Just two years ago, a then 20-year-old Monaleo dropped summer hit “Beating Down Yo Block” with transcendent lyrics “Is you stupid / Or is you dumb / Pick a side,” that quickly became the tagline of several Instagram captions and Twitter subs — and the world hasn’t recovered since. The hard-hitting lyricist’s juxtaposed Southern charm is what sets her apart from the rest and ultimately garnered her the cult following she has to date. Monaleo’s innate ability to authentically share her journey of overcoming adversity, heartbreak, and everything in between, resonated with industry heavyweights and her peers.
It ultimately served as the catalyst to fellow rapstress Flo Milli jumping on Monaleo’s “We Not Humping” giving us a remix we didn’t know we needed but definitely welcomed. Following the success of the remixed hit, the duo took their act to the road, marking the first headlining tour for both artists. The “We Not Humping” Tour proved the staying power of Monaleo and gave the world a glimpse at her forthcoming pièce de résistance: her debut album. Released just last month Where The Flowers Don’t Die has taken over the airwaves and showcased the duality and blossoming of the Houston-born artist.
Bktherula is a wild card that we didn’t know rap needed. The Atlanta-born artist is bringing in a new experimental sound to the age-old genre, creating her very own version of alternative Hip Hop. Fresh off the release of her latest project, LVL5, this body of work is one that has given us a glimpse into the future of what Hip Hop could be, furthermore giving the rising rapper the momentum she needs to continue her climb to the top.
Bk taps into uncharted realms with her candid lyricism and abstract beats that make any crowd want to jump along with her. And if you’ve paid any attention to her trajectory, just as she did on her track title “We Made It” featuring Rico Nasty, it’s safe to say Bktherula has made it. And she did it all on her own terms.
Hailing from North Carolina, TiaCorine is not new to a viral hit. While “FreakyT” might’ve been the way many of us were introduced to the rapper-singer, she’s been giving us hits since 2018 with tracks like “Lotto.” And coincidently, TiaCorine found herself performing alongside rapper Latto for Coachella this past year. The burgeoning rapstress’ sound is an amalgamation of rap, punk rock, and a newer rap genre rage rap.
Her bubbly animated voice rising and falling in her songs are due to her love of anime, and the contrast that she can flip at any point is nothing short of impressive. Tia’s Afro-futuristic sound on I Can’t Wait was long-awaited and well-received with hints of R&B and punk rock that makes all her crowds post-tour still feel an electric energy.
Connie Diiamond has remained Hip Hop’s best kept secret for almost a decade, but now she’s ready to step out from behind the curtain and take her place in the spotlight. Having grown up in The Bronx, Diiamond’s sound is full of grit and trap influences. Through early projects like Trap Elliot and Trappin For The 99&2000, Diiamond developed and honed a distinct sound paying homage to her roots in every breath and bar, solidifying her place as a hometown favorite. This past year the burgeoning Bronx-native not only had her breakthrough but she shattered the glass ceiling that kept her confined to NYC’s underground realm of Hip Hop with the release of single “Move”.
Sampling the 2001 anthem “Move Bitch” by rap legend Ludacris, Diiamond’s take on the 00s classic quickly became a viral hit catching the attention of Ludacris and furthermore the world. “Move” was shared by Lebron James via Instagram which only fed the frenzy putting Diiamond front and center on the global stage. “Move” was just just a taste of what the rapper was capable of, leaving the world hungry for more. And she delivered her new album Underdog Szn to satisfy our cravings. Diiamond’s raspy and strong voice comes through a myriad of beats ranging from drill and classic Hip Hop offering something appetizing for every type of rap connoisseur. This new body of work is Diiamond at her finest, it represents a culmination of years of self-discovery, trial & error, and most importantly it represents triumph.
Lakeyah’s rise to prominence is not a story to overlook. Her innate ability to riff and rhyme landed her on XXL’s freshman class, which is notoriously no easy feat for female rappers. That’s the thing about Lakeyah, she’ll always harness what others deem as a weakness and make it into her superpower.
Whether it’s using her Milwaukee small-town charm to get her way, or taking that feminine edge to cut through this male-dominated genre, lyric by lyric — she’s someone you want to bet on. But don’t worry, if you don’t, Lakeyah will always bet on herself.
Standing at just 4”9’, Lola Brooke has a rap prowess that’s reminiscent of her hometown in the ’90s. Her deep, gritty voice in contrast to her stature makes her a compelling performer. After quitting a dead-end job in 2017, rapping became the Brooklynite’s life and soon after her hit single “Don’t Play With It” was booming at every block party, club, and TikTok video imaginable.
Brooke recently found herself on tour with fellow NYC rapper A Boogie Wit A Hoodie, after a handful of rap icons co-signed her classic yet new wave artistry. With several accolades under her belt, it’s only a matter of time before her debut album has all of Brooklyn in a prideful trance.
At just 20 years old, Young Deyvn has done something that we haven’t seen in rap for a while, she’s putting her culture into it. The Brooklyn-born rapper is of Trinidadian descent and has leveraged the island’s love of soca, infusing it into her own version of drill. Very few can say they started their career before hitting double digits, but Devyn became an international sensation at only eight traveling and performing across the Caribbean.
Since then, she’s become only more dedicated to her craft, perfecting her sound over her formative years. Baby Goat 2 her second EP consisted of eight tracks featuring her signature hard-hitting beats and Devyn doing exactly what she does best: speaking her mind and giving herself her own flowers — as she should!
Photography Eric Johnson
Fashion Matthew Mazur
Makeup (Lakeyah, Young Devyn, Bktherula, Monaleo, TiaCorine, Connie) Mollie Gloss (Opus Beauty)
Makeup (Lola) Khadidra Mclarty
Hair (Young Devyn, Bktherula, Monaleo, Lola, Connie) The Chaise Way (Factory Downtown) and Tez Galliano
Hair (Lakeyah) Francisco Maymi
Hair (TiaCorine) Kyra C.Jones aka The Hairshrink
Wig installation (TiaCorine) Ashley Jones for Yummy extensions
Manicure Karen Jimenez (Opus Beauty)
Visual Collaborator Robert Escalera
Set design Jennifer Correa
Photo assistant Malcom Sales
Stylist assistants Nia Shambourger, Adriana Espinal Makeup assistant Tess Garvey
Hair assistant Shanice Watkins
Manicure assistant Danny Tavarez
Set design assistant Johnny Saczko
Production assistant Domenic Nadal
Retouching One Hundred Berlin