It’s pretty clear that culture is looking back on the Arsenio Hall years with immense nostalgia. Whether it’s Spaceghost Purrp, Joey Bada$$ or the latest 16-year old with potential, it’s clear that Yo! MTV Raps trading cards are currently worth their weight in gold ropes. But rather than malign hip-hop for looking back, it’s more accurate to see this is a natural trend. From Tony Starks to Camp Lo, the rappers of the 9os used the 70s for everything from sample sources to style. Rap has always used the past to inform the present. So long as retro culture doesn’t wind up with a bunch of backward-thinking “take it back to the essence” types, everything should work out fine. And for what it’s worth, there’s nothing wrong with preserving a culture and heritage. Past is prologue. Place your favorite bromide here.

This is a long way to introduce Dakota Chris, who is 16-years old and born and bred in Los Angeles. His musical bloodline is bona fide. Tricky Stewart is his uncle. His grandmother was a soul singer that sung on Curtis Mayfield records and his mom was a songwriter who had hits for Toni Braxton. Chris dropped out of school last year to focus on music full-time. The evidence is up front in his flow, unusually confident and agile for a kid who might not even have a driver’s license. I’ll spare the hype because he is extremely young and has plenty of room to grow. But for someone who grew up on Illegal and Da Youngstas and Shyheim, there’s something cool about watching someone your own age kill it. If I was in high school, this would be immediately added to the iPod. For now, he’s as worth watching as anyone his age. His debut EP, No Doubts or Limitations, is streaming below the jump.

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