It may not have the reputation of New York or California, but Virginia is a bonafide hip-hop hotbed that’s produced artists like Missy Elliott, Pusha T, and many more. Today, we’ll look closely at the best Virginia rappers in this extensive guide.
While Push was born in the Bronx, he spent his childhood and teen years in Virginia Beach, which helped provide him with the content he speaks about in his raps. In the early 90s, Pusha T formed The Clipse with his brother, Malice, and the duo had several hits before disbanding and pursuing solo careers.
As a solo artist, Pusha T has gone on one of the most prolific runs in rap, releasing classic after classic while also presiding over Kanye West’s GOOD Music imprint. Pusha’s solo career began to take flight in 2013, and he followed up his debut album My Name Is My Name with several classics, including 2022’s It’s Almost Dry.
This Jersey-born artist was destined for a career in hip-hop, considering his parents are Ishmael Butler of Digable Planets and Coko from SWV. After a tumultuous childhood, Lil Tracy settled in Virginia Beach, where he came of age before moving to Los Angeles at 18 to pursue a career as an artist.
Lil Tracy has been an influential figure in the Soundcloud scene and a frequent collaborator of rapper Lil Peep. He released several EPs and mixtapes before following those up with three full-length releases, Anarchy, Designer Talk 2, and Saturn Child.
Richmond’s own FNF Chop is one of the city’s most promising new artists and someone looking to put Virginia on the map with his aggressive flow. While Chop’s first single, Walk Down, was racking up views in 2019, he could not fully capitalize on the success because of a brush-up with the law that left him incarcerated.
After his release from prison, FNF Chop signed with RCA Records. His first album, No Way Out, was released in 2022. With support from a major label, FNF Chop is poised to continue his journey as one of the most prominent up-and-comers in the Richmond hip-hop scene.
Hailing from the same city as Trey Songz, this Petersburg, Virginia rapper is looking to become the second artist to put the city on his back. Fresh began rapping in his teen years, and like many rappers, he financed his rap dreams with street dealings. Unfortunately, it caught up with him in the form of a four-year prison sentence.
Since his release, Fresh has wasted no time, collaborating with Pooh Shiesty and other Virginia heavyweights, including Young Crazy and Pusha T. His latest project, Some 2 Trap 2, shows an artist reaching his stride, and fans patiently await a follow-up to his 2022 project.
Newport News isn’t known as a hotbed of new hip-hop, but that may change if up-and-coming emcee Flame Blazin has anything to say about it. This young emcee first began rapping around age 16, taking influence from his brother and friends with a small rap crew in the city.
Flame Blazin has built on his buzz with albums No Warning, Enough For Everybody, and No Warning 2. More recently, singles like Opp Flow, How I’m Coming, and Heatin’ Up have continued to feed the streets, and the future appears bright for this Virginia emcee.
One of the most iconic artists of the 90s and 00s, Missy Elliott, is undoubtedly one of the best Virginia rappers of all time. Living in Portsmouth, Missy arrived on the scene as a member of several groups, including Sista and Swing Mobb, before staking out on her own.
Missy has several smash hits, including The Rain, Get Ur Freak On, and Work It. Missy has also starred in several films and TV roles, and she’s won four Grammys during her career. She’s also the first female rapper and the third hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Mad Skillz arrived on the scene at a time when the idea of hip-hop from Virginia seemed like a pipe dream. His debut album was titled From Where???, which referenced his upbringing in Richmond, Virginia.
While Skillz never achieved much commercial success, he’s well known for his famous “rap up” freestyles, in which he summarizes the year in pop culture. Never far from the hip-hop world, Skillz also often works as an artist-in-residence at the University of Richmond, where he teaches a class on the influence of hip-hop in America.
One of the most iconic groups in Virginia history, The Clipse, along with artists like Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, and Timbaland, helped to put VA on the map. The group consisted of brother emcees Pusha T and Malice, and they formed in 1993. The group had trouble gaining traction and was briefly sidelined for a few years while Malice enlisted in the Army.
The group blew up in 2001 on the strength of their single Grindin’ from the Lord Willin’ album. The group followed up with two more successful albums before disbanding to pursue solo ventures. More recently, the group has reunited for appearances on Kanye West’s Jesus Is King album and fashion designer turned DJ Nigo’s album, I Know Nigo.
One of the most lyrically and sonically gifted emcees on the planet, Virginia’s Atari Blitzkrieg grew up experimenting with music from a young age. He first played cello in elementary school, which sparked an interest in musical experimentation. It wasn’t long before he had a turntable, drum machine, and all the trappings necessary to produce hip-hop.
A unique artist, Atari Blitzkrieg is well known for his use of interesting rhythmic cadences and alliteration. He’s undoubtedly one of the most clever emcees in the game, and he should be required listening for all hip-hop fans that are looking for something that’s a departure from the mainstream.
