2016 has been a pretty good year for music; particularly, for unsigned acts. We received an overwhelming amount of submissions here, and there was a handful that resonated incredibly well with me—for a multitude of reasons. I’ve taken the liberty of breaking them down below. If you’re not up on them yet—now’s a good time to add them to your playlists.
He has been bubbling in circles for a minute, but the Seattle-native popped onto my radar with his 2015 release Homeless. His latest release, Off The Ground has been his biggest to date, premiering on XXL and spawning overseas tour dates. After hearing what he has in the stash via a Facebook Live session, and with a Paris festival already booked for 2017, the New Year is about to be kind to him!
Smart, pretty, articulate, and blessed with the soul of a real emcee, Intelligenz has had a great year. I had a great interview—which was more of a casual hip-hop convo—earlier this summer. She rounded off a year of buzz-worthy stage shows with a European tour supporting Slick Rick The Ruler, even premiering her latest single in France, where she opened for Red, Meth, and De La Soul. Oh, and she’s signed to HipNott [Kevin Nottingham’s label]; no big deal.
I get an intimidating amount of artist submissions, but something about Matt Citron resonated with me. Maybe it was the legendary DJ Greg Street calling him the next hottest thing out of Atlanta. Maybe it was the overall dopeness of his single “404” that features Cyhi The Prince. Perhaps it’s his undeniable industry buzz and his as if yet unreleased work with D.I.T.C’s Buckwild; whatever it is, this kid is going to pop, and the excitement radiating from his circle is infectious.
22-year-old NXUS, who is one-third of the trio known as Dead Reputation (with Delirious Beats [producer/engineer] and Rake [writer/videographer/film editor/photographer]), continues to impress me. I was a huge fan of their last collective release, “Rake Cat,” and his latest record “Holy wATEr” is just crack. I get the vibe from NXUS; he has something about him–you can just feel that he’s headed along the right incline. A hidden gem, for sure.
Track Seven Band
Back in 2011, Bronx rapper, Cost, was looking for a band to back him for live performances. What he found is what we now, five years later, know as the Track Seven Band. Their EP, The Try And The Fail, was one of the better projects I reviewed this year. It’s as hip-hop as you can get, and at points deeply personal, but packaged with an unmistakable crossover appeal. You could easily listen to this whole project without listening to the depth of the content, and just enjoy it for what it is. The mark of excellence.
Sir B is an artist who started getting some industry buzz back in 2013, both for playing Quentin Miller for a multitude of ATL rappers and dropping his debut mixtape, SIR’tified. His mixtape, Letters From Rehab, was a fantastic find that I feared might slide under the radar. Sir B himself is incredibly charismatic — he has that inexplicable “thing” that most big artists tend to have in common. An artist that deserves a solid spot on your 2017 watch list!