30 Artists to Watch in 2016



If you haven’t been following Sacramento-bred Mozzy, now is the time to get caught up. The drill-influenced rapper has blown up on the underground west coast scene this year after dropping four solid full-length projects. Mozzy‘s grim, dark lyrics that illustrate the hardships of Sacramento street life are both grotesque and intriguing simultaneously. Gangland LandscapeYellow Tape ActivitiesBladadah, and Down to the Wire are all well-put together projects that illustrate Mozzy‘s terrific work ethic. – Mitch



Isaiah Rashad may currently be riding the TDE-hype wave as the hottest new rapper from Chattanooga, but his friend Tut had the better year. While Rashad stayed silent in 2015, Tut dropped his newest project Preacher’s Son all the way back in January, but it’s one I haven’t forgotten about. With gloomy, yet jazzy beats, and a deep, intimidating flow, Tut details his life on the Chattanooga streets and dealing with stereotypes about being the son of a preacher. It’s arguably a stronger debut than Rashad’s Cilvia Demo and bears watching for his next moves. – Mitch

Jordan Bratton

jordan bratton

Jordan Bratton is only 20 years old, but if you listen to his music you would be shocked. The talented singer, songwriter, & producer burst onto the scene late in 2013 with his debut project The Grey Area and returned to drop his debut retail EP YOUTH on RCA Records last year. Jordan has been consistently touring since he entered in the game, opening on tours for Jazmine Sullivan and SoMo & Kirko Bangz. Through his rigorous touring and forward thinking music, Jordan has made a name for himself as a potential leader in tomorrow’s busy R&B circuit. He already has fans, numbers, tours, and a fully equipped team behind him, which leaves no reasons for Jordan’s 2016 not to be prosperous. The dues have been paid. – malbin

Eryn Allen Kane

eryn all kane

Eryn Allen Kane did a song with Prince in 2015 with one solo song released to the public. Let that sink in. The Chicago singer is destined to take a huge step in 2016 following the release of her debut EP AVIARY ACT 1, which is packed with four high quality tracks that have you craving for more goodness. Her voice is packed with an aura that is impossible to match and she often uses basic production that allows you to focus on her one of a kind voice. Eryn is an indie darling at this point, but 2016 feels like the right time for her to step into the hearts of the millions. – malbin



While I’m not entirely sure how to pronounce his name, Elhae does stand for “Every Life Has An Ending”, a pretty grim sentiment but to Elhae, it’s motivation. It takes on the same meaning as “live your life to the fullest” or any other kind of cliche quote of that nature. But while cliche, it’s real as hell and that’s some of the motivation Elhae takes to get out of bed and fulfill his dreams. In 2015 he released his AURA EP, his biggest project to date. His mix of R&B with some smooth raps was impressive along with the masterful production made this EP a must listen. That dropped at the top of 2015 and while he’s dropped a few different songs since then, he hasn’t dropped a full project since but that next one is coming in 2016. – Trixx

Kweku Collins

kweku collins

Kweku Collins had a real busy 2015, joining Chicago based record label Closed Sessions, releasing a strong EP, a bevy of singles, and some guest features as well. And most of this was done in the second half of 2015. What this is meant to segway into is that Kweku Collins has quite the work ethic and that factors into everything. He’s constantly recording and perfecting his craft, touching up his unique, soulful sound constantly, looking for that perfect formula. There’s not one artist I can think of that sounds like Kweku and his emotion that’s caught by his microphone is unmatched. One touching song of his called “Memorial”, which is dedicated to his mother is a direct testament of that. And as an added bonus, Kweku produces a lot of his songs himself and he’s only a teenager. He’s got a big advantage over the rest of the field already. – Trixx

Martin $ky

marin $ky

Chicago artists are all over this list thus far and the trend is going to continue with Martin $ky. $ky transformed from a lo-fi “hip-hop artist” into a highly produced bleak rapper. While some people may seek out Martin’s production, his rapping comes as an acquired taste as it is a bit monotone, but his hooks and production are ridiculously catchy once you get on board. His production is years ahead of its time, which isn’t something you can say about many producers. $ky has a sizable following for both his raps and production, and as long as he continues to pump out releases like he has, he’s ready to take the next step. – malbin

Sylvan LaCue

sylvan lacue

Maybe you know him as QuESt but the Miami rapper is reinventing himself a bit, changing to his government name as his rap alias. He released his first project as Sylvan this December, an EP with producer FORTUNE. He’s still very much the same emcee but with new experiences to tell and better knowledge and skill when it comes to making music. He’s already had a long career, one that reaches back to the days when blogs were just getting big back in 2009-2010 and he even stopped off at Logic’s Visionary Music Group but now he feels right at home, working independently and finishing up his new album for an early 2016 release. – Trixx

Maxo Kream

maxo kream

Houston-based rapper Maxo Kream brings a unique style to his city – his raps are not as drugged out as Screwed Up Click members or as aggressive as other up-comers like Travis Scott, rather, he raps without an aggressive tone about extremely aggressive topics. Over some very unique production, his 2015 release Maxo187 delved into a number of very dark concepts relating to Houston’s gang life, drug scene, and Maxo’s issues throughout his troubled childhood. Maxo187 is an monumental improvement over his previous work, but it still hasn’t given him the attention or respect he deserves. His next project will. – Mitch

Monte Booker

Monte Booker

Following in the footsteps of the Soulection sound, Chicago’s Monte Booker has adopted those synth, bouncy tendencies and crafted it into a pallet of his own. When Monte pulls out this pallet, it looks like no other, it compares to no other. The only way to truly analyze it though is to see the results and those results are beautiful, abstract, sometimes a bit berserk and a few other positive adjectives that I’m missing. His main collaborator is Smino, who is also featured on this list of ours and Monte Booker is the genius behind the curtain so to speak. This year, he worked extensively with Smino on those two EPs, he dropped quite a few loose songs and he even teamed up with Soulection for a 4-track EP. 2016 is here and it’s only more motivation for Monte to keep growing. – Trixx

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