I feel like since he was kicked out of the Unit, he has become a completely different rapper. His verses hit so much harder, everything about it is so much rawer, and you really get a feel for him as an individual rapper. He's regained his creative license and is no longer held back by those who have fallen off.
The Cool Kids
These dudes keep peaking my interest with every jam they release. Each song has it's own individual retro feel that the duo consistently sticks to through both the beats and the bars, plus it helps to have a wardrobe this tight. From their newest EP, The Back Sale, to the recently downloaded That's Stupid Mixtape, Chuck and Mikey keep me wanting more. Who else could rap about bikes and Nikes and keep it so fresh?
Pharrell and N.E.R.D
After Mr. William's break from his group to explore a solo career, he returned to his funk/rock/dance/alternative/soul/experimental/hip-hop roots to begin work on the band's third full length album, Seeing Sounds. The overwhelming description of their style that I just left you with is the soul reason that their sound is so nice right now. I mean, it doesn't hurt to have a group that is two-thirds comprised of the production greats, The Neptunes. N*E*R*D is going hard right now and in a completely different respect than any other artist on this list.
Lazer Gun Carying
Everyone Nose Remix (ft. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Pusha T of The Clipse)
You may or may not remember Young Chris as one half of the Roc-A-Fella rap duo, The Young Gunz (see Can't Stop, Wont Stop). Althought the group's commercial success was somewhat short lived, they remained on the label and recently, Young C started releasing a series of solo tracks. He, also, apparently plans on releasing his debut solo album this year, that I would definitely be interested in getting a hold of. His Philly roots are reflected in his lyricism that, I think, sometimes parallels the style of a young Jay-Z, himself.
This cat is the first rapper out of the DC/Maryland/Virginia area in a while to have potential to rise to national popularity in the industry since The Clipse and Pharrell. He's had the internet goin' nuts for a while now, and this online popularity has caught the ear of other respectful artists who featured him on a couple songs and got him some further recognition. His witty wordplay, unique delivery, and upbeat rhyme patterns make most every track he releases enjoyable.
Bun B has been a highly respected rapper in the South for a long while now for his involvement in the Underground Kingz, or UGK, with the late Pimp C. The group had been putting out music solid music since 1987 - before I was born - but, sadly, it was after the passing of Bun's groupmate and long-time friend that he really began to shine. Jumping on featured track after track, he tore up countless verses, and with the release of his second solo album, II Trill, he solidified his place on this featured artist post.
Damn, I'm Cold (ft. Lil' Wayne)
Swang On 'Em (ft. Lupe Fiasco)
That's Gangsta (ft. Sean Kingston)
You're Everything (ft. Rick Ross, David Banner, 8 Ball & MJG)
Remember to check the plenty of upcoming posts.