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The Fresh Heir Presents: Heir(s) to the Throne [Volume 1]

Every once in a while I get asked the question, “Who’s up next?” Over the course of the past two years, I’ve built up a reputation through The Fresh Heir and my personal voice outside TFH that has convinced people to trust in my taste when it comes to which up-and-coming artists I think are on the brink of something special.

I’m no hip-hop sage whose opinion is worth more than all others, but I’d like to think I’ve earned at least some level of trust by delivering quality with consistency in the past. I interviewed artists like Chance The Rapper and Logic before the majority of my followers knew who they were, and I’ve developed relationships with tastemakers all over the country who, like me, are influential in their areas and have their fingers on the pulse of who’s got something the competition may not.

Today, I’ve got five artists for you that I believe you’re going to be hearing about a lot more in the near future. Maybe you’ve heard of them all already – I’m happy if you have. If you haven’t heard of any, or maybe only one or two, let this be a fitting introduction. I’m not guaranteeing these emcees are going to blow up or be headlining national tours by the end of 2013, but I am confident they’re going to be on radars everywhere very soon.

Don’t forget, this is an opinion-based piece. Obviously there are far more than five artists who are “next,” and similarly, there’s music I fuck with that you might hate… and that’s not a bad thing. I chose to highlight these five in the first volume of Heir(s) to the Throne because they’re five that are relevant, relatively underground and ones that I’ve personally rocked with the hardest this year. This is no “Top 5” list, but rather a starting point for discovering what might one day be some of your favorite new artists.

Without further ado, here’s the first installment of The Fresh Heir’s Heir(s) to the Throne:

Dillon Cooper

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Photo cred: @VerenaStefanie

If you’ve followed The Fresh Heir in any capacity over the course of the past year, you’re familiar with the 20-year-old Brooklyn native. I met Dillon in March of 2012 when the two of us linked for an interview in Boston (WATCH HERE) shortly after his first music video, “Shadows,” blew up on a low level right out of the gate. Since then, Dillon has shown no signs of slowing down.

Dropping a slew of high-quality visuals – the latest of which recently cracked the 100K view milestone – and performing at A3C and this year’s Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, the young emcee has built a significant buzz and is garnering a following from fans and industry heads alike at a rapid rate. He released his debut mixtape, Cozmik, last month to widespread praise and has since been featured in Complex, Vice and more. Tomorrow, Dillon leaves for Germany to perform alongside the Wu-Tang Clan, Action Bronson and more in this weekend’s MiXery Hip-Hop Open.

What makes him special?: 

Dillon has a musical side that most fans aren’t even familiar with yet. He attended Berklee College of Music for a year and some change before jumping into hip-hop full time and might be just as good on the guitar as he is on the mic. Also, his energy both on and offstage is matched by few.

What can I listen to now?: 

Download his debut mixtape, Cozmik (CLICK HERE), and watch the Muvafux-produced “State of Elevation,” the lead single off the tape.

What should I look out for?:

Dillon already has a stash of unreleased music stored away for his next release, which he’s been crafting before the world even heard Cozmik. Look out for whatever he puts out next to make a major splash.

Twitter: @TheDillonCooper

Rome Fortune

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Photo cred: @GoodwinWinsgood

This February, Atlanta’s Rome Fortune released his fourth mixtape in the form of Beautiful Pimp. In the eyes of the ATL, I probably caught on late. To the rest of the world, though, I’m proud to be amongst the first wave of writers/bloggers/influencers/fans to have a small hand in his rise.

I first heard of Rome through his manager professionally known as @HashtagMikeBoyd. He was pushing the project on Twitter even before he stepped into the manager role, and I remember seeing the incredible cover art (which we briefly discuss in our interview) and it immediately piqued my interest. After one run through the tape, I was hooked. With production from Childish Major, C4, Dun Deal and other elite beatmakers from Atlanta, it was essentially a free album, and Rome’s versatility was highlighted throughout.

Since then he’s performed in NYC several times, grown his social media following and his whole Cowboy Pimpin’ brand, and has provided a steady flow of music through random buzz records on Soundcloud to widespread positive reception and further intrigue.

What makes him special?: 

Rome is in it for the long haul. The 24-year-old has done things as organically as you could imagine, has a loyal, dependable and talented team around him, and is about as genuine an artist or person you’ll meet. He has two kids (one of which is the baby on the Beautiful Pimp cover), so naturally he’s invested in his own success for something much bigger than just himself. He’s proven he can deliver on any type of record, and he’s amassing a growing fan base that includes a fair percentage of females – an X-factor of sorts.

What can I listen to now?: 

Download Beautiful Pimp and watch the “Get The Guap” video HERE.

What should I look out for?:

Rome and Dun Deal have a collaborative album called Silent Trophies coming out on October 14th. I’ve heard some of it. You’re going to like it.

He also has a video for “Grind,” a smooth summertime track he dropped last week, releasing in a matter of days. The Fresh Heir’s own Goodwin handled the production, so you know what you’re about to get. Listen to the track below.

