Note: the artwork was done by Razcal of The Lux Brands aka the Troll Gawd. Hit him up for any graphic design and/or website design work, dude's a genius.
Introducing teenage Brooklyn (by way of Barbados) artist Haleek Maul. The 16-year-old up-and-comer had a very successful year by dropping two projects (one of which was sponsored by the popular streetwear brand Mishka), various visuals and also a few features. I think Haleek is going to take the new year by storm (hopefully I can help with this) and emerge as one of the most promising up and coming talents. His lyrical content is far above his peers and his captivating style of music, videos and overall persona is what allows him to standout. His often times dark visuals perfectly compliment the hypnotic feel of his music and are sure to catch your attention. Try not to get distracted by the well put together videos and incredible production because Haleek Maul displays his own talents that should not be overlooked!
Download/Listen: Chrome Lips sponsored by Mishka (Mixtape)
Recent Stones Throw Records (home of J Dilla, Homeboy Sandman, Aloe Blacc, Dam-Funk, Guilty Simpson to name a few) signee Julian Malone is part of the revitalized Chicago hip hop scene. The 2008ighties collective member has some real quality music in his portfolio and had a very successful 2012 and looks to be continuing that trend this year. Malone is set to drop a free project in the form of Dif.Rnt and then will be releasing his Stones Throw debut album. The artist & producer has a very laid back style yet always seems to come correct with extremely witty lyrics and also often times more serious rhymes about the gritty streets of his home city. He's got an ear for music and is always rocking over or creating amazing production which compliments his deliberate style.
East Baltimore representative OG Dutch Master has a very unique style of music that is soon to be evident to the world. He is part of a collective known as the 7th Floor Villains which include some other talented artists and producers that deserve recognition as well. Butch Dawson is an artist and producer who is part of the collective, I highly recommend checking out the video for "Protection." Black Zheep DZ is also part of the collective and puts his talents on display in his videos for "Maggie Simpson" and "Platinum" which features Soduh. The OG Master of Dutches and his Baltimore mob are certainly paving their own lane with their raw style, production, videos, live performances, and how they present themselves overall. Dutchy is set to drop his debut project later this year and I'm sure we will get a slew of visuals and tracks leading up to it.
Production duo TNGHT really caught my attention when I came across their track "Bugg'n" which is an infectious, loud, masterpiece of sounds. The duo is made up of Glasgow's Hudson Mohawke and Montreal's Lunice. They took the summer of 2012 by storm with incredible original tracks, remixes, live performances, and videos for all of the previously mentioned. The way they create a collage of various different sounds that turn into amazing records has gotten them notice not only by fans but some very notable artists as well. Each artist also has promising solo careers as well, Hudson (who is rumored to be signing with Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music) has worked recently with John Legend, Kanye West, and Cocaine 80's while Lunice has worked with Angel Haze, Rockie Fresh, and has done various remixes of popular artists that have received praise. The duo released a critically acclaimed EP appropriately entitled TNGHT which is certainly worth the $4 that is goes for on iTunes.
Richmond, Virginia's own Nickelus F has been on a tear as of late after taking a brief hiatus. He has dropped numerous "freebie" cuts and some videos in anticipation to dropping his forthcoming project Vices. Being a Virginia resident myself Nickelus F has been on my radar for quite some time now, I feel as if he is finally ready to put in an entire years worth work and make that always difficult jump to the "next level." Nick F's cool, laid back style is best put on displayed by his latest visual "GotDamnMurdah!" (see that below) and "Tanqueray," both being two of my favorites that he dropped last year. I think with the release of Vices later this year Nick F will make a serious push as "your favorite rappers, favorite rapper."
17 year old producer & DJ XXYYXX has been making some serious noise ever since I first heard of him early last year. The Florida based artist has a way of creating such a vast array of music. He creates masterpieces that one could relax to, others that you can dance to, and many records that other artists have hijacked to rap over. I can only imagine the type of music he will be making in say 4 years, when he can legally purchase a beer. This past year he put out an album, a few mixes, various remixes, garnered international attention and captivated audiences throughout the world with his live performances. By this time next year I truly believe XXYYXX will be a household name among music fans and will also be an international sensation that will have fans dancing in every continent (maybe he will hold the first ever live show in Antarctica. Hey, nothing is too big of a dream for this kid). Check out his latest track "Backroom #8" that is sure to have you moving in some way.
