It’s hard to pin down exactly what culture in South Carolina is, but one thing that South Carolina isn’t known for is its hip hop presence.
It’s probably surprising to many that the state has contributed a significant number of relevant hip hop artists into the music scene. A number of grassroots media organizations have made efforts to publicize the struggle and grind of hip hop artists from South Carolina, as a lack of publicity and access to labels has made it difficult for aspiring performers. For many of them, it would be impossible to move to New York or LA to try and “make it.” Familial obligations, financial restrictions, and a sense of hometown pride are keeping most from leaving the South.
Streets of South Carolina Cut Many Careers Short…
Unfortunately, many of these performers might like to be able to do so. South Carolina is one of the most violent states in the US, currently ranked at #9 on USA Today’s list of the states in order of danger. In addition to violence, SC also has a problem with drug addiction, as the opioid epidemic continues ravaging the United States. Both of these issues have a direct relation to hip hop, as they disproportionately reflect the state of our working classes.
Since its origins, hip hop has been a tool for lower and working class people to share their stories. Music by artists like Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, Biggie was defined by where they were raised, and the struggle that came with it. Nowadays, common rap sound effects like gunshots and police sirens originated from early tracks trying to capture the raw risk of living in the ghetto, or in the inner city. Hip hop has been a way for many young artists to deal with their problems, define their experiences, and share them with the masses. There are plenty of problems for rappers of SC to share.
In this article, we’ll be taking a comprehensive look at the biggest names in the rap world to have come out of South Carolina, going off of their social media followings, streaming statistics, and video views. Essentially, we’ll be boiling down their online presences. With the arrival of the internet, many independent artists are skipping the professional studio and directly releasing their own music online. It’s difficult now to gauge someone’s success without taking the digitization of music into account. Someone might not be selling any concert tickets, but if they have hundreds of millions of listens on Spotify or Tidal, then that’s success in its own right.
Here is the list of the top South Carolina rappers to date.
#1 – Speaker Knockerz
Derek McAllister, AKA Speaker Knockerz, is statistically the most successful rapper to have ever come out of South Carolina. He was a rising sensation in the hip hop world until he accidentally overdosed on codeine in 2014, at the age of 19. Before his death, the rapper showed innovation with a hard sound that perfectly balanced gritty and energizing. Though he was never signed to a label, the artist had a large online following, with his music videos averaging between 200K – 3M views on YouTube. On Spotify, the rapper has accumulated tens of millions of listens, with his most popular track, “Lonely,” accumulating 62 million listens by itself. Five years after his death, the rapper still averages over 860K monthly listeners.
On social media, McAllister has 80K followers on Twitter, and 156K on Instagram, even five years after his death. The rapper released over four albums over the course of his short career, and collaborated with major artists like Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, and Meek Mill. With a net worth of $250 – 400K, the 19 year old was obviously destined for great things. Unfortunately, he fell into the grip of an all too common vice in South Carolina – opioids.
In 2019, Charleston County was reported to have the highest rates of opioids out of anywhere in the United States. Opioids are powerfully addictive, and they produce a powerful high, which is the reason for their popularity in the hip hop world. Codeine, Percocet, oxycodone, and Xanax are all featured heavily in hip hop lyrics, and used heavily by many of their creators. Speaker Knockerz was no exception, and instead of a decades-long career, his legacy will be a shadow of what it could have been.
“Pass me the drink I pour it up
I’m about to double up my Styrofoam cup
Hoes show me love when they see me in the club
I’m too faded I can’t even dap you up” – Speaker Knockerz, “Dap You Up”
After his death, #RIPSpeakerKnockerz became a Twitter trend in the United States, with many mourning the loss of another young hip hop artist. His friend and music video director Zack Dillan, however, had a different take on the issue. Dillan tweeted out a personal statement from the perspective of a friend of the young rapper, and ignores any of McAllister’s professional accomplishments.
“rip my bro speaker knockerz man fr fuck all this rap shit that was my nigga ill remember every laugh we ever had…”
View Speaker Knockerz “Lonely” music video below. It has over 120-million views on YouTube:
#2 – C.KHiD
Rodrick Rainey, better known as C.KHiD, is a South Carolina rapper that at one point was a rising star in the online hip hop community. Back in the late 2000’s, the rapper was averaging a few hundred thousand views on his music videos, with a few of his tracks, like “Cash On Deck,” “It Is What It Is,” and “I Want This World” cracking over a million views on YouTube. His most popular track, “Yeah Yeah,” was released in 2010, and accumulated 3.1 million views on the popular video site. These songs seemed to come out of nowhere, and were generating a lot of interest. However, just as quickly as he had arrived, C.KHiD disappeared from the music scene.
For years following, Rainey’s social media documented his adventures across the world, as he visited the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Romania, and other nations. During this absence, he seemed to still be making material, but these occasional songs were nowhere near his initial level of activity. In early 2019, the artist released two singles, but these have not been widely promoted in any way.
