2016 is a year that no one will ever forget—for better or for worse. Between tragic and untimely passing of pop culture icons and disappointing election results, some may say it’s for worse. However, optimistically speaking, 2016 was an unforgettably good year for music— particularly for Florida rappers.
This year, Florida has continued to make strides towards solidifying the state as a relevant powerhouse for hip hop through various nods from acclaimed tastemaker personalities, national publications, and even some major festivals. The industry, for so long, has neglected Florida’s output until just recently—after being given a late pass from the culture.
Between XXL Freshman list honorees, major label signees, and viral sensations, Florida certainly has a lot to be proud of this year. As the buzz continues to grow (at a faster pace than ever before), many cultural appropriators will attempt to define Florida—but not without coming off as disingenuous. For that reason alone, it was only right to get the Citrus Rap staff together to give a genuine perspective of the best Florida rap 2016 had to offer. Please be mindful that this list is in no particular order and is influenced by nothing more than the opinions of dedicated individuals in Florida’s bubbling rap circuit. With that being said, here’s to a successful 2016 and hopefully an even better 2017…cheers!
Directions: Click the project title link below to navigate the list.
It was only a matter of time before XXL Magazine would grace Kodak Black with a spot on this year’s Freshman list after numerous cosigns and impressive releases like his [rather lengthy] project Institution. In the midst of finding himself in trouble with the law, Lil’ Kodak took a few steps back and humbled himself on his 2016 breakout mixtape entitled Lil Big Pac—which features two of his idols: Gucci Mane and Boosie. With banger after banger, this project truly put Kodak on the map and solidified his place in the rap industry outside of Florida.
Jacksonville’s very own DoLA has been about quality control from the jump. With an impressive 2014 debut album entitled Ch. 1: Night Vision, he was able to coast through 2015 without releasing much new material and still be able to rock plenty of shows in and out of Florida. What fans didn’t know at the time was that the Duval spitter was getting busy with Central Florida-based Team Sesh producer ghost/\/ghoul on a masterpiece entitled Better/\/3D. With dark and depressing moments accompanied by hard-hitting anthems, this project provides listeners with a dynamic listening experience that is a perfect marriage between complex lyricism and ignorant bangers.
As one of Broward’s most seasoned rappers, Robb Bank$ was given high expectations in 2016 following his debut retail release entitled Year Of The Savage—which was sort of the beginning of a new sound he had crafted with maturity and aggression. He was able to accomplish this with his trusty inner circle of producers: Broward-based producer/engineer extraordinaire Nuez, fellow SS artist/producer IndigoChildRick, soundscape virtuoso Nick León, and longtime collaborative producer/DJ Nuri. This year, the squad got back in the lab and churned out banger after banger for what fans now know as the much anticipated Death of My Teenage project—of which he will be touring off of into 2017.
Just like his name might reveal, Anonymuz is one of Florida’s hidden gems. In fact, this would be the first time Citrus Rap has posted anything about him—but that doesn’t mean that this Miami native hasn’t been paying his dues. Building a substantial fanbase off of Youtube, Spotify, and various gamer/anime sites, Anonymuz has put ample strategy into his music career to garner a niche following that is highly supportive. With a cohesive narrative, carefully paired production, substantial play counts, and several nods from music reviewer personalities on Youtube, his 2016 retail release entitled Vice City was one that could not go unnoticed on Citrus Rap.
As an original founding member of the notorious Buffet Boys crew, Kendall’s own Fat Nick has truly come a long way from being a high school dropout drug dealer after releasing acclaimed projects like Tha Heart Attack and Fat Camp as well as touring the country over and over with Pouya and the rest of the gang. While his appearance and charisma might give fans the idea that he’s nothing but jokes, his 2016 album When The Lean Runs Out proved to everyone that there are layers to Fat Nick. With the success of the release, including a headlining national tour, Fat Nick has cemented himself in the rap game whether the industry is ready or not.