StaySolidRocky relocated from Virginia to Texas as a young child before returning to VA in his teenage years. His mother was a hip-hop performer in her own right, so it makes sense that her son would follow in her footsteps. While in high school, he began freestyling and recording videos for Instagram, which helped him amass a following.
His 2020 single Party Girl was a smash hit, peaking at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The debut EP, which featured Party Girl, peaked at number 65 on the US charts, and he followed the success of that release with a new EP, Why So Larceny, in 2022.
This mysterious female emcee split her time as a child between Brooklyn and Virginia, which helped inform her unique take on hip-hop. She self-released several popular mixtapes before catching the ear of RCA records, who signed her for her breakout album, Acrylic, which came in 2018.
Leikeli47 is somewhat of a mystery to fans, as she carefully conceals her identity in public. Her given name isn’t known, and she wears a bandana or balaclava over her face when performing.
Few artists have had the impact that Pharrell Williams has had throughout his career, let alone an artist from Virginia. Pharrell arrived on the scene as part of the group N*E*R*D, another wildly influential Virginia institution.
Pharrell’s first solo album came in 2006, and he followed the success of that album with several smash hits, including That Girl and Happy. Outside of his solo career, Pharrell is also a frequent collaborator with some of pop and rap’s A-list artists, including Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z, and Madonna.
This Richmond native collaborates closely with some of Virginia’s finest hip-hop artists, including Nickelus F and Mad Skillz. Michael is also co-founder of Purple Republic Music Group, and under that imprint, he released his first records, The Color Purple, Loose Change, and Michael.
Millions generated enough buzz to be featured in XXL’s The Break section for up-and-coming artists in 2014. While the buzz has subsided a bit for this Virginia emcee, he’s still a noteworthy figure in the hip-hop scene.
Norfolk artist Young Crazy is establishing himself as one of the elder statesmen of the new class of Virginia rap artists. In his short career, he’s released five albums, each showcasing his growth and versatility as an artist.
His latest projects, 2021’s Interstate 110 and 2022’s Gucci Mane of VA, show the rapper in top form, and it feels like he’s one hit away from national stardom.
Lady of Rage
An iconic artist who was one of the first women to carve out a career as an emcee, Lady of Rage was born in Farmville, Virginia, before relocating to New York and, later, Los Angeles. After amassing a few credits in New York, she caught the ear of Dr. Dre, who tapped Lady of Rage for several iconic Death Row Records projects.
Lady of Rage appeared on several tracks on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. Her 1997 album Necessary Roughness was critically acclaimed, and she’s also had a lengthy acting career outside of hip-hop.
Those who aren’t familiar with Nickelus F may be more familiar with Nick Fury, who went on an unprecedented seven-week run as “Freestyle Friday” champion on BET’s 106 and Park show.
He was featured in Complex’s 2009 list of the Ten Most Underrated New Rappers and collaborated with Drake as a ghostwriter on his first mixtapes. While Nickelus F has never enjoyed acclaim as a solo artist, he’s a hip-hop legend and one of the best Virginia rappers of all time.
This Fairfax County rapper is a member of one of hip-hop’s most prolific underground groups, Little Brother. Big Pooh, alongside rapper Phonte and legendary producer 9th Wonder, have released several influential EPs which have helped steer hip-hop in new directions.
Outside of the group, Pooh released a critically acclaimed album in 2005 titled Sleepers, and he’s followed that up with several solid projects featuring some of the most legendary names in underground hip-hop, including Virginia rapper Nottz.
Suffolk, Virginia’s Shane Dollar is one of the area's most recognizable faces, having built a grassroots following over two decades. Shane is also a member of the underground collective Seven Cities Syndicate, and his extensive catalog includes ten albums and mixtapes and countless features and appearances with other artists.
Nottz, or Nottz Raw as he’s sometimes known, is one of hip-hop’s most prolific producers. He has amassed a laundry list of credits for some of the biggest emcees in the game, including Busta Rhymes, The Game, Snoop Dogg, Ghostface Killah, and Royce Da 5’9”.
Nottz is a member of the Soul Council production team along with 9th Wonder, who has referred to Nottz as one of the best producers in the world.
One half of the legendary Virginia duo The Clipse, Malice carved out a reputation as one of hip-hop’s rawest emcees. With The Neptunes handling production, Malice released three acclaimed albums with The Clipse before staking out on his own.
As a solo artist, Malice released a book and several mixtapes. In the early 2010s, Malice adopted the name No Malice, signaling a departure from the raw and aggressive bars
Lil Ugly Mane
A prolific genre-bending musician from Richmond, Virginia, Lil Ugly Mane has independently recorded and released a litany of projects. He’s also an acclaimed producer, working under the name Shawn Kemp.
Lil Ugly Mane has put out several projects as an emcee, including 2021’s Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern. He’s also released several mixtapes, EPs, and a full-length album with Nickelus F as producer Shawn Kemp.
Top Virginia Rappers, Final Thoughts/h2>
So there you have it, some of the best rappers in Virginia. With its thriving rap scene, we expect to add many more notable performers to our list in the future.