Last year we watched the scene of hip-hop change right in front of our eyes. It seemed as if the content was fading away while the beats were taking over. The music has been captivating, but it seemed to all have a similar sound. In the fourth quarter of 2016, we had the chance to sit back and look at all of the heat the year has provided for us. Whether it sounded like the same sounds or the tracks were out of this world, 2016 picked up the slack for 2014 and any slack from 2015. Now that the bar is officially back up, 2017 should be an even more remarkable year for music. Here are the artists to look out for in the year 2017.
Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Nav has been on my watch list since the spring of 2016. Over the past couple of years, we have seen a heavy influx of Canadian talent in the world of hip-hop. No, I’m not talking the biggest two of the biggest artist in the world right now being Drake and The Weeknd, I’m talking some raw rappers and singers such as Jazz Cartier or DVSN. Throughout the rest of 2016, Nav has notably become another face of this new Toronto movement after acquiring millions of plays on his SoundCloud. His mellow flow and brash lyricism seemingly serves as a perfect mix between actual content and the new XXL Freshman Class hip-hop sound. As some sat and watched his silent but important movement, those who were sleep woke up once you heard his appearance on Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, featuring on Travis’ “Beibs In the Trap”. Not to sound cliché but, if you don’t know, now you know…
Kehlani has been out for a couple of years now but unfortunately, her journey has been up and down. Reppin’ the Bay Area, her only inconsistencies has come from her personal life because her music can hold her up itself. So as we saw, she started dating PARTYNEXTDOOR and despite their “R&B marriage”, things hit the fan. After dropping one of the best R&B mixtapes of our time, Cloud 19, and her debut, Grammy winning album, You Should Be Here, Kehlani disappeared to work on herself. As fans we contemplated if she was OK but had an increased sense of worry pondering upon the idea that her music was taking a halt. In the summer of 2016, after a few long months, she made her return by dropping “CRZY” and announcing her upcoming sophomore album SWEETSEXYSAVAGE with a full tour lineup. Since then, she’s another track called “Distraction” which served to show us that Kehlani still had the juice. This year in 2017, will mark the year of her comeback and re-bolster her as one of the freshest talents to hit the game.
A-Boogie wit da Hoodie
I had been hearing his name here and there but didn’t find anyone to put me on until the end of 2016. I sat in the car with a friend of mined named Sierra as she played a tune called “My Shit”. I could not let her get out of the car until I heard the end because although I did not know what I liked about it, I knew it was fire. A Boogie has probably had one of the fastest growing evolution’s I have seen over the past 3 years. In one second, his name was literally everywhere. From his first tape Artist to the BET Cypher, A Boogie has been clean and on the way up since he took the first step. Music in New York has never died but truthfully speaking, The Bronx has a few cats that are always slept on. I’m happy A Boogie made it out. After releasing TBA and collaborating with artists such as Lil Bibby, Kehlani, and Quavo, I think this upcoming year will come with a lot of flavor. I have trust that A Boogie will get out of his bag and make tracks that hit across the map like tsunamis. Don’t be surprised to see him on the next XXL Freshman Class.
“Bankroll after bankroll I love to spend, yeah”. Originally from Chicago, Kodie Shane has a honest formula for making perfectly balanced music. She currently is stationed in Atlanta so maybe the mix of locations is what differentiates her from other female rappers in the game. Y’all already know the scene in Chicago; everyone is just as nice on the trap side with G Herbo as they are on the other with Chance the Rapper. And Atlanta, has been historically a capitol on the map when it comes to music. Mix those two and you have Kodie Shane. You might have seen her face as the first lady of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team but her brand has always been individual. She only has two official tapes on the map right now, Little Rocket and 2060, Kodie dropped her debut album Zero Gravity in the year 2016. To say the least, her time is only growing closer and our eyes are definitely focused.
I’m not going to lie; up until this point, I was a little skeptical when it came to Dreamville. It’s not like I slept on their artists too hard but I definitely dozed at anyone other than J. Cole and Bas. A woman with a strong voice seemed to be exactly what they needed. Ari Lennox signed to Dreamville in 2016 and released her debut EP PHO. Straight out of D.C. we first caught a listen of Ari Lennox on Omen’s Elephant Eyes if you’re a real Dreamville fan and if not, on J. Cole’s Revenge of the Dreamers 2. With “Sweat It Out” and “Backseat” serving as the first two courses of the meal, her voice was more than enough to remain fed. I haven’t heard a voice this deeply rooted since I first heard SZA back in 2013. Ari Lennox makes music that’s like syrup to your ears. Look out for her in the year 2017.
I had the pleasure of meeting Smino last spring at Syracuse University. At the time, I had no idea that this man came with so much heat in the booth. Smino is originally hails from St. Louis, Missouri but is now stationed in Chicago. Do I even have to describe the wave of music in Chicago? Probably not but just know their army has been and will continue to be stacked with weapons. A Smino track is flooded with charismatic poetry. The delivery is rough hearted but his tracks musically sit so well on the ear. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Smino dropped S!CK S!CK S!CK and blkjuptr before soon after going on tour with Chicago general Mick Jenkins. I caught him when he opened up for Anderson Paak but I’m certain his main stream introduction came from his aspiring verse on Big Sean’s “Living Single” featuring Chance the Rapper. This man is not a fluke, just watch him move.
Reppin’ Brooklyn, New York, Young M.A. had the track of the summer with “Ooouuu”. When I came back up to the north, the takeover was real because this song was in every headphone, party, and car. We know how this new school music thing goes. Someone drops a hit, makes millions, becomes the face of the game, and then takes a step back. Serving as the new “Hot Nigga”, we would think that “Ooouuu” would be the only hit Young M.A. had but then she dropped “EAT”. Damn… New York has raw talent at its peak but this is some new level musical nudity. Its more than clear that the talent is there and to be honest, we don’t even need another project. We just need her to keep hitting with these entrancing cadences and proving that Brooklyn will never die. She’s peerless and this year, I still don’t see anyone touching her skill.
My introduction to MIKExANGEL came when R&B king Trey Songz dropped To Whom It May Concern in November of 2015. He was featured in a track called “Everybody Say” featuring XXL Freshman Dave East and then on a second being “Never Enough”. I saw his name come up a few times in the following year but still hesitated to search his discography. Hailing from Virginia, Trey is appearing as if he is trying to pass the crown and this guy just might be the perfect selection. He does not sound like Tiller, The Weeknd, or Tory; he sounds like a mix between two of the best being Trey Songz and Chris Brown. He recently collaborated with Trey again on Anticipation 3, released just last week. As we’ve seen him in the studio cooking up with everyone from Lil Uzi Vert to Zaytoven, it’s safe to say that this upcoming year, he will come out on top.
By K. High