Playboi Carti, Opium Records may be the new wave’s Young Money (2024)

Playboi Carti and his collective Opium have ultimately defined an entire generation of hitmakers — molding new wave talents such as Ken Carson, Destroy Lonely, Homixide Gang and more over the past few years.

Founded in 2019, a year prior to Carti’s Christmas Day 2020 classic, Whole Lotta Red, the collective initially signed one of Atlanta’s most promising emcees in Ken Carson, whose proximity to Carti during his teen years led to his eventual signing with the label. Bringing on Lonely in 2021 and Homixide Gang in 2022, producers like F1LTHY, KP Beatz and creative consultants like Burberry.Erry and Joy Divizn have all played a major part in curating the signature Opium aesthetic we know of today.

Just like Young Money in the mid-2000s, influencing an entire wave of up-and-coming rappers, Opium has seemingly rekindled this energy ten-fold. Becoming one of the most beloved—and hated—labels in the game (due to constant music delays and tour cancellations), there’s no doubt that Opium’s hold on the culture will forever be remembered.

Read more about Opium below!

Recapping Playboi Carti’s Immaculate 2024 Run (So Far)

Ken Carson

Ken Carson(born Kenyatta Lee Frazier Jr.) continues to defy expectations, evolving into one of the most innovative and sought-after emcees of our generation over the past few years. Albums like his debutLP, Project X,and sophom*ore effortXnot only sparked the Atlanta rapper’s dominance in new wave circles, but garnered an undeniable mainstream movement in the years that followed.

Carson initially joined808 Mafiain 2015 as a rapper after meeting fellow record producer TM88. He began releasing music onSoundCloudaround 2017. On the surface, Carson is the most recognizable name within the Opium crew. Being the label’s first-ever signee and producing a handful of tracks on Carti’s Whole Lotta Red, Carson’s come-up came with a ton of expectations. However, he exceeded with flying colors.

While Ken dazzled the game with his patented brand of blitzing, off-the-cuff rage beats that felt like video game soundtracks on steroids, he primarily moved to the booth during the time WLR was in production. Since then, Ken Carson has become an unstoppable force in modern hip-hop, as songs “Rock N Roll” and “Run + Ran”caught fire on TikTok during the height of the pandemic, evidently jumpstarting his superstar trajectory. His close relationship with “best friend” Destroy Lonely also was a proponent to Ken’s success within the label and beyond.

Alongside the viral nature “FIGHTING MY DEMONS” forged, Carson’s latest album,A GREAT CHAOS, was an inimitable surge for his career. His third studio album debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, marking the highest debut for any Opium artist at the time. With MORE CHAOS on the way, Ken Carson is THE star every up-and-coming rapper has molded themselves after over the past few years.

Read more Ken Carson here.

Destroy Lonely

Born Bobby Wardell Sandimanie III and the son of Atlanta rapper I-20 (peep Ludacris’ “Move B**ch” for context), Destroy Lonely has become one of the most prominent mainstream stars of our generation for many reasons. One, though, stands out amongst the rest: Intentionality.

While younger artists in the rage sub-genre were typically indicted for “being carried by their beats” at its genesis, having a strong flow and being able to rap effectivel is still of the utmost importance — and always will be. You have to be able to rap, and Destroy Lonely can.

Officially releasing music as early as 2015, Lonely has always had a certain aura enveloping his sound. Forging relationships in the Atlanta-area scene with long-time friends and collaboratorsTexaco CamandNezzus, his first-ever project was a collab effort titledNezzusDestroyed— later linking up with producerClaycoand frequently working with his collectiveUnderworld Music Group. Lonely wouldn’t start recording his music in the studio until late 2020, where he would drop his project</3and subsequent deluxe version</3²on Halloween later that year. These versatile LPs led to his collaboration with Ken Carson on “Casket,” as the two’s chemistry became instantly undeniable.

Soon after multiple songs with Carson (who have both teased a collaborative album together over the years), Lone signed to Opium in 2021, dropping his long-awaited mixtape NOSTYLIST to critical acclaim in August 2022. Sharing his official debut album If Looks Could Kill in 2023, it was clear that Lone was destined for superstardom, performing in premier festival slots at Rolling Loud, Lollapalooza and Coachella in the aftermath of its release. Now looking towards his next album, LOVE LAST FOREVER, know that Destroy Lonely is one of those artists that come around once in a lifetime.

