The spirit of hip hop is competition. And while Columbus’ collaborative spirit is good for morale, there’s nothing like a good hip hop beef to challenge good rappers lyrically and creatively.
Our top 11 artists—that’s six, and one, and four—have propelled beyond their competition. They’ve been able to garner enough attention and support from the city to play national festivals, have their face on the side of downtown buildings, and become the sound of Columbus. Not everyone can say that.
To their credit, the following 11 individuals, and many of the honorable mentions, were hard to rank. But it comes down to online and offline presence, direct contributions to the city, quantity and quality of local performances, and frequency of releases. As always, we ask, “What have you done for us lately?” and hopefully this list answers that.
If you’re not familar with how this goes, check back on our Winter17 power ranking with TrigNO at the top and Summer17 power ranking, where Big James was in our number 1 spot. Make sure you follow @FlyPaperMag on Twitter and all social media to follow the conversation, give your input, and let us know what’s up. And now, the Summer18 Hip Hop Power Rankings:
The 6 – Sam Rothstein, Dom Deshawn, Big James, Kashis Keyz, Zac Fresh, Bhadwaiz
We always start out the 6-1-4 Power Ranking with The 6. Making and enjoying music is a community experience when done right. The key to truly growing as an artist is connecting with your audience. Activity is key to sustained growth and having a great career. Taking into account several variables such as philanthropic efforts around the city, social media engagement, quantity and quality of shows/ performances, frequency of releases (videos + songs), and collaboration efforts, here are the SIX artists whom we think are doing a good job of staying engaged with their audience and active on the music scene.
Sam Rothstein is responsible for steering the Pipeline Show which bridges Columbus’ hip hop scenes with other cities in the mid-west. He’s done pipeline shows for the 614, 216, 513 and more. Additionally, this past spring, he engineered the SpringTime Galactic Intergang Tour which hit 14 mid-west and East Coast cities. Dom Deshawn performed at the Off Ramp Stage at Comfest, one of Columbus’ largest festivals. He also won a fan-competition to perform at A3C festival this year in Atlanta and puts on his own showcase called #AfterhOurz. BhadWaiz too, won the fan contest to be able to perform at A3C and also directed his own music video “My Wave” which currently has over 9,000 views. He is a frequent name on Columbus hip-hop bills and even puts on his own event, regularly. Kashis Keyz played Comfest this year, hitting the Off Ramp stage. On top of that, Keyz traveled on Sam’s Galactic Intergang Tour and won a competition and is now one of the faces on the side of Express Live! downtown. The 6 rounds out with the emcees from MOUF Worldwide, Big James and Zac Fresh, who are often seen in tandem but individually earned their spot in the power ranking. At the time of this ranking, Big James had dropped the highly anticipated NASAGOLD 2 and Zac Fresh had released insane visuals for his single “Familiar Faces”. As MOUF Worldwide, the pair had performed on the main stage for Summer614, downtown at the Commons, and were announced as acts for Columbus’ Breakaway Festival.
The 1 – Sean Starks
This list is for rappers, always has and will continue to be. However, this one time, we’re going to make an exception.
In our interview with Sean Starks earlier this year, the heavyweight producer looked to 2018 with high ambitions. He talked a collaborative project with fellow producer and singer Greg Owens, and another project with MOUF Worldwide’s Zac Fresh.
This is gonna be a banger pic.twitter.com/d1QoBTOz0b
— Focused Sean Don (@ItsSeanStarks) May 25, 2018
And then, Big James drops NASAGOLD 2, the follow up to a well-received, local hit primarily produced by Starks. This is after a full 2017 that found Starks producing FRVRGOLD, FRVR Focused, Trap John Legend, Rawest 4m and a host of singles and tracks. This last year has seen Starks throw so many solid assists that it’s hard to imagine this list without him.
The producers, the DJs, they never get their just due. Our number 1 spot is reserved for the artist that serves as the face of Columbus hip hop, is engaged with their audience, and has the respect of their peers. Sean Starks transcends that criteria, even from behind the boards.
— FlyPaperMag (@FlyPaperMag) June 6, 2018
The 4 – Joey Aich, Sarob, Bobby Biz, Trek Manifest
Sarob headlined The Basement this month. That’s huge for a local act, and huge for Sarob supporters who know the immense talent he has. From making Spotify playlists with tracks from 2017’s Seeing in the Dark to the release of Transitions, and features with Dom Deshawn and Trek Manifest, Sarob is nothing short of killing it right now.
In March, Joey Aich released If Money Grew On Trees and has been nonstop ever since. His current tour has him stopping through Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, and hitting up ComFest, among other things. He’s also with the Spotify playlist gang as well, with the Booty&theKidd track “When You’re Gone” and “Rope Break” added to its Mind Right playlist as well.
Bobby Biz is often touted as having the best visuals in the city. But do not sleep on the music. Straight Drop Vol. 1 sees Bobby Biz once again with 808-H in an 8-track collaboration with hella star power. And he performed at the WiseWords Music Festival, with a stacked two-day linep filled with Ohio talent.
A few quiet months for Trek Manifest is what many artists would consider busy. After two thoughtful EPs and some crazy singles in 2017, Trek Manifest made another lap around the block with This Should Hold You. Not to mention he’s returning to ComFest for a closing performance that we couldn’t be more excited for.
The Highly Honorable
Bree The Rapper