Mississippi has had a tremendous impact on American music. It is the home state of Elvis Presley, B.B King, Jimmie Rodgers, and even the famous pop star Britney Spears.
Mississippi is the birthplace of many musical genres, especially rock and roll, country music, and the blues. Mississippi has also greatly influenced hip-hop and rap music due to the state’s prevalent African American culture.
In 2022, about 37% of Mississippi’s population is African American- the second highest African American population in the U.S.
The history of African Americans in Mississippi dates far back to the 1700s when African Americans were brutally mistreated as slaves. Additionally, Mississippi played a critical role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Rap evolved from the West African griot tradition, the vocal styles of blues and jazz music, and the African American poetry of the 1960s. It originated alongside the hip-hop culture of New York City in the 70s.
Rap became a way for African Americans to express their struggles and life experiences. It made its way south and influenced nearly every U.S. state.
Out of Mississippi emerged numerous rap artists such as Soulja Boy, David Banner, and Rick Ross. All of which found massive success in the music industry.
The Evolution of Mississippi’s Rap Culture
The rap scene in Mississippi grew slowly. While rap music flourished in New York City in the 70s, most people down south were yet to be exposed to it.
Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin, who collaborated with David Banner, was lucky to encounter rap music before it hit southern radios.
One of Franklin’s friends went on vacation to New York and brought back a mixtape. The music on that mixtape blew Franklin away- he was immediately hooked.
Franklin fell in love with hip-hop and seriously pursued it as he grew older. He met David Banner in the 90s and instantly connected with him. The two began recording songs together and formed a rap duo called Crooked Lettaz.
At the time, there was no representation for the rap scene in Mississippi, so Franklin and Banner are considered the first major hip-hop duo from Mississippi.
Crooked Lettaz went on to produce a hit album called Grey Skies. Not long after, the duo went their separate ways. David Banner began his successful solo career while Franklin pursued other endeavors.
After the success of Crooked Lettaz, many more talented rap and hip-hop artists rose to fame from Mississippi. The most notable one is Big K.R.I.T., who started his musical career in 2005.
Big K.R.I.T gained recognition from his lead single “Country Shit”- a song from his 2010 mixtape called K.R.I.T Wuz Here.
Big K.R.I.T played a crucial role in developing the hip-hop scene in Mississippi and bringing attention to it.
Many more rappers found success alongside Big K.R.I.T during the early 2010s. For instance, Tito Lopez, Rick Ross, Nate Dogg, and the duo Rae Sremmurd, to name a few.
Mississippi’s setting makes it difficult for hip-hop artists to find success. It is a small town far away from big recording studios. Even though this has major downsides, it has also positively influenced the rap scene in Mississippi.
Mississippi’s unique setting provided a distinct flavor to southern rap. The experiences Mississippi rappers encounter are different from their big-city counterparts.
Hip-hop music in Mississippi is also influenced by the blues. The influence of the blues is prevalent in the hip-hop subgenre of crunk.
Crunk rap was popularized in Mississippi by David Banner. Crunk often features heavy basslines and strong shouting vocals.
The rise of the internet has allowed up-and-coming Mississippi rappers to reach larger audiences. One of these rappers is Navihon, who dropped his debut album in 2021.
Navihon is a Mississippi native who has been writing music since the 2000s. He performed at the Jackson Indie Music Week earlier in 2022.
The Jackson Indie Music Week was hosted by the one and only Brad Franklin (ex-member of Crooked Lettaz). Since the creation of the annual event, Mississippi’s rap scene has grown dramatically.
The event is sure to reveal all the brilliant talent that lies in Mississippi. We can only wonder who the next big stars will be.
Top Mississippi Rap Artists
Below are some of the top rappers born or raised in Mississippi in no particular order:
1. David Banner
David Banner is arguably the most famous rapper from Mississippi. Born in Brookhaven but raised in Jackson, Banner had an interest in music from the beginning.
Banner began to cultivate his musical talent by learning different instruments. He learned how to play the keyboard and drums.
In middle school, Banner started to develop his rapping abilities. He began creating his own music in high school, which he would put on CDs and sell to his community.
