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Video by Sean Stout

As part of the bubbling rap scene in North Carolina, Well$ has seen his childhood home turn from an afterthought in rap to one of its developing hot spots. It’s not just J. Cole anymore—rappers like King Mez and Rapsody are leading the charge along with Well$, transforming the state’s reputation as a folk music haven into something much more.

We linked up with Well$ while he was in town for our last No Ceilings concert, sitting down at Gibson Guitar Studios to recap his rise thus far. Afterwards, the rapper introduced us to his first love on the basketball court. Well$ played a lot before he started rapping, and it showed. But he decided his future didn’t lie on the court—the NC rapper gave himself two years to make inroads in the rap game, and if he hadn’t made enough progress, the plan was to “go back to school and all start over.”

We’re in year two now, and Well$ has had more than a little success. Here’s hoping it’s enough to keep him around—North Carolina’s music scene feels like it’s about to blow, and Well$ is a big reason why.