If you've been spending all of your time thrift shopping or listening to hip hop music made by 43-year-olds, you may have missed the newest crop of emerging hip-hop artists, some of whom have only just reached legal adulthood. Though they are all at different places in their respective careers, each of these artists represents the diversity of style and outlook that makes the future of American hip-hop so exciting. However, there are hundreds and hundreds of emerging talents out there so let us know about your favorites in the comments section.
1. Chance the Rapper
Depending on your definition, Chance the Rapper, aka Chancelor Bennett, has already blown up. Just like most of the following emcees on this list, some of his videos have reached over a million views on YouTube. His second mixtape, Acid Rap, released on April 30, features appearances by Action Bronson and Childish Gambino. But look out for this Chicago native to get even bigger, especially after a Lollapalooza set this August and a summer tour around the U.S. and Europe with Mac Miller and Macklemore. Although some have compared his flow and tone to that of Lil Wayne, his raspy voice and introspective lyrics strike me as closer to Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown. Given his love for jazz and soul, I can even hear him channeling Nina Simone and Chet Baker.
I think it’s safe to say you set yourself up for criticism when you refer to yourself as “young Sinatra.” But by all accounts Logic, born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, is a humble and hard working kid -who had an especially difficult childhood- about to make good on his efforts. His flow can sometimes sound like Drake and he often sings in his own tracks, but his fast paced and articulate lyrics remind me of J. Cole. By his own admission he often gets compared to Mac Miller: “because my skin is white even though my father is black.” From Gaithersburg, Maryland, Logic is a good reason to get excited about the future of Hip-Hop in the DMV.
3. Clear Soul Forces
No matter how good they are, it seems like Hip-Hop groups that aren’t one time collaborations have a hard time succeeding these days (I mean, could Little Brother have been better?). Hopefully, this Detroit troupe featuring L.A.Z., Ilajide, E-Fav, and Noveliss, will break the pattern. The four emcees came together in 2009 after Detroit rapper Royce da 5'9" heard them rapping separately in a studio and suggested their respective styles would compliment each other. Ilajide’s beats are infectious enough that Clear Soul Forces should appeal to audiences who might not connect with the group’s sometimes more esoteric politically and socially conscious lyrics.
Fresh off of his first mixtape Mugga Man, GrandeMarshall is not quite as far along as the others on this list. Signed to well-regarded independent label Fool’s Gold, GrandeMarshall has yet to establish a totally unique style, sometimes evoking Curren$y and sometimes early Wiz Khalifa. But his mixture of laid back tracks about weed and girls and more aggressive nods to the underground economy of North Philly (reminiscent of predecessors such as Beanie Sigel and Freeway) should make him a contender to succeed Meek Mill as the next big thing to come out of Philadelphia.
5. Earl Sweatshirt
I know many of you will be scratching your heads on this one. Earl Sweatshirt has already made it huge considering that he has a critically acclaimed studio produced mixtape under his belt, was featured on Frank Ocean’s blockbuster “Channel ORANGE,” and is a member of Odd Future, one of the most visible hip hop collectives out there at the moment. However, after spending 2011 and part of 2012 at Coral Reef Academy, a retreat for at-risk youth in Samoa, Sweatshirt is back and making some serious moves. His upcoming album Doris is one of the most hotly anticipated hip hop albums of the year and includes a ridiculous list of collaborations including: Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean, Mac Miller, and RZA. Look out for him to match, or even overshadow, many of his Odd Future colleagues.