Twitter: @YP27

Pros: He already has a deal.

Cons: Risk of getting trapped in the major label system.

Essential Listening: Still Awake

Being the overachiever that he is, YP has already inked a major label deal—as of February 8, 2012 he’s an official member of the Universal Republic roster.

Repping Chicago’s Eastside, YP makes lyrical street rap, with pop sensibilities (think T.I.). His underground banger, “Who I Be,” was a mix-show smash, and the perfect set-up for his biggest project to date, Still Awake. Displaying skills as a storyteller, and inflicting piercing punchlines, YP’s dizzying wordplay proves he cares more about what he’s saying than dumbing it down for his audience.

After dropping Still Awake in September of ’11, YP headed to L.A. for a long weekend, but ended up staying for a few months to work and take meetings. What ensued was bidding war for the young rapper, which ended with YP aligning with Universal. Look for his new project, No Doz, coming in March.