On social media and streaming sites, the rapper has been relatively quiet, averaging less than 200 monthly listeners on Spotify, 5K Instagram followers, and 1.3K followers on Twitter. This is reasonable, as the rapper has been relatively inactive in the music scene since his heyday. His YouTube channel still has 28K subscribers.
However, it’s unclear at this point whether music for C.KHiD is still a professional pursuit. The rapper still uploads on social media from time to time, but not frequently. In one of his most recent posts, Rainey pays his respects to the late Nipsey Hussle. In a video where Rainey is visiting the “Naybahood” of Nipsey, he talks to a Popeye’s cashier about the recently slain legend.
View C.KHiD video “Yeah Yeah” below. It has over 3-million views on YouTube:
#3 – Blacc Zacc
Blacc Zacc is an active South Carolinian rapper that has been in the scene for a few years. An up and comer, his most successful music video at around 500K views is for his track “Trappa of the Year,” which was released three years ago. On Spotify, he averages 140K monthly listeners. On Instagram, the rapper currently has 153K followers, but isn’t too active on Twitter, with roughly 5K followers. On YouTube, the rapper has roughly 8K subscribers.
Since his start, the rapper has been grinding to be noticed, and is mentioned in various documentary series, like YouTube channel Great Film’s knockoff NOISEY doc “Welcome to South Carolina.” This series explores the tough lives rappers have in South Carolina, between the constant grinding, the small space to grow in, and the crime-ridden underscene.
Blacc Zacc’s rise to fame is a good representation of the average rapper’s journey when living in the south. According to the biography on his website, Blacc Zacc, or Zachary Chapman, utilized grassroots campaigns to spread his music across the south, which mostly consisted of spreading mixtapes and collaborating with any producer that’d work with him. This approach, while dismally slow considered to just “knowing somebody” in the business, is the technique that basically all southern rappers have to follow — albeit with some adaptation for the digital age.
Blacc Zacc continues to release new music, with his newest video, “Trappin Like Zacc,” having accumulated over 59K views so far. He’s also just signed a million dollar record deal allegedly. A wise artist, he’s also planted his earnings into a new house versus just jewelry, though he has the most diamonds of anyone from SC thus far.
#4 – Jugg Money
Jugg Money is a name you might not be too familiar with, but like Speaker Knockerz, it is because his career was cut tragically short in 2014. The Anderson, South Carolina rapper was murdered while standing at a gas station with friends. Witnesses of the rapper’s shooting speculated that the motivation was revenge. His killers were sentenced to 20-30 years each for the slaying (read here).
Jugg Money was a promising musician, with his most popular song “Teach You How 2 Jugg” reaching over 200K views on YouTube. His style was said by many to be the next Waka Flocka Flame.
#4 – Lil Ru
Lil Ru is a successful rapper that has been active for some time. His first single “Will Destroy” was released in 2001, and the rapper has since been signed with Def Jam Recordings, the enormous hip hop label that also handles rappers like 2 Chainz and Big Sean.
In 2015, Lil Ru released his own label, Presidential Music. The rapper hasn’t had any big hits recently, with his most successful song still being “The Nasty Song,” released in 2009. This song has garnered 2.7 million streams on Spotify, and over 9 million views on YouTube.
#5 – NGeeYL
NGeeYL is a rising rapper from Spartanburg, South Carolina. The 21 year old describes his music as having “drive by swag,” and says it’s the kind of stuff you’d listen to while committing a drive by. The rapper incorporates violence into his sound, as well as drugs, saying that “percs” (Percocet) inspire all of his music.
Fans seem to vibe with the music that NGeeYL is coming out with, as the rapper currently averages around 40K monthly listeners on Spotify, with his top tracks having over 300K listens. His top videos on YouTube also have hundreds of thousands of views, with his most successful, “Slime Shit” having accumulated over 700,000.
#6 – Ace Xartel
Violence is an unfortunate hallmark of the South Carolina rap game. In 2017, a shooter killed rapper Ace Xartel’s pregnant girlfriend. The shooter had previously rapped with Ace in a music group, but people say that the two were not feuding. Police have declined to identify any motive, but it’s clear that the rap game got between the two artists.
Top South Carolina Rappers not mentioned
South Carolina may seem plagued with violence and racism still, but this seems to have inspired a number of young rappers to tell their tales through music. Not only this, there seems to be a lot more to the culture of the southern state than this. It’s not just a place of small towns and smiling faces as it’s advertised.
As the rap game continues to expand in SC, it will be interesting to see how many of these artists make it to success, and if they are able to continue making it. Quite a few new names are buzzing in the state and with the aid of the machine called ‘SCMG’ behind many of the artists coming up now, expect Grammy’s soon.
“Renni Rucci” was not mentioned on this list yet, but the femcee has been slamming numbers on Youtube the last 2 years. Labels are battling for her and even Billion Dollar Baby “Stunna 4 Vegas” has been shouting her out in recent songs. Expect her name to be added to this list shortly as she is #2 on the list now, only behind Speaker Knockerz.