1. Baby Keem
Baby Keem’s rise has been sudden, but subtle at the same time. The 18 year old California rapper has a deep bag of tricks, finding equal success in making the hard hitting street tracks as well as the more subdued, radio ready music. With three projects under his belt in 2018 and working closely alongside CardoGotWings and the TDE camp, Baby Keem’s accolades are piling up in tandem with his talents.
His latest full length project, The Sound of Bad Habit, came jam packed with catchy singles as well as the more gritty tracks to give texture to the young rapper’s life. His lead visual for one of the project’s standouts, “Miss Charlotte“, placed Keem in a high school summer kind of love, while “Miss Charlotte” as a song surpasses his age in terms of finished product. The 12-track album was entirely produced by CardoGotWings and self-recorded by Keem in his bedroom at the age of 17. And if this wasn’t impressive enough, the fact that Keem was also able to put out two previous works in 2018 should pique some interests. His midyear EP, Hearts & Darts, was a concise 6-track effort full of replayable hits that only scrape the surface of what Baby Keem will be doing in the years to come. – Gregisonfire
2. Isaac Dunbar
Attention grabbing 15-year-old Isaac Dunbar out of Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a rare breed. He’s been making music since he was 9-years-old, after being inspired by Lady Gaga‘s music. When I was 9-years-old my only care in the world was getting my spelling homework done so I could play outside before it got dark outside, nevermind taking it upon myself to access Fruity Loops and learn how to create music. Isaac’s certainly doing things that exceed his age and he’s certainly become a darling of all the major labels with all the potential that he possesses in the palm of his hand.
Isaac’s music truly is a wonder to behold. He’s got a sneakily soulful, yet youthful voice that’s very easy to connect to and he’s a wizard at crafting songs. His proper debut single after deleting most of his older songs off of Soundcloud was “Freshman Year”, a very personal song about starting high school. While it’s something I can’t currently relate to, Isaac makes me feel there with the opening lines “Fuck you Joe and Casey Knight and even Becca eww / You caused some hell on my daylight / I did it back to you”. Those lines put me right there in the halls of Barnstable high school. Isaac’s got some sharp yet baggy outfit on while Joe, Casey and Becca glare at him in disgust from their lockers as the young sensation strolls by.
Isaac’s only got two official singles out (there’s more music out there if you do your googles) but I know we’ve got so many more stories to hear from the enigmatic kid and I’m standing by excitedly anticipating it all. – Trixx
3. Charlie Burg
Charlie Burg is the kind of artist who thrives in the gray area between genres. His music, best defined by its energetic style and atmospheric production, is the product of a unique intersection between R&B, soul, and indie, among other genres, and as a result, its culmination of different sources of inspiration and energy makes for a melting pot sound that refuses to be duplicated. Hailing from Detroit, Burg has made waves all throughout 2018 with his two latest EPs, Three, Fever and Two, Moonlight, and if not anything else, each of these projects have proved that Burg’s refreshing sound certainly holds the potential to continue growing and developing in years to come. Needless to say, Charlie Burg is unapologetically making the music that he wants to make, and for that, we can’t wait to see where he’ll take his career in 2019. By my estimates, things are only looking up. – Seamus Fay
I’m always rooting for good music but i’m also always rooting for good people and UMI‘s got both. The Seattle native moved down to California to go to USC, where she really began taking her music seriously and she’s been on a quick upward trajectory ever since. We’ve been on the UMI bandwagon since early 2018 and seeing how fast she’s grown and become one of the most sought after new artists has been amazing. To me, UMI‘s in rare air where everything she releases is great and I can’t pick my favorites. She’s truly a young spirit with an old soul and that stands out by her soulful brand of R&B music, something that’s been lacking over the last few years.
“Remember Me“, the single she released in October has been the breakthrough single and it’s clocked in 3.7 million views on YouTube in just 3 months time. It’s had the YouTube community buzzing with countless covers from fans on the platform that wanted to have a whirl at performing the soulful earworm of a song. In a digital age of music where songs are constantly overproduced and overfluffed, UMI‘s music feels raw and organic and it’s something that people are really gravitating towards. 2019 is certainly going to be a big year for her so make sure you’re paying attention! – Trixx
At sixteen, I was just excited to get my driver’s license. At sixteen, Baltimore native is looking to take over the music industry. The young artist has been on everyone’s radar as of late, dropping hit after hit. And if you think what he’s put out is impressive, wait until you hear what he’s got in the vault.
His melodic sound fits perfectly into what’s “hot” in music, but TheHxliday brings a youthful sound that catches your ear from the second you press play. The kid is still young and has plenty of room to grow, but his potential is out of this world and we can’t wait to see what he does in 2019. – Kyle C
DaBaby’s rap catalog stretches back a few years, with tapes on Datpiff ranging back into early 2017. It might have been some news headlines about his involvement in an altercation that started getting his name a little more circulated online, but DaBaby’s grind goes well beyond headlines. A spin through his catalog proves that his style has been polished to a fine shine with the amount of work and time he has spent into fine tuning.
