By Walt Johnson
Photos from Rubberband OG and DOE B’s Facebook Page
It’s been 2 and ½ years since Montgomery, Alabama rapper and T.I. cosign Doe. B was murdered in a Montgomery night club. The biggest rapper to ever come out of Montgomery– and arguably Alabama as a whole (Yellawolf and the late, Last Mr. Biggs are also contenders)- Doe B.’s death still looms large in the state’s rap scene. And while the majority of up and coming Alabama rappers use Doe’s memory as a catalyst to work hard and put out good music, others refuse to let him rest in peace. By all accounts, Doe B. was on his way to a long and prosperous career. In fact, according to T.I., Doe was on his way to becoming “the Notorious B.I.G. of the south” (a comparison that is particularly clear in the effortless flow of Doe B.’s verse in the “Let Me Find Out” remix). Because of the overarching impact of Doe’s life and death a peaceful resignation of his legacy will likely take the emergence of a new Alabama king.
Today, rappers breakout because they are stamped by a big name (a’ la Doe B. with Hustle Gang) or through creating a mass following on their own via soundcloud (e.g. Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, XXXTentacion, and most recently, the infamous Tay K 47). The following three rappers seem most likely to take the crown of top man in ‘Bama and ride that momentum on to a successful career. (*Note: I originally had 4 rappers in contention. Tragically the 4th rapper, Bam Bam, a young man who dropped a lot of hits in 2015 and 2016 and had recently pledged to change his life and work hard to put Birmingham on the map in the rap world, was found murdered in his trunk in late July)
Rubberband OG seems to have the most momentum right now but D-Aye has been featured on more albums with recognizable names like Boosie. Without an overwhelming YouTube following or SoundCloud presence, look for Rubberband OG to go the more traditional route and sign to a big name label. And while label companies are not region-specific with southern labels signing up and coming rappers from the north and vice versa, look for Rubberband OG to sign with a big name southern label at some point in 2018 if not before.
OG’s emphasis on trap beats as well as verses and hooks with a noticeable southern twang, and a tendency to rep the south and the state of Alabama in his music and interviews/ social media presence, make him a good candidate to go the route of Doe B. before him and sign with T.I. And Hustle Gang.
However, as stylistically and sonically consistent as Rubberband OG is with Hustle Gang’s Atlanta-influenced trap beats and lyrics, there is one possible reason that T.I. may choose not to sign the Alabama emcee has absolutely no control over. T.I.’s beef with Montgomery DJ Frank White and others in the years since Doe B.’s passing has been well-documented on social media. And T.I. Has not minced words when it comes to his opinion of many individuals connected to the Montgomery Rap scene. It is therefore hard to see Tip coming back into the state to sign an artist anytime soon. This is particularly unfortunate because Rubberband OG, D-Aye, LK Snoop and other Alabama rappers are likely going to be blackballed from the Hustle Gang Records label because of the actions of several local “producers” or “agents.”
Another possibility is that Rubberband OG gets the attention of Brian “Birdman” Williams and ultimately gets a deal with Cash Money Young Money Records (CMYMR). Granted, the dispute between Birdman and Lil Wayne over Wayne’s still unreleased Da Carter 5 has sparked a lot negative publicity for CMYMR over the past year. But with names like Drake and Nicki Minaj, CMYMR remains one of the most prestigious labels in the history of hip hop, in standing with the likes of Def Jam and Interscope. Moreover, all jokes and inquiries aside, Birdman has made millions in the industry taking young southern rappers with raw talent and turning them into superstars. And he’s done it consistently for 20 years, from Lil Wayne in the late 90’s to Young Thug in the early 2010s.
It’s passed time for an Alabama rapper to emerge onto the national stage. The three most likely candidates to do so are Rubberband OG, D-Aye, and LK Snoop with OG espousing the most momentum right now. D Aye and LK Snoop are both nipping at his heels. With Doe B’s legacy still greatly affecting the state’s Rap scene– both positively and negatively, internally and externally- a brand new face must emerge as the savior of Alabama Rap.
To make your own opinion about who the next big name in hip-hop to come out of Alabama will be, check out my Spotify Playlist of just Alabama Rappers & my YouTube playlist of music, interviews and analysis of all things related to the Alabama Rap scene under YouTube Playlist “Montgomery/ AL Rap”. Lastly, for the most quality, up-to-date, new-rap playlist on Spotify, check out “Rap Caviar”.