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The #AWKWORDapproved Top Rapper Prospects of 2016

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I did this last year, and earlier this week I took a shit on rap journalists by critiquing my own picks. Now, here’s to hoping I — and these artists — fare better in 2016! Send your hate to @AWKWORDrap or info@AWKWORDrap.com. – AWK

koncept-j57Koncept & J57
New York City’s answer for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. With better bars, and bigger balls. These two made my favorite album of 2015 not called Black Liberation Theology.

silent-knightSilent Knight
Busy is his best friend — and it ain’t hard to tell, as he racks up the appearances. Here’s to hoping Silent Knight’s buzz finally catches up to his work ethic, and talent. I had a hard time picking my favorites from him in 2015.

aaron-cohenAaron Cohen
Clearly I’m a fan, since I recruited the fellow bearded Jew for last year’s NYC remix of my hit World View single “Go!”. The XXL Break alum has the hipster niche on lock, with steady love streaming in from the MISHKA, Noisey, Mass Appeal and Complex collectives. But it’s his confidence, his consistency, and his KIDS-era aesthetic that may propel him (and his ICK crew) to new heights in 2016.

russRUSS
Speaking of consistency… From the art he creates for each single he drops to the quality of HIS production on each of his songs to the catchy hooks and undeniably witty lyricism, Russ is one of those artists who seems destined for stardom, if he’s interested. This guy epitomizes prolific. He raps — a lot — about the magazines and the labels, and not giving a fuck. But let’s see what happens. Every record he uploads to Audiomack gets immediate love and stays trending until he unleashes his next one.

hdbeendopeHD Been Dope
This guy’s still a bit of a sleeper. He’s young, unsigned, and another so-called backpacker emcee out of Brooklyn. But he’s caught the attention of The DJ Booth, offering up a freestyle for two of their video series, one solo and one alongside Maffew Ragazino, Kirk Knight, Emilio Rojas and Black Dave; and, dude’s done a million shows already. Not to mention, his contribution to DJ J Hart’s Passport EP was one of my top-three favorites on that top-three album of 2015. I expect great things from this kid, even if he’s not a Bada$$.

afroA-F-R-O
This young man loves and lives Hip Hop. He’s that cat who always had headphones on, kept to himself, and worshiped real emcees. He stayed up late, scribbling in his notebook, hoping to one day present his skills to someone like the great R.A. The Rugged Man. And then, he did. His rap name, a la GURU, stands for All Flows Reach Out. And if you’ve heard one of his freestyles, you know he can rap. Can’t say I love his RECORDS, yet. And he doesn’t exactly have the curb appeal to blow like Timberlake. But with more polishing (perhaps even than RA can provide), A-F-R-O can make a major dent on the indie Hip Hop scene, even as early as 2016.

conway-westsidegunnHus Kingpin, Smoovth, Rozewood and Marvelous Mag; and Conway and Westside Gunn
Sure, it may seem a little odd (if you haven’t been following my monthly playlists for Gonzombies.com) that I, ‘Mr. Protest Music’ himself, would be a proponent of this new wave of street music, but the massive amount of output from this group of affiliated ‘New New Yorkers’ (no Troy Ave) is as Hip Hop as any of the political anthems Jasiri X and I create. The streets birthed Hip Hop, and nobody does the gritty with more gusto. The beat selection, the searing wit, the wordplay, and the wiseguy mannerisms keep me head nodding and feeling untouchable. That’s what rap music can do for you. And nobody right now does it better than these guys. Mark my words: 2016 is the year The Winners and Griselda Records go global. Shoutout my mans, Big Ghost.


dookoomDOOKOOM
You may not have heard of them, but OkayAfrica and Noisey have. David Banner has. I have. And after a May 2015 tour, Europe has. They scared the shit out of the South African establishment with one music video, and it was lovely. Get next, and maybe you’ll catch me working with them before it’s too late to say you were still one of the first.

garycoldmanGary Coldman
I think the first person I saw publicly mention the importance of album art was Nathan Slavik aka Refined Hype of DJ Booth (and I listened). In the case of a new artist, or an artist of whom you haven’t heard, it is definitely true. I caught wind of Gary while curating one of my Gonzombies playlists and, after doing a little research and discovering the consistency in his presentation to the public, decided more time should be lent to giving his music a sincere and thorough listen — and that, up-and-coming artists, is how you end up on a year-end list like this. Off the strength of his ‘catchiest song of the month‘ alone, the cold man may not have made the top 10, but his other two equally icy singles were enough to seal it.

appleby2Appleby
Still rooting for a Coronation, but in 2016 I think Applesgotit.

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Audio: Zulu Soul – Eutrepics

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[NEW JERSEY/ST.LOUIS] Producers/Rappers Zulu Soul and DJ Fishbulb create a hip-hop duo. They created this track called EUTREPICS. This track was also was the first winner of the first Submission Sunday on HipHopSpeakeasy.com. EUTREPICS is a jazzy production by DJ Fishbulb and the calm delivery was from Zulu Soul. His flow is something to get use to, but he is able to deliver his message.

