*Weezy voice* Nah, I fucks with OG. Sorry.
I may have got you here with some jokes or the psychopathic cover graphic or whatever-----plus the idea of putting this regionally-specific of a list together is rather ridiculous BUT...
This IS an actual, serious list of the best rappers from Richmond's West End according to me. And yes, I'm on the list.
I did try to use tangible streams/views/plays/buzz and consistent high level output as the criteria here. However, if you don't have any of those, but you have a wild amount of talent--- it just might win out. It's in first-to-last order because if you're familiar with this topic at all-- you KNOW who's number one and I want everybody else to sweat it out til the end to see if they made it. The list plays as a bit of a history lesson, but that's a good thing. Ya'll don't know enough about my side of town. So lets get it...
#1. OG Illa
If I can admit it, you can too. You may hate his “HLGN” lifestyle, his wiry frame and his pubey beard may even disturb you, but you can’t deny he’s done more for the West End than anyone. In my opinion, he’s not the best lyricist on this list, he doesn’t have the most street cred, he’s really kind of a piece of shit. But the fact remains, he’s outworked everyone and taken the swings the other guys wouldn’t. Along the way, he found his voice and is now in control of his own artistic destiny. He’s constantly created. He’s constantly put on and showed out —whether he was the promoter, the director, the host, but especially as the MC. His music constantly gets better and his relentlessness commands you to respect his game.
Yo, this man pays me nothing for this MSQ shit (I have to pay him per-minute on his wi-fi)— and trust me, I’m not like getting him to sign any t-shirts or anything—it’s just a fact— he has a real chance to be THE guy behind a Richmond rise and he's already the West End's GOAT.
Favorite Track: "Kareem"
I know he'll hate that this is what I picked... Good. #fUcKoGiLlA
Why he sucks:
He didn’t put you and I on his fucking list >:0
Also, he would be the kid in Ravenclaw wishing he was in Slytherin.
#2. Slim Kartel
This brother came off of a bid hungry. Since his emergence in the mid 2010’s he’s given us consistent bangers and been all over the scene, earning immediate respect and partnership from RVA OG’s like Noah O. With his raspy, deep voice and hustling philosophies, he’s given us one project after another to keep his name abuzz.
Stylistically, he can go from a Future-like hunter of melody to an old-school storyteller in the same song. His life experience bleeds through what he says and the sonic power of his vocal cords. With Sean Gotti serving as the Dame to Slim’s Jigga and the Kikkit/Flite Skool movement behind his huge sounding music, Slim Kartel has turned from late blooming to business booming in a hurry.
Favorite Track: "Guapanese" If you don't like this song, I don't like you.
Why he sucks:
He’s not as mean as you want him to be in real life. You’ll never meet a nicer guy with gold teeth.
The first artist who had a dream for the West End to unify and hold their heads high. I think his mic presence outshines his bars, but his bars are great— his personality is just THAT impactful. This guy has never been ashamed to be himself a day in his life. As the leader of the West End super-group, Suburban District he flexed his rapping muscles and as the founder of Slapdash Entertainment, he has thrown some of the most epic indie shows the city has ever seen, especially with his Epic Fest series (idc if that wordplay was corny).
While he’s a strong ass MC, he also comes in this high on the list cuz he’s been the Puffy figure for a lotta the rappers on this list injecting enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit into their movements. He’s been gone from the actual rapping scene for a minute, but his West End legacy is solidified. Don’t worry if he writes rhymes, he writes checks.
Favorite Track: "GRL" Featuring Dr. Millionaire and Koncept Jackson He has the third verse on this (4:00), but that's his steez. He's a team player.
Why he sucks:
He would be a perfect cast for a live adaptation of “The Busy World of Richard Scary.” He’d be whipping that apple car and still talking his shit like a little chihuahua. FR tho he sucks cuz we want more of him on the mic.
#4. EyeQ Shahid
He splits time between RVA and LA, but the prolific rapper actually hails from the Best End. This guy never quits working. Obviously one component of that is writing, recording, visuals, promo, and shows. But it also includes spreading love person to person in real life. EyeQ Shahid walks the earth in a way that most rappers don’t. He’s a special rapper. He’s a griot. Look up what that means.
