Last year @Awkwordrap picked 10 “emerging” artists that he considered “top prospects” for 2015. In some cases, he picked wisely; in others, not so much. This year, before sharing his next top-10 list for 2016. He’s going to do something that ‘Hip Hop journalists’ never do: critique themselves.
I knew he wouldn’t skyrocket to super-stardom — dude had simply been too dope for too long already. But I think I took an L with this one because I heard about Yonas less last year than in years past. His 2015 Going Places EP on iTunes has a near-perfect rating, with a lot of reviews, and his lead single “Live It Up” is at nearly a million plays on Soundcloud and Youtube combined, so I know my mans has emerged. But I’m just not sure if it happened in 2015 or if he’d already reached his — albeit, pretty damn high — plateau.
AG DA CORONER
Off by a year, that’s it. Sip the Nectar drops any minute.
I’m taking this one. Homeboy Sandman went from buzzing NYC underground star to being everywhere in 2015. He made a critically acclaimed album with Aesop Rock that just got the remix treatment from Mike Shinoda, was featured by The Guardian, headlined tours in the U.S. and Europe, and smashed a number of major festivals with his high-energy performances.
Chris is like Yonas, but on a bigger scale. He already signed a deal with E1 Music in 2013, his debut studio album dropped in 2014 — which is what piqued my attention — and he already had his niche. In fact, he might have lost some of his fanbase, having to share ear time with the likes of Mike Stud and Hoodie Allen, not to mention Lil Dicky. If you ask me, there’s no comparison among Chris and the other aforementioned, but I have to be in a special place for this kind of rap anyway.
It’s Chicago. The New New York. Tough competition. Alex is still doing his thing, and I think his star continued to rise in 2015. But others may have surpassed him. Joey Purp, Saba Pivot, Noname Gypsy, Mick Jenkins and Vic Mensa may all have a steeper curve right now. Plus there’s my favorite, my comrade Malcolm London. But, then again, Wiley’s like 22 and already getting written up in Billboard. So maybe dude’s just beginning. This one’s a toss-up.
L.A. was definitely a solid choice. A featured emcee on my upcoming global collab “IAm” (also featuring Modenine of Nigeria, Holstar of Zambia, Wakazi of Tanzania, and DJ J Hart of France, among others), I’m a big fan of what this powerful woman is doing with her words and her voice. And I’m not alone, as she caught the attention of Noisey and other major tastemakers in 2015.
Not. Yet. Still betting on this guy, even if I don’t like his new stuff as much as what I heard in 2014. Appleby still hides his face. He still has Amir Abbassy behind him. He still gets free promo from Pigeons and Planes. And this year he got a feature in the print and digital version of Maxim. I don’t see a collab with Da Coroner coming, but I could see this cat cooking up with Raury or getting remixed by Harry Fraud.
Speaking of Harry Fraud… It was definitely more of an up than a down year for SRFSCHL member Adrian Lau. He might have been somewhat lost in the shadows, with team leader Harry Fraud increasing his production output for the likes of French, Diddy and Wiz, plus new SCHL member Downtown Dion; but, Lau did land himself a production role on Kanye West affiliate Allan Kingdom’s Northern Lights LP, and he kept busy on his own, dropping an album and a mixtape, and performing regularly in and around the Hip Hop capital of NYC.
While he just missed the XXL 2015 Freshmen cover, as a member of Nas’s Mass Appeal roster, Dave catapulted himself in the last year. His hard-hitting DJ Drama-hosted Hate Me Now tape features Nas, Pusha T, Jadakiss and Styles P, and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. I discovered Dave freestyling on Sirius XM in 2014, and I was immediately impressed. But if I could, I’d remind him: quality over quantity – some of these EASTMIXes for the Interwebs should probably stay on his laptop, even if the fanboys make them trend on Audiomack. Songs like “Numb” illustrate what Nas sees in the young man representing a different side of Harlem, New York. And I’ll just put those on repeat.
Oops. Can I get a take back?
#AWKWORDapproved Top 10 Hip Hop Artists to Watch For in 2016 list will drop soon via NikkiSiixx.com, so stay tuned. Send hate to @AWKWORDrap or info@AWKWORDrap.com.