Five Up and Coming Atlanta Rappers to Watch for in 2018

Five Up and Coming ATL Rappers to Watch for in 2018

Lil Baby

After his debut mixtape Perfect Timing gained little attention in the Atlanta Scene, despite its numerous standout features (Young Thug, Lil Yachty and Young Scooter), Baby followed his tape with the DJ Drama hosted Harder Than Hard - the mixtape that birthed an undeniably, infectious breakout hit “My Dawg” (which recently got the All-Star remix treatment featuring Quavo, Moneybagg Yo and Kodak Black). His most recent release Too Hard features the outstanding intro track “To The Top” that chronicles his journey from sitting in prison a year ago (“last year I was sitting in the cage”) to his ascension to fame (“I’m getting paid ain’t been in town in days”). Baby’s song “Freestyle” has also been a hit and has racked up almost five million plays in a month. Overall, he reminds me a lot of Rich Homie Quan who had a hell of a run a couple years ago. Right now, Lil Baby is really heating up in Atlanta and I could easily see him doing the same across the U.S.


The Atlanta duo, composed of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, officially announced signing to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records in August of 2017. However, prior to this announcement, the group had already been on an impressive run of their own. Their 2015 album Stray’s With Rabies, a very strong project in its own right, has been followed up with two EP’s in 2017 (Rags and Robots). The Rags EP features one of their standout records “Meditate” featuring fellow Dreamville artist J.I.D. This track caught the attention of Genius who featured the duo for their Official Lyrics & Meaning segment to decipher the lyrics to the song. While a comparison to OutKast would obviously be hyperbole, the duo does have one of the most eclectic sounds to come out of Atlanta in a long, long time. It’s going to be interesting to see what’s next for them. Historically, Dreamville hasn’t been great at breaking artists; Cozz, Bas and others on the roster have gone largely unnoticed, but Earthgang could be the group that breaks this trend.

Hoodrich Pablo Juan

Conspicuously well-dressed at all times, Hoodrich Pablo Juan is somewhat of a late bloomer. He is almost 30 years old and has only been rapping for a couple of years. His flow is clearly influenced by Atlanta contemporaries like the Migos and Peewee Longway, and his dizzying, hypnotic nature makes him at the very least very fun to listen to. He has a close relationship with young, Atlanta producer phenom Danny Wolf who aside from his impressive discography is responsible for one of the most memorable producer tags in recent memory (trust me Danny!). The two have a collaborative mixtape out called Hoodwolf and Pablo also allowed another Atlanta producer, Spiffy Global, to produce every single track on his Master Sensei tape. While there were a couple of announcements that he signed to Gucci Mane’s label, the details behind this deal remain in the dark. They did collaborate on his most recent album Designer Drugz 3 on the track “Sauce On Me”. Overall, Pablo’s creativity is never lacking and in 2018 he is set to drop a mixtape named after the famous spanish painter Pablo Picasso. If Gucci blesses the tape, he could become the next in a long line of Guwop protégés.

Derez De'Shon

A recent Rich Gang signee, the artist formerly known as D-Bo and then D Dash has shown flashes of potential from his early days rapping alongside Slim Dunkin and Waka Flocka. Derez has now racked up millions of views on his songs “Pain,” “Lord Forgive Me,” and “Hardaway”. As the names would suggest, his raps are littered with emotion and struggle. In a DJ Smallz interview he even admitted to being homeless and sleeping in his car at one point. Although his extensive use of autotune is a bit over the top, his ability to be open about his emotions really sets him apart from a lot of Atlanta artists. “Hardaway” is a record that certainly could get some radio play in Atlanta, but overall he doesn’t make trap or party music; he really only makes music for people dealing with hardship. On top of that, despite really breaking out in the last year he is easily one of the most seasoned artists on this list, especially since he has been rapping for about eight years and has numerous projects under his belt. If he can follow up the achievements of his mixtape Pain, his success will be well deserved.

Young Nudy

21 Savage’s cousin Young Nudy got his first real exposure on 21’s “Air It Out” and is certainly from the same family tree as 21. His raps are simple and to the point, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t thrive in an Atlanta scene that totally embraces this kind of music. His Slimeball mixtape cover art features cryptic images of Chucky (the main antagonist of the Child's Play horror film series) and his interviews can be hilarious at times. For instance, when asked about dropping out of school in a DJ Smallz Interview, he pulled out a wad of cash and proceeded to chuckle his way through a 30 second rant about how he could walk into his old school right now and get the teachers and principal to strip for him right now. Much like Hoodrich Pablo Juan, Young Nudy also has a great relationship with one of Atlanta’s hottest up and coming producers. Pierre Bourne, the mastermind behind Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia,” has production credits on numerous Young Nudy songs- like one of his biggest hits “EA” (feat. 21 Savage).