In an era characterized by instant gratification and overnight success, rappers come and go — but only a handful manage to hold the public’s attention past the honeymoon stage. With that said, a lasting presence in Hip Hop is a commendable feat as hot new prospects pile up exponentially with each passing year, and 2023 has been no exception to this upward trend.
The culture of Hip Hop is rapidly diversifying and it shows up in the attitude with which younger generations interpret the craft. The select few who hit the ground running and figured out ways to retain their momentum amid all the competition this past year demonstrated that just because things are a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s how they have to be.
Artists like Lola Brooke and Sexyy Red have added more fuel to the shifting gender dynamics, whereas Veeze and That Mexican OT built on reliable formulas while adding in some twists of their own. Then there’s Teezo Touchdown, the Texas-born star who opts not to confine himself to any one label as he blends rap and rock.
Having already set tongues wagging over the past 12 months, it’s very likely you’ll be hearing a lot more from these rookies in 2024. So buckle up, because your playlists are likely to get even more jam packed with new music from them.
Review all of our 2023 Hip Hop Award categories.
Here are our picks for 2023’s rookie of the year…
BEST NEW RAPPERS OF 2023 NOMINATIONS
The 2023 Hip Hop Rookie of the Year award goes to…
Arguably one of the biggest stars of the year not just in Hip Hop but across all genres, Sexyy Red’s mainstream dominance has been somewhat of a marvel. Though she’s been active since 2018, the 25-year-old red-haired phenomenon took over the airwaves in 2023 thanks to her Tay Keith-assisted smash hit “Pound Town,” which was later bolstered by a Nicki Minaj remix. Add to this her blockbuster hit “SkeeYee” and second mixtape, Hood Hottest Princess, and there’s no denying she owned the summer and 2023 as a whole. Love her or hate her, Sexyy Red outshined the rest of her rookie class this year.
A product of the explosive social media virality that countless hopefuls aspire to nowadays, Lola Brooke was first shot into the public consciousness when her 2021 single “Don’t Play With It” blew up on TikTok and subsequently landed her a major label deal. In her swift and steady come-up since then, she dropped her debut LP, Dennis Daughter, in early November to critical acclaim and has also been enlisted to headline Hot 97’s Winter Jam towards the end of the year alongside Rick Ross and Meek Mill.
Over the course of her widely successful 2023, the Brooklyn native has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names including Latto, Bryson Tiller and Yung Miami, to name just a few. As her stock rises with each passing day, her future in the business continues to ripen with endless potential.
In addition to broadening Hip Hop’s horizons, Teezo Touchdown is also a radiant spark of hope for those who think getting your big break in music is only possible at a certain age. The most experienced of HipHopDX’s rookie starting five, the alt-rap trooper dropped his first full-length album, How Do You Sleep at Night?, when he was 31 — and he’s been winning ever since.
Decked out in leather with a dome covered in nails, his art and unique aesthetic caught the attention of seasoned boundary pusher Tyler, The Creator, who he opened for on the Call Me If You Get Lost Tour last year. He also landed a guest spot on Travis Scott’s UTOPIA — as well as its subsequent tour — and a feature on Drake’s latest offering, For All the Dogs. The 6 God even referred to the Texas star’s new body of work as “some of the best music ever” — a co-sign very few can boast.
That Mexican OT
Taking inspiration from every direction, Virgil René Gazca began rapping when he was just four years old. As a kid growing up in Texas, he was infatuated by rap titans such as Eminem and The Notorious B.I.G., and later took on the alias That Mexican OT and emulated his heroes with a dash of Southern seasoning. Fast-forward to 2023 and he’s one of Hip Hop’s hottest prospects.
Having put in years of ground work, the 24-year-old spitter began picking up traction in 2023 with the release of two highly successful solo projects: 1 Double 0 and Lonestar Luchador. The odds were seemingly stacked against him as he witnessed his family fall apart from a young age through premature deaths, incarcerations and abandonment, yet he clawed his way out the other side and found the spotlight despite his crippling past. How can you not root for someone like that?
It might sometimes sound as if Veeze is a little disinterested or even half asleep, but the understated precision with which he shoots and converts each bar clears any doubts about his focus. The Detroit rapper is only blasé about his own composure because his hushed bravado takes shape in the form of enunciation that’s very unique to him. Veeze being from the Motor City makes a lot sense given its long lineage of individuality and unorthodox spitters which includes Eminem, Esham, Danny Brown and countless others.
At 29, he carries himself with an Earl Sweatshirt-like droopiness that seamlessly fits into the lively instrumentals he so often spits over. Best demonstrated on the 2023 LP, Ganger, it’s part of his allure. Don’t believe us? Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and Babyface Ray all got in on it, further illustrating his eccentricity by association.
These were our picks for best new artists in 2023 but let us know yours and join the conversation on any of our socials @hiphopdx. You can also check out our previous Rookie of the Year award winners below to see how our picks panned out.
Artwork and Graphic Design by JR Martinez.
Paragraphs written by Karan Singh.