First State Hip-Hop Roundup

Diamond State's finest shine with a positive message

The First State has been a hotbed of hip-hop talent for the last 20 years.

From the north side of Wilmington south through Bear and Dover and beyond, scores of writers, producers and performers contribute to our vibrant local scene while making their mark internationally. Your mild-mannered neighbor might be a beast on the boards. Here are half a dozen Diamond State notables you shouldn’t be sleeping on.


Location: Bear

Mike Cannon is a founding member and DJ of the legendary Cage1 crew. His first record is a hip-hop classic that sells on eBay for more than $400. Cannon’s group, Cage1, stands for “Can African-Americans Get Equality” and has been elevating minds in Delaware for two decades. He has appeared on stage with Nice & Smooth, Gangstarr and even the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Cannon says a new Cage1 album should be ready this year.

Web site:

jem cretes

Jem Cretez
Location: Wilmington

Jem Cretez was producing beats for Peedi Crakk before his days with Rocafella or State Property. Most recently, Jem has worked with luminaries such as Jay Bezel, Xzibit and Dr. Dre’s ghostwriter Hitman. Jem also has created his own clothing line and is dabbling in film.

Web site:

wilmington hip-hop church

Hak Raw
Location: Wilmington

Hak Raw is a gospel rapper as well as a youth pastor with Praise to the King Ministries. His monthly Hip-Hop Church service meets at 7 tonight at 602 Vandever Ave. in Wilmington and features an enormously creative team of gospel rappers, spoken word artists, dancers and singers. Most recently he brought Kurtis Blow to Wilmington to preach on “Transforming the Mind of Hip-Hop.”

Web site:


Location: Dover

Splitfaces’ passion for music landed him his first recording contract in 2004 with the help of entertainment agent Eugene Foley. After that contract expired, Splitfaces started his own production company, Looney Music Inc., which is based in his hometown of Dover. A prolific artist, he has written and produced more than 300 songs and continues to hold it down in Delaware’s capital city with in-house producer Church Boi and DJ B Love.

Web site:


K.O. the Knockout
Location: Newark

K.O. the Knockout burst onto the scene with his original group, Square-One, representing the Crazy 88 crew. K.O. has since emceed numerous projects, and this year embarked on a solo mission to open minds to Delaware's hip-hop legacy. An organizer of Newark’s long-running Groove Lounge series, K.O. recently blew the roof off a concert with Jeru the Damaja.

Web site:


Iz the Truth
Location: Wilmington

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Iz relocated to Delaware six years ago and has become a fixture in his local Wilmington community. A cultural revolutionary, social activist and educational advocate, Iz organizes and promotes hip-hop and spoken word events throughout the area. Iz the Truth is the captain of the Delaware chapter of the Guerilla Republik, an international movement with thousands of members that includes well-known artists such as Immortal Technique and DJ Disco Wiz.

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