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Sampling A Growing Iowa Hip-Hop Scene

Madeleine King
IPR File
MarKaus, a Des Moines based artist, has a new album dropping on April 21.

If you listen, you'll hear Iowans creating music across all genres in our state.  One of the most vibrant areas of music creation happening today might be among Iowa hip-hop artists.

There's an inherent excitement in hip-hop music, with a rhythmic flow, intricate rhyming and fresh beats.  A wealth of Iowa talent is involved in hip-hop these days.   

"Hip-hop is thriving....As of now, hip-hop is still somewhat treated like it's not mainstream around town.  Even though it's what most people go to first in terms of actually listening to music.  The entire state: Iowa City, Waterloo, Council Bluffs-area, has a scene," says Des Moines based rapper MarKaus, who is the first artist in our sampling. 



MarKaus has a new album dropping on April 21.  In the meantime, here's a 2017 collaboration between MarKaus, Lily DeTaeye and SIRES. 

Fetty Fred

Meanwhile, over in Sioux City, Fetty Fred has a brand new video.  Fetty Fred is an entrant in this year's NPR Tiny Desk Contest (with a different video), and may be the only Iowa rapper to enter.  The deadline is April 27.

Lucius Pham is the program director for the Drake University campus radio station, "The Dog."  He offered his perspective on Iowa hip-hop. 

"There's some really spectacular work being done right here in Des Moines, and all across this state.  Local hip-hop artists are more vocal and engaged with the community now than ever before." 

B. Well, produced by Teller Bank$

Pham mentioned two artists that he felt each had exceptional hip-hop albums in 2019- B. Well and Teller Bank$, both from Des Moines.  Here's a brand new video from B. Well, produced by Teller Bank$.

Juliano Dock (AKA Trappa Juli)

Pham also singled out Juliano Dock (AKA Trappa Juli) as being "one of the most mature voices in the Des Moines hip-hop scene.  He, alongside frequent collaborator/labelmate Bagz Marley, has put out some of the most polished and consistently excellent music the city has ever seen."  This is their 2019 music video for "Leisure Suit Larry" which also features FlyLife.

Torrian Ball


Quad Cities rapper Torrian Ball (from East Moline) is coming from a past of tragedy and addiction, motivating him to be a positive force through his music. 

Of course, with these artists we are only scratching the surface of Iowa hip-hop!  It's a genre that's only going to keep growing, and Iowa hip-hop artists will continue to create in these uncertain times and beyond.

Mark Simmet is a Senior Producer and Studio One Host