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The 25 best rappers under 25

From Jesswar to Brockhampton, Stormzy to Baker Boy, these are the best young rappers in the game.
By Yu-Cheng Lin, Elliott Sharp & Lachlan Kanoniuk
12 min readPublished on
[This article has been adapted from a previous 25 under 25 list].
Every week, the Internet tells us about at least three young, new rappers we need to pay attention to. The buzz never stops, so it's difficult to push pause and take an assessment of what's what. With this list of the 25 Best Rappers Under 25, we have tried to do that.
Some of the rappers here have released chart-topping albums on major labels, some have self-released one mixtape. Some have headlined big tours and are making headlines, some are still building names for themselves on their local scenes and preparing to break out. Some aren't even rappers, but rap groups, and we are fully aware that this means we have cheated.
Whether risen or rising, these rappers deserve your attention. It is the right combination of skill, originality, personality and marketing power that separates these rappers from the rest and makes them the 25 best rappers under 25.


City: Brisbane
Why She's Important: On her single Savage, Jesswar doesn't pull a single punch as she lands with meteoric impact on each and every bar. The hook is infectious, stunting with composure that would make seasoned rap veterans envious. She's already landed choice support slots, also making waves on this year's Laneway Festival lineup.
Essential Listening: Get hooked on Savage, and you're gonna want to spin it on repeat.
WATCH: Jesswar - Savage

Baker Boy

City: Melbourne via Milingimbi and Maningrida
Why He's Important: With just two studio tracks out in the world - the debut Cloud 9 and follow-up Marryuna - it might make sense to curb any hyperbole when it comes to Baker Boy. That goes out the window once you've witnessed him in action. His sets, which include support work for 50 Cent and Dizzee Rascal, and a prime-time Golden Plains set which he dutifully crushed, are a showcase of ridiculous talent. While his rap talent is known on record, his live sets are a blitz of tightly spun bars, incredible dance moves, and the occasional Yidaki (didgeridoo) freestyle.
Essential Listening: Get around both Cloud 9 and Marryana, if you haven't already.
WATCH: Baker Boy feat Yirrmal - Marryuna
This December, Baker Boy will bring his powerful performance skills to Red Bull Music Motel, a very special live music getaway. From the comfort of your home, Red Bull Music Motel will give you a front-row seat to performances from Baker Boy as well as Tkay Maidza and G Flip. It all streams live from 6pm on Saturday December 5, hosted by Linda Marigliano and The Inspired Unemployed.

Lil Yachty

City: Atlanta
Why He's Important: The irrepressible ATL rapper made his studio album debut last year with the eagerly anticipated Teenage Emotions, which was followed up this year with Lil Boat 2, the sequel to his 2016 mixtape. That album sports features from Ugly God, a resurgent 2 Chainz, and Migos's Offset and Quavo.
Essential Listening: The feel-good collab with Stefflon Don, Better.
WATCH: Lil Yachty feat. Stefflon Don - Better

SOB x RBE (Yhung T.O., DaBoii, Slimmy B, Lul G)

City: Vallejo
Why They're Important: Is this the most exciting rap crew since Odd Future? All signs point to yes. So we're clear from the outset, SOB stands for Strictly Only Brothers, RBE stands for Real Boi Entertainment. Chances are you've came across Paramedic!, their contribution to the Black Panther OST, and it's well worth diving in on their self-titled record of last year, and this year's Gangin'.
Essential Listening: Carpoolin' moves at breakneck pace, a perfect opening to latest record Gangin'.
WATCH: SOB x RBE - Carpoolin'

Miss Blanks

City: Brisbane
Why She's Important: If you haven't witnessed Brisbane rapper Miss Blanks live in action yet, it could be your own fault. She's ruled clubs across Australia, not to mention show-stopping appearances at Meredith and Laneway Festivals. World class down 'n' dirty hip-hop, direct from Brisbane.
Essential Listening: Clap Clap is a resounding mission statement anthem.
WATCH: Miss Blanks - Clap Clap

Lil Uzi Vert

City: Philadelphia
Why He's Important: The 16 tracks (20 tracks on the deluxe edition) on 2017's Luv Is Rage 2 consolidate Lil Uzi Vert's star credentials, packed with hits that lay bare a rich emotion. His live shows, including his recent Australian tour, receive a reaction that you'd expect from rockstars at their peak. Not to mention he's responsible for what may endure as a generation's definitive track (see below).
Essential Listening: Can't go past XO Tour Llif3.
WATCH: Lil Uzi Vert - XO Tour Llif3.

