30 Artists to Watch in 2016

2015 was one of the better years for music in recent history, and it is leading up to a hyped up 2016. In 2015, we saw many artists get their foundation put into the ground for the future.

To kick off 2016, we have compiled 30 artists who we believe are poised to have big years. We left out the major artists as well as other artists that saw a multitude of major success in 2015 like Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, Post Malone, Kehlani etc. While they are due for big years, that’s too easy. We have you guys covered on the next wave of artists that are getting ready to make that next step like the listed artists above did last year. Above is a video compilation of snippets from all thirty artists, and you can stream Soundcloud and Spotify playlists featuring songs from artists on the list on page three. The tracklisting of the playlists will vary based on availability of tracks on certain formats. Head down to the list of 30 artists to watch in 2016 below!



There’s no official checklist of attributes a rapper needs to have to be successful but Smino seems to have it all. He had a strong 2015, dropping two EPs with the help of his go-to producer Monte Booker. Already, Smino has a unique sound of his own, taking ideas from the autotune crooning of future, the abstract rapping of Chance the Rapper as well as others, fused together to make Smino, a quite unique emcee. Paired with Monte Booker‘s dense, layered production, they’re a dynamic tandem going full speed ahead with no sign of stopping. – Trixx


jahkoy 2015

Late in 2014, JAHKOY released his debut project Forward Thinking featuring some of his biggest tracks to date, but that project helped propel him into a strong 2015 which saw us getting his most polished work to date with singles like ‘Still In Love’ & ‘Hold Your Hand’. JAHKOY meshes club grooves and slow-R&B influences together into his own unique genre ‘Bipolar Sound’, and there’s no better way to put it. With a huge internet following, high quality music, big cosigns (Pharrell, Zane Lowe), and a fresh record deal with Def Jam Records, 2016 is shaping up to be a memorable year for the young Canadian artist. Very few artists are coming into the game with fresh new sounds these days, and it is refreshing to hear JAHKOY‘s. – malbin

Nef The Pharaoh

nef the pharaoh self

Hailing from Vallejo, CA, Nef the Pharaoh rose to prominence in the Bay Area in 2014 with his single “Bitch I’m From Vallejo”. Fellow Vallejo native and Bay Area legend E-40 became aware of Nef and took him under his wing, featuring him on his Sharp on All Four Corners album and signing him to his label. In 2015, Nef blew up even more with his hit single “Big Tymin'”, a ridiculously fun and catchy track that gave him the momentum to release his debut self-titled EP in November. The seven track EP had a range of bangers and slower tracks that showcased Nef’s versatility and most of all just his fun, up-beat style. Set to open on G-Eazy & ASAP Ferg‘s new tour in 2016, Nef is ready to take that step to the next level. – Mitch

Playboi Carti

playboi carti

Propelled by ‘Broke Boi’ – his hit single that received a light Drake cosign in 2015, Playboi Carti jetted into the playlists of everyone looking for a new player in the crowded trap scene. Carti’s music doesn’t hit the same way most trap does, which helps separate him from the rest of the pack. Playboi Carti‘s 2015 was a life changer, and with Awful Records & Ian Conner in his corner, Carti will look to make more noise outside of just music in the future. – malbin

Chaz French


Chaz French is another vibrant face in the rising DMV crowd. Chaz is often accompanied by the same people in the scene as he has tracks with Wale, Goldlink, Eddie Vanz, & Phil Ade. While his debut project Happy Belated is packed with high energy bangers, his latest release These Things Take Time takes a more mellow tone to it and offers up a handful of uplifting, motivational tracks. Chaz has a number of tracks that will have a new listener in awe, but he’s really just one viral track away from hitting the next level. – malbin

Tobi Lou

tobi lou

Tobi Lou has been a favorite on Fashionably-Early for years, but unless you were really paying attention, you’d never know. 2015 saw Chicago raised, LA based product rebrand himself into Tobi Lou and we got three infectious singles that act as a beautiful stepping stone into the new year. Tobi meshes unorthodox pop friendly production with hooks focused on females that allows him to reach the most friendly audience reachable. Simply put, Tobi is the kind of artist we made this list for. – malbin

Elias Abid

elias abid

French-American electronic artist Elias Abid is a familiar face around Fashionably-Early – dating all the way back to his debut EP Inscribe in 2014. After a handful of Chicago-based production work with indie favorites including Smino, Monte Booker, Telena, & Beach Jesus in 2015 along with being Stefan Ponce‘s production assistant, Elias is prepping to make the turn in 2016 as a true standout outside of Chicago. Led by ‘About Me’ – the buzzing lead single from his collaborative EP with CHAI – his production work, and his trend-setting duo ABANDONED MALL ARCADE with Jabril Power, Elias is poised to take the next step this year. All he needs to do is release music. – malbin

Dave B

Dave B 1

Word on the street is that Dave B’s been cooking up a lot of heat and if you paid attention in 2015, Dave B could no wrong. 2016 is on track to be another year of constant growth from the amazingly talented Seattle based artist. With Jake One and a few more of Seattle’s best producers on his team, he has a leg up on the competition. His ability to sing, rap, harmonize and ultimately just make great songs has picked up notice from major record labels. A lot of industry people have Dave’s name on tab. Dave B’s climb up Mount Rainier has only just begun. – Trixx

Tunji Ige

tunji ige

Honestly, I was a little skeptical about Tunji Ige at first. He emerged as a college kid from Pennsylvania and he created a rush of hype off his debut The Love Project but I wasn’t convinced. He had potential and a nice sound but nothing was standing out to me, yelling out that Tunji Ige stood out from the hundreds of thousands of other rappers. What really converted me was one of his latest singles “On My Grind”. It’s a certified banger, something that I’ve played constantly in the gym, blasted it through my car’s speakers among other places. And then to confirm that Tunji Ige is here for the long haul, he dropped another great song in “Handstand” just a few weeks ago. He’s finding his sound just like Steph Curry really found his shot and Steph Curry hasn’t looked back and it doesn’t look like Tunji Ige plans to either. – Trixx

Jazz Cartier

Jazz Cartier 2

Toronto-based rapper Jazz Cartier was virtually unknown coming into 2015, but his single “New Religion” built up some hype for the May release of his mixtape Marauding in Paradise. Jazz carries the entire project by himself, guided by some terrific production that sounds reminiscent of a Travis Scott project. Jazz Cartier isn’t riding the R&B/hip-hop crossover wave popularizing in the Toronto/OVO scene right now, instead he is bringing his own style to Toronto, and it’s one that’s truly awesome. – Mitch