He’s a longtime vet, but I think he’s really found himself now and he could climb this list and any other list any day cuz his attitude is ripe for it and so is his work ethic.
Favorite Track: "No More Probation"
Giving ya'll the live version because he's at his best in real time.
Why he sucks:
This man will put out another album before I listened to the last one. Also, he’s one of those people that will stumble onto an outside basketball run and be like “fuck it,” and hoop in jeans and brand new sneaks and be diving and doing wild shit fucking em' all up.
#5. The Uth
Chaz Edwards aka The Uth is someone who’s talent should have him higher on this list. A true triple threat— he makes dope beats, he can rap his ass off, and he can really sing. He also has a gang of other strong suits within the media game...he's not a renaissance-man, he's a renaissance, man!
He doesn’t rank lower because he’s too good to be any lower. He doesn’t rank higher because he only has one full solo project, “25”. This year’s forthcoming joint album with OG Illa “All Things Considered” should work wonders for The Uth claiming his rightful position.
Favorite Track: "Nikes"
My real favorite Uth joint is unreleased, so stay tuned.
Why he sucks:
Allows himself to give off major Patrick Star energy to OG Illa’s Spongebob.
Another member of the group, Suburban District—(Sidenote: I wanted to put their third member, Tim Porter on this list as well but it can’t just be all District guys and it seems like Tim’s pretty much moved on. Much love and respect to him though.) Man, Fair is nice as hell y’all. He’s got a delivery and an annunciation that’s unlike anyone else I’ve heard. I guess there’s shades of Mac Miller, but Fair tends to be more consistently serious content-wise. He has a couple great projects under his belt but his unreleased “Water Your Flowers” may be the belle of the ball.
I went to DC’s Broccoli City Festival in 2018 with Fair on business, and as we were checking in to the show that included megastars like Nipsey, Miguel, H.E.R, and Cardi B-- a random security guard (complete stranger) recognized Fair, told him how much his music meant to him and said he couldn’t wait for more. Fair got this kind of love with no project out at the time! That means you’re doing something right artistically.
Favorite Track: "Nothing is Clear"
My favorite Fair song is actually "Work of Art" from his "Child of God" album, but like he mentions in this (fucking awesome) video, Fair is anti-social and honestly pretty hard to find these days--- and that includes his content. But it exists, I promise.
Why he sucks:
He’s really kept that security guard waiting.
Also, pretty sure he does intricate henna tattoos on himself and pretends to be Caskey in the mirror.
A humble dude who’s been ripping mics since like Y2K. He quietly pieced together one of the true Hip-Hop classics to come out of the West, “Richmond City Blues.” This album is as well thought-out and executed as indie rap gets. Just like his personality, his flow is even-keeled yet soulful. Does he have another great project in him? I’m definitely rooting for it.
Favorite Track: "Ricmond City Blues"
Shout out to the Lockjaw crew. Ya'll should do a reunion song. Why not?
Why he sucks:
Bro is like SUPER lowkey like I’m not entirely sure he isn’t a figment of my imagination. But mad other dudes on this list acknowledge his dopeness so nobody needs to have me admitted to the psych ward… yet.
IYKYK-- and let’s be honest, if he had even ONE cohesive project as an adult rather than a bunch of loosies and some (sub)urban legends about his cyphers, he’d be way higher on the list. Maybe he would have even made OG Illas "List of 20 Best Rappers From VA to Ever Live" (that’s what it was called, right?). Often credited with injecting "the truth" into the West End Hip-Hop scene, Kirbs was unapologetically himself (the opposite of "street") from the jump as a 14 year old man-child, and that inspired many people on this list to drop any facade they may have carried into their art and make more honest, better music. He went from an in-your-face rather laughable teenager constantly dropping with his “Suburban Superstar” mixtape series, to mastering the craft and garnering a sizable buzz as a “college rapper, ” to becoming an overly serious, jaded full-time dad, and enigmatic super-spitter who’s still vast (but fading) “potential” looms over the city. Clock's ticking on Kirbs; but he's got the chops to deliver the classic long-expected from him.
