Yes, the world knows Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, but Pittsburgh has a wealth of hip-hop talent. With the Steel City’s two breakout stars already accounted for, MTV News took a trip to the ’Burgh to see who’s got next.
“A lot of people are talented. There are just a million talented people out there,” Miller told MTV News when he took us on a tour through his hometown in December.
Acts like Boaz, Chevy Woods, B White and Mayo of the 58’s, Jabari X and Varsity Squad have been repping Pittsburgh locally for some time now, and while Mac supports all the city’s homegrown talent, if he had to pick one act to break out nationwide, it would be the Come Up, a.k.a. the duo of Vinny Radio and Franchise.
“I brought them on tour and I plan on bringing them out on tour, so if it’s up to me, they’re gonna be the next people that come out the ’Burgh,” Miller said. “But there’s definitely a lot more people who could; it’s not just Vinny and Fran.”Mac Miller introduces Pittsburgh’s hottest producers.
The Come Up exist as a part of a larger hip-hop collective called the 58’s, along with rappers B White and Mayo. That union exemplifies the type of unity that exists in Pittsburgh’s rap scene.
“It’s a small city … so pretty much we’ve all been familiar with each other for a long time,” Franchise said. “Everybody in this city who’s pretty much doing it legit, we’ve all been trying to get it and put the city on.”
Taylor Gang’s Chevy Woods echoed a similar sentiment. “Everybody’s hardworking, and it’s not like a big music scene out there, so when you got somethin’, you just go with it,” he said. “Everybody sees the light that shines on [Wiz Khalifa] and Mac [Miller] and now it’s trickling down to everybody else.”Wiz Khalifa motivates Pittsburgh’s up-and-coming artists.
There is a pretty diverse group of rap characters that come out of Pittsburgh. Wiz is a hitmaker who dedicates a lot of his catalog to partying and getting high, while Mac embodies a youthful spirit. Boaz is street, and female MC Kellee Maize spits sociopolitical bars. “To be honest, I do think Boaz is right there on the cusp. I think I’m maybe close to the cusp too,” Maize said, laughing.
“I just bring that underground feel,” Boaz said, describing his deeply rooted street sound. “I embrace the culture of that poverty line that I’m speaking about.”
For years, Time Bomb has been an epicenter for Pittsburgh hip-hop. More than just a clothing store, Time Bomb has become a place for local ’Burgh MCs to congregate and sling their mixtapes to hungry fans. The shop’s owner, Brick, has seen many young artists walk through his doors, including Miller and Khalifa. When it comes to the future of Pittsburgh hip-hop, Brick is a wide-eyed optimist.
“I think Mac and Wiz opened the door, but there’s gonna be an army of producers, an army of rappers, and they’re gonna be all different. People know: Pittsburgh, it is what it is, it’s a hardworking town,” he said. “I can name 100 people, because I want everyone to make it from here, you understand? This is Pittsburgh.”
Who do you believe will be the next rap act to emerge from Pittsburgh? Tell us in the comments!
Take a look back at MTV News’ Back to the ’Burgh with Mac Miller and see how we spotlighted the city’s vibrant hip-hop scene.