The City of Brotherly Love, Steel City, some of the best cheese steaks in the world, sports fanatics, and some of the toughest crowds in the country can all be found in the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania also has had a big impact on the hip hop industry. From battle rap to mainstream hip hop, there have been many artists from the state of Pennsylvania that have left their mark on hip hop culture. In the 80s, Philadelphia native, Schoolly D emerged as one of the pioneers of Gangsta Rap. His lyrics about the rough streets of Philly were among the first of their kind. Will Smith(AKA The Fresh Prince) and DJ Jazzy Jeff also had a good run during the 80’s and 90’s. They were the first ever Rap artists to win a Grammy. Will Smith was known for his clean rap lyrics and positive messages, and he later went on to have an incredibly successful acting career, winning many awards along the way. Legendary hip hop band, The Roots have cemented their spot as Hip Hop’s official band. Rapper Black Thought, and drummer ?uestlove act as the leaders of the group. The Roots have released a large amount of classic hip hop material over the years and they continue to consistently release music. Black Thought is often said to be one of the best lyricists of all time, and the Roots band provided him with some of the most soulful production you can find. The Roots have also been serving as the band for late night TV show Host Jimmy Fallon for several years now. Supergroup State Property is a collective of many talented rappers from Philadelphia. Their content mostly focused on the gritty lifestyle of Philly. The group consisted of Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Peedi Peedi, Oschino, Omillio Sparks, and the Young Gunz. They all spent time on Roc-A-Fella records, had some solo success and made 2 movies named after the group. Leader, Beanie Sigel, was the most successful out of the group. He dropped his first three albums, “The Truth”, “The Reason”, and the classic album, “The B. Coming.” He received high praise as a rapper and as an artist for his high skill level and pure talent. His beef with Jadakiss is one of the best back and forth, diss for diss battles in hip hop history. Sadly, due to continuous legal trouble, Beanie Sigel’s career fell off track, but he is often still regarded as one of the most talented rappers.
Many rappers in Pennsylvania and especially Philadelphia are known for their incredible flow and rhyme scheme. They often use mufti-syllabic rhymes to form a very catchy flow, which later caught on to other rappers. Other rappers from Pennsylvania that had success during the 90s and 2000s include the Major Figgas, Cassidy, Cool C, DJ Drama, Gillie The Kid, Kurupt, Phillys Most Wanted, Jedi Mind Tricks, producer Scott Storch and more. Pennsylvania is the home of many talented female rappers including Eve, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Ms. Jade, Charli Baltimore, Bahamadia, Lady B, and Santigold. Another part of the hip hop culture that was strong in Pennsylvania during the early 2000s was battle rap. Many Youtube videos of Philadelphia battles became popular in the early 2000s. Some of the most popular battlers during that time were Reed Dollaz, Quilly Millz, Tech 9, NH, Joey Jihad, Kaboom, Dose, Reignman, Cyssero, Hollowman, and others. Even Meek Mill, Cassidy, and Da Band’s E Ness got started in the Philadelphia battle rap scene. Through all of the different phases of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, Pennsylvania has stayed true and provided hip hop with a lot of original talent.
Rappers Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Asher Roth have been holding it down for today’s hip hop in Pennsylvania. Meek Mill, after getting signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label in 2008, got locked up and was released from prison in 2009. Meek signed with Maybach Music in 2011 and released his debut album, “Dreams and Nightmares” in October of 2012, which sold over 100,000 copies within the first week. He prides himself on being one of the last street rappers left in mainstream hip hop. He is set to release his 2nd album, “Dreams Worth More Than Money” in September of this year. Wiz Khalifa, a Pittsburgh native, first made his presence felt in the industry in 2007 with his single “Say Yeah.” After that time, he released numerous highly rated mixtapes including Burn After Rolling, Flight School, and the classic Kush & Orange Juice in 2010. He signed with Atlantic Records in 2010 and his song Black & Yellow was a major hit. He has had tremendous success with the sales of his first 2 albums on Atlantic, “Rolling Papers” and “O.N.I.F.C” and is planning on releasing his third album “Blacc Hollywood” this year. His subject matter usually revolves around his love for weed, women, and Chuck Taylors, but mostly weed. He has also successfully released projects from his Taylor Gang record label, from artists like Juicy J, Ty Dolla $ign, Chevy Woods,and Berner. Mac Miller is also a Pittsburgh native and caught the attention of fans online with his “Nike’s On My Feet” video and K.I.D.S mixtape in 2010. His first album, “Blue Slide Park” was released through Rostrum Records and sold over 100,000 copies. His album debuted at number 1 on the charts. This feat was very rare for an independent album release. He also makes beats, and goes under the producer alias of Larry Fisherman. Asher Roth is from Morrisville, Pennsylvania. He released his debut album “Asleep in the Bread Aisle” in 2009, and had success with his lead single “I Love College.” the album has sold over 200,000 copies to date. Asher Roth has since released his 2nd album, “Retrohash” earlier this year.
As far as the future of Pennsylvania is concerned, there are several rappers that are gaining buzz throughout the area. Rappers such as Tone Trump, Lihtz Kamraz, Chill Moody, Asia Sparks, Domino Cash, K. Walker, Santos, Skinny Mel, Nitro Nix, KH, Mazon, Million Dolla Cash, and more are all making a way for themselves in the Pennsylvania hip hop scene. It will only be a matter of time before these rappers start making even bigger names for themselves.
From the rough neighborhoods of Philly to microphones all over the world, Pennsylvania has surely made a great contribution to hip hop culture and will continue for years to come.