenged it. He is so bored from being a lyrical lord that he announced he is retiring in May 2020. I cannot wait to see his other moves in this decade, development of protégés, and whether his retirement will stick. Even still, he has enough quality hood hits to leave you satisfied for another 3 years and his last album will probably be his best. So get hip.
Kendrick Lamar – Compton, CA – Literally took the style of poetry and mixed it with hip hop. Probably most ‘lyrical’ on this list and no matter how famous he gets, he obviously disregards having a mainstream appeal based on his topics and album structures. Kendrick garners so much respect for the work he did on his first studio album ‘GKMC’. K Dot is on another level of artistic achievement with Grammy awards and numbers. He is the result of a science experiment mixing the genes of MLK jr with Marcus Garvey and Tupac.
Rio da Young OG – Flint, MI – The No Hook Champion of this list. He spits the most outrageous punchlines and funniest stories. Rio has no problem being honest, acknowledging his shortcomings, and making jokes of his own failures. His worth ethic is outstanding. I believe he dropped 6 tapes in 2 years as well as over 20 videos this year. He might be the ugliest on this list but I bet your girl would jump at the chance to sexually award him for his fantastic level of showmanship. He is forcing people to put respect on the name of Flint city, even as he whips his dope with clean, well water.
Freddie Gibbs – Gary, Indiana – He tries so damn hard to do street poetry that it works perfectly. His luxurious, grown selection of beats has been evident since ESGN. He continues to perfect his craft while becoming more confident. He calls his most recent release ‘Album of the Year’ but honestly I have trouble getting past track 7. It is because this is not music you can listen to while trying to be productive. This is a project that you must sit down, meditate and study to; so the structure, production and cohesion doesn’t go over your head. I cant wait to see what Gangsta Gibbs has in store this decade.
Ar-Ab – Philadelphia, PA – The most certified trapper/shooter/street nigga on this list. ‘Assault Rifle Abdul’ vomits the most violent and vivid verses that it is easy to see why he was just found guilty of being a Kingpin of a drug distribution empire. Don’t worry, the appeal case will be strong and he still has 10 years’ worth of real life gangster music that you can get hip to. I promise it will not get old. His ability to relay the danger that his enemies face is unparalleled. He makes you question mankind with how brutal his bars are. He has so much faith in and love for his crew of warriors. His punchlines are so devastating and descriptive that he forces you to either feel like a member of his team and or a witness to his dangerous deeds.
Sker McGurt – Detroit, MI – I have no words. Listen to this man’s catalog. He is the angel of music (which actually means the devil). This young 7Mile emcee is so intelligent but also sadistic with his twisted thoughts and freaky flows. He makes sure his bars stand out by piling on loops of wordplay and inserting slick similes. He probably has the most street name on this list too. Say it with me – Sker McGurt aka Homi Skeez.
Lil Durk – Chicago, IL – The only singer I was willing to put on this list. The lyrical skillset and emotional performance behind the mic is only enhanced by his ability to hold a note, maintain melodies and croon over dazzling digital instrumentals. Durkio transforms the microphone into an art brush and his saliva morphs into paint as he creates masterpieces for our ears. Probably has the most emotional range on this list, which is key in poetry.
10kKev – Detroit, MI – The beats and cadences he uses are classical. He is very deliberate with his image, flow, punchlines and topics. Kev has the mind of a 40 year old and 2020 is his for the taking. The new #THHLRecords artists is a pioneer for the gangster nerd genre that is taking over youthful hip hop. The black web wizard should not be slept on, I can’t wait to witness his growth.
Pusha T- Virgina Beach, VA – This is self-explanatory. King Push is one of the few people to win a beef against pop star, Drake. He was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award as Best Rap Album and I expect him to continue pushing new heights in this decade. He has a propensity to produce perplexing drug pushing parables, which makes it music for the mature or wise.
BandGang Masoe – Detroit, MI – With a young voice like his, he has no choice but to spit vivid scam files, mechanical metaphors, new lingo, energetic adlibs, hyper deliveries and believable threats. Probably the shortest person on this list but is a Detroit legend with tall resume. He is the Bad Boys’ Isiah Thomas reincarnated to rap (and trap).
Matty Bands – Detroit MI – He has only released one song & music video. But When I tell you he is sitting on some brilliant fire, I am not lying at all. I cannot wait for the world to get hip to the tantalizing talent that this young man shows in every track. He might be the fastest rapping on this list, behind Kendrick and Montana. Matty Bands has the most potential out of everyone in this article fasho.
