The best rapper from all 50 states

51 of 51


Artist – Y-O

Years Active – 2012?

Notable Track – “Hometown”

Sample Rhyme (from the track “Hometown”:

“I wasn’t raised around that killing shit

But I grew up killing shit

When I lay my lyrics down it’s on me if you don’t give a shit

Understand that my hometown made me keep it real as shit”

God forbid that one day some alien civilization uses this list to get an idea of what this rap music thing is all about.

They would get a fairly comprehensive list of some — though by no means all — of the best rappers working today. They’d also get a taste of indie and underground rap, performed by individuals who put down roots in places well outside of any of rap’s hubs and yet still find refuge and inspiration in the art form.

By the time they reached the end of the list, however, they would have to be forgiven for thinking that rap music is mostly about enumerating the various virtues, beauties and cities of the state a given rapper is from.

Y-O’s tribute to his home state of Wyoming punctuates this list, and perhaps that’s appropriate. Rap began as a local phenomenon, something performed at parties or at clubs. It was not intended to be consumed by a diverse, nationwide audience. Rather, it was the people’s music, dealing with themes and struggles and jokes that that specific audience would understand.

Even at rap’s highest levels — where wealth and excess are the most common themes — rappers are never too far away from rapping about their origins and how they came up.

Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow,” basically everything that Kendrick Lamar produces and so many others go out of their way to evoke a sense of place — and specifically home. That’s not for lack of ideas or some cynical plow to boost album sales. It’s because rap, more than most art forms, is as much about where the rapper’s from as it is anything else.