Predicting which artists are going to blow is an extremely difficult task. So many factors decide who truly breaks through to the mainstream, and with trends, styles, and even careers starting up and dying off at a lightning pace in an internet-driven world, artists that are currently buzzing could be forgotten at a moment’s notice.
Green Label is here to help, though, because, like us, they understand what it takes to make the leap from talented hopeful to industry heavyweight. So, just as we’ve done with them successfully in 2015 and 2016, here are the 10 rappers who are going to blow in 2017.
Remember these names, you’re going to be hearing them a lot next year.
“Caroline, you divine.” That one of the most infectious hip-hop singles of 2016 traces it’s roots to the city of Portland, Oregon is as unexpected as the sheer fact that a Portland native is now poised to take the industry by storm. Aminé (pronounced “Uh-Mean-Aye”) is that artist, and “Caroline” is the Republic signee’s debut single. Released in March, “Caroline” has ridden it’s wave of bouncy funk to the tune of over 83 million streams on Spotify to date, while it’s more recently released music video is set to crack the 45 million mark on YouTube. Aminé directed the visuals and also co-produced the smash hit, proving his talents aren’t limited solely to rapping. With “Caroline” now in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 (currently at No. 14), and after a recent performance on The Tonight Show, Aminé heads into the new year with a chance to capitalize on one of the most surprising, lowkey massive hits of the year. Judging by his Calling Brio project and recent follow-up single “Baba,” Aminé has plenty more to offer.
There is perhaps nobody in music marrying prolific output and consistently high quality like Russ. For the better part of the last two years, the Atlanta native has been a man possessed, releasing a new track or video on nearly a weekly basis. Though he’s been able to transform his work ethic into a contract with Columbia Records, Russ still operates like an indie workhorse, building up an ever-growing and dedicated fanbase through a SoundCloud stream he constantly refreshes with songs in which he raps, sings, produces and mixes himself. It’s a rarity for a Russ record to NOT pass the million play mark these days, and his four music videos from the last nine months have collectively racked up 48 million views. His biggest hit to date, “What They Want,” has nearly 24 million of those, with another 51 million plays via Spotify, and he’s picking up more steam with every passing week. From rapping to singing to producing all of his own material, Russ is truly a one-man show, and as he’s built up his fan base just about as organically as possible, it’s safe to say there’s no stopping Russ in 2017.
It’s been some time since the city of St. Louis has had a prominent voice in hip-hop—not since the heyday of Nelly (and maybe Chingy?). Smino is here to change that. Spending time in the current creative hotbed that is Chicago, the rapper has seen firsthand what it’s like for a city to rise to a widely respected conglomerate of hip-hop talent, and hopes to do the same for his hometown with his own brand of “futuristic funk” mixed with “soulful rappy shit”—as he describes it. He’s got a unique voice, a variety of flows, and top-notch production, most notably from frequent collaborator Monte Booker. He’s worked with respected names like Chance The Rapper, Noname, and Saba, and just wrapped up a tour with another buzzing Chicago artist in Mick Jenkins. Now that he’s inked a deal with Downtown Records (who recently signed a unique distribution deal with Interscope Records), we can’t wait to see what’s next from Smino.
Click the link below for a complete list of 10 rappers who will blow up in 2017.
By Brendan Varan. Follow him on Twitter.