It’s the simple question that has dominated Kansas City’s hip-hop scene pretty much since there has been a Kansas City hip-hop scene.
Why can’t local artists find success outside of Kansas City? Why isn’t there more local media support for our artists (not named Tech N9ne)? Why does our music always seem one — or a few — steps behind the sounds coming from other corners of the country? Why can’t we boost an artist (again, other than Tech N9ne) into the national limelight?
For decades there has been a nagging feeling of “not good enough” permeating KC hip-hop. But hope abounds. Spurred by the connective powers of technology and social media, a new age of hip-hop discovery — how it’s created, shared and consumed — has arrived.
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Artists no longer need to live in Los Angeles or New York to be found; your living room and a SoundCloud account will do just fine. They do not need to save thousands of dollars for a quality beat from a big-name producer; some of rap’s biggest hits are being crafted by teens in Mom’s basement. Rap today knows no rules or bounds: Any artist anywhere can become the next big thing quite literally overnight.
Earlier this year, The Star’s Ink Magazine found one such story.
Through an incredible instance of serendipity in which his song queued up in SoundCloud right after Kanye West’s “Real Friends/No More Parties in L.A,” Rory Fresco went from a local no-name artist to being heard by millions around the world in the span of a week.
This time last year he was mulling over community college and a job at Best Buy. Today, when he isn’t in a multimillion-dollar recording studio with super-producer Timbaland, shooting a music video in Los Angeles or inking deals with major music labels, he’s figuring out other ways to show just how much Kansas City has to offer the world of hip-hop.
But what if Rory isn’t the only one? Kansas City’s rap ecosystem is teeming with young, talented, hungry musicians. From gritty street rap and jazz-influenced hip-hop to hipster and R&B-fused rap, there are a slew of artists with distinctive styles, showcasing the potential of Kansas City’s latest and greatest wave of hip-hop.
This list could easily be longer, but we found seven artists who represent the incredible dexterity of our local rap scene — artists whose talent just might push our city to the forefront.
Asking why our city’s hip-hop — and the artists who create it — can’t be the next big thing is no longer pertinent.
The question has pivoted: Why not?