Local Artists Hope for Hip-Hop Success

By Josh Samson

UJW Staff

WASHINGTON — In this new age of hip-hop, it has been harder for new artists to break onto the scene and become superstars. Everyone has goals of being the new Jay-Z or Lil Wayne, but few have ambitions of becoming their own persona. At just 20 years old, local rappers Bigg Ab and Pauly Paul plan on doing just that. 

“We’ve known each other since we were 8 years old,” Abhishek Isaac, also known as Bigg Ab, said. “We went to school together, Rock View Elementary School and Albert Einstein High School (in Kensington, Md.)”

After working on a mix tape together titled The Come Up, the duo was undecided about its future in music for several years. After moving through many phases, the duo changed styles from hard-core gangsta rap to party records, stress-therapy lyrics and even auto-tune crooning. 

But that transition could bring them closer to a major record label deal if they do well in a Florida-based competition. 

In the Next to Blow competition, which starts April 24 in Miami, each artist enters three songs that the judges, who include music producers and record label executives, use to pick their favorites. The selected artists then perform for a chance at first place. 

“It’s really for young artists to showcase their talent, and we are it,” Bigg Ab said in a recent interview at their recording studio in Washington, D.C. “We are the next to blow.”

In the past year, the duo has gone from making records for fun to performing shows in the Washington area and Florida, and making radio appearances as they try to build a fan base.

“We didn’t even know we would be doing this a year ago,” Paul Apostolides, also known as Pauly Paul, said. “We first realized we would do this seriously when we got the call.”

That “call” came from Pauly Paul’s uncle, Gary Kompothecras, an entrepreneur who is on the board of NASA, and runs a Florida company that supplies victims of automobile accidents with lawyers.

“We got a call (from Gary), who said we should come down to Florida for a radio show, and it just took off from there,” Pauly Paul said. “It was a spur-of-the-moment decision for us.”

The response from Florida hip-hop fans has been “almost surreal,” Pauly Paul said. At the same time, he said, “You can’t let it go to your head.”

“We’re going to make the best out of this opportunity,” Bigg Ab said.  “We’ll continue to make this great music.”

Although they both agree that the District is their home and they have nothing but love for it, the duo felt that the music scene is a polarized market that offers no room for improvement or change. 

“I feel like the state (of hip-hop in D.C.) is pathetic. It’s garbage,” Pauly Paul said. “The music talent here is not universal. Either it’s gangsta rap or it’s extra lyrical, like Wale. There is no middle ground.”

When it comes to hip-hop on the whole, however, Bigg Ab said that rap is “a young man’s game” and artists need to start thinking outside the box.

“I think hip-hop needs to expand. In my opinion, pop is taking over,” Bigg Ab said. “Now you see these huge hip-hop artists moving towards pop because that’s where the money is. With us, it’s like a balance of both.”

That balance can be heard in their newly released mix tape Next To Blow Vol. 1 and their upcoming mix tape The Come Up 2

“Expect more hard music, more new sound, and more talent,” Bigg Ab said, “Basically, we are the next to blow.”


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.