Tkay Maidza

Adelaide rapper Tkay Maidza

Tkay Maidza

© Tkay Maidza

City: Adelaide
Why She's Important: While rap and hip-hop are inextricably linked, Tkay Maidza has burst onto the scene riding her own wave of bars over traditionally dance-oriented beats. The result has consistently been an energy source that could power a whole state, from debut track Brontosaurus, through to collaborations with some of the hottest producers from across the globe. Tkay recently got the call-up to replace Young Thug on the inaugural Sydney City Limits lineup. Incredibly accomplished beyond her years.
You can catch her live at Red Bull Music Motel 2020
“I wanted to be a role model through music and show them that there is opportunity out there, you can do what you want. All you need is support and have a role model [that can] help you get back to your culture. A lot of people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids, get lost in finding themselves and forget who they are and what they want to do in life. They forget all these things and jump off-track. You just need someone to be on their side and keep them stable and get them on the right track and keep pushing them.”
Essential Listening: Simulation, from the album TKAY, should have been a chart-topper with its on-point dancehall influence.
LISTEN: Tkay Maidza - Simulation

Loyle Carner

City: London
Why He's Important: More in line with the grounded lyricism of Mike Skinner than his country's premier rap subgenre (grime), Loyle Carner mixes soulful production with a sense of cold atmosphere. It all adds up to something potent and powerful on debut album Yesterday's Gone.
Essential Listening: An end to end session of Yesterday's Gone is the way to go.
WATCH: Loyle Carner feat. Rebel Kleff - NO CD


City: Melbourne
Why She's Important: It feels strange including rising artist Kaiit on a list of rappers, because her rap talent is just one aspect of her repertoire. Through two tracks, debut Natural Woman and 2000 N Somethin', Kaiit has shown unlimited potential. Speaking to about whether she prefers rapping or singing, Kaiit wittily replied, 'Singing fast'. Stay tuned for a debut EP sometime this year.
Essential Listening: Natural Woman is pure bliss in music form.
WATCH: Kaiit - Natural Woman

Manu Crook$

City: Sydney
Why He's Important: Listening to the track Blowin' Up for the first time involves two reactions: "Who is THIS?" and shortly thereafter, "This track is out of SYDNEY!?". That's not to disrespect the quality of hip-hop coming out of Australia, but Blowin' Up is on par with most releases put forth by top-tier US rappers, let alone rising acts.
Essential Listening: Blowin' Up did what it said on the tin.
WATCH: Manu Crook$ feat. Miracle - Blowin' Up


City: Chicago
Why She's Important: To say salacious MC CupcakKe has been making waves of late is an understatement. Recently, her videos have been flagged as a bit too full-on for YouTube. One thing's for certain, CupcakKe is a force to be reckoned with. The album Ephorize is a jaw-dropping statement loaded with empowerment.
Essential Listening: Duck Duck Goose is ridiculous, and ridiculously good.
LISTEN: CupcakKe - Duck Duck Goose

Playboi Carti

City: Atlanta
Why He's Important: Collaborator with likeminded rapper Lil Uzi Vert and protégé of A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti has a bona fide hit under his belt with Magnolia, taken from his self-titled record of last year. One of the figures helping push cloud rap into the mainstream. Turned-up introspection.
Essential Listening: The link-up with Lil Uzi Vert, wokeuplikethis*.
WATCH: Playboi Carti feat Lil Uzi Vert - wokeuplikethis*

Rich Brian

City: Jakarta
Why He's Important: Dropping his Rich Chigga moniker and jettisoning the reckless comedy of his internet persona, Rich Brian completed his journey into – dare we say – maturity on his debut album of this year Amen. It made a case for his standing as a genuine rap contender.
Essential Listening: The Amen cut Cold is a standout.
WATCH: Rich Brian - Cold

Kevin Abstract (Brockhampton)

City: San Marcos, Texas
Why He's Important: You know what we said up there about SOB x RBE being the most exciting rap collective since Odd Future? Guessing a few of you immediately thought "WELL WHAT ABOUT BROCKHAMPTON?" And well, you're right. The group have been a sensation, playing up their 'internet boy band' factor while releasing three high quality mixtapes in the Saturation series. Member Kevin Abstract leads the charge, also with his own solo releases.
Essential Listening: While Abstract just features on the bridge, BLEACH is one of the many standouts from Saturation III.
LISTEN: Brockhampton - BLEACH


City: Sacramento
Why She's Important: With a Tony Montana grab on the forefront of Focus, Saweetie follows in a long line of rappers worshipping the ambition of Scarface. Impeccable flow delivers on that ambition, as evidenced on debut album of this year High Maintenance. You're doing great Saweetie.
Essential Listening: Saweetie never shies away from the forefront on ICY GRL.
WATCH: Saweetie - ICY GRL


City: Wellington
Why He's Important: Dropping the 'Young' prefix is just foresight, the Kiwi rapper is still very much on the young side of things. This year, he's venture out from Aotearoa to New York to strike gold Stateside. From what he's shown so far, there's no reason he won't be successful.
Essential Listening: Breakthrough track Killa still holds up as a massive tune.
LISTEN: Young Tapz - Killa