DaBaby is a natural born entertainer, as seen in the scene from his music video for “Today” of him pulling down his shorts and peeing on a contract that a label tried to give him, all while donning a giant Stewie Griffin chain. More recently, DaBaby received plenty of praise for his western-styled, humorous video for “Walker Texas Ranger“, finding himself on the pages of most of the major publications and racking up over a million plays in a week’s time. The Charlotte, North Carolina rapper has had a string of fire visuals and high powered singles, and even accidentally created his own dance. DaBaby has personality for days, with plenty of music to follow suit, leaving him very well connected and cosigned throughout the industry but he still maintains his independence. DaBaby may not be a conventional “artist to watch” for this upcoming year, but it will definitely be exciting to watch DaBaby take on the industry head first as an independent artist. – Gregisonfire
7. Lila Drew
Despite having just two singles, “November” and “Faded/2 AM” on streaming services, Lila Drew is the kind of artist whose dreamy style oozes potential for stardom — and yes, it’s good enough to the point where I only need two songs to form a solid opinion. From crafting zines to making decadent songs, she’s a multi-talented creative who knows just how to use her talents in the most effective manner possible, and this trait is clearly reflected in the heavenly instrumentation and silky vocals that characterize her music. Additionally, as if the music itself wasn’t impressive enough, Drew has also maintained an intimate, bedroom-pop aesthetic that attracts fans in a notably authentic manner, establishing a captivating image that will surely yield exponential growth in the months to come. While her first single was released only two months ago, you would swear Drew is a seasoned veteran by her matured artistic vision, and for this reason and more, we can’t wait to see where the rising singer is headed in 2019. Hopefully we’ll receive a few more singles in the months to come that will attest to this potential, but for now, “November” and “Faded/2AM” are more than enough to keep on repeat. – Seamus Fay
8. gabriel black
gabriel black is shrouded in seclusion. The elusive artist was huge on the internet in 2018, gaining an enormous cult following, yet very few people have actually seen him. His Instagram is covered in drawings of himself, but his actual image remains a mystery.
A lot of artists try to make mystery work, but very few have done so successfully and gabriel black is one of the few to make this work. He’s made it work because the talent is actually there. You can hear it in his music see it in his unique works of art. On top of all of that, the numbers are there and all signs point to the Pennsylvania native having a huge 2019. – Kyle C
9. Lil Zay Osama
Lil Zay Osama is probably the most recent of anyone on this list to pop into the spotlight. It was really just at the tail end of 2018 that he started gaining widespread recognition from those in the know that he was one of the next up as far as rappers go. The Chicago rapper saw some success with “Way Better” but his melodic and powerful storytelling cut “Changed Up” is what really opened peoples eyes. Not to mention, he got a couple of big cosigns from Meek Mill and Juice WRLD out of the gate, before blogs and tastemakers were even hip.
His style reminds me a lot of NBA Youngboy but Osama’s got a unique delivery and of course, a different story to tell, hailing from a different part of the country. There’s so much truth and honesty that I can feel gushing out of Osama and I’m locked in and ready to hear everything he’s got to say. I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it again, he’s the first new up and coming rapper in a while that’s getting a lot of buzz that I’m genuinely excited about. – Trixx
10. Brandon Banks
Brandon Banks is the latest breath of fresh air to come off of the internet without the suspicious industry plant feeling that plague so many male vocalists. Brandon’s exposure is as pure as his voice and his talent, and the California native seemingly doesn’t bring any weaknesses to the table. With his effortless abilities to climb to falsetto notes and a sharp introspection of his emotions, Brandon pens songs that swoon those who come within earshot.
His 7-track EP, Tides, released in October, is masterfully put together and it’s led by the powerful single, “Autumn“. Aesthetically rich, it’s clear that Brandon has the right pieces placed around him to add the necessary pieces to complete the fully immersive feelings to his music. The muted tones of the artwork play perfectly into the orchestral structure of the production of the EP, all while Brandon floats with ease through the atmosphere crafted through this project. Brandon has yet to hit his breakout moment like a handful of the other artists highlighted in this list, but with the level of artistry demonstrated in his one project, it’s clear that the west coast singer is poised to blow at any moment. – Gregisonfire
11. Quin NFN
I take a certain pride in being able to witness the rise of Quin NFN from the beginnings. First arriving on my radar through a regional rap twitter feed, it was apparent from the first listen that the young rapper from Austin had a certain southern flare to him, and that he has possessed the bite that he has expressed in his rapid rise since the beginning.
