Home Music Music Lists

Seven Hot Hip-Hop Crews

From Odd Future to Young Money and beyond, our guide to the coolest groups in the game

hip hop imprints

Rap crews are bigger right now than they have been since the Nineties, when all-star posses like the Wu-Tang Clan and Native Tongues and tight-knit labels like Death Row ruled everyone's boomboxes. Hip-hop today is full of groups that roll deep – from West Coast punks Odd Future to Harlem's A$AP Mob, Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music and more. Here's our guide to seven of the most essential crews running the rap game in 2012.

By Dan Hyman

odd future

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Odd Future

Hip-hop's wildest band of punk outsiders – led by twisted mastermind Tyler the Creator, fan favorite Earl Sweatshirt and crooner Frank Ocean, among others – broke out to the mainstream in 2011 with a slew of anarchic performances at SXSW and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. They're bigger than ever in 2012 with the release of Ocean's critically acclaimed major-label debut, Channel Orange, and a new album on the way from Tyler.

Artist To Watch: Earl Sweatshirt

Hot Track: Odd Future, "Oldie"

Maybach music group

Brad Barket/Getty Images

Maybach Music Group

Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group is named after a now-defunct luxury ride – but the Bawse's Warner Bros. imprint is racing ahead on all cylinders. Beyond the recent Rolling Stone cover star, MMG's roster includes Washington, D.C.'s Wale, Philly mixtape champ Meek Mill, blue-collar poet Stalley, Moroccan-born MC French Montana and others. To quote Ross' killer mixtape from earlier this year, if you're rollin' with MMG, you just might be rich forever.

Artist To Watch: Meek Mill

Hot Track: Rick Ross, Gunplay, Stalley, Wale, Meek Mill and Kendrick Lamar, "Power Circle"

G.O.O.D. Music

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

G.O.O.D. Music

The acronym in Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music stands for Getting Out Our Dreams. Kanye has assembled a dream team, indeed – including breaking stars (2 Chainz, Big Sean), established talents (Kid Cudi, Pusha T, John Legend) and seasoned veterans (Common, Q-Tip). Last year, Kanye signed a major distribution deal with Def Jam for G.O.O.D.; the group's first collaborative album, Cruel Summer, hits shelves on September 4th and is already one of the year's most anticipated releases.

Artist To Watch: 2 Chainz

Hot Track: Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, "Mercy"

young money

Todd Williamson/WireImage

Young Money

After many years as one of the top artists on New Orleans institution Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne founded his own subsidiary, Young Money Entertainment, in 2005. When Wayne's stock exploded in 2008, Young Money blew up along with him – and the crew got even bigger when his protégés Drake and Nicki Minaj became serious stars in their own right. Up-and-coming MCs including Tyga and Cory Gunz (son of Nineties rapper Peter Gunz) help round out the team.

Artist To Watch: Cory Gunz

Hot Track: Lil Wayne, Gudda Gudda, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Tyga, Jae Millz and Lloyd, "BedRock"

black hippy

Roger Kisby/Getty Images

Black Hippy

This L.A. foursome – comprised of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock – formed in 2009, quickly drawing endorsements from Cali legends like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. While they have yet to release an official collaborative album, they've built impressive individual followings with their strong mixtape work. Each is a potential star; together they might just represent hip-hop's new royal family.

Artist To Watch: Ab-Soul

Hot Track: Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools (Drank)"

taylor gang

Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Taylor Gang

Pittsburgh breakout Wiz Khalifa named his crew after his favorite sneakers, Converse Chuck Taylors, as well as his alma mater, Taylor Allerdice High School. But the name has come to be even more synonymous with his love of high-grade marijuana and all-around good times. Three Six Mafia's Juicy J joined the Gang last year, but Pittsburgh natives including Chevy Woods continue to make up its core.

Artist To Watch: Chevy Woods

Hot Track: Wiz Khalifa, "Work Hard, Play Hard"

asap rocky

Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

A$AP Mob

Led by A$AP Rocky – a 23-year-old Harlem MC with a taste for slowed-down Houston-style vocals – the A$AP Mob is at both a glorified entourage and an assortment of producers and MCs from upper Manhattan. Each member has the "A$AP" moniker slapped before his name (A$AP Ferg, A$AP Yams, etc.) and a particular role within the posse – from management to beats to fashion. The crew's next big moment comes when Rocky's album LongLiveA$AP arrives this fall.

Artist To Watch: A$AP Ferg

Hot Track: A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ant and Flatbush Zombies, "Bath Salts"