Hip hop has dramatically changed since the genre was first created, and the tools to create professional sounding music have become accessible to more people than ever. One of the most prominent and popular sub-genres within hip hop today is melodic rap, encapsulating the sounds of artists like Young Thug, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert, NAV, Juice WRLD, and many more that sing and rap, often with autotune, over hip hop or trap inspired production. In this article, we’ll share our favorite melodic rappers that you may not have heard of – Curly J, HangtimeKyul, Lush_Carter, Tommy Ice, and Ericdoa.
Curly J is a Hempstead, New York born recording artist representing Long Island. Over the past two years, Curly J, whose real name is Joshua Cinquez Loftin, has been releasing pop inspired melodic hip hop songs including his wildly popular Big Dawgs, Bag Different series, and The Man. While using autotune like many other melodic rap artists, Curly J backs up his self-crowned title of “king of melodies” with an absolutely beautiful voice and talented songwriting skills. With a handful of music videos that can be left on repeat, it will be no surprise to see Curly J on the Billboard charts in 2021.
Coming out of the west coast is an incredibly talented melodic rap artist named HangtimeKyul. Kyul first caught our eyes with his infectious, romantic hip hop song Hands Out, featuring NLS Huncho. With the music video gathering the artist serious attention with its release on the Thizzler on the Roof YouTube channel, HangtimeKyul locked himself in the studio and worked to create his second full length project, No More Games, available now on all digital streaming platforms.
Atlanta, Georgia based creative Lush_Carter fuses together alternative rock, hip hop, pop, and hyperpop influences in his music to create sonically impressive and catchy songs with the assistance of producers such as Lukrative and Leesta. His latest single, One Time, received a music video in late 2020, following the success of the single and music video 4.get_U. In addition to making music, Lush_Carter is a clothing and graphic designer, photographer, and director.
Born in Massachusetts and now located in Atlanta, Georgia, Tommy Ice quickly grew from an underground artist to a buzzing sensation after singles such as Gelato and Forever, and collaborations with Kevin Kazin and 6dogs. Tommy’s DIY, authentic aesthetic appeals to hip hop fans and creators alike, and his versatility across emo, trap, and pop beats has set him apart from his peers over the past few years. Tommy’s full length project, Up Next, released in 2019, with one feature from Sewerperson, and is available on all streaming platforms.
Ericdoa, standing for Eric Dead on Arrival, is an artist that has completely exploded over the past year. For a few years, Eric has been releasing singles and projects on SoundCloud ranging from trap to pop to emo rap to hyperpop. In 2020, Ericdoa released his first official project, Public Target, with features from lilspirit, David Shawty, SEBii, and Tyler Fontaine. Despite the album, and other singles performing well on SoundCloud, he was yet to get significant traction on paid streaming services. On November 6th, Eric released his second official project, COA, and his career skyrocketed. With features from brakence and GRANDMA, COA received a number of positive reviews from blogs and critics, and has resulted in Eric’s music being placed on numerous Spotify editorial playlists, including Hyperpop, Antipop, and Fresh Finds.
2020 was a year for continued innovation in music, and gave birth to many more impressive acts than we included above. Interested in some other great melodic rap recommendations? Check out our 5 favorite pop rap songs of the year and learn about 5 DMV artists to watch for in 2021.