2016 saw plenty new faces in the creative sphere, with many advancements in the culture broadening up the sounds that people were seeking or attempting to emulate. Every year more & more individuals pop out of obscurity and into people’s playlists, with the flow and ebb of the entire structure being entirely expected. What’s not expected is the talents that come out of this; when Kendrick dropped Overly Dedicated in 2010, who would’ve thought To Pimp a Butterfly was coming a mere 5 years in the future? The same tale/speculation can be forecasted for artists who showed prowess in 2016.
Here’s our selection of some of our favorite artists from 2016, who you should most certainly be on the lookout for in the coming new year.
Artists to Watch in 2017
- Young M.A
- For me Young M.A had been on my radar since last year after watching her Chiraq freestyle on Facebook. She always had the lyrical prowess of a veteran, but the female emcee has always been a rare breed in the rap game. It wasn’t until M.A released a single entitled “OOOOU” and the rest was history. Young M.A has since gotten co-signs from Beyonce and Alicia Keys. With an Album due out in 2017 expect to see more of this New York emcee because if there’s one thing M.Al has it’s bars and a personality as big as her freestyles.
- Deniro Farrar
- Ever since Deniro Farrar released his critically acclaimed Rebirth EP in 2014, the Charlotte NC rapper has gone through a huge transformation. Farrar dropped multiple projects on his soundcloud page but nothing that really resonated with his fans like Rebirth . That was until Deniro dropped the first part of his Red Book series. In Farrar’s latest release, he tackles multiple topics including Mass incarceration and Gentrification. In a year filled with multiple cases of police brutality, Deniro attacks issues that have been plaguing the black community in america with such anger and knowledge that is reminiscent of classic Tupac and Public Enemy. Expect to hear more from Deniro in the next year because he isn’t going anywhere from the minds of his new or old listeners.
- Russ is one of the fastest growing artists of 2016. He’s shaking up the rap and has already sold out shows worldwide and has millions of plays on Soundcloud. Russ has released over 88 songs and produced, wrote, mixed, mastered, engineered a lot of his own material. Russ definitely has a head start to 2017.
- Dave East
- Dave East had a breakout year being named a 2016 XXL Freshmen and releasing his tenth mixtape, Kairi Chanel, which was dedicated to his daughter born this year. Prior to the release he signed with Def Jam Recordings and has already started working on his upcoming debut album with his mentor Nas being the executive producer.
- Nick Grant
- A growing narrative in hip-hop this year, is the over-saturation and distain for new rappers who appear to be nothing more than a one-hit-wonder “Instagram gangsta”. While many condemn these “fake” rappers for glorifying crime, and distorting traditional Hip-Hop values, they’ve also paved the way for the truly real emcee’s. As the trends fade away, and “tour bus trappers” spin through the revolving door of popularity, Nick Grant remains a fixture. His affinity for quality over quantity and golden age sound, has created an irresistible appeal for those for favor bars over buzz.Nick Grant has set himself apart from his competition purely on lyrics and story telling, which has become a rare breed in modern Hip-Hop. It’s hard enough grabbing the attention of your city, and even harder when that city happens to be Atlanta. Every artist, including veteran ATLien’s, are now battling regularly for a piece of the pie. Due in large to social media and subsequent over-saturation, the music landscape in Atlanta grows more even with each passing day. While a hot single might propel one’s career into the spotlight for a brief moment, only those with real substance remain. Instead of temporarily lifting himself with commercial features, dance gimmicks, and flagrant social media behaviour, Nick has putting in the time creating a meaningful body of work. Through this, he has begun cultivating a strong core fan-base, something most “new rappers” never see the importance of. Without a core fan-base, there is nowhere to expand, and no foundation to stand on. This past year, Nick Grant has been making the right kind of moves. After catching the attention of L.A. Reid, he signed to Epic records in early May of this year. Since then, he has released several singles including “The Get Up” featuring WatchTheDuck, “The Sing Along” featuring Ricco Barrino, and “Luxury Vintage Rap” which have now managed to crack the ‘Hip-Hop top 10’ on several streaming services. Along with his newly inked deal, this has left Nick poised to make an enormous impact on the industry once his debut album Return Of The Cool is released. Unfortunately for fans, Grant is keeping this one close to the chest and additional details on his upcoming project are scarce. However, considering his recent popularity and success, look for the album to arrive in 2017, earlier than later. Check out what Nick had to say about 2016: “This year was everything I could ask for as an artist in his beginning stages. I was on platforms that I dreamed of being a part of as an artist. God has blessed me with so much this year that complaining would be a sin. Forever grateful! The goal for 2017 is more victories, less stress to create and be consistent on this road to being a dominant name in hip hop.”
