by Jack Downey ’23 A&E Staff
When anyone thinks of active hubs for hip hop and rap, the cities that normally come to mind are Compton, CA, New York, or even Atlanta, GA. However, an uncommon answer would be Providence, RI. That perception is quickly changing.
Although this answer might seem strange, Providence and its surrounding areas are home to quite a high number of rappers. Additionally, these rappers have a drive and hunger that can only be admired. In a time when almost anyone can become a rapper, thanks to increasingly accessible recording software, equipment, and sites such as SoundCloud, truly talented rappers typically get buried under an avalanche of hacks and wannabes. It is also hard for people to make a name for themselves in a small state like Rhode Island, especially since it is so close to states with bigger cities such as Massachusetts and New York. Despite these challenges, various rappers in and around Providence are making a beeline for the spotlight.
Some have taken to forming groups rather than going solo to increase their chances of attracting a following. Groups in rap are not a novel concept, as seen through acts such as Migos and A$AP Mob who dominate the charts. However, at a local level, groups come as a surprise, as they require a certain level of commitment and passion that many small-time performers do not have.
The biggest example of one of these groups is Nycto Mafia, a five piece collective that officially formed in late 2020. Members of this group include the prolific Rey Trxll, the horrorcore rapper John, and the atmospheric producer and rapper OmegaKami. Also included are Viizzy, who incorporates gloomy overtones into his music, and Jrussell, also known as JayR15, whose raps are earnest and heartfelt while remaining well-constructed and engaging. Nycto Mafia’s five members are all incredibly passionate about what they do, and by creating this group, they are also creating a larger fanbase, not to mention a unique level of intrigue. As of right now, the group has not released anything as a collective, but each member has released a decent amount of work on their own, all of which can be found on SoundCloud and Spotify.
Another local rap group is Tré Medusa Entertainment. According to their Instagram bio, they are a group made up of artists from Rhode Island and New York. This collaboration is a powerplay; by extending their influence into New York, Rhode Island artists are giving themselves more of a spotlight. The members of this group, which started around a month ago, include the aforementioned JayR15, producer Arloo, rapper Escobar, and the elusive Tré Medusa, who runs the Instagram account. At the moment, this group is still a mystery, though their Instagram hints at something to come, with the bio reading “XX/XX/21.”
Outside of forming groups, Rhode Island rappers are finding other ways to be heard, including radio shows. Two members of Nycto Mafia, Viizzy and Omega, have both started radio shows. Viizzy’s is called “Reject Radio,” while Omega’s is called “Omega and Friends,” with the former focusing more on hip hop and R&B and the latter focusing more on heavy music. Either way, the two musicians now have another avenue to make a name for themselves. Curious listeners have the option of following the two on social media, which will then make them privy to their music, not to mention that the two can promote more music from their scene.
With the return of live performances uncertain, it is inspiring and promising that so many rappers are continuing to strive for success. It is certainly paying off as well, as these rappers have a substantial number of followers both on social media and music sites, and their fan bases continue to grow. The hype for new projects is also great; JayR15 released a single called “Downfall” a few weeks ago, and in five days it had over a thousand listens on SoundCloud. Overall, one cannot help but root for these rappers as they make their move toward the top and, hopefully, their mark on the rap game.