Photo by Rūta Smith

R Dotta knows good and well that being deemed the top up-and-comer in Charleston means the work is just getting started. The rapper, born Rashad Taylor, first sent shockwaves through his 2018 single “Top Notch” with Shack DeVille. The track introduced Charleston’s rap community to his rich voice and his captivating style, which hearkens back to the Southern hip-hop boom of the mid-2000s. He reminds listeners of New Orleans rap giant Curren$y, whom R Dotta is keen to mention as an influence. 

“Top Notch” was followed up in December 2019 by his earthquaking mixtape Call Me Dott, and 2020 has yielded the single “Right or Wrong” which debuted in June. As solid as “Right or Wrong” is, Call Me Dott is where you really start to see Dotta’s future shine. “I wanted to make a statement on that project,” he said. “I wanted it to start lyrical and fade into being aggressive while also talking about my life in a deeper sense.” 

While his songs have a thunderous energy to them, Dotta sees himself as a storyteller and a lyricist above all else. Call Me Dott opens up with an aggressive, escalating introductory poem. “If you’re not doing things conceptually then it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “I’m a writer at the end of the day. If it doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end that can be cool, but then you really just wrote ‘whatever.’ I hate hearing that from other artists, that they just wrote ‘whatever.’” 

He further cemented himself as being a South Carolina rapper when he contributed to Amethyst, a project that brought together some of the state’s biggest hip-hop names on one collective album. In fact, Dotta appears on Amethyst more than any other Charleston-based artist. 

He’s committed to being a Charleston rapper, featuring the Arthur Ravenel Bridge among the blackened collage of images on Call Me Dott’s cover. That said, he’s not just an up-and-comer in Charleston. He’s getting streams in Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Luxembourg. For those who want evidence that Dotta’s actually on the come-up, he promises a full album coming soon titled My Name Is My Name. He wants you to remember the name R Dotta and believe as deeply as he does that he can take that name far.