For those who have either been around the Miami rap scene or have followed Citrus Rap from day one, Prez P and Big Nics (formerly J NICS) are household names. Having collaborated on tracks of their own and other South Florida artists over the years, the chemistry is quite undeniable—to the point where a collaborative project was inevitable. With Prez’s knack for smooth melodies accompanied by Nics’ deep voice and street knowledge, the combination makes for a player-ific sound and narrative that gives their album title much justice. Too Player Mode combines all of the elements of tropical vibes and Miami pimpin’ that only someone like UnkleLuc could create the perfect visuals for. The rest is history…
Wintertime is a season in Florida that doesn’t bring much cold, however, Wintertime ironically happens to be a rapper in Florida who makes some cold-ass raps. Based out of Central Florida, where it does often get chilly compared to South Florida, Wintertime has found himself flourishing in the rap game with viral bangers like “Thru It All”—to which ILoveMakkonnen hopped on the remix. With a style that tastefully fuses humor and self-awareness, it’s hard not to take a liking to Wintertime. His 2016 project I Know What You Did Last Winter features the hit single along with many other memorable tracks of which he was able to perform all over the country alongside buzzing Houston rapper Ugly God this year.
While the Florida hip hop scene might not seem exclusive, there happens to be a group of rappers who claim Members Only. With one of these members named $ki Mask The Slump God, it would be wise not to intrude. Along with Palm Beach frontrunner Wifisfuneral and controversial Broward rapper Xxxtentacion, $ki Mask is in good company in the sense that the internet and Florida’s underground rap realm are endlessly itching for more SoundCloud bangers from them. While loosies can get lost in the mix, The Slump God proved everyone that his knack for making projects could put him on the map. His 2016 project Drown-In-Designer, featuring Denzel Curry, Xxxtentacion, Treez Lowkey, Lil‘ Pump, and Craig Xen, did exactly that.
Between Nostalgic 64 and 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms, Carol City’s own Denzel Curry has blessed fans with some classics over the years. When it came time to level up, Zel was more than prepared. In 2016, he and Kodak Black became the first XXL Freshmen since Ace Hood in 2009. This was a well-deserved look, as his retail release entitled Imperial, brought forth a highly developed sound that took the music industry by storm this year. When Rick Ross gave Curry the cosign through their track “Knotty Head,” it was official that he’s to be regarded as a Miami staple, and one of Florida’s top tier emcees. Beyond that, his touring has taken off, headlining both nationally and internationally—which can only mean that Denzel Curry is global and C9 is still the future.
Just as his album title may reveal, Pouya is truly an Underground Underdog. With explosive numbers across every digital platform, it’s damn near impossible to not have heard of this founding Buffet Boys member hailing from Kendall. What truly makes him an underdog, though, is the fact that his success is hardly celebrated or even acknowledged by the music industry—at least for now. After releasing this full-length retail album, Pouya has taken the world by storm and sold out countless venues as a headliner on tour with very little help from anyone besides his day-ones. Pouya continues to stay true to his roots and it’s directly attributing to his major success—which says a lot in a climate where rappers are often forced to “sell out” at a certain point in their careers in order to level up. Props to Pouya.
When it comes to breeding underground rap talent in the south, Texas and Florida are two states that are arguably doing it the best. With roots in both Houston and Orlando, Marcellus Juvann is a multi-dimensional artist who is a living, breathing product of both environments—and has no trouble expressing it in his music. With commitment to quality, Juvann has consistently released full-length efforts in both 2015 with The Fall LP and 2016 with his impressive release entitled The Great Escape. At the pace he’s going, Marcellus will soon be a household name in Florida, Texas, and beyond.
Not even 21 years of age yet, Nate Dae is one of Jacksonville’s most promising young artists as of the past year. In 2016, he released a rather impressive project entitled Off The Porch—which is his debut effort featuring We Were Never Friends crew member Stokely Carmichael. This body of work tells the tale of Nate stepping out of his comfort zone and making a name for himself on and off the block in Duval. Staying true to his narrative, Dae has ventured off to LA to work with like-minded creatives such as Brockhampton’s Kiko Merley and HK (Henock Sileshi). Moreover, he has shared stages with national acts like Machine Gun Kelly, Ugly God, and fellow Florida buzzmakers Wifisfuneral, Xxxtentacion, etc. The future certainly looks bright for this young talent.
2016 undoubtedly brought Palm Beach rapper Wifisfuneral some of the greatest moments of his career. From headlining tours to getting recognition from major music publications and millions of listens across streaming platforms, Wifi is truly killing the game. While he comes from the cloth of dropping loose SoundCloud bangers, he has successfully proven himself to be amongst the Florida elite who can skillfully craft up full-length projects with a cohesive narrative. With that said, Wifi’s Black Heart Revenge is only the beginning of what seems to be an illustrious music career.
