Over the past five years, Chicago’s music scene has done a tremendous job of creating new sounds and breaking a ton of new artists. This year could’ve been one of the biggest years for Chicago, as we witnessed many new artists make names for themselves. I reached out to four other writers/creatives in the city to recap the year with 5 artists they think had the best year in 2016, and 5 artists they think will blow up next year. Starting off with my list, followed by neonpajamas, djay, lil jake, someguynamedty & RTC from Closed Sessions. Check it out!
(photo by: Illkoncept)
Best year in 2016:
Man, this guy went crazy this year! I met Warhol back in April for our interview, don’t get me wrong, he had a good buzz, but 8 months later this dude has basically doubled his fanbase. Warhol, Cole Bennett, and Brentrambo have been putting in work. I truly believe everyone should put Warhol in their Chicago artist of the year list. I hope we get to see a project from Warhol in 2017.
“iiidrops” was one of the best projects of the year. Savemoney has been killing it these past couple of years in Chicago. Last year Towkio had a great year and this year it was Joey Purps. On top of his great project, Joey has a fantastic live performance. I’m very stoked to see the follow up to “iiidrops” in 2017.
Spread Love! Mick Jenkins has easily become my favorite in Chicago over the years with his past projects “Trees & Truths”, “Water[s]”, and “Waves”. This year he dropped his most mature project to date, “The Healing Component”. Following up the project, he went on tour with Smino Brown in the US and overseas as well.
Pivot, Pivot! Saba put out a fantastic project to end the year, “Bucket List Project”. Coming a long way since Acid Rap, Saba continues to shine in Chicago. Ending last year with his verse on Chance’s song “Angels” and performance on Stephen Colbert Show really got people checking for Saba. Saba along with his crew Pivot have been making noise in the Westside and its good to see them get the love they deserve. Westside go crazy!
We finally got it. Her debut mixtape “telefone”, a project we had been waiting for three years was absolutely amazing. The features she was able to grab for this project were fantastic as well, as she got Ravyn Lanae, Joseph Chilliams, theMind, Raury, Eryn Allen Kane, Saba, Smino, and more. My favorite song was Forever which feauted Eryn Allen Kane & Akenya. Just like Mick Jenkins, Noname also spent some time touring out in Europe, and in 2017 has a United States tour with Ravyn Lanae, make sure to check it out.
Artists to look out for in 2017:
Man, this dude can fucking spit! Shit to lose, 5th night on the block, Caught a body, and Hate me now are my favorite songs from his. I’m really a fan of this kids work, and I would love to see a project come out in 2017. I highly suggest you getting to know Cassius Tae now, because he will be big.
What a great year 2016 was for Kweku and the team over at Closed Sessions. “Nat Love” was a great project this year and it really boosted his fanbase. Kweku is a very good humble dude, who creates his own sound and stays in his own lane. I can’t wait to see what the CS team has ready for Kweku in 2017.
This man is the truth! Femdot studies at Depaul as a Health Science major, while spitting some of the most potent bars in the city. Femdot dropped a series of projects this year, with one more looking to drop soon to end the series. I cannot wait to hear it in 2017. I promise you 2017 will be a huge year for the homie Femdot.
The energy that Ric has is awesome. I loved his project “Soul Bounce” and his North Coast performance. The soul and funk within his music makes you just want to groove and dance. Ric dropped “Soul Bounce” three months back and its still in rotation for a lot of us. Ric will be among the front of the new Chicago artists to emerge in 2017.
Ug Vavy! Man, I remember first hearing Sport it last year on Soundcloud and was taken away. Right away I knew he was going to blow. Ug Vavy kills it both on his production and his song writing abilities. Following up with Sport it he dropped 3 other hot singles, Gwap, Back To Ballin, and In My Bag. Ug is part of the trio “Fight Me” with Supa and Shepard Hues. I hope to hear a Fight me project in 2017 and a Ug Vavy solo project.
Best year in 2016: Chance, Noname, Saba, Whitney, Smino
Artists to look out for in 2017: Iris Temple, Kaina & Burns Twins, Elias Abid, Lucille Furs, Knox Fortune
Best year in 2016 (no order):
Artists to look out for in 2017
I wish I could put the whole FontsNation crew on here, but for now i’ll settle with an artist that I feel has the potential to go down in history with the same levels of respect and influence as Kanye West. Both have carved their own lane musically, utilized their own brand, and cared nobody else except for themselves, their inner circle and their art, which truly are the keys to success. IF T.Y. doesn’t blow up in 2017, Hip Hop’s fanbase has failed me.
Best Year in 2016:
Chance The Rapper had an amazing 2016. Chano hosted his very music festival at US Cellular Field, released his Coloring Book project, went on his second headlining tour and got nominated for seven Grammy awards just to highlight a few things. I don’t think I really need to say anything else here.
Despite his recent issues on the Summer’s Over tour with PARTYNEXTDOOR, Jeremih had a super solid year. ‘Mih killed hooks all ‘16, tore it down at Pitchfork Music Festival (and FSD’s 30 Days in LA show) and made sure that people paid attention to what he was doing, regardless of what it was. Jeremih also started working on his next album, Later That Night, this year and I can’t wait to hear that.
Yung Berg quietly had an awesome year. Berg, mainly a writer and producer now, worked on Big Sean’s “Bounce Back,” Chris Brown’s newly released “Party” and a bunch of other records from some of your favorite artists — including Jeremih, Kid Ink and Nicki Minaj. Whenever you hear that “Hitmaka!” tag on a record, just know that Berg’s still here.
Dreezy is another Chicago representer that had a great year. The emcee delivered a hit record in the Jeremih-assisted “Body” earlier this year, then delivered her super-solid debut album via Interscope Records shortly after. Shame on you if you snoozed on Dreezy and or her album.
The end of the year is ending kind of weirdly for Kanye, but he definitely kicked off the year strongly with The Life Of Pablo — an album that will change the way albums are released and how we digest them going forward, with the album receiving periodic updates similar to game patches. Throw in the success of the Yeezy Boosts, Yeezy Season 3 and another crazy tour and ‘Ye had a solid year, minus his recent issues.
Artists to look out for in 2017:
Valee: Valee is one artist to watch going into next year. He’s been dropping heat all year and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon. He’s just one record away, trust me.
Martin $ky: Martin $ky has ‘retired’ from rapping for the time being, but you can bet that he’ll still be coming through with plenty of crazy joints on the production side of things. Dont say that I didn’t warn you.
Joey Purp: I’m expecting Joey Purp to level up even more in 2017. Purple’s got more heat on the way and hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to hear what he’s been cooking up.
Jeremih: Following this year, I think Jeremih’s going to give everyone another crazy album with ‘Later That Night’ and turn things up even more. Never count ‘Mih out.
Melo Makes Music: I would keep an eye out for Melo Makes Music, as well. Melo’s vibe is different from what people are used to hearing from the city and I think next year is going to be when we’ll hear more of him.
Artists to look out for in 2016:
Boathouse, oddCouple, Kweku Collins, Webster X, Kipp Stone, & Jamila Woods.