If you've ever been to a music festival, you're aware of how utterly overwhelming it can feel to be faced with upwards of 120 show choices over the course of just a few days. Even if you did know who all the artists were, there's no way to know which sets are going to be worth seeing without spending weeks glued to Spotify with a pen and pad in hand.
Chicago-based festival behemoth Lollapalooza just announced their 2017 lineup a few days ago, and in the interest in saving some time and headaches for our readers, we decided to compile a who's who guide for our loyal readers, highlighting acts we've covered on the site over the year and even a few we haven't.
For informational consistency, I’m going to pretend like you love hip-hop but have no idea who any of these acts are, just in case you’ve somehow managed to live life without coming across the work of Wiz Khalifa or Chance The Rapper.
Wiz Khalifa (@WizKhalifa)
The Pittsburgh native and weed aficionado broke onto the scene in 2006 when he dropped his debut album Show and Prove, but it wasn’t until 2010’s Kush & OrangeJuice that Wiz became a cult favorite. His major label debut Rolling Papers spawned a 6x Platinum single in "Black and Yellow," he struck gold in 2015 with his Charlie Puth-assisted, 7x Platinum crossover hit "See You Again," and with his eighth full-length album Rolling Papers 2 scheduled for release this year, Wiz is poised for Snoop Dogg-esque longevity in the game. (He too has his own kush.)
The trio from Atlanta's Northside have had moderate success since releasing their Zaytoven-laced single “Versace” in 2013, but didn't truly become the dominant force they are today until their late 2016 single "Bad and Boujee" went to No. 1. Aside from releasing their most recent album C U L T U R E in January, Migos is also credited with pioneering the triplet flow that can now be heard being adopted by damn near everyone. They also make some of the best videos in mainstream hip-hop right now.
Lil Uzi Vert (@LilUziVert)
One of the fastest-rising (and most controversial) stars in hip-hop, Philly-bred youngster Lil Uzi Vert (aka the Jay Electronica of mumble rap) has been the object of affection for hip-hop fans under the age of 23 since releasing his breakthrough project Luv Is Rage in October 2015. Recently, Uzi’s profile has exploded thanks to his feature on the Migos' chart-topping “Bad and Boujee" and his own Platinum-certified single "You Was Right."
Kweku Collins (@KwekuCollins)
DJBooth Top Prospect Kweku Collins grew up outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois, allowing him to be influenced by Chicago’s hotbed of creativity while still remaining a separate and original artist. Kweku’s 2016 release Nat Love is an impressive, insightful must-listen, made all the more impressive by the fact that Kweku isn’t even 21 yet.
Jon Bellion (@JonBellion)
Signed to Visionary Music Group alongside Logic, longtime Booth favorite Jon Bellion has been amassing an extremely dedicated fan base who’ve contributed to his more than half a billion streams on major streaming services. His single “All Time Low” is a certified hit—peaking at No. 16 on the Hot 100—and his music bridges the gap between dedicated hip-hop nerds and pop-leaning sensibilities in a way that nearly guarantees a full-fledged blow-up in the near future.
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec by way of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, KAYTRANADA is currently one of the most exciting and original producers in music. I would add hip-hop, but Kaytra’s soulful, electronic bounce often reaches into a variety of genres and always explores new ground, a large part of the appeal of his excellent 2016 debut album 99.9%.
$uicideboy$ (@SuicideChrist, @SuicideLeopard)
New Orleans duo $uicideboy$ are purveyors of a brand of hip-hop they call “shadow rap,” and a quick dip into their catalog will reveal exactly why. Their music sounds like Bone Thugs and Three 6 Mafia jumped screaming into a mosh together and dropped into the depths of a bad mushroom trip. I mean that in the best way possible, and I can only imagine their live show is something to behold.
Run The Jewels (@RunJewels)
Run The Jewels have been the premier hip-hop duo for the past four years with their aggressive, witty and political take on the world around them. Comprised of veterans Killer Mike and El-P, Run The Jewels has made us re-think everything we thought we knew about what could be achieved by a pair of underground icons, and have produced three near-flawless albums in the process.