Trying to find an unentertaining Quin NFN bar is a difficult task. In an age of the internet where songs have more become about the aesthetic at times, Quin has made his staple his rapidfire delivery of bars, drenched in equal parts street life and tongue-in-cheek humor. Before his rise this year, Quin made a significant amount of noise for a string of no-chorus tracks titled “GameTime“, with “GameTime Pt. 2” being up for consideration for his breakout track. With bar after bar, the high school aged Quin delivered some incredibly impressive writing skills, both in his cadence as well as wordplay. As of late, Quin has released a string of high quality visuals with some of his state’s top videographers, most notably with his video for “Talkin’ My Shit” which currently sits at 5 million plays in a month and a half. The collaboration of Quin’s top notch bars and top notch visuals has propelled him into discussion as one of this new year’s breakout acts. – Gregisonfire
12. Peter Manos
Peter Manos currently has one song out; and it has over 40 million streams on Spotify alone. It’s not like he came out of thin air however, the Nashville based artist caught a lot of ears last year, but he went the route many of musicians go and he took down most of his music and rebooted this year. That came with the help of Human Re Sources, the Spotify funded team that has worked artists such as Pink Sweat$, Charlotte Lawrence, Brent Faiyaz and more. Peter had the industry ins to make this new debut spark right away but he well exceeded that and he’s exploded.
“In My Head” is the pop leaning jam that’s been tearing up streaming and for good reason. The song brilliantly captures Peter’s angelic voice over a slow, coarse piano chord progression. It’s still to be seen just how well he sticks as a personality and as a person but the engagement on his music is all there. It’ll be interesting to see the moves he makes in 2019 but all signs are pointing to this kid becoming a star. – Trixx
13. Souly Had
In the current state of the music industry, many new artists are getting caught up in the value of quantity over quality of their output. Consequently, this drives down the prospect of longevity for a considerable portion of the new music that comes out in today’s age. However, as an offshoot of this artistic mentality, there is actually an adverse effect where it has now become easier to notice artists who aren’t following the quantity-over-quality mold. Here enters Souly Had: an Albany native who seems to have mastered the art of magnifying the impact of his voice. He doesn’t drop music very often, but when Had finally does turn to the spotlight, he’s sure to make a splash simply by upholding a high benchmark of quality for new releases. Additionally, with an addictive style of impassioned deliveries and intricate flows working in his favor, Had is sure to turn heads whenever he pleases, and it is this captivating artistic voice that makes him such a promising young talent. All signs are pointing up for Albany’s own, so be sure to stay on the lookout for the latest from Souly Had in 2019. – Seamus Fay
14. SSG Splurge
Especially amidst the trunk-rattling production styles that dominate a solid portion of popular rap today, it’s easy for an artist to hide behind a beat and disguise the flaws in their style with booming instrumentals. SSG Splurge is cut from a different cloth, however, as his hard-nosed style stands front and center, demanding attention from listeners the second he hops on the mic. His style, marked by blunt deliveries and overlapping flows, is hypnotic in a hard-hitting way, and with an ear for production that always pairs that powerful style with well-fit, ominous production, Splurge simply doesn’t miss. Consistency and a unique, trailblazing flavor are working in SSG Splurge’s favor, and in my eyes, this puts him one step ahead of his peers as a definite talent to keep an eye out for in the New Year. Splurge has been racking in the plays for some time now, and come 2019, it’s his moment to take this success to the next level. – Seamus Fay
When looking for an artist, you typically look for someone who can sing/rap, produce, or song write. Rarely do you come across someone who can do all three, and it’s even more of a rarity to come across someone who can do all three extremely well. Enter Aries.
Aries is an enigmatic artist who chooses to release very little, if any information at all about himself. A quick Google search will ultimately lead you astray, but what you will find is his music, which he let’s do most of the talking for him. With a near-flawless coalescence of unique hip-hop production, impeccable songwriting, and experimental vocals, this kid can do no wrong.
I’m excited to see what he does in 2019. If he keeps doing what he’s doing and putting up the type of numbers that he is, I have no doubt in my mind Aries is in for a huge year. – Kyle C
16. Chloe Lilac
Brooklyn’s rebel Chloe Lilac is here to stay. After having an impressive 2018 with releases such as “Stolen Liquor” and “Summer,” the 18-year-old New York native has laid the framework for a potentially colossal 2019.
Lilac became a familiar face on the New York streets at the young age of 14 where she would perform for passerbyers, eventually gaining enough confidence to start producing music on her own. Not long after, she was introduced to Warner Chappell producer Bobby “Beewirks” Yewah (Pusha T, Chris Brown, The Dream, SZA). The two honed in on her elegant voice and melancholy image and the rest is history.
She’s done nothing but gain momentum this past year. Earning spots on the the Spotify Viral Global 50, reaching over a million plays on a record, and going on tour with Charlotte Lawrence this past year, you can see that this is only the beginning for the budding singer. – Kyle C