Philadelphia has a long and proud history of rap music, with some of the most iconic and influential artists in the genre hailing from the City of Brotherly Love. From Meek Mill to Schoolly D, the city has produced some of the most successful and renowned rappers in the world. But who were the pioneers of Philadelphia rap music? MC Breeze, from West Philadelphia, was one of the earliest rappers to make an impact in the city. He was a contemporary of Schoolly D's and left an important legacy in Philadelphia.
Meek Mill is another Philadelphia native who started out with battle rap and quickly rose to fame with his mixtapes. He is now well-known for his work on criminal justice reform, and has a short documentary series based on his legal issues. Beanie Sigel is another notable rapper from Philadelphia, although he has had some public disputes with fellow artist Meek Mill. Cassidy is one of the best freestyle and rap battle rappers in Pennsylvania. He gained fame through these niches, releasing disc tracks back and forth with Meek Mill and battling Freeway.
Schoolly D is another classic rap artist from Philadelphia who began her career in the mid-1980s and often wrote rap songs that appeared in movies. The list of influential Philadelphia rappers also includes Will Smith, Lady B, Jazz Fresh, Tuff Crew, Parry P, MC Sport, and many more. These artists have helped shape hip hop culture as we know it today. The huge scene of rap battles also played an important role in the history of Philadelphia rappers, seeing the start of Cassidy's career or watching old clips of Meek Mill with braids rapping in the heart of the streets of Philadelphia. Other important combat rappers were Philly Swain, Tech 9, E. Ness, Kaboom, Rone and many others, while characters like Cyssero and Reed Dollaz were some of the oldest legends. The current generation of Meek Mill, PNB Rock (RIP), Lil Uzi Vert and Tierra Whack has helped continue the Philadelphia rap music tradition and the success of the city's hip hop scene.
The biggest contributions to the Philadelphia hip-hop scene have not always necessarily been Lil Uzi Vert or Meek Mill, but rather the large number of local and regional rappers who are still present and thriving in the heart of Philadelphia. From AR-AB and Kur to numerous emerging rappers who have gone from being local and regional to having a national and, sometimes, international reach. Freeway's skills as a battle rapper solidified his reputation with JAY-Z, and wrestling has long raised up some of the best in Philadelphia. Both rappers are involved in the same scandal, and Steady B is also serving a life sentence for contributing to the murder of a Philadelphia police officer during a bank robbery. Another Christian rapper from The Cross Movement, Phanatik, is one of the best Philadelphia rappers in his genre. The era of State Property, as well as that of other Philadelphia rappers such as Eve and Gillie Da Kid and Major Figgas, would bring new light to the city by selling millions of records and consolidating a new generation for the Philadelphia hip hop scene. Philadelphia has been home to some of the most influential rap artists in history.
From MC Breeze to Meek Mill to Schoolly D to Freeway to Lady B to Will Smith, these pioneers have helped shape hip hop culture as we know it today.