Adrift Da Belle, aka DrifteeListen to "More"
Age: "Old enough to know better and young enough to get away with it."
Hometown: Newark, N.J.
Projects: Garden State Parkway LP available now. DNA EP (produced by D.R.U.G.S.) drops in July.
Born in Savannah and raised in Brick City, Adrift isn't afraid to beast out on the mic. After flirting with Def Jam and 50 Cent's G-Unit, she moved to Atlanta where she quickly garnered the attention of Dungeon Family production unit Organized Noize. A 'round-the-way realist with a grimey flow, she hasn't written off the mainstream yet. But whatever happens will happen on her own terms. adriftdabelle.bandcamp.com.
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Projects: BrownStudy LP with producer Apollo Brown available now. BrownStudy remixes drop late summer 2011.
The tell-tale sign of an elevated MC is the ability to make those around her better. Ever since arriving from Detroit a few years ago and immersing herself in the local indie scene, Boog Brown's caused an undeniable ripple effect. Her 2010 full-length, Brown Study, had the blogosphere on lock, showcasing her self-assured candor and lyrical depth. And that was just her debut LP. myspace.com/bbrownfbgm.
Hometown: Atlanta by way of Youngstown, Ohio
Projects: Ancient Immortals mixtape available now
Khalilah Ali will be the first to tell you she's experienced one heck of an artistic evolution over the past two decades. After pursuing rap stardom alongside such renowned cliques as Def Squad (Erick Sermon, Redman, Keith Murray), she eventually found a home among Atlanta's conscious hip-hop set. But since dropping her DJ Applejac-assisted mixtape this month, the MC and English professor has announced her plan to retire from rap this year in order to concentrate on her "teacher-scholar-activist" self. Hopefully, it's just the old Jay-Z head fake. khalilahalimusic.com.
Lyric JonesListen to "Trapped in the City Lights"
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
Projects: Jones St. drops Sept. 23
A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Lyric Jones has a ambidextrous flow that's part soul singer, part 16-bar spitter. As one of the youngest MC's within the scene, she's making a name for herself with earnest lyrics and pure seduction. Her refreshing voice gives hope for the next generation's redemption. lyricjones.com.
Sa-RocListen to "I Am the I Am"
Age: Not given
Hometown: Washtington, D.C.
Status/Steelo: Journey of the Starseed LP available now. Ether Wars LP drops in 2011.
With a voice deeper than the Nile and a metaphysical flow from eons ago, former CL Best of Atlanta winner Sa-Roc might be from an alternate universe, but she's no stereotypical ATLien. When she rhymes of stars and quasars, it's not for mere aesthetics; there's supernatural healing in her lyrical content. Hard to believe she's only been rapping for three years. sarocthemc.com.
StaHHrListen to Astronote feat. staHHr "Book of Life"
Age: "Product of the golden era of hip-hop"
Hometown: Atlanta by way of Memphis, Tenn.
Project: Mother Ntr With a Molotov coming soon
Before "femcee" became a watered-down term used to describe any female MC with a relatively alternative agenda, StaHHr was the original. A veteran of Atlanta's underground hip-hop scene dating back to the '90s, she dropped "tha F.E.M.C.E.E." (Feminine Energy Mastering Creativity to Elevate Eternal) from her name in 2008, just before the word went mainstream. She's freestyled in ciphers with the legendary KRS-One and appeared on albums by MF Doom, but her latest single, "Unbreakable," signals the best is yet to come. stahhr.com.