From: Vallejo, Calif.
Essential Listening: “Big Tymin'”
Pros: Nef is the logical next phase of the swag rap renaissance.
Cons: Nef just got YG and Ty Dolla $ign on the “Big Tymin'” remix, but he needs a major co-sign beyond Cali.
In the spring, Vallejo, Calif., rapper Nef the Pharoah dropped “Big Tymin',” effectively a Cash Money tribute song way more clever and catchy than other Cash Money tribute songs (2Chainz's “Used 2,” Drake's “Practice”) made by rappers who've actually worked with Weezy. Since 2013, Nef's published several music videos to YouTube; some of them are beatjacks of generally popular '00s songs (“Rock the Boat,” “Oochie Wally”), but many others (“M.A.C.,” for instance) are canny synthesis of Nef's Dirty South influences and his hometown, hyphy style. Sounds like a recipe for hit records. —Justin Charity