Since Eminem took over the world in the late 90's, there have been very few challengers to his crown of the premier white rapper in the game. After a lean spell of nearly a decade, the last few years have seen a surge of new talent. Here is my roundup of 5 of the new generation of white rappers.
5. Asher Roth
In early 2009, Roth had the world at his feet. He had a strong buzz following his DJ Drama and Don Cannon assisted mixtapes, the Philadelphia rapper taking a hold on the public with his refreshing take on hip hop. In addition, he was featured on that year's XXL Freshman List, along with noted artists B.O.B and Wale. His remix of 'A Milli' satirised the stale, tired conventions of mainstream rap, revealing a new witty, conscious voice. On April 20th his debut album Asleep in the Bread Aisle was released, fueled by the massive hit 'I Love College'. The project, however, was a disappointment from start to finish. Instead of providing the expected album filled with intelligent observation and laid back wordplay, Roth focused on rapping about weed with lazy punchlines, which was hardly an innovative concept. As a result, the album achieved respectable sales of over 150,000, but as it was on a major label the LP was considered a flop.
A slew of mixtapes followed, including a notable collaboration with Nottz on the Rawth EP. His second album has been plagued with delays and pushed back, undergoing a name change to Is This Too Orange? The release date is uncertain. Asher Roth is at a difficult stage in his career, desperately needing a hit single to revive his flagging mainstream status. A listen to his early material shows he has the potential for greatness, so it may not be time to write him off just yet.
On May 16th 2011, Columbia records announced they had signed an unknown young white female rapper. The deal was rumoured to be worth a million dollars, propelled by the single 'Gucci Gucci', a youtube video that received nearly 3 million hits in 3 weeks. After being propelled into the mainstream, Kreayshawn was immediately embroiled in controversy. As part of three woman team The White Girl Mob, the rapper has been forced to defend accusations of racism. V-Nasty, another member of the group is brazen about her use of 'Nigga' in her music, causing a storm of criticism in rap circles. Fellow Bay Are MC Mistah F.A.B has come out in their defence, alleging that times have changed and the black community is perhaps being a little hypocritical. Another controversial incident occurred at the VMA awards, as the respective entourages of Kreayshawn and Rick Ross were involved in an altercation. The two rappers subsequently taunted one another through news outlets and radio interviews before calling an uneasy truce. In addition, nude photos were leaked after the female MC's twitter was hacked. Currently, Kreayshawn is more widely known for her various indiscretions than actual musical output. It remains to be seen whether she is worth the hype.
In 2011, Yelawolf was one of the 11 new MC's featured on the XXL Freshman List. The achievement capped off a stratospheric year for the Alabama MC. After being released from Columbia in 2007, Yela was picked up by Eminem's Shady Records. His first major label release came in November 2010, the retail mixtape Trunk Musik. The project achieved minor success with the youtube hit 'Pop Tha Trunk', a sinister, violent crawl through the backwaters of Alabama. In March 2011, Yelawolf received his second XXL cover, featuring with Eminem and fellow Shady Records Signees Slaughterhouse. The artists collaborated on posse cut '2.0 Boys'. Other notable appearances include 'Worldwide Choppers' on Tech N9ne's All 6's and 7's and 'You Aint No DJ' from Big Boi's critically acclaimed Lucious Leftfoot. Both allowed the MC to demonstrate his signature high pitched quick flow. With an Eminem helmed debut album set to be released in late 2011, the future looks promising for the MC.
In 2004, Macklemore released his debut album The Language of My World. After that, he disappeared, a descent into alcoholism and drug abuse to blame. After beating his demons, the Seattle MC came back hard, using his past troubles as the motivation for his new music. 'Otherside' is an emotional discussion of his issues, using the tragic death of Pimp C to hammer home his anti drug message over the Red Hot Chilli Peppers instrumental of the same name. 'Inhale Deep' is in a similar vein, discussing how his addictions almost destroyed his career over a chilled out beat. Single 'Wings' shows how his rhymes are often akin to spoken word poetry, the rapper often alternating his flow. Macklemore has a strong following in his home city, performing at the home opener of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. He also sold out 3 shows at the Seattle Showbox, in addition to headlining his own national tour. The MC is a refreshing antidote to the heavy glamourisation of alcohol and drug use in mainstream hip hop, and with major labels watching closely, he could become a huge new voice of rap.
1. Mac Miller
Miller is from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, home to the rapidly growing hip hop scene including breakout star Wiz Khalifa, whom Miller considers a close friend. The two MC's shares a similar delivery and the influence of Wiz can be heard in the younger rappers choice of infectious beats. In August 2010, the rapper released his debut mixtape K.I.D.S, followed by his first official single 'Knock Knock' in November of the same year. The song is a mischievous irreverent take on hip hop, sampling Linda Scott's 'I've Told Every Little Star'. Miller has continued to work at a frenetic pace, with two mixtapes brought out this year along with his debut album Blue Slide Park projected to have a late 2011 release. In addition, the rapper was featured on 2011's XXL Freshman List, along with Yelawolf. The MC's biggest hit so far has been the catchy youtube sensation 'Donald Trump', amassing over 20 million hits and prompting even the man himself to comment that he was flattered on his twitter account. As it stands, Miller has a tremendous buzz, but it remains to be seen if his undoubted talent can amass the sales required to propel him into the mainstream.