Imagine being an earnest, hardworking — yet relatively unknown Hip Hop artist from a relatively unknown region. 

You decide to put out your most focused single to date, go about your day and all of a sudden, the game’s hottest rappers — legends even — are showering you with praise?

Such is life for Morae Ruffin a.k.a. Morray, our 10th and final HipHopDX Rising Star 2021!


 Fayetteville, NC

Notable Co-Signs:

 J. Cole, DaBaby, Some guy named JAY-Z

Projects To Date:


Accolades To Date: Debut single “Quicksand” amassed 20 million views on YouTube; Hit No. 45 on Billboard Emerging Artists Chart; Signed To Pick 6 Records

[This post has been updated. The following was originally published on February 5, 2021] Read updates below.

Musical Style

Hailing from the Tar Heel state, Morray’s voice packs on the soulful inflections extra heavy, letting fans know not a scribble on the note pad was done in vain. Undeniably posing as a double threat in terms of spitting and singing, Morray floods his bars with deep pockets of harmonic delivery, sonic precision and a buoyant aftertaste. On “Dreamland,” he takes bad childhood memories and flips them into a celebratory homecoming. His latest song “Kingdom,” released just this Friday (February 5), is the latest testament to his focal point on succeeding against all adversity and using Hip Hop to claw to the goal.

It’s a cold America and even colder world but Morray’s music is designed to pierce through desolate situations in anticipation of that lone sunny day.

Rising Star Power

Armed with a charming smile and equally hypnotizing vocal deliveries — evidenced on songs like “Quicksand” and “Big Decisions” — Morray’s ability to transfix emotion into his songs for big payoffs. 

On “Quicksand,” he crescendos the instant classic of a record with lyrical semiautomatic fire: “Young when I hopped off the stoop/Two doors what I floor if I hop in the coupe/Too sore from a war where I couldn’t lose/Got scars and bruises, man, I got the proof/Resemble young Steele ’cause I got the juice/You think you 2Pac, let Omar Epps loose!!!”

While tales of Black pain and poverty do illuminate rap music more often than a little, Morray is all about turning water into wine so all his fans can enjoy better days ahead.

“I want to be that light in the ghetto,” Morray recently told Billboard. “I wanna be the person that makes you smile and shows you the hood ain’t all bad. I appreciate where I came from and I know that the ghetto can bring positive and negative memories but there’s always great cookouts, we play basketball, double dutch, and laugh. We do so much in the hood that’s positive and doesn’t get shown. I smile a lot and I want to get that message across. That’s my music: be happy and love yourself.”

And when you have Hip Hop royalty (and successful label owners) in JAY-Z, J. Cole and DaBaby taking notice, one’s self isn’t the only one loving the product. Fellow Fayetteville native Cole set things in motion on November 4 by reacting to “Quicksand” on Instagram while DaBaby has kept the song in rotation on his livestreams ever since.

Marshmello manager and industry wiz Moe Shalizi even put the proverbial Babe Ruth-pointing-to-the stands in motion tweeting, “This time next year @morrayda1 @PickSixRecords gonna be huge. Remember this tweet” on November 2. Shalizi inked Morray to his growing Shalizi Group imprint and the rest will be history.

HipHopDX will closely chronicle Morray’s tracks and triumphs alike this year. Congratulations to Da Numero Uno for being a 2021 Rising Star!

Check out more of the 2021 Rising Stars here.


  • Inks deal with Interscope Records
  • Visits “The Breakfast Club” for interview with Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy
  • ‘Street Sermons’ lands No. 7 spot on iTunes Top Albums chart
  • Performs sold out North Carolina home-state concert
  • Morray has Up Next interview with Apple Music’s Ebro
  • Has first live television performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Features on J. Cole’s “” single from album ‘The Off Season’ hitting No. 1 on iTunes Chart
  • “Quicksand” gets certified gold status!
  • Purchases first home [June 10]
  • Quicksand hits 100 million streams
  • Performs Rolling Loud Miami