Last month’s Tonight Show appearance by Griselda was a worldwide wake-up call to the hip-hop talent coming out of Buffalo: If you don’t know, now you know.
The biggest rap hits you hear coming out of your radio usually have a lazy vocal flow cascading over trap beats, but in Buffalo’s independent hip-hop scene, that’s not how it goes. In the most vibrant corners of local hip-hop, you’re most likely going to hear gritty lyrics riding mid-tempo, old school 90s beats, a style known as street rap. New York City rap is a major influence. But there’s also the lyrical imagery and a shine that’s often linked with the West Coast and Dirty South.
Put simply, Buffalo hip-hop is hard music for a hard city, and Griselda is the pinnacle of that aesthetic. With that in mind, below are just a handful of local hip-hop artists you ought to check out.
1. Duffel Bag Hottie
Part of the extended Griselda crew, Duffel Bag Hottie paints greasy, menacing, black-on-black portraits of trap life in the Nickel City. East coast hustle with a bit of West Coast shine, Duffel’s got that late 90s/early 2000s sound on lock.
People outside of Buffalo are paying attention to local rap. In his recent appearance on SirusXM’s Shade 45 channel, YNX was quizzed by host Lord Sear about the music coming out of Buffalo right now.
For his part, YNX dispenses gritty gravel-voiced nasty gymnastics with a sense of humor that’s as dry and cutting as the breeze in winter. One of his latest records, Nas ‘97 pays tribute to an iconic New York City emcee who is clearly a major influence.
3. 14 Trap Doors
Buffalo rap may be turning heads with a gloomy, grey-skies sound, but there is diversity in local hip-hop. If you’re craving something a bit different, a bit more chill than street rap, 14 Trap Doors is a local rap trio of Short Moscato, Bendyface and Wza that makes out-there, psychedelic alt-rap. Recently featured on the massive music-hipster blog Brooklyn Vegan, the group has put out a lot of music videos, and shit gets weird in all of them.
4. 7xlvethegenius (“Love the Genius”)
Leaning on a rapid-fire ragamuffin style that sits in the pocket like an old gum wrapper, 7xlvetheGenius has undeniable skills, personality and voice. Her Bandcamp debut, The Calm Before, sounds a bit scrappy; the digital seams are everywhere, but instead of subtracting — they end up adding some urgent energy. Her newest release 7xve is Love is close-up ready: bigger, slicker, smoother, slower and jazzier.
5. Chuckie Campbell
Gigging regularly both inside and outside the 716, Chuckie Campbell is another local hip-hop artist you’ve probably seen around town: He’s best known for performing with a full band. Rapping over a live band isn’t something a lot of rappers do these days, but given the energy Campbell and crew bring to each performance, more maybe should.
DJing is a massive part of hip-hop, and if you’ve heard a live hip-hop DJ set in Buffalo over the last 20 years, there’s a good chance LoPro was behind the decks. In the early 2000s, the local DJ and producer was a driving force in local hip-hop, helping to make it what it is today.