Virginia rappers and hip-hop groups


When it comes to hip-hop, Virginia may not be the first state that comes to mind. But this southern state has produced some of the most influential and innovative rappers and hip-hop groups in the game. From Pharrell Williams and Missy Elliott to Pusha T and Chris Brown, Virginia hip-hop has left an indelible mark on the genre. In this article, we’ll explore the history, contributions, and sound of Virginia hip-hop, as well as highlight some of the current players in the scene.

The history of Virginia hip-hop

Virginia hip-hop has roots that go back to the early days of the genre. In the 1980s, early pioneers like The Fresh Crew and Mix-Master Ice helped put Virginia on the map. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that the state’s hip-hop scene really began to flourish.

Early influences and pioneers

Before Virginia produced its own crop of homegrown talent, the state was influenced by surrounding hip-hop scenes like those in New York and Washington D.C. The go-go music of D.C. in particular had a major impact on the Virginia sound.

One of the earliest and most influential Virginia hip-hop groups was the New Yorkers, led by producer Tony Lowe. Their 1986 single “We’re The New Yorkers” helped put Virginia on the map and paved the way for future artists from the state.

The rise of Virginia hip-hop in the 90s

The 1990s saw Virginia hip-hop rise to new heights. Not only did the state produce its own stars, but it also became a hub for collaborations with artists from other regions. This was thanks in large part to the legendary Teddy Riley, a producer originally from Harlem who settled in Virginia Beach and helped create the signature Virginia hip-hop sound.

Other notable Virginia artists from the 90s include Timbaland, Magoo, and D.R.S., whose single “Gangsta Lean” became a massive hit and is still a classic today.

The impact of Virginia artists on the national scene

While Virginia may not have as many homegrown hip-hop stars as New York or Los Angeles, the state has contributed some of the most innovative and influential artists in the game.

Pharrell Williams, for example, has been a dominant force in hip-hop and pop music for over two decades. He first gained recognition as one half of the production duo The Neptunes, producing hits for everyone from Jay-Z to Britney Spears. Later, he emerged as a solo artist in his own right with the 2013 smash hit “Happy.”

Missy Elliott is another Virginia legend whose influence can be felt in every corner of hip-hop and R&B. Her collaboration with producer Timbaland helped shape the Virginia sound, and her own solo music has been equally innovative and boundary-pushing.

Other Virginia artists who have made waves on the national scene include Pusha T and his brother No Malice of Clipse, Chris Brown, and Trey Songz.

Iconic Virginia rappers and their contributions

While there are many talented rappers and hip-hop artists from Virginia, a few stand out as true legends of the game. Let’s take a closer look at their contributions.

Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes

Pharrell Williams and his production duo The Neptunes have been responsible for some of the biggest hits in hip-hop and pop music history. From Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” to Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” The Neptunes have proven themselves to be innovative and versatile producers who can make any artist shine. They’ve also worked with many Virginia artists over the years, including Missy Elliott and Timbaland.

Missy Elliott and Timbaland

Missy Elliott and Timbaland are two of the most iconic and influential figures in Virginia hip-hop. Together, they helped create the signature Virginia sound, characterized by innovative production techniques and genre-bending experimentation. Missy Elliott’s solo music has been praised for its feminist themes and boundary-pushing visuals, while Timbaland’s production has been universally acclaimed for its unique sound and use of odd time signatures.

Pusha T and No Malice of Clipse

Clipse was a hip-hop duo consisting of brothers Pusha T and No Malice. They were known for their lyricism and streetwise tales of drug dealing and hustling. Both brothers have continued to make music after the group disbanded, with Pusha T becoming a solo star in his own right and No Malice pursuing a career in Christian rap.

Chris Brown and Trey Songz

While Chris Brown and Trey Songz may be more known for their R&B than their hip-hop, both artists have dabbled in the genre over the years. Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” featuring Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne is a standout hip-hop track, and Trey Songz has collaborated with several Virginia hip-hop artists over the years, including Timbaland and Young Money’s Tyga.

The Virginia hip-hop sound

The Virginia hip-hop sound is characterized by a few key elements. One of the most important is the influence of go-go music, a style of funk that originated in Washington D.C. and was popularized by bands like Trouble Funk and Rare Essence. Go-go music is characterized by its use of live percussion and call-and-response vocals, and these elements are commonly found in Virginia hip-hop as well.

Another important element of the Virginia sound is the role of producers. Producers like Timbaland and Pharrell were able to create unique beats and soundscapes that set Virginia hip-hop apart from other genres. They also incorporated a wide range of musical influences, from rock to R&B to funk.

Finally, the Virginia sound is characterized by its innovation and experimentation. Artists like Missy Elliott and The Neptunes were unafraid to push boundaries and explore new sounds, leading to some of the most groundbreaking and influential music of the past few decades.

Notable Virginia hip-hop groups and collectives

While Virginia may not have as many hip-hop groups as some other regions, there are a few collectives that have made a name for themselves over the years.


N.E.R.D. is a hip-hop/rock group formed by Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, and Shay Haley. The group’s sound is characterized by its fusion of hip-hop and rock, and its songs often address social and political issues. N.E.R.D. has been on hiatus for a few years, but the group’s influence on the Virginia hip-hop scene cannot be overstated.

The Re-Up Gang

The Re-Up Gang was a hip-hop collective consisting of rappers Pusha T, Ab-Liva, and Sandman, as well as producer Pharrell Williams. The group released several well-received mixtapes and albums in the mid-2000s, and its members continue to be active in the Virginia hip-hop scene.

The SuperFriendz

The SuperFriendz is a hip-hop collective based in Norfolk, Virginia. The group consists of rappers Masai Bey, Enlitis, and Nonfiction, as well as producer Shonuff. The SuperFriendz’ sound is characterized by its esoteric lyrics and boom-bap production.

The Virginia hip-hop scene today

While Virginia hip-hop has a storied history, the scene is still very much alive and thriving today. Let’s take a look at some of the up-and-coming artists making waves in the state.

Up-and-coming artists to watch

One artist making waves in Virginia and beyond is DRAM, whose blend of rap, R&B, and soul has earned him critical acclaim and a devoted fanbase. Other artists to keep an eye on include Michael Millions, Sound of the City, and Almighty Dreadnaughtz.

The role of local venues and events in supporting the scene

Local venues and events have been instrumental in supporting the Virginia hip-hop scene. Places like The NorVa in Norfolk and The National in Richmond regularly host hip-hop shows, and events like the Richmond Jazz Festival and the Hampton Jazz Festival bring together a diverse range of musicians from around the state and beyond.

The future of Virginia hip-hop

With its rich history and innovative sound, the future of Virginia hip-hop looks bright. As new artists emerge and old legends continue to create groundbreaking music, the state’s influence on the genre is sure to continue for years to come.

So the next time someone asks you about the origins of hip-hop, be sure to mention Virginia. This southern state is truly a hip-hop hotbed, producing some of the most innovative and influential artists in the game.