Crazy but true: we're coming up on a year since we launched our Top Prospects series.
When we first came up the idea we wanted to find a way to really say "this is a new artist we believe in" without getting sucked into the typical "next to blow" trap. Because if I've learned anything in my time spent watching the music industry, there's nothing more foolish than thinking you can predict how a new artist's career will shake out. Someone looks like they're on the verge of blowing and then the exec at the label who signed them leaves for another job and suddenly they're stuck in label purgatory, watching their superstar dreams fade away. Or an artist is pushing along in relative obscurity, Drake hops on a remix, and overnight they're a household name.
But what we can do, and what I'm proud to say we've done, is select artists who need to be on your proverbial radar regardless of co-signs or buzz or hype or any of the things we so often pay attention to but don't really mean anything. In our first crew alone we had Mick Jenkins before he even dropped, and whether Jenkins one day releases a platinum album or decides to retire tomorrow, hip-hop history will stand by The Water[s] as a great work, and we were standing behind Jenkins before the album even dropped.
So yes, of course we want to see our selections soar to great heights, but this isn't about hype or sales or label signings. This is about highlighting artists we genuinely believe are pushing music into new and unexplored areas, and they're doing it at a time in their careers when there's still that thrill of discovery, that charge that shoots through your spine when you hear a fascinating new artist for the first time.
So with that said, it's time to announce our fourth group of Top Prospects.
Noun: an apparent probability of advancement. Anticipation; expectation; a looking forward
Verb: to search or explore
More: Click here for more detailed criteria of what makes someone a Top Prospect.
Starting next week we'll be unleashing in-depth profiles of each artist, culminating in a Top Prospects EP comprised of exclusive music from each of them. Combing through the mountain of new music that comes across DJBooth every month, talking to these artists at a time in their careers when they're still just figuring out their place in music, their artistic identity, continues to recharge my love for music, and I hope it does the same for you.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]