Age: 21
Recent Project: Gas Pedal EP

Sage the Gemini is the most successful rapper nobody's talking about. His song "Gas Pedal" landed in the Top 40 earlier this year, peaking at No. 29 on the Hot 100. His second single, "Red Nose" reached No. 52 on the chart, and both have been fixtures on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts for months. That success is grassroots. He's still treated in the press and by rap blogs as the second-tier guy (to IamSu!) in a moderately well-known West Coast rap collective (HBK Gang) that he technically is.

This stance is ridiculous. If someone from New York had one song as big as either of Sage's hits, it would be getting praised as the harbinger of the city's rap renaissance. But a popular song isn't everything. Having the ability to craft an actual song counts for a lot, and it's definitely a factor that prevents many talented lyricists from ever becoming more than that.

Sage isn't the hottest lyricist in the world—comparisons to Tyga or Big Sean might be apt—but he has an ear for funny metaphors that translate to great hooks, as well as a taste for punchlines that are both too obvious and just weird enough at the same time, "Her dude mad 'cause I spoon/I don't give a fork."

His songs perfectly fuse the current California aesthetic of minimal beats and laconic rapping with the libidinous club appeal and hooky infectiousness needed to elevate that sound past boilerplate regional curiosity. That quality suggests a vision that goes beyond simply being a rapper with dope rhymes and suggests that Sage has a level of sonic creativity that could serve him well for the long haul. —Kyle Kramer

RELATED: The Recipe: Sage The Gemini on Hitmaking Without a Cosign

If You Don't Believe Us Listen To: "Gas Pedal"