Banner’s career didn’t kick off until he met Brad Franklin and formed the duo Crooked Lettaz. After the split of Crooked Lettaz, Banner launched his solo career with the release of Them Firewater Boyz, Vol.1.
The album was well received, but it wasn’t until the release of Mississippi in 2003 that Banner experienced noticeable success. The album Mississippi contains many notable hit songs such as “Like a Pimp” and “Cadillac on 22’s.”
That same year, Banner released another album titled MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water. The album contains the hit song “Crank it Up”, which features Static Major.
Banner’s next album experienced the most success. Certified was released in 2005 and placed Banner at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Certified contains many notable hit songs, such as “Ain’t Got Nothing,” “Play,” and “Touching.”
David Banner has released a couple more longer projects, including The Greatest Story Ever Told, Death of a Pop Star, Sex, Drugs & Video Games, and The God Box.
He has collaborated with many great rappers like Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, and Chris Brown.
2. Rick Ross
Rick Ross is a Clarksdale native. Although he is originally from Mississippi, he was raised in Carol City, Florida.
Rick Ross has an incredibly long discography with over 10 successful studio albums. Rick Ross began his career in the early 2000s when he signed under Suave House Records.
His debut song, “Ain’t Shhh to Discuss,” showcased his talent and caused record labels to fight over him. He eventually chose to sign under Def Jam Records.
Under Def Jam Records, he released his debut Port of Miami, which generated incredible success. The album was #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold around 200,000 copies during the first week.
In 2008, Ross released his second album Trilla. The album generated as much success as Port of Miami. Over four singles appeared on various top 100 charts.
Following his massive success, Rick Ross established his own record label called Maybach Music Group.
Since then, he has released countless critically-acclaimed albums. For instance, Teflon Don, Mastermind, Hood Billionaire, Rather You Than Me, and Port of Miami 2. He also worked on the soundtrack for the 2016 film Suicide Squad.
His most recent album is Richer Than I Have Ever Been from 2021.
3. Big K.R.I.T.
Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered in Time) was born in Meridian, Mississippi. He began working on mixtapes in 2005. Most of the mixtapes were collaborations with other artists such as DJ Wally Sparks, DJ Breakem Off, and Wiz Khalifa.
In 2010, K.R.I.T. released his debut mixtape called K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. The mixtape generated success and got K.R.I.T. signed under Def Jam Records.
He released his second mixtape in 2011, Return of 4Eva, which featured David Banner. The mixtape is highly praised for being “emotive” and “conceptual.”
The following year K.R.I.T. released his debut album titled Live from the Underground. The album reached #5 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In 2014, he released his second album, Cadillactica, which was another hit. K.R.I.T. continued to release mixtapes in between studio albums. He eventually left Def Jam Records and started an independent label called Multi Alumni.
K.R.I.T. went on to produce more mixtapes and studio albums. He released 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time in 2017 and K.R.I.T. Iz Here in 2019. His most recent album is Digital Roses Don’t Die from 2022.
K.R.I.T. collaborated with rap icons like Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and J.Cole. Big K.R.I.T. is widely considered a southern rap legend.
4. Soulja Boy
Soulja Boy was born in Chicago but raised in Georgia and Mississippi. He and his family moved to Mississippi when Soulja was 14.
Soulja’s father encouraged his interest in music and provided him with a recording studio. In 2005, Soulja started posting songs on SoundClick, Youtube, and Myspace.
Soulja rose to fame in 2007 with his song “Crank That.” He recorded a low-budget music video demonstrating the “Crank That” dance. The video blew up as thousands of people attempted the dance.
Soulja released his debut album, Souljaboytellem.com, which peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 chart. He released a second album in 2008 titled iSouljaBoyTellem. Unfortunately, it received negative criticism.
Soulja bounced back with the incredibly successful single “Turn My Swag On.” He released a third album in 2010 titled The DeAndre Way. The album was more personal than his previous works but did not generate a lot of success.
From 2011-2018, Soulja released countless mixtapes as he worked on his fourth album Loyalty. After the release of Loyalty, Soulja continued working hard and produced more mixtapes.
He released his fifth album, How Can You Blame Me? in 2019. Soulja collaborated with artists like Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Drake, and Migos. His most recent project is a mixtape from 2022 titled Soulja World 2.
