Sounds Like: The re-re-rebirth of New York rap, one time zone over. Lil Herb, often working with collaborator Lil Bibby, is a Chicago teenager obsessed with writing bars and telling stories: the raw reality of Chief Keef and Lil Reese's "drill music," but molded to resemble traditionally lyrical hip-hop.
For Fans Of: Mobb Deep, Dipset, Jadakiss
Why You Should Pay Attention: In the wake of Keef's success, various artists and scenes – like Chance the Rapper's hippie-soul and the cotton-candy pop of "bop" – have sprouted up to make the city's hip-hop vibrant and diverse. But Chicago's best lyricist may well be Herb. On his recently released debut solo mixtape Welcome to Fazoland, the 18-year-old proves to be a commanding but slippery MC, whether he's talking shit ("At the Light"), flossing ("Designer") or repenting ("Mamma I'm Sorry"). But he was tabbed as a star long ago: Early last year, Drake posted a video to Instagram rapping along to Herb on his and Bibby's early single "Kill Shit."
He Says: "I don't really consider myself as drill music, cause I really don't know what drill music is. I don't follow up on drill music. I'm interested in real music, real bars, real lyrics, real stories. You gotta make some type of stance… [Drake rapping our song] was a pretty good moment, it built some excitement. But I just like to stay humble, so I didn't really let it get to my head. It didn't mean anything. We don't have a song with Drake or anything. I appreciate the shoutout from Drake, but we just stay humble and keep working. Before Drake I got a shoutout from Waka Flocka and Kevin Durant, and I just took it as a reason to go harder."
Hear for Yourself: Check him out on the first half of the Drake-endorsed "Kill Shit" with Lil Bibby. JORDAN SARGENT