Roddy Ricch Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Compton rapper Roddy Ricch dropped his debut mixtape, Feed tha Streets, in November 2017, and he’s since earned a spot in hip-hop’s top tier. In the year leading up to his first full-length album, December’s Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial (Atlantic), Ricch lent his gritty, soulful vocals to DJ Mustard’s Caribbean-flecked smash “Ballin’” and Nipsey Hussle’s bittersweet, reflective “Racks in the Middle,” which just won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance. At 21, Ricch knows how to bend hard-edged raps into supple, sweetly sung melodic verses; he can flit from pain to aggression to hard-won triumph in just a few syllables, and he enlivens Please Excuse Me with his pivots between gruff growls and clean coos. The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, though I’m sure plenty of people just keep listening to its irrepressibly buoyant second track, “The Box,” which recently topped the Billboard Hot 100. In his lyrics, Ricch reflects on his experiences with the criminal justice system (he was most recently arrested in August, on a domestic violence charge). The song owes some of its success to a looped sample of Ricch squirting out brief screeches that evoke the rappers who’ve emerged since Lil Wayne’s alien vocals rewired hip-hop, but that’s hardly the only reason his defiant screed against the police state has resonated with the pop audience—TikTok users in particular have flocked to “The Box,” which could help make it the year’s first megahit.   v