5. Corey Jackson (Lil C-Note)
Corey Jackson is one of the up-and-coming Mississippi rappers from 2022. Jackson is only 16 years old and has released a total of five singles and two mixtapes.
Jackson’s interest in music became evident when he was two years old. At six years of age, Jackson released his first single. His most successful singles are “Crank It,” “Call’em Crayons,” “Me and My Daddy,” and “Bank Close.”
In 2013, Jackson started the “If I Can Do It, You Can Too” foundation, which helps struggling families. Since 2013, Jackson has helped feed families, offered donations, and delivered motivational speeches to children.
Jackson has appeared on CNN and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He released his first mixtape in 2014 titled Crank It Up In Here Volume 1. His second mixtape, Make My Music Work For Me, was released in 2016.
Jackson’s most recent project is U Have No Idea from 2021. He works closely with Young Thug and Birdman and is signed under Fast Life Entertainment.
6. Rae Sremmurd
Rae Sremmurd is a hip-hop duo originating from Tupelo, Mississippi. The duo was formed by two brothers, Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee.
The two brothers created music from an early age. While at school, they met Jemiah Middlebrooks, who would become the third member of the group. The three boys formed a hip-hop group called Dem Outta St8 Boyz.
They released their first official single in 2010, titled “Party Animal.” The single provided the trio with local fame. Shortly afterward, the group met Andre “King Dre” Harris (currently known as BoBo Swae).
In 2011, Jemiah Middlebrooks left the group and was replaced by King Dre. The group performed in various talent shows where they attracted the attention of record labels.
They released their second project, Three Stooges Mixtape, at the beginning of 2012.
The group signed under the EarDrummers Entertainment label. King Dre left the group to focus on his studies. In the meantime, the two brothers came out with the name “Rae Sremmurd” and released their second single.
In 2015, they released their debut album SremmLife. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart. It was regarded as one of the best albums of 2015 and got the group nominated for music awards.
In 2016, Rae Sremmurd released their second album called SremmLife 2. The song “Black Beatles” off the album reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
For some time, the two brothers focused on producing solo albums. Their most recent collaborative effort is Sremm4Life, released in 2022. Overall, the album generated positive reviews.
7. Swae Lee
As mentioned previously, Swae Lee is a member of Rae Sremmurd. However, since the success of Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee developed his career as a solo artist.
Swae Lee was born in Inglewood, California but raised in Tupelo, Mississippi. After the success of his hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd in 2015, Swae Lee worked on singles with various artists.
Swae Lee first appeared on Mike Will Made It’s single, “Drinks on Us,” which also featured Future and The Weeknd.
Since then, Swae Lee has collaborated with many artists, including Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, Ellie Goulding, Diplo, Lil Pump, Maluma, and Nicki Minaj, to name a few.
In 2018, Swae Lee released his debut solo album titled Swaecation. That same year, Swae Lee collaborated with Post Malone on the song “Sunflower,” which appeared in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Lee has released many solo singles like “Won’t Be Late,” “Someone Said,” and “Reality Check.” He is best know for his distinctive voice and melodies. Lee says he considers himself more of a singer than a rapper.
Topher was born and raised in Kilmichael, Mississippi. Before embarking on his music career, he spent six years in the United States Air Force.
Topher has been involved with hip-hop for 20 years. In 2020, he released a single titled “The Patriot,” which reached #1 in the Billboard Rap Digital Song Sales chart.
Topher released his debut album, No Apologies, in 2021. Topher’s most recent album, 222, was released in February 2022.
Topher is very vocal about his political views. He is a proud conservative who campaigned for Donald Trump in 2020.
Topher frequently discusses his political views on social media. However, he has received a lot of negative criticism.
Afroman was born in Los Angeles but moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He began making music when he was in eighth grade.
He recorded homemade songs and sold them to his classmates. The first tape he ever made sold around 400 copies.
In 1988, Afroman released his debut album My Fro-losophy. He later met drummer Jody Stallone, keyboardist Darrell Harvard, and producer Tim Ramenofsky.
They all collaborated on Afroman’s second album, Because I Got High, in 2000. The lead single, “Because I Got High,” was a huge hit.
It was featured in many movies from the 2000s: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, The Perfect Score, and Disturbia.