Signed to Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Records, Jidenna is a first-generation immigrant whose father was a professor in Nigeria. Jidenna himself was a teacher for some time and traveled the country because of it. I say all this to say there’s a worldline that informs Jidenna’s music that can’t be ignored, and his debut album The Chiefis a brilliant display of the cultural gumbo that made him what he is today.
Saint JHN (@Saintjhn)
Brooklyn-bred artist Saint JHN is part of a new generation of artists infusing hip-hop with an exciting use of melody and ambiance. While the young Brooklynite has yet to drop an official debut, his SoundCloud is stacked with exciting tracks that blend the moody intensity of Kid Cudi and an interesting take on the trap sounds that currently dominate the scene.
Majid Jordan (@MajidJordan)
Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan—made up of Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman—are signed to Drake’s OVO Sound imprint, and are best known for their production of Drake’s massive hit “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Although they’ve been unable to reach Drake-heights on their own (who can, really?), their self-titled debut album peaked at no. 12 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-hop chart.
Bibi Bourelly (@BibiBourelly)
You may not be familiar with Bibi just yet, but you’re certainly familiar with her pen game. The German songstress is responsible for writing Rihanna’s “Higher” and “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and also co-wrote Selena Gomez’s “Camouflage.” In lieu of a debut album, Bibi has released two EPs, Free The Real #1 and #2, and her latest single “Ballin” is currently getting solid spins on urban radio stations across the country.
Allan Rayman (@AllanRayman)
DJBooth Top Prospect Allan Rayman is a soulful crooner from Toronto whose music blends soul, blues and hip-hop sensibilities into a hypnotic sound all his own. His music, videos and persona are shrouded in mystery, lending a sense of excitement and minimalism to his already impressive brand of pop/R&B.
Chance The Rapper (@ChanceTheRapper)
Chicago emcee Chance The Rapper has, over the course of his five-year career, become America’s sweetheart, and not just from a hip-hop standpoint. While Chance’s soulful, witty music is critically-acclaimed and now GRAMMY-winning, we also consistently find Chance leading the charge against corporatism in the music industry and inequality in his hometown of Chicago. Chance’s live shows have also reached mythical proportions over the last few years, so you’re not going to want to miss the weekend's hometown star.
Longtime Booth favorite and Top Prospect Russ not only makes some incredibly soulful and catchy music, he’s spent much of his career being a mouthpiece for reality in an industry shrouded in manufactured perception. Whether spitting fierce bars or singing soulful melodies, Russ’ sharp mind and refusal to sell out makes him a fan favorite with the potential to blow up without sacrificing his art.
21 Savage (@21Savage)
Coming out of the booming rap cauldron that is current-day Atlanta, 21 Savage’s nihilistic brand of trap has propelled the young rapper to legitimate stardom in the span of just a couple years. His Future-assisted, Metro Boomin-produced “X” was recently certified double-Platinum, and follow-up single “No Heart” has also gone Platinum. With a debut album—appropriately titled Issa Album—still on the way, 21 is poised to be one of the biggest voices to come out of Atlanta’s seemingly never-ending stream of exciting new artists.
Portland rapper Aminé’s profile has very recently exploded with the success of his single “Caroline,” the video for which currently sits at over 126 million plays on YouTube just nine months after its release. His follow-up singles “Baba” and “REDMERCEDES” showcase Amine’s diverse and fun-loving personality with clear crossover potential.
Michael Christmas (@MickeyChristmas)
Boston-bred Top Prospect Michael Christmas raps about things that are hilarious, but he’s not a comedy rapper. The 23-year-old rapper can make you laugh out loud and damn near cry in the span of a few songs, and his no-frills take on the genre is a refreshing break from the hyped-up, materialistic vibes that generally dominate the culture.
Atlanta strikes again. Madeintyo has blown up over the past year off the strength of his breakout single “Uber Everywhere,” a success he’s poised to follow up on with his Big Sean-assisted single “Skateboard P.” Madeintyo’s music is bright, fun and catchy as hell, all qualities that should keep his name in the public conscious for the foreseeable future.
Jacob Banks (@MrJacobBanks)
British singer-songwriter Jacob Banks has been impressing us for several years now with his powerfully soulful voice and fantastic writing capabilities. His sound is big and boisterous, carried by his vocal abilities and a clear sense of what makes a song memorable.