The Chicago hip hop scene is much bigger than just Chief Keef, I repeat, the Chicago hip hop scene is much bigger than just Chief Keef! Case in point being 20 year old Kami de Chukwu. The Chi-town upstart put out some great pieces of work this past year and looks to continue that trend by already releasing two engaging pieces this year in the form of "Stop Crying" and a video for "Ig'nant." I hate to use the word "real" when it comes to describing hip hop music but I think that probably best describes Kami De Chukwu's style of music. From his gritty lyrics to the pain and emotion that you can hear in his voice, his music is very "real." There are no gimmicks, or sugar coated bullshit displayed in his music. He makes music he wants to make and that has really captivated me and various other fans and bloggers alike. He dropped an incredible and critically acclaimed project entitled "Lights" that will give you a good idea what Kami is all about. If the only artists you know from Chicago are Chief Keef and his circle please take the time to get hip to Kami De Chukwu, you can thank me later.
Kami De Chukwu -Heavy (prod by Coco Bryce)
Ryan Hemsworth dominated 2012 with various remixes, videos, and original production, so it is only natural to expect another year of incredible music. The Halifax producer first caught my attention with his hypnotic remix of Future's "Turn On The Lights," he turned what was a decent song into an infectious tune that perfectly compliments Future's nasally autotuned vocals. He went on to release an EP entitled Last Words, some amazing remixes (Black Atlass' "Castles" and his rework of Manchester, England band The 1975's "Sex" being my favorites), a few visuals and also some original production in the form of songs and also instrumentals for various different artists. So far this year he has already put out a visual for "Colours & Movement" and two originally produced songs "Basedworld" and "An Overture Might Help Me Stop Thinking Of You." These two tracks are easily some of the best (in my humble opinion) work that he has put out thus far in his short yet highly successful career. If these are any indication how the rest of the will be sounding then Ryan Hemsworth is an artist to place on your radar.
2013 is Nacho Picasso's year, and yes, you can quote me on that! The Seattle upstart has garnered quite a buzz this past year and rightfully so. No one works as diligently as NACHO does, this past year he put out 2 free projects and an album, all of which are amazing in their own way. He collaborated with production duo Blue Sky Black Death for one of the two mixtapes Lord of the Fly and his album Exalted; for his latest free release Black Narcissus he reached out to two different producers in Eric G and Raised By Wolves. The sound on his latest project is different than the previous BSBD produced pieces but is equally as intriguing. Nacho's clever, raunchy, and often times hilarious style of music combined with the amazing production he seems to always acquire makes for a highly entertaining piece of work. I can only imagine what he has up his sleeve for the new year, only time will tell. I hope we see some more visuals, preferably off Black Narcissus and maybe a collaboration or two with one of the artists previously discussed in this post. If you havent heard much of his work before you are in for a treat with the three projects listed above, just the other night I was bumping Lord of the Fly from start to finish!
I'm sure most hip hop fans have heard of Detroit, Michigan's Danny Brown by now. Whether you have or haven't I think everyone should keep an eye on Danny's movement this year. The 31 year old artist has emerged as one of the promising new acts in the past two years. With the release of XXX in 2011 Brown started getting his name around via avid fans and bloggers alike. This past year is when he really became a household name throughout the hip hop community. With several visuals, hilarious interviews, and copious amounts of guest appearances for artists ranging from Childish Gambino to Tony Yayo to British producer Darq E Freaker to Canadian band Purity Ring (came together for an amazing record entitled "Belispeak II".) With an album ODB (Ol Danny Brown) being released later this year on Fool's Gold Records we can expect an onslaught of content from Brown in the forthcoming months. Brown said the album is 75% done and that he is now waiting for the contributions from A$AP Rocky, ScHoolboy Q, Kitty Pryde, and Purity Ring. I can only imagine what that is going to sound like! Expect big things from the Detroit artist in 2013.