Twitter: @romefortune

Martin $ky

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Photo cred: @GoodwinWinsgood

The amount of young talent in Chicago is almost mind-boggling. I remember watching Ruby Hornet’s Freestyle in the Park – which featured Chance The Rapper, Kembe X and Alex Wiley, among others – and thinking that within a year, Chicago hip-hop would be on the map for years to come. I was right, and whoever else had a similar inkling was too.

One of my favorite emcees emerging from the Windy City, and also one of the youngest, is Martin $ky. The 18-year-old rapper/producer caught my eyes and ears early this year with his incredible “Invitation” video (WATCH HERE), and like all the great ones do, he hasn’t lost my attention since.

He’s been carefully crafting his long-anticipated debut mixtape, #timeLESS, but has managed to maintain his buzz in the meantime by releasing a handful of tracks on Soundcloud, a few visuals, and even free beats here and there to keep his fans hooked.

What makes him special?: 

Martin has been compared to Joey Bada$$, Tyler the Creator, Earl… you name a young rapper with a deep voice and captivating flow, the comparison’s already been made. To me, and to Martin as well (he touches on the subject in our interview), it just doesn’t matter. The young emcee has been steadily carving his own lane and is experimenting with a variety of sounds, all the while keeping his voice, delivery, and lyrical content incredibly consistent. Martin is ambitious and intelligent, knows what his audience wants and how to give it to them, and if his raps don’t hook you, his beats will.

What can I listen to now?: 

Check out the video for his self-produced track, “Invitation,” HERE, and listen to one of my favorite songs of 2013, Martin’s “Polaroid,” below.

What should I look out for?:

#timeLESS is coming very soon. Until then, keep up with him on Twitter (see below). He tends to drop next level music out of the blue when he’s having a good day.

Twitter: @martinxsky

Curtis Williams

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Photo cred: @Two9

These days, it’s hard to make any list of up-and-coming rappers to look out for without including multiple Atlanta representers. I was hearing all about Two9 while I was down at SXSW this year, and thanks to XXL’s feature on the collective that was published shortly after, I caught up right on time.

Curtis Williams is one of the group’s co-founders, a fantastically talented and unique emcee, and one of my favorite new personas in hip-hop. He’s proven he’s capable of delivering hard-hitting hooks over head-knocking Mike Will Made It production, crafting laid back summertime jams with Childish Major (you’ll know what I’m talking about soon), and even making his own beats.

Curtis and Two9 have been at it for a minute, but with the traction they’ve gained individually, as a collective, and as part of Atlanta’s larger pool of talent, now is the time it’s all about to come together for the world to see.

What makes him special?: 

Curtis has a larger than life personality that is highlighted by his presence on social media and his comfortability on camera. It’s very clear when an artist is conscious of their image and brand, and Curtis definitely falls under that category. And those are just the intangibles. He can hang with the best of them on the mic, and he’s working with some of the hottest producers in the game.

What can I listen to now?: 

Listen to the Childish and C4-produced “Automatic” below, and watch the official video for “Bare Essentials” featuring Robb Bank$ HERE.

What should I look out for?:

Half Forgotten Daydreams comes out August 3rd. I’m confident this will be one of the best hip-hop projects of 2013. If my voice isn’t enough to turn you into a believer, a tweet like this from Childish Major might do the trick.

Twitter: @ThatBoyCurtis

Joey Fatts

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Photo cred: asapmob.com

Out of the five artists I chose to feature in the first volume of The Fresh Heir’s Heir(s) to the Throne, Joey Fatts was the wildcard. The 21-year-old Long Beach, CA native recently released Chipper Jones Vol. 2, and the mixtape unexpectedly became one of my favorites of 2013 so far. Joey gives off a true throwback west coast vibe in everything he does, and the flavor evokes a unique combination of nostalgia mixed with a new school edge.

He’s establishing himself as not just a talented rapper, but an established producer as well. Joey is linked in with the A$AP crew and is managed by Yams through Yamborghini Records. He opened for the group on their recent European tour and is working with some of the best brains and top producers out. His delivery is captivating, and he’s proven himself as a versatile emcee, telling gritty tales over dark beats as effortlessly as crafting sun-dripped, ride-around-with-the-top-down anthems over bouncy production.

What makes him special?: 

Joey Fatts is the funniest rapper on Twitter. If you’re not following him you need to fix that now because you’re missing out on the most dependable form of entertainment on the internet. You might be asking, why does this matter? Well, I’m big on personality. I think most rappers these days are incredibly boring outside of music and are overly concerned with saying the wrong thing on social media. Joey says whatever’s on his mind, and ironically, he’s building a respectable brand by doing so.

What can I listen to now?: 

Download Chipper Jones Vol. 2, Joey’s most recent mixtape. My favorite tracks are “Live Blasphemous,” “Picture Me Rollin'” and “Get Paid,” but listening through the whole thing without having to skip one hasn’t gotten old for me yet either.

What should I look out for?:

Hot ass records and production placements with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Yamborghini Records is on its way to becoming a very powerful machine, and Joey will undoubtedly continue to mash the gas.

Twitter: @JoeyFatts

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