Best Local Act Gone National

Prince Ea

Prince Ea is on a mission to "make smart cool" — "sophisticating millions and revolutionizing thought." We think it's about damn time. Taking his name from the Sumerian engineer of humanity, the young emcee dresses like Brother Mouzone and spits actual knowledge in his precocious raps, and he's ready to school the scores of cellophane rappers who recycle old rhymes or straight up steal from their betters. While he isn't yet a household name, 23-year-old Richard Williams has scored over a million views on YouTube, landed on the pages of Vibe magazine and earned coverage from the Huffington Post. He also took home the top spot in this year's Juicy J's Underground Search contest. Ea's got an aggressive social-media campaign and a loyal fan base that regularly proclaims him the savior of hip-hop. Superficiality still reigns in mainstream hip-hop, and Prince Ea's fresh rhymes make this summer's Jay-Z/Kanye collaboration sound so out of touch it might as well be from Newt Gingrich.

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