When it comes to carrying oneself as an indie artist, Miami native Sylvan Lacue is probably the epitome of it. Formerly known as QuESt, he has had quite the journey as an artist. He has found much success from touring with Logic and building a loyal fanbase—of whom had no issue with the name change despite his album title being Far From Familiar. The title attributes to his dynamics as an artist, lyricist, and musician, as he’s capable of bringing multiple layers into his songwriting that catch fans by surprise in the best way possible. This year, between dropping this impressive project and doing a DIY tour with Rhode Island rapper Khary, Sylvan is on the road to becoming a household name without the help of major labels. Wise Up.
When it comes to that “fiy” (as Floridians like to say), Glok is the plug. Those who know, know. Better known as Glocky Cash Only, the Miami native has been putting in work in the music scene for years and has earned due respect from fans, scenesters, and OG’s alike. Having taken the time over the past year or two to learn production, both through self-teaching techniques and assistance from the homie Nuez, Glocky has drastically improved his abilities—and the music shows for it, particularly in his latest full-length project Gold Plated Flaws. In said project, Glok finds himself flexing on hard-hitting production from both himself and Nuez, making for a ton of replay value for fans of dope dealing, tropical living, and rap life.
With serious skin on the game and being such a crucial feature on South Florida’s most timeless anthem, “Threatz,” Yung Simmie is truly part of Florida’s elite. With a boasting affliction for cannabis, Yung Simmie smokes all of the loud—and any rap competition in his way as well. Delivering the finest products he has to offer, Simmie is much like your favorite weed plug—except in his case, it’s mixtapes, because best believe he’s not passing you his blunt. To commemorate his own success, he’s created not only a dope mixtape but his own time of the year—forget Spring, Winter, Fall or Summer—Its Simmie Season. His Simmie Season mixtape is full of bangers, including the anticipated single to his internet hit, “Dead Beat.” Even though he released a solid follow up with Simmie Season 2, like the buds, nothing beats the OG.
Anyone who has visited Tampa and the surrounding area knows it has a reputation for the turn-up. Between Gasparilla and vibrant nightlife, it is truly lit. However, at the other end of the spectrum, it can be gloomy and melancholy—to which Tampa artist Chester Watson draws more creative inspiration from. Having teamed up with POW Records (Passion Of the Weiss) for his project Past Cloaks, Watson has found much praise online from tasteful publications and fans alike—garnering a sizeable fanbase of his Lo-Fi, introspective raps. Keeping the momentum going while also keeping it in-house (Nu Age crew) he partnered up with his homie and frequent collaborator Kent Loon to create a true masterpiece entitled Spring Mirage. The album is full of trippy sounds, catchy hooks, and double/triple entendres for days—leaving rap fans craving more…and hopefully in 2017 more is what Watson and company will be giving.
Being that the greater Orlando area is so vast, it can be tough to break out as an artist without the powerful tool known as the internet. For 19-year-old Kaiydo, this was a non-issue, as navigating the internet and networking comes naturally for him—and it’s been a significant attribute to his success thus far. His single “Fruit Punch” taking off on various streaming platforms in a major way is only a tell-tale sign that he’s an artist to keep a close eye on. Said single can be found on his project Colors & Sounds—which is the direct byproduct of synesthesia (the ability to see colors from sounds, which Kanye West has also claimed to have) and it’s evident throughout the listening experience. He calls the project a demo, and if that’s the case, his real album will be worth the wait.
Formerly known as Bizzy Crook, Miami’s very own BZZY has been on the scene for quite some time—and never wasting a minute, having released over five original bodies of work. His most recent release, entitled A Part Of Everything, is seemingly his most mature to date—drawing inspiration directly from The Alchemist by legendary Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. Full of honesty and cognizant lyricism, this album is the culmination of everything in BZZY’s life and music career through trials, tribulations, and successes.
With Miami being a breeding ground for new artists more than ever, it came as no surprise to see someone like K.Charles arrive on the scene with a refreshingly original sound. Combining aurally-pleasing soundscapes with catchy, melody-infused raps, this Miami native certainly has a lot to offer music fans who yearn for more than your typical SoundCloud raps. Not to say he doesn’t have bangers, because he definitely has them, but he successfully brings forth variety and dynamics that still remain cohesive to his projects. He managed to achieve this with flying colors on his Citrus Rap-premiered mixtape entitled Station7Eighty6.