Universal Records signed Afroman to a six-album deal. The Good Times, a compilation of Afro’s previous albums, got released in 2001.
In 2004, Afroman released Jobe Bells, which satirized Christmas songs. His most recent album is Happily Divorced from 2020.
10. Pep Love
Pep Love was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He later moved to Oakland, California, where he met producer Jay Biz.
In 1993, Pep Love and Jay Biz formed the duo The Prose. Shortly afterward, they joined the underground hip-hop group Hieroglyphics. Pep Love made many contributions while apart of Hieroglyphics.
Pep Love released his debut solo album, Ascension, in 2001. Ascension was listed by Paste as one of the “12 Classic Hip-Hop Albums That Deserve More Attention.”
Later on, Pep Love released Ascension Side C (2003) and The Rigmarole (2012). Pep Love recently made a comeback in 2020 with his new album Magnam Ostium.
11. Nate Dogg
Nate Dogg is originally from Long Beach, California but moved to Mississippi. Similarly, his cousin Snoop Dogg was also born in Long Beach but has deep roots in Mississippi.
When Nate Dogg was young, he often sang at the Line Baptist Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi. At age 17, dropped out of high school and joined the Marines.
Nate Dogg was an ammunition specialist for three years until the Marines discharged him in 1989. A year later, Nate Dogg and his cousin Snoop Dogg formed a hip-hop group with Warren G. The trio called themselves 213.
Dr. Dre heard their first demo tape and became interested in the trio. Nate Dogg appeared on Dr. Dre’s album The Chronic. Soon after, he signed under Death Row Records.
Nate Dogg was featured on Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle. He also collaborated with Warren G, 2Pac, 50 Cent, and Eminem.
His double album was released in 1998, titled G-Funks Classics, Vol. 1 & 2. His album, Music & Me, peaked at #3 on the Billboard Top Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Nate Dogg is mostly known for his R&B-style vocals. He is considered the pioneer of “gangsta singing.”
BigWalkDog is an underground Mississippi rapper who recently launched his career. His hometown is Tutwiler, Mississippi, where he developed his interest in his music.
In 2020, BigWalkDog moved to Tennessee and released his debut single “Pull Up.” He released more singles like “Tyson” and “B.T.D.” Gucci Mane noticed BigWalkDog’s talent and collaborated with him on the song “Poppin.”
The song was a huge hit, earning more than 30 million views on Youtube. BigWalkDog released more hit songs like “Whole Lotta Ice” and “Came From Da Bottom.”
His most recent single is “Love of the Money,” released in July 2022.
Nickoe grew up in West Jackson, Mississippi. His neighborhood was one of the most dangerous in the area. Nickoe’s harsh early life conditions propelled him to create music.
He launched his music career in 2016 with his debut album, From Me to You. In 2018, he released his second album, titled From Me 2 You Free Game.
Nickoe described his music as “reality music.” He likes to rap about the grimness of living up in West Jackson. His music is a doorway into the life of many low-income Mississippians.
The single “Crack Babies” from his most recent album, Trap Soul, details the everyday reality of hustling. His most recent song is “Lay On You,” released in July 2022.
Navihon is an up-and-coming Jackson Mississippi rapper. He spent his early years developing his music career. He also starred in a few movies as an extra.
Navihon created his own music label called Golden Mile Music Group. He made his debut in 2021 with his album Golden. The single “All the way” gained Navihon national recognition.
Other popular songs from Navihon include “Dream,” “Never Lied,” “Don’t Want a Good Girl,” and “Diamonds.”
Navihon is a fairly new artist, though his music already contains a distinctive style that is indicative of southern rap. We are excited to see how Navihon’s music develops in the next few years.
15. Kvng Zeakyy
Kvng Zeakyy is another up-and-coming rapper from Jackson, Mississippi. Zeakyy made his debut in 2018 with his single “Down.” The single has received over 200,000 views on YouTube since its release.
That same year, Zeakyy dropped another single called “Most Hated.” In 2019-2020, he released eight singles, which helped establish his name.
Zeakyy released his debut album, Young Nigga Shit, in 2019. The following year, he released a more personal album called MadLuv. The album includes a song called “Grandma (miss me),” which details Zeakky’s harsh upbringing.