Favorite Track: "ABC's of Revolution"
This is not my favorite Kirbs song but its the only music video he has. ("Victory Lap" coming soon!) Its certainly not a bad example of his lyrical mastery, though. This shit is alphabetical and makes grammatical sense. Impressive.
Why he sucks:
How much time do you have? He looks like a cop. Plus he's the undisputed Uncle Rico of Rap-- he "coulda/woulda/shoulda been" the white Kendrick meets Cole. But he’s not, and he’s getting old. So put up or STFU, Kirbs.
#9. Thrasher Teezy
An OG link between skateboarding and Hip-Hop even before Lupe and Wayne made it cool. Teezy is a better freestyler than studio artist in my opinion, but no matter how you slice it— he’s dope. The 5 elements of Hip-Hop are rapping, DJ'ing, beatboxing, tagging, and breaking. I feel like I've seen this brother do all 5 AND he’s a videographer/photographer AND he’ll bust a fuckin ollie kickflip heelspin double narco grind pop shove-it on your mama’s mama’s block.
Favorite Track: "Rain Check"
Shout-out Jordan Gonzalez. One of the best music video directors in the 804.
Why he sucks:
Like I said he’s gotta lotta hustles, but why tf is this man permanently sweaty?
#10. The Jemini
The Jemini grinds like crazy in the studio and on the internet. He’s released a fuck-ton of stuff in the last couple years and he hustled hard for the streams. He’s “Got a Family to Feed” (Shout-out all the dads/family-men on this list) and he clocks in at a tough 9-5, but we want more of The Jemini outside. It’s time to showcase the catalogue.
Favorite Track: "Family to Feed"
Not a lot of visuals, but his Spotify is popping.
Why he sucks:
He’s been on that quarantine life since like 2017.
Corb the Don
Where is he really from?? He went to Freeman and he is nice-nice but does anyone think of him as a "West End rapper"? LMK. Dude has plenty of sick music and all the tools to be worldwide… he’s just not “local” enough for this list.
A1 is one of my day 1's…he definitely grinds, he's got sauce to-go, he has some hot tracks and a stable of affiliated artists, but is he a rapper, really?
Once prolific as part of Octavion Xcellence's SDP clique, now seems over the bullshit.
R.I.P -- He's not dead, but Mark Fortin is a ghost on the scene he helped birth. He has more enemies than friends, but no matter where you stand (stood?) on him, his talent is literally the stuff of urban myth. He's the ultimate "could have been" in the West End. I'm not giving y'all any "why he sucks" on Dutch because I'm legit scared to. (I'm kidding- kind of... Mark, if you're reading this: Getting to know you as a friend and soak up the positive life-wisdom and passion you have for Hip-Hop has been one of the most rewarding/interesting experiences of my life. You will always be an influence on my shit.) Dutch's legal troubles and struggle with mental health have made a comeback unlikely; but his (tragic) legend lives on.
Sharko (off the Crown Royal...lol)
Sharko going crazy on the beats! One of the lowest-key heroes of the scene: he's a beatsmith mainly--- getting placement on tons of indie artist releases all over the country, but especially in Richmond. He gets an honorable mention on this list for his infamous "Shark Tank Sessions" where more or less every single person on this list was invited damn near every weekend for 2 years straight to cook-up alongside him while this family man cooked-out. About 6 shots of Crown in, he morphs into an MC something between Pimp C and Uzi Vert. But that's honestly not why he's here. He literally fed the whole scene hamburgers and shit, but he also fed them all the opportunity to link as men and artists. Its paying dividends now as the West is on the rise.
There is no female representation on this list. I have no real explanation.
Other than that, I'm sorry I'm not sorry. If you feel that you or someone else (especially the new-school cats) have been left off this list....
I'd prefer you not reach out to me personally, but I guess that is an option. You DEF should hit us up at The MSQ Shop (@themsqshop) so either we can become more aware of your movement and/or we can help others become more aware of your movement.
by: Zach Kirby