Big Sean (@BigSean)
Signed to Def Jam and Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, Big Sean is one of the biggest (pun intended) names in hip-hop today. His recently-released fourth solo album I Decided. topped the charts at No. 1 on Billboard and has produced two big singles, including “Bounce Back” and “Moves,” and also brought Eminem’s name back into the headlines with “No Favors.”
Rae Sremmurd (@RaeSremmurd)
The proteges of Mike WiLL Made-It, the Mississippi-bred duo consisting of brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi seem to have mastered the art of virality. Their debut album produced three Platinum singles, and their latest viral smash “Black Beatles” capitalized on a social media trend that had everyone from suburban mothers to Paul McCartney involved.
Lil Yachty (@LilYachty)
The love of teens and the target of hip-hop purists, Lil Yachty is easily one of the most divisive artists in hip-hop today. Known for his happy-go-lucky brand of Atlanta hip-hop, Yachty has infused the culture with more originality and debate than one 19-year-old should be capable of. He eats nothing but pizza, wears Skittle-colored diamond grills and stresses the importance of condoms in his verses. He’s an enigma, and so far, he can do no wrong in the eyes of his ever-flourishing, youthful fan base.
Formerly known as NoName Gypsy, the Chicago-bred poet/rapper has been catching the attention of listeners across the country through extremely soulful guest appearances on tracks by fellow Chicagoans Chance The Rapper, Mick Jenkins, Saba and others. Her debut album Telefone was released last summer to widespread acclaim, and she recently said it would be awhile before we'd get another project from her.
Joey Bada$$ (@joeyBADASS)
Founder of the Pro Era collective, Brooklyn-bred Joey Bada$$ is the answer to all the hip-hop fans stuck in the “golden era," while also capable of diversifying his sound. He’s intelligent, aggressive, and has an extremely solid grasp on conceptualizing albums. With an acting career underway and his second solo album ALL-AMERIKKAN BADA$$ set to drop in April, Joey’s career can only go up from here.
Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) (@Machinegunkelly)
Repping Cleveland, Ohio, MGK began amassing a dedicated fan base in the mid-2000s with a string of mixtapes that ultimately resulted in his being signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy Records. His two albums Lace Up and General Admission have both reached the top 10 on US charts, and recently he’s found massive radio success with “Bad Things,” a joint single with Camila Cabello.
At 24-years-old, Atlanta singer-songwriter 6LACK is a relative newcomer with endless potential. His debut album FREE 6LACK, released in November of last year, was a testament to artistic freedom and landed him an opening slot on tour with The Weeknd. Currently signed to LoveRenaissance and Interscope, 6LACK is poised to be another frontrunner of a new generation of R&B artists that also includes Bryson Tiller, PARTYNEXTDOOR and more.
Compton-based rapper Boogie has been turning heads—including Rihanna’s—with his thoughtful, dense take on West Coast hip-hop. Boogie’s career has been more of a slow boil than a flash-in-the-pan, and his most recent project Thirst 48 Part II is an impressive display from an artist that’s more concerned with crafting relatable music than achieving superstardom.
West Coast native and DJBooth Top Prospect Duckwrth isn’t easily labeled, and I have to think that’s partially by design. His music is injected with a strong sense of funk and pulls from his experiences from places far beyond his LA hometown. His 2016 album I’m Uugly is witty, varied and showcases a maturity beyond his years.
British singer, songwriter and producer Sampha has been a Booth favorite for some time now, having recently released his solo debut Process to critical acclaim (it's a hauntingly beautiful portrait of human emotion). Previously one of music's best kept secrets, Sampha has worked with Drake ("Too Much"), Kanye West (“Saint Pablo”), Frank Ocean (“Alabama”) and Solange (“Don’t Touch My Hair”), to name a few.
Xavier Omär (@XvrOmar)
Based in Chicago by way of San Antonio, Texas, Xavier Omär’s music is a refreshing take on modern R&B influences. Equal parts Thundercat and The Internet, Xavier’s voice soars above funky, synth-driven production to create a sound that no one else is exploring quite like he is.