“What makes us unique is our lack of influence. We come from a place where very few people make the kind of music we make so everything we make is completely organic. The influences we do have are based on the music we seek out ourselves. We make honest music from our own perspective and we feel this is what makes people connect with music”. – Zulu Soul

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New Music: Awkword – Headlines

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Activist. Sociologist. Gonzo Journalist, Rapper AWKWORD world premieres his single HEADLINES on HIPHOPDX. HEADLINES was also produced by Beyonce’s “7/11” (OG) Bobby Johnson. Very dope collaboration between the two. AWKWORD takes us on a look back on what he’s done in 2014. From selling his album, getting compensated for a track such as DEEP SEA for The Ocean Project, and being an active protestor. I really like AWKWORD’s flow and tone to his lyrics. By the end it leaves us to wonder will AWKWORD have something in store for 2015? We’ll just have to be on the look out for that. Don’t forget to follow his social media links to get updated on what’s going on with AWKWORD: TWITTERFACEBOOKINSTAGRAMYOUTUBE

The NEW Music Scene: 10 New Jersey Rappers That Are Likely To Blow Up

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red-and-black-imageOver the last decade we have seen various underground artists rise to stardom and put their city on the radar. Think about it. Most states or major cities have a rapper that’s on the rise. Kendrick Lamar, and YG have been holding it down for Compton while Chance the Rapper, Dreezy, Chief Keef and Lil Herb have us talking about Chicago. The south has always been hot, but isn’t as big as the days when we had ’07 Lil Wayne spitting over DJ Khaled’s “We Taking Over” record or even ’04 Ludacris yelling “Get Back, Get Back!” Regardless, we are still bumping Migos, Rich Homie Quan, Kirko Bangz, and Young Thug like no tomorrow.

New York has always been known for breaking the next big thing. Bobby Shmurda and Troy Ave are two recent artists to blow up that come to mind. Often, when I try to share local music with hip-hop fans, I eventually bring up the artist’s location. At which point I begin to say, “New…” and typically people cut me off and say “York.” Then I awkwardly say “Jersey.” New Jersey is one of the most slept on places when it comes to music, and New Jersey rappers know this. A majority of NJ talent think this: “If you are from South Jersey, you go and get your buzz in Philly. If you are from North Jersey, then you go and grind in NYC.” Despite the barriers that NJ rappers face to get exposure, there are quite a few that are really making a name for themselves. Below are 10 rappers from New Jersey that are likely to blow up. These guys are creating their own lane, building their fan base, and of course, repping NJ wherever they go.

Apollo the Great

Apollo the Great – Camden, New Jersey

Derek

Derek – Long Branch, New Jersey

NJ Rebels

NJ Rebels -Rahway, New Jersey

Mir Fontane

Mir Fontane – Camden, New Jersey

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H’z (Da$h & Retchy P) – Hackensack, New Jersey

YoAstrum

YoAstrum – Winslow, New Jersey

Sule

Sule – Englewood, New Jersey

Topaz Jones

Topaz Jones – Montclair, New Jersey

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Guy Harrison – Voorhees, New Jersey

DEF-Bananas

DEF- Bananas – Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Music Video: Neak – The Kids

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With all that’s going on in the world today, some of our emcees have decided to speak out on things in their lyrics. First Kanye West with his Yeezus album, and now a fellow Chicago emcee, Neak. The colorful and vivid visual depictions of Neak’s lyrics come to life courtesy of Aaron Perkins Jr of APJ Films. Rocking with his main main/partner/producer Slot-A, Neak spits that real about how impressionable our youth remain. Popping molly while busting it wide open and making it rain might be what you do, but…

What about the kids, now that they want to try it? Welcome to social awareness in 2013.

The Kids is featured on RA NYC’s  latest mixtape, BRTH A N8TH. You can download the mixtape for free here: http://ra-nyc.bandcamp.com/album/brth-a-n8tn.

Neak (@neak_undefined) – The Kids

Produced by: Slot-A (@iamslota)

Video directed by: Aaron Perkins Jr. of APJ Films (@APJFilms)

Nothing But The Truth: Meet The Press Edition by Fawn•Nicole

The worlds of blogging and talent discovery have certainly changed with the boom of social media, thus affecting the music industry as we know it. But, rather than complain about the current state of affairs, I’m here to offer some sound advice. It’s time to meet the press. I am Fawn•Nicole, I write for NikkiSiixx.com and I am an artist manager. Currently, I manage three artists, and everything I am about to write about are things that I have already done and they have worked.

Now, we’ve seen a few articles on how to “properly” reach out to online media for press coverage, and they’re jam packed with the political jargon to toot the horn of the blogger. I am writing this article for the artists, and this one is catered to hip-hop artists because helpful articles seldom cater to us. There are a few things that absolutely have to happen when you decide your music is ready to be shared with anyone that isn’t a friend or relative.

High Quality Mix/Mastering: This is simply non-negotiable. You are sending your music to people who listen to music all the time! These people have the potential to share your music with their readers, and your ultimate goal is to gain a fan from what they listen to. Regardless of whether or not the music is good, sound quality is important. The best way to look at it is this, the second you decide to share your music with the world, you’re an aspiring music professional. Your music needs to sound as such.

Be Brief: Trust me, when you’re reaching out for the first time you’ll want to include as much information as possible. It’s only natural. You’re trying to intrigue the blogger with interest so they’ll actually press play then decide to post YOUR music. I learned the hard way. While I learned to be creative within a few paragraphs, once I narrowed down the information to a few sentences, things started to look up. Simply put, you’re one out of a few hundred, if not thousands of aspiring artists bombarding these inboxes on a regular basis. They want to know who you are, where you’re from and what your music is all about. It really is that simple. If the music is dope, they will know when they hear it.

Keep In Mind, This Is A PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION: Yes, this is a business transaction. As much as folks wants to abandon this principle (one reason why the genre is a mess), this is a requirement!  Use proper grammar. Spellcheck, I mean seriously… most of our machines do this for us today, do it! While slang isn’t banned, do not be profane.

In an attempt to let this sink in, and to answer any questions up to this point, I’ll save the rest for a part two to be published soon.

Tweet me, @FawnNicole with your questions, and use the #NothingButTheTruth hashtag.