In 2020, Zeakyy released his third album titled Young Nigga Shit 2. His most recent release is a music video for his song “Soul Cry.” Zeakyy is a promising talent who is sure to captivate audiences.
Ant200 is another Jackson-based rapper. Not much information is available about Ant200, though the rapper has an impressive lengthy discography.
Ant200’s first upload on YouTube is a single called “No Time” from 2017. That same year, Ant200 released a song with NewGeneration Pooh titled “Savage Mode.”
Ant200 dropped a series of singles from 2017 to 2019, which gained him popularity in the underground rap scene. In 2019, he released his debut album titled Life of a 200Baby.
The same year he released two more albums: Life of a 200Baby 2 and They Already Mad 2. Many of his EPs are precursors to his albums.
In 2020, Ant200 released three albums: I Don’t Know Nothing 2, Life of a 200Baby 3, I Don’t Know Nothing 3, and Back in Dat Mode.
Ant200’s most recent album is Different Space, released in 2022. Ant200 has filmed music videos for most of his songs.
17. Goon Big4
Goon Big4 was born and raised in Greenwood, Mississippi. His family often moved between Greenwood and Memphis.
Goon Big4’s childhood in Greenwood was tough. He frequently talks about feeling unsafe in his home.
Goon comes from a family of rappers. Both his father and older brother rapped, which motivated Goon to do the same.
Goon made his debut in 2019. He released his first two albums, Secrets and GreenWarZone. For some time, Goon focused on releasing singles and music videos. Many people enjoyed Goon’s music, which attracted much attention.
His most recent albums, Goon Talk and C-4, were released in 2020. Goon was featured in an exclusive interview with “Off The Porch” in 2021.
In the interview, Goon discussed his introduction to the rap scene and how fatherhood changed him.
18. Lil Lonnie
Lil Lonnie was a rising Jackson-based rapper. Lonnie grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. Like Many Jackson rappers, Lonnie’s harsh conditions motivated him to create music.
He has been a fan of hip-hop ever since his brother introduced him to the genre. Lonnie got his start in music as a freshman in high school, where he made beats for local artists.
In 2014, Lonnie made his debut with the single “I’m The Type.” A little later, he released “Colors” and “Special.” The song “Colors” was a massive hit in 2015.
That same year, Lonnie released his debut mixtape, They Know What’s Going On. The mixtape was incredibly successful.
Soon after, he released his second mixtape, They Know What’s Going On 2. He collaborated with many successful artists, such as Slim Jimmy, K Camp, and Moneybaggy Yo. In 2017, Lonnie dropped his last project, Visions.
Lil Lonnie tragically died in 2018 at 22 years old. He was shot by 21-year-old Monya Davis.
We lost an amazing artist full of potential. The circumstances of his death display the ugly truth of the conditions in Mississippi.
19. Backdoor Sam
Backdoor Sam is a Mississippi underground rapper. Most of Sam’s projects are available on YouTube.
He made his first upload in 2021 with the single “ReRock It.” He also released the track “First Day Out.”
Earlier this year, Sam released “Not Your Average Rapper,” “Boxed In,” “Trap Money,” and “Backdoor to Cheddar Bob.”
His track, “Scarred Baby’s,” is his most successful single. He worked on the track with Big Scarr. The music video they filmed reached over 4 million views on YouTube.
In 2017, Sam released his debut album, Backdoor Baby. The most popular tracks from the album are “Afterlife,” “392,” “Freestyle,” and “Training Day.” We are excited to see what Backdoor Sam will create next.
20. Daniel Curtis Lee
Daniel Curtis Lee was born and raised in Jackson and Clinton. He is a multifaceted talent. Lee is an actor, comedian, rapper, and basketball player.
Lee began his acting career at the age of 7. He got his first major role in the film Friday After Next (2002). He also starred in the Nickelodeon show, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.
He was also in Zeke and Luther (2009-2012), Zookeeper (2011), and Evening Installation (2019).
Lee began releasing rap videos on YouTube in 2009. He dropped countless singles like “Laughin,” “Headache,” and “Can’t Get Over You.”
He released his first mixtape, DUI, in 2016. His most recent album is Double Lit Double It (2020).