- Cousin Stizz
- The past two years, Cousin Stizz has released two projects which feel complete, and utterly engaging. Suffolk County, released in 2015, relied on melody, and had lyrics with potential of going over your head. Then, with the release of MONDA this year, his lyrics doubled on aggressiveness and sincerity, therefore becoming the focal point of his music. It reassured everyone that the Boston rapper has a bright future ahead.Stizz is an artist who knows how (and when) to make perfect use of autotune, and he’s one that also knows the importance of starting a song with a line as intense as “Back in my city / first thing I did was hit the cemetery.” He’s improving with each project, and his style is becoming more distinct with every new song released.Cousin Stizz is on pace to become the greatest rapper of the following generation.
- Rambo So Weird
- There is not much to project Rambo So Weird’s career trajectory off of. In fact, there is not enough information about him on the entire internet. He has only one song out, and a vlog on Youtube titled “Who Is Rambo So Weird?”Nonetheless, it’s the one song–featured on DJ Esco’s latest mixtape, Project E.T–and the handful of others he teases on the Youtube video, that suggest yet another promising artist to come out of Atlanta. Plus, with the help of DJ Esco, the “Super Dumb” rapper is bound to have a successful breakthrough year in 2017. After all, we’ve seen how much help Esco was to Future during his rookie years.
- Washington, D.C. born rapper, Goldlink, or D’Anthony Carlos, effortlessly mixes hip-hop with jittery indie-vibes, that channels the 80’s music with a twist on present-day funk for a sound that is unheard of. His resumé includes the workings with artists like Anderson .Paak, and he has even made the XXL Freshman class. Goldlink describes his music as “bouncy and fun with a ton of energy” and it is just that. There aren’t many hip-hop artists in the game that can really say the same thing, and for that, he’s definitely an artist that should be on everyone’s radar.
- Ricardo Valentine, better known as 6LACK, is an East-Atlanta R&B artist who is currently taking on the game by storm after releasing his first studio album “Free 6LACK”, which was released earlier this month. The album speaks for itself – 6LACK is all about expressing his own creativity and not being tied down with a record label that limits his freedom as an artist. Not only is he driven to touch on his experiences with horrible deals that have prevented him from being the artist that he truly is, he also chose to get deep with his love life on this album. 6LACK’s drive to not conform to the industry’s standards of constantly making hit records and solely making music that is for the people is why he stands out from the rest.
- A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
- 2016 was A-Boogie’s year. The Bronx native proved to be what hip-hop needed and he took full advantage of it. With the help of his distinct melodic rapping style, A-Boogie has released two successful projects this year and caught the attention of big names like Drake, DJ Khaled and Meek Mill. Tracks like “Timeless” and “Friend Zone” have made him stand out amongst the masses and there is surely more in store for A-Boogie in 2017.
- Playboi Carti
- Playboi Carti has been a staple in the culture of underground hip-hop for about a year or two now. Also, his distinct rapping style has been an obvious influence on many aspiring rappers and established artists alike. After the release of tracks like “Broke Boi” and “Fetti” last year, Carti has maintained his relevance and kept fans questioning when he would make his triumphant return. The Atlanta rapper has managed to get signed by A$AP Rocky and drop the lively track “What” in the process but has yet to release a full-length project. 2017 should be a great year for Carti considering that his debut project will be released and it’s reception will match that of his pre-existing work.
- 2016 was a triumphant year for Abra. The Awful Records singer released her first EP titled ‘Princess’ back in July and showcased her ability to compete with the best of them. ‘Princess’, although a short project (consisting of only 6 tracks), makes a huge statement about the self-proclaimed “Darkwave Duchess” and her musical style. A mixture of 80’s pop, R&B and rap would be the closest accurate description of her sound although she definitely doesn’t coincide with any particular genre. The singer/songwriter/producer has flawlessly spread her wings in the year 2016 and 2017 will certainly be her time to soar.
And let’s not forget….
- Jay IDK
- Mus Matos
- Social Club Misfits
- Post Malone
- Jon Bellion
Tell us the artists you’re going to be watching out for in 2017!