Best New Rapper
Even among gangsta rappers, Fat Trel stands out in a crowd. His thick dreads bury deep green eyes. He’s often shirtless on stage and in videos, proudly showing off his tattoos and his potbelly. Vocally, the 20-year-old is just as distinctive, with a whisper that tends to combust into a growl. The first of his two 2010 mixtapes, Youngest Runnin Da City Vol. 1, was a raucous, if strangely Auto-tuned, street-rap affair that positioned Trel as D.C.’s answer to Gucci Mane. More striking, however, was its follow-up. Released in affiliation with Wale’s Board Administration crew, No Secrets extended Trel’s goon side but also revealed the rapper as a grizzled realist in the Scarface vein. That duality is his greatest gift: He’s got youthful energy, but tempers it with a wise-beyond-his-years knack for storytelling and self-reflection. Fat Trel is the type of rapper whose music can start a fight and then talk it back down to peace.