Read more Destroy Lonely here.

Homixide Gang

Work ethic has always been of high importance to Atlanta rap tandemHomixide Gang. Before singing to Opium in 2022, Meechie and Beno built their cult following on the energetic stylings of new wave rage — touting a blitz of bars that sent shockwaves into the heart of Atlanta’s revitalized sound. So much so that it only took one track to wow its sonic pioneerPlayboi Carti.

“Y’all are superstars,” Meechie recalled of Carti’s initial reaction to “SSN” — their breakout single that immediately caught fire in the underground. From that point on, the pair knew they were destined for a brighter future than they previously imagined. “We always knew we’d be big, but not like this,” Meechie said.

It’s all a lifestyle for Meechie and Beno, whose brother-like relationship has seen the 20-something ATL natives blossom into one of the new wave’s most tantalizing acts. Their association with Carti,Destroy LonelyandKen Carsonnot only provided them with an untouchable star power from the jump, but allowed them to be themselves amid the rockstar personas Opium intrinsically curates. Projects like their debutSnotty World and 5TH AMNDMENT are evidence of their guttural, brash appeal, as their sound utilizes the heavier synths, distortion and energy consistent with 00’s signature allure. Their chemistry is off the charts, but to them, this is all they’ve known.

Read more Homixide Gang here.

Burberry Erry

Burberry Erry’s foray into the music industry happened by accident — or so he tells it. He was a fan first, falling in love with the early SoundCloud era dominated byLil Yachty,Lil Uzi Vertand of course Playboi Carti.

First appearing in the visual forFrank Ocean‘s “Forrest Gump,” Erry’s bubbly yet focused character is further proof of the trajectory he’s always been on. He’s manifested it all — even meeting Carti and getting on stage with Lil Uzi Vert in 2016-17. “You’re gonna know who I am,” he said in Uzi’s ear. Now, Erry is more than notorious for his work. He says he’s “blessed” to be in the rooms that he has — with Ye, Virgil, Carti etc. — and befriend the people who have steered the culture to its currently rugged, “Bum Fly” allure.

His relationship with Carti is even more interesting, as Erry remains humbled with constant quips of “not being famous” or having musical inclination — being more of a friend to Carti than his “stylist.” “I was signed to Opium as a creative consultant, stylist and a model. I style Carti, but he doesn’t need me,” he said. “We’re just close friends and he asks things of me. I never want to say ‘I’m his stylist.’ I’m like 90% his friend and 10% everything else.”

Read more Burberry.Erry here.

Joy Divizn

As a photographer, videographer and clothing designer, Joy Divizn’s talents lie within the confines of rudderless and rebellious allure. Combatting conventionality — saying he always felt like the “world was against me” growing up in Houston — Joy (aka Phoenix Guerrero) finds, well, joy in his passion for film. His moniker not only defines his very existence as a creative, but is a guide to lead him to a brighter state of mind. “Joy” is even tatted on his eyelid, serving as a reminder on the positive outlook he seeks.

His style is instantly synonymous with the grainy, lo-fi visuals of Opium — whose dark, rage-inducing aura is comparable to that of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. “Everything repeats itself,” he said referencing Ozzy concerts in the ‘90s, and iconic collectives like Odd Future and A$AP Mob. “It’s our time right now.” Blacked-out fits, Rick Owens, spiked chokers and dreary face makeup; all of which embodies the movement “the one” Playboi Cartiignited. While not directly signed to Opium, in Joy’s mind “creative consulting is just talking” and Carti listens.

Ultimately, intrigue is Joy’s niche — stacking mountains of reels in his hard drive that may or may not see the light of day. An integral part to capturing the process ofWhole Lotta Red, Joy’s admiration for the “biggest artist in the world” has been virtually lifelong (six years to be exact). Aside from their close friendship, Joy’s worked with Carti on a number of unreleased projects — one being a leaked snippet of Carti’soriginal verse on Drake’s “Pain 1993.”

Integral to the aesthetic Opium has culturally tethered to the game, there’s simply no 00 with Joy.

Read more Joy Divizn here.

Playboi Carti, Opium Records may be the new wave’s Young Money (2024)


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