• The New Hub: Five Inland Empire Rappers You Should Know

The New Hub: Five Inland Empire Rappers You Should Know

For the past 25 years, Los Angeles has been a mainstay in the hip-hop scene. It’s one that is more diverse than ever, thanks to such collectives as Top Dawg Entertainment, Odd Future, Pushaz Ink and more. In recent years, however, a nearby region within Southern California has been going through a renaissance. Just east of L.A., the Inland Empire, one of the largest populated regions in the country, has gone from the occasional rapper scoring a national deal (i.e.: Sly Boogy), to attaining a reputation for being home to some of the most diverse artists in rap music. Here are five Inland Empire rappers with staying power. [Photo via Hit-Boy Tumblr]

 1. Hit-Boy

The first figure to know in the progression of the I.E.’s rap scene is Hit-Boy. The Grammy award-winning Fontana producer/rapper has gone from being signed to production deals under Polow Da Don and Kanye West, to now running his label HS87 under Interscope. Taking on a Dr. Dre-esque approach, Hit-Boy recruited a stable of artists to HS87, ranging from hip-hop duo Audio Push to his dad Big Hit and featured them all on the recently released compilation We The Plug. Equally skilled on the mic and behind the boards, Hit-Boy is bringing his rhymes to the forefront, as heard on his Hit-Story mixtape, and all over We The Plug (including on the posse cut single “Grinding My Whole Life”).

 2. Audio Push

The next act from the I.E. to get familiar with is the previously mentioned Audio Push. Originally emerging from Rialto in 2009 under the jerking movement (alongside The New Boyz) with their single “Teach Me How To Jerk,” Oktane and Price Tag have shown in recent years that they aren’t to be nailed down solely to the jerking scene. After being dropped from Interscope in 2010, Audio Push kept on chugging by releasing several free mixtape projects. It culminated in the 2013 mixtape release of “Come As You Are”. Drawing equal parts inspiration from Eminem and B2K, Audio Push exhibited musical diversity on “Come As You Are”, most notably on the Janet Jackson-sampling single “Shine.” Now signed again to Interscope under HS87, look for Audio Push’s debut album to be released later this year.

 3. Curtiss King

If Hit-Boy is considered by some to be the Dr. Dre of the I.E., then think of Riverside-based rapper-producer Curtiss King as the DJ Quik of the scene. Having produced numerous tracks for Ab-Soul of TDE, Glasses Malone, and many others, Curtiss has been a fixture on the scene for several years. Before the 2012 release of his album “Atychiphobia”, Curtiss King ran a successful 97-day grassroots campaign to perform at the Paid Dues festival. Paid Dues co-founder and L.A. underground legend Murs took notice of Curtiss’ work ethic. He eventually took him on a nationwide tour and earlier this year he released “Shut Your Trap”, a project entirely produced by Curtiss. Between the EP with Murs, producing “Tree of Life” for Ab-Soul’s latest album “These Days…” and the recent formation of Pterodactyl Jones with long-time collaborator Noa James, Curtiss is establishing himself as one of the most diverse artists to come out of the Inland Empire today, plus he is getting known as a producer as well.

 4. Speak

Hailing from Moreno Valley, Speak (real name Anthony Negrete) has been releasing music that could be considered within the same lineage of the beloved Project Blowed scene that acted as the antithesis to L.A. gangsta rap of the ‘90s. Though originally known for co-writing Kreayshawn’s hit single “Gucci Gucci”, by now Speak has far surpassed his initial claim to fame. Speak skillfully weaves subtle references over a soundtrack of hazy production. His recent release, “Gnarly Davidson vs. The Marlboro Man” showcases Speak’s growth as a songwriter, especially on songs like “Bulletproof Denali” and “Mazda Blue.”

 5. Eddy Baker

While a lot of the newer artists out of the Inland Empire draw inspiration from some classic West Coast rap music, Ontario-based rapper Eddy Baker gets his from the Mystic Stylez-era of Three 6 Mafia and other classic Southern rap music from the mid-‘90s. With deep vocals and a deliberate delivery, the former Raider Klan member has been consistently releasing EPs and mixtapes like “On Call” and “Private Sessions” over the past couple years. In addition to numerous releases, Eddy’s also been a touring force alongside former Raider Klan associates Xavier Wulf, Chris Travis and Bones, performing all over the country for some of the rowdiest crowds in rap today.