City: London
Why He's Important: It really goes without saying, doesn't it? Still under 25 years of age, Stormzy has established himself as one of grime's all-time greats. He's broken down genre barriers, hopping on a remix of his mate Ed Sheeran's unstoppable Shape Of You. Stormzy's album of last year Gang Signs & Prayer is a modern classic.
Essential Listening: Big For Your Boots is biblical in scope.
WATCH: Stormzy - Big For Your Boots

Joey Bada$$

City: New York
Why He's Important: Joey Bada$$ is the founder of rap collective Pro Era, has been hailed as the heir to Nas and has worked with everyone from Pete Rock and Q-Tip to MF DOOM and DJ Premier to Mac Miller and A$AP Rocky.
Essential Listening: Big Dusty from B4.DA.$$, his debut studio album on Relentless/Cinematic Music Group.
Additional Listening: A Pro Era playlist Joey Bada$$, Statik Selektah and Kirk Knight made for Red Bull Music Academy Radio.
WATCH: Joey Bada$$ - Big Dusty

Chance The Rapper

City: Chicago
Why He’s Important: Red Bull Sound Select artist Chance The Rapper — pick up a copy of the latest Fader and see him on the cover — broke through with his powerful Acid Rap mixtape, which topped most year-end lists in 2013. He has since toured the world, played big festivals, including Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and had features on songs by a wide range of artists, from electronic musician James Blake to rapper Childish Gambino, to Madonna. His third mixtape, Coloring Book, resulted in an ascendency to genuine stardom.
Essential Listening: It's worth revisiting every single song on Acid Rap, seriously.
WATCH: Chance The Rapper - Everybody's Something

Rae Sremmurd (Swae Lee, Slim Jxmmi)

City: Atlanta
Why They’re Important: Extremely cute brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi dropped No Flex Zone, and it was inescapable, simple and brilliant (and remixed by Nicki Minaj and Pusha T). After that came the somehow even better No Type single and the excellent SremmLife album, featuring production work by Mike Will Made It and guest appearances by Minaj, Two-9, Young Thug and Big Sean. Then came the viral smash Black Beatles. Now the duo are set to embark on respective solo careers alongside their work as Rae Sremmurd (which, confusingly enough, has resulted in both being respectively credited as feature artists on latest single Powerglide.
Essential Listening: SremmLife, each and every song.
WATCH: Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee, Slim Jxmmi feat. Juicy J - No Type

Ratking (Wiki)

City: New York
Why He's Important: Harlem-born rap outfit Ratking — rapper Wiki and producer Sporting Life (rapper Hak departed the group in 2016) — dropped a dirty, angry and weird album So It Goes in 2014 and have shared stages with Earl Sweatshirt, Run The Jewels and Death Grips. While Ratking are continuing as a duo, Wiki also has carved a path as a solo MC.
Essential Listening: Canal, a furious tune from So It Goes, about hanging off skyscrapers, decaying minds and a city about to explode.
Additional Listening: A playlist Ratking made for Red Bull Music Academy Radio featuring tracks by Panda Bear, ILoveMakonnen, Beanie Sigel and more.
WATCH: Wiki - Pretty Bull

Vince Staples

City: Los Angeles
Why He's Important: The always clever Vince Staples was all over Earl Sweatshirt's Doris, and among his numerous stellar mixtapes is a collaborative project with tour partner Mac Miller called "Stolen Youth." His 2017 album Big Fish Theory pushed genre boundaries, building his collaborative rapport with producer Flume.
Essential Listening: Big Fish, the title(-ish) track from his album of last year.

Yung Lean

City: Stockholm
Why He's Important: Upon his near-viral emergence, there was a risk that Yung Lean and his Sad Boys crew could be relegated to mere fad. Instead, Yung Lean has gone on to establish himself as one of the most influential rappers globally in recent years. His passionate fanbase resides all over the world, building a cult following with mainstream implications.
Essential Listening: Stranger, the Swedish rapper's third full-length LP.
WATCH: Yung Lean - Red Bottom Sky

Earl Sweatshirt

City: Los Angeles
Why He's Important: Earl Sweatshirt, who became hip-hop royalty and the subject of one of those long articles in The New Yorker before he turned 18, is undoubtedly the most creative, sophisticated and talented rapper from the now kinda-disbanded Odd Future crew.
Essential Listening: Chum, the strongest track on Doris, in part because Earl spits twisty, introspective tales on his own.
WATCH: Earl Sweatshirt - Chum


City: Chicago
Why She's Important: Tink has collaborated with Timbaland, Future Brown (Fatima Al Qadiri, Nguzunguzu's Asma Maroof & Daniel Pineda, Lit City Trax's J-Cush), Sasha Go Hard and Sleigh Bells. She also has released a few mixtapes that showcase her ability to both rap and sing incredibly well.
Essential Listening: Winter's Diary 2 is killer, but her track with Future Brown called Room 302 is downright exquisite.
WATCH: Tink - "Around The Clock"