Is Florida the strongest region in hip-hop history? Draft your own team in our new Bracket Competition!
The following is the fifth installment of a new series, The Hip-Hop Olympics Bracket. Throughout the next several weeks, we will be examining several of hip-hop’s most prominent locales. Historical context, musical aesthetic, key players, and prominent themes will be analyzed. Once the series is complete, there will be a vote to decide which region reigns supreme.
We need your involvement for this one. In order to find a winner, we invite our readers to weigh in with their ideal roster for each region: six players, two producers, and two coaches. The comments will be tallied, and once the final vote comes to pass, fan-voted teams will be pitted against one another in order to crown a single champion. We've already covered California, New York, Toronto, and Atlanta.
For this week’s installment, we shall be examining Florida.
VOTE FOR YOUR IDEAL TEAM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
Players: Your rappers. The ones you know will murder a track. Maybe it's flow, maybe it's lyrics, maybe it's straight up charisma.
Coaches: Now that you've picked your rappers, you need somebody to keep them in line. To oversee the whole thing. You gotta make sure you've got some OGs holding it down.
Producers: You've got your lineup, but who is going to bless them with the beat?
Week Five: Florida
Throughout the course of hip-hop history, many regions have stood out as hotbeds, giving us the most prolific rappers of our time. New York, California, Chicago, and Atlanta have each made a significant impact. The first thing that comes to one's mind when they think of Florida is likely the heat. Dubbed the Sunshine State, Floridians pride themselves on their beautiful weather for much of the year. With Miami as one of the most popular cities in the United States, plenty of people are clamoring to enjoy some of that famous South Beach nightlife. Just ask LeBron James...
However, one thing that may not be your first thought when it comes to Florida is its extensive hip-hop history. Sure, rappers love to namedrop Miami hotspots like King of Diamonds in their songs, but the state is not particularly known for birthing the most famous rap artists of any generation. With the breakout of a flurry of stars from Florida, the good news is that it could be recognized as one of the hottest playing grounds for hip-hop in the near future. This week, we examine Florida's strengths in our growing Olympics bracket.
There is no doubt that musicians coming out of Florida are proud of where they're from. Just listen to any Pitbull song on the radio if you're unsure of that. With a growing scene of young stars breaking into the mainstream, there are definitely some OG's to consider. Trina, Gunplay and Trick Daddy initially shoot to mind. Of course, Rick Ross and DJ Khaled are two of the most prominent faces out of the state. Embracing Miami as his own, Khaled has come be a major face in terms of production and behind-the-scenes work.Piecing together artists from all over to create the hottest mixes, Khaled has been grinding for over a decade, having worked with a who's who of Floridians, including Rozay.
With his album Port of Miami, Rick Ross pioneered a sound that many Miami natives would soon follow. The album that introduced the hit "Hustlin'" to the world was a game-changer in Florida, inspiring many to pick up the mic for themselves to follow in his footsteps. And there was a lot to follow. As he still regularly crafts bangers, one of the most notable lovesongs devoted to the state is the Maybach Music frontman's collaboration with Kodak Black and T-Pain, "Florida Boy," which leads us to our next topic: the rise of SoundCloud rap from Florida.
Florida is the home of "SoundCloud Rap." While it may sound like a bold statement, consider all the players that have contributed to the phenomenon. A controversial term? Sure, but Miami and its surrounding areas have embraced the music platform and have used it to its full potential. The aforementioned Kodak Black broke out just before SoundCloud rap was the wonder it is today but he should still be mentioned as a contributing factor. After all, mumble rap and "SoundCloud Rap" go hand in hand. Wrapped up in controversy like a few of the artists we will speak about later on (I'm looking at you, X,) Kodak has quickly made a name for himself in the game. Repping Pompano Beach to the fullest, all of Florida has embraced him as their Project Baby, rocking with him from the jump. While he is slightly above SoundCloud rap after his naming to the 2016 XXL Freshman class, so many other contributors to the phenomenon hail from Florida.
Influenced from the sounds of 90's rap out of Memphis and Houston, the lo-fi sound embraced by the SoundCloud revolution likely descended from SpaceGhostPurrp and his Raider Klan collective. Once a member of the Klan, Denzel Curry has become a major part of Florida's scene and, while Purrp has remained relatively underground, he is a major part of the lo-fi movement taking off. For over a decade, Raider Klan has been making noise in Carol City with records featuring the same distorted bass, intentionally choppy sounds that we hear throughout Lil Pump and Ski Mask the Slump God's records today. While Pump and Smokepurpp did not originate from SpaceGhostPurrp's Klan, they have taken the popularization of such a sound and brought it to new heights.
Often seen as the source of the entire SoundCloud experience, Smokepurpp is viewed as an inspiration by many who attempt to use the medium to come up. Cited by fellow Floridian Lil Pump as his best friend and influence, the two have taken the world by storm. While Smokepurpp took more time to become as popular as his friend in the mainstream, his collaborative project with Murda Beatz helped to bring his career to new heights. And do we even need to mention "Gucci Gang?" Lil Pump is currently in charge of the new school and his connections to the Sunshine State run deep. At only 17-years-old, he has the potential to continue growing his clout and usher in a new generation of Florida rap.
Initially as part of the Members Only and Very Rare collectives, XXXTentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God had a similar friendship and, as their on-again-off-again friendship is currently in a positive state after their joint performance at Miami's Rolling Loud, the duo has a similar amount of influence. With two extremely successful albums in his name, X is one of the hottest rappers out today and, while his career has been shrouded in controversy, he and Ski deserve all the recognition they've gotten.
Speaking of Rolling Loud, Miami is home to the biggest hip-hop festival in the world. As Coachella holds the title of the most popular music festival worldwide, rap-specific events don't come much larger than Tariq Cherif and Matt Zingler's annual party in Florida. Now expanding across the States, Miami will always be home to RL, a huge accomplishment in the come-up of the state's scene. The organizers always make sure to show out for their hometown crowd, bringing out members of the growing scene with Pouya, Fat Nick, Wifisfuneral, Robb Bank$ and others making regular showings at the festival.
Of course, this wouldn't be a piece about the influence of Florida's rap scene if we didn't mention Cool & Dre. Hailing from North Miami, the duo of producers have worked with some of the greatest in the game, garnering 2 Grammy awards for their contributions to music. Their work with DJ Khaled and Rick Ross is notable and they're still influencing the sound of Florida rap to this day.
With too many names to mention, Florida's sound is extremely influential. Celebrating hip-hop culture, Florida legends and newcomers alike are shaping the game for their state to be mentioned in future conversation. While it may not be the hotbed they aspire to be, the Sunshine State is getting there and it could very well be one of the strongest regions in terms of the new generation's sound. Mixing the signature styles of Ace Hood and Renzel with mumblers Kodak Black and Purpp, Florida has it all. But don't just take my word for it. Chime in in the comments and let us know your roster.
Once again, don't forget to vote for your roster.