Photo courtesy of Hit-Boy Tumblr 

Who are some other Inland Empire rappers to know? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Rosalyn

    September 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    yassss @ hit boy

  2. Curtiss King

    September 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you for the mention. Definitely an honor! Other IE artists folks should know:

    Dirty Birdy
    Dr. Stank
    Noa James
    Stevie Crooks
    Pheo x Cashius Green
    And many many more…

    • Jaycee

      September 22, 2014 at 12:09 am

      There’s a female out in Moreno Valley by lady stunn I seen her perform she is somone to watch out for very tight

  3. BoogIE

    September 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    How can you not have snagneto aka tio snag from the antibiotics crew on here. Tio snag has been reppin IE hip hop since grade school. Dj MC and former bboy. Djayed house parties to clubs all over the IE . Has done shows all over IE form high schools , colleges , bowling alleys , clubs , clothing stores. Has opened and djayed for many headliner hip hop artists including krs-one. Use to go out and rock LA spots like elementws and project blow back when LA cats hated IE hip hop. Performed at paid dues after winning the campaign for it. Snag still reps the IE recently dropped a new album you can get free on sound cloud. Still rockin shows from chi town to LA and back home in the IE . I could go on and on the fact that whoever wrote this slept on tio snag aka snagneto of the antibiotics crew shows they are big toe deep In the IE hip hop scene

  4. Anthony Martinez

    September 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Yo, check this dude out. He’s from the IE and is still pretty low key but he’s a producer and rapper. Very dope!


  5. Drag-on Says :

    September 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Thr33zy from Ontario, Finess the Great from Fontana, Kent Money from Fontana I think, Stevie Crooks.

  6. IE Representative Says :

    September 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    IE Rapper to know: Matisse Marie

  7. seefor yourself Says :

    September 19, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Dope article!

    Others to know…

    U can start at iamSeeforYourself.com

  8. Monique Montanez

    September 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Azma Instigator & Proph Nasty

  9. King3RD

    September 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm



  10. Lori Ann Says :

    September 19, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    King Dice should definitely be on this list!

  11. Ms. Underground

    September 19, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I can’t believe I didn’t see

  12. K Spade of C.U.F Gang

    September 20, 2014 at 12:24 am

    MO$$ of C.U.F Gang Is hands down one of the dopest if not thee dopest rapper coming out of the I.E.. and I am in no way discrediting or dissing any other I.E Rapper, I’m just saying that y’all are big time snoozing on one of the best and its time to wake up…

  13. Magnificent Ruffians Says :

    September 20, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Much love and respect to all the artist out there getting there grind on and making noise! But if you like that raw underground hip hop shit… check out Magnificent Ruffians! You better ask somebody! Your favorite rappers favorite rapper! ha ha Mag Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  14. Skan Taylor Says :

    September 20, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Fitz Taylor..my Lil bro stay hustlin’ and keep that good music flowing

  15. hiphopjunky Says :

    September 20, 2014 at 1:41 am


  16. Shadik

    September 20, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Where Cash Lansky?

  17. Onehunnet

    September 20, 2014 at 3:59 am

    M.O.D (music or die)

  18. lilgoon45

    September 20, 2014 at 10:08 pm



    September 20, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    itsandrews.bandcamp.com //

    @itsandrews on twitter.

    DREADLORD emerging from the undergrown with a Cloud rap / synthy / mellow type feel with heavy bass and dynamic percussion.
    formerly known as J. Andrews from Rialto CA PRODUCER/RAPPER

  20. enO

    September 20, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Magnificent Ruffians.
    I concur also with Snagneto and Seefor. Been at it for a while.

  21. giliath Says :

    September 21, 2014 at 10:49 am

    The Faze from Moreno Valley. Check him out: http://www.audiomack.com/album/the-faze/ep-in-a-day

  22. Devin Rodge Says :

    September 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

    actions speak louder than words. Not gonna say much about how good Devin Rodge is just check the soundcloud. There’s plenty more too.

  23. Sirr Jones Says :

    September 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I have to say this list is forgetting my boy Kalifornia Cavi as well as my self.



  24. Young Taxx Says :

    September 21, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I would consider myself off top Cash Boi Ent!

  25. Blaqiysss

    October 9, 2014 at 7:10 am

    S.I.K. (Smok3 & Iysss Krew). Signed to Wright Records/Sony.

  26. Matthew

    November 27, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Check out this new Fontana, CA rapper I found … Dopey J he just dropped a mixtape called The Uncensored 11


  27. TooTall

    March 16, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Sparaza and Metafortae are dope too. http://www.metafortae.com

  28. Almarie

    May 12, 2015 at 3:45 am

    Cool article. I would suggest “Chris Sandoe” out of Rialto. He got some radio play on Q1047 with his song “It’s A Good Day” https://youtu.be/Lz5zEHUFTkc he has worked with Sly Boogy and Daz Dillinger in the past when he went by Bigg North.

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