"Nashville is the new place to be."

Mike Floss, Nashville rapper and Music City native, is on the phone from Tennessee. He's part of the city's lesser known non-country vanguard, a group of young enthusiastic artists (like his tour mates Cherub) that are making big waves in the outside world.

On "Dopeboy Dreaming", the lead single from his November release "Don't Blame the Youth," he explores the complicated place that hip-hop inhabits in American culture. Floss negotiates a lyrical space that is both conscious and unpretentious, intensely examining some of the rap game's most egregious tropes.        

But Floss isn't sniping from an ivory tower, he's trying to negotiate street-level situations. He's the sort of every man-poet that Nashville is known for only working in a genre that most people don't know exists in Nashville.

“People are excited about Nashville and before it wasn't like that,” the 24-year-old rapper tells the us. “Now there's a pride in being from here. It's going to become a true music city, and not just a country music city.”

We caught up with Floss to find out what's hot in Nashville right now.

Hot Beats

"'Two Skies' just dropped and Sofa [Brown] killed that,” says Floss, when asked about what's happening in Nashville's hip-hop underground. "Basement East (917 Woodland St., Nashville) has been the place where all the hip-hop shows are happening.”

Plus, there's always crossover: "I just did this thing over at [Jack White’s] Third Man [Records] with Dead Weather," adds Floss. "You can tell Jack is a hip-hop head in the way those drums are structured. It's real boom-bap kinda stuff, but he hides it well so it's not corny."

Hot Chicken

When it comes to Nashville's most popular culinary export, Floss says the solid Hattie B's is his pick with East Nashville's Pepperfire close behind. 

Plus, Knockout Wings for sentimental value: " At the end of the day, that's where my loyalty lies," he admits. "My sister went to Fisk [University], and I started eating over there when she was at school because they had the crazy chicken."  

Hot Real Estate

But being the latest hot spot has its own drawbacks: “Gentrification here is getting insane," Floss laments. "I'm in East Nashville now and on my street it's a bunch of old houses that have been here forever. But every third house is a brand new $400,000 house."

"It's crazy, it's good and it's bad. Traffic is horrendous. [laughs] But a lot of people can't find places to live because the rent is just so crazy now.”   

If you go:

New York: Feb. 5, 8 p.m. Terminal 5, 610 W 56th St, 212-582-6600

Philly: Feb 6, 7:20 p.m. Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch St, 215-922-6888

Boston: Feb 14, 7 p.m. House of Blues 15 Lansdowne St, 888-693-2583