Bryant Dope is ready for his calling. The 20-year old Queens rapper is all in, his dreams distilled into municipal anthems, his energy reflected in the modern day chronicles of the New New York. His style uproots the classic boom-bap tradition and transplants it to the skate shops and blunt smoke of contemporary Hillside Avenue.
Catch the Young One Records-signed artist posted up on the block, sipping Arizona Iced teas and spitting the most rugged rhymes in the borough. He grew up in Springfield Gardens, five blocks from the hood and five from million-dollar homes. It’s partially what allows him to effectively convey his balance of street-wise lyrics and raw from the soul message. He’s an everyman with an extraordinary talent— still so young that he’s currently entering his senior year as a business management major at SUNY-Purchase.
“I’m trying to take Queens to the next level,” Dope says. I’m trying to be the voice of the youth and inspire people. If I can do it, so can they.”
Born and raised in the borough that spawned Nas, 50 Cent, and a Tribe Called Quest, Dope is molded by the entire history of Queens music. Songs like “QB” and “Queens Kids” match a silky-smooth flow with songwriting that recalls when Queens was known as the place where stars were born. And though he’s only released a pair of mixtapes, he’s already being heralded as the neighborhood’s next great.
Noisey called his debut, 2011’s Queens Kids, a “low-key classic” and said that Dope’s music “radically reframes the old school to make it seem revolutionary.” The Fader celebrated his “ominous smack-you-in-your-nose-bone verses over gothic organ runs and classic rap samples.” Complex understood that Dope’s been “steadily building buzz as one of the standard bearers for the city's latest wave of rap talent.” They accurately described this May’s New New York mixtape, as “movement-hyping.”
The wave has been building for the last two years, since Dope originally linked up with his producer, fellow Queens native Hannibal King—whose resume includes work with Mac Miller, Casey Veggies, and Joey Bada$$.
“Right after we met, we decided to start working on songs. The first one he sent me was “Queens Kids,” Dope remembers. “We put the video out and people immediately started to see our vision.”
The vision was clear. A kid who grew up on Jay-Z, DMX and 50, but found his fearlessness and sound in some of the legends of the past. If you listen closely, you can hear the willingness to spit the truth of 2Pac, the playful wit of Tribe Called Quest, even the bacdafacup rowdiness of Onyx. Most of all, you hear Bryant Dope, the phenom who has next.
“I’m going to create a lane for people to be individuals. I want to provide hope,” Dope says. “That’s what’s missing from hip-hop, someone who’s not afraid to be themselves at such a young age.”