Rocky Badd – Detroit, MI – She spits straight fire and takes great pride in the fact that she never will have a ghost writer. With a life full of pain and lessons, she knows how to portray it in a poetic way fit for a princess of penmanship. She knows how to be sexy, agressive, regretful, hype, fun and silly. I am excited for her future.
I am disappointed I couldn’t name anyone from Florida, New York, Texas, or Memphis. Hopefully as I continue to explore more life & art, I will be able to get hip to true street poets from states that aren’t represented on this list.
I will admit I have to expand my musical horizon (even in hip hop). Once I find a rapper I like and think they can stand the test of time, I latch onto them. I don’t have enough free time and available brain energy to listen to more than 10-20 rappers at a time. I am not the type to ride waves and listen to unfamiliar artists because somebody famous shouted them out, a popular outlet promotes them, or a friend recommends them. I understand that my tastes are not in line with most people. I am a hard critique. I haven’t listened to a Drake song on purpose since the ‘Nothing Was the Same’ album, and that was back when I was living with my girlfriend.
I gravitate toward street poets and versatile vocalists like Sada baby, Cash Kidd, and Gucci Mane. I appreciate the vivid tales of gangster rappers like BabyFace Ray, Young Scooter, Philthy Rich, Peezy, and Styles P, and etc. - more than I enjoy the ability of hip hoppers to make catchy songs.
I think most other genres are boring compared to rap. I am also tired of pointless music like most of what is on the radio. I don’t have self-esteem issues so songs like crooked smile by J Cole fail to resonate with me. I am definitely tired of the same old focus on clothes, sex, money, cars, love, and heartbreak. Political rap is usually hard to enjoy and I feel like RnB singers reuse the same lyrics over and over. Weird rappers like Tyler the Creator and backpackers like Hopsin don’t have images that necessarily garner respect from me, so it is hard for me to take people serious (especially if their pants are tighter than my ex’s leggings).
It is my honest feeling that Detroit is full of the most rap talent and the best beats. So my list seems biased, but that’s just my opinion & (limited) analysis. I finally downloaded apple music 4 months ago but it is still difficult taking time out, to listen to the full albums of artists I don’t normally listen to. So I decided to only focus on street poets and make this debate about artistic lyricism, underground-styled delivery and emotional impact.
Who are some street poets that you feel deserve recognition, rewards and respect, as we head into the 3rd decade of the 2000s?
I already talked about how I need to take time out and listen to full albums. These are the well reputed poetic street artists that I will check out first.
Royce Da 5’9 – Was my favorite rapper the year his album, Street Hop, came out. His maturity outgrew me while I was going through the final year high school through college, but now I will reacquaint myself with his recent discography. (SlaughterHouse albums were underwhelming and hard to slap in the whip).
Vince Staples – I heard he is super stamped and I can tell he is superbly talented. I cant wait to fully introduce myself to his catalog.
Dave East – My friends are shocked when I tell them I don’t listen to him. They think he would be my favorite rapper, but I haven’t gave him a chance yet.
Da Baby – Self-explanatory. I just never sat down and digested a full tape of his. I will soon!
Kodak Black - He was my favorite rapper for 4 months in 2015 and he continues to improve. After being sentenced to more than 3 years with more pending cases, It is not looking good for the Snyper Gang General. Unapologetic Street Poet with the voice, versatility and swag of one. I hope he has a couple albums in the vault.
I Hope you enjoyed my article.
If any of you rappers or your managers read this:
I am the truth when it comes to coming up with creative & powerful concepts for songs, music videos, and promotional campaigns. I have absolute confidence in my ability to professionally direct & edit music videos and any form marketing material. Please give me a chance to boost your careers by contacting me.
Feel free to Explore & Enjoy the rest of the content on my website. Thanks for tuning in!
P.S. – I am an outstanding emcee & freestyler too. I am just tired of getting 2000 views and people trying to have me pay to perform.
#hiphop #rap #xxlmag #complex #thhl #4shomag #bylug #betjams #grammys #nojumper #saycheesetv #djvlad #djakademiks #rednetworkpros #blazeagram #codecred #music #bestof2019 #pitchfork #detroitrapnews #thizzler #applemusic #tidal #emcee #genius