Artists on the Rise: 2017

New year, new artists rise to the front lines of the music world. Everything we thought we knew about the music industry...cancel. Artists are no longer beating down the record label's doors to get their music heard and to get a deal. The tables have turned. Now, labels are now beating down the artist's doors and making bets like they're items on eBay. Record deals no longer matter. Radio play no longer matters.  Budgets no longer matter (kinda). But, numbers. Numbers still and have always mattered. Number of followers and subscribers, and views matter. What else matters? Co-signs from major artists, touring, and creative direction. Innovative artists like Chance the Rapper are even changing the policies for record sales, streams, and even awards. We have our own radio shows, create our own tours, promote and market our own brands, and build our own cult following. The kids led the way that showed and proved that the tools for success are in our very own hands. our hands. Phones, cameras, computers, laptops, and everything else that technology has to offer made it possible for any artist on any level to make a way and name for themselves. Here is where I come into play. I seem to have a knack for discovering artists before they pop. Whether they have 10 or 10,000 followers, somehow, I see their vision (maybe even before they do), sense their dedication and passion for their craft, and, most importantly, I see longevity for these artists. Year after year, I find that the new artists that are blowing up, are usually ones that I had already been listening to for quiiiite some time. So, basically what I'm saying is...I be knowing'. Regardless of the ever-changing ways of the industry, the people have spoken and it is written; the music and talent will always prevail.


I really like Aminé. And not just because of the tight ass drops in his hit single “Caroline”, but because he is the ultimate talent. He writes, produces some of his own tracks, and even created and directed his video for “Caroline”. The kid does it all. Also, his aesthetics are bananas. Figuratively and literally. Lol.


Well, this guy had me at his affirmation. In 2013, Ricardo aka 6lack (pronounced Black) tweeted that he started his "10,000 hours of practice" and that "he'll get back to {us} in 2016". Well, 2016 came and before it went, 6lack released “Free 6lack” and it was a direct result of hard work, dedication, passion, and honesty. It led to a massive start for 6lack, being that his shows are already selling out. Also, I cannot bring myself to skip any of the tracks and out all the releases from the artists listed, "Free 6lack" I started currently unapologetically getting the most play. That's just my lil two cents.

Ari Lennox

Having a little proud mom moment… Ari was one of the very first artists I promoted back in 2013 when she released “Ariography”. Oh girl has BEEN out here hustling. Did you know that “Yuengling” was originally released in 2014? (Seriously, y’all have to start listening to me. Catch up.) From DC to North Carolina, singing gigs to modeling gigs, she's on her grind. That all paid off after finally signing to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records. Although it has already been quite the journey for Miss Ari, the real adventure has only just begun.

Ravyn Lenae

Not that age really matters, but there is something so fascinating about a young, raw, and unfiltered talent. Currently a student at the Chicago High School for the Arts, where she studies vocal performance, Ravyn must have known all her life that she was born to be a musician. With just one listen to her already mature sounding voice, you just may agree. If you’re a fan of Soulection, you may have heard her on some tracks. One of my favs is “May” which is produced by Monte Booker. She is also about to kick off a soldout national tour with Noname next month!


Okay, I know his name is like whaaaa, but never mind that. My guy has yet to fail me! Every track he releases is so fire (to me)! Foggieraw, a DMV native, who has this trap-style flow, has fun with his vocals, and is guaranteed to include a few nba references, has kind of been a fav for the past few months. Not so much about his lyrics or even the fact that we can’t necessarily tell what he’s saying in the lyrics, but more about the creativity he puts in his music. For example, the samples, breaks, transitions, and most importantly the drops on his tracks are all flames. God knows I love a good drop on the beat. You may not find a lot about him on the internet but, trust, he has a pretty loyal and very fast growing following.


Trapo is responsible for a FEW of my official favorite tracks of 2016… Bad Gal, Beg, and Marry (which needs a second extended version. NOT LONG ENOUGH), just to name the first few that comes to mind. Each of these tracks all have very different sounds which makes Trapo a brave and unpredictable artist. I Like! But I think I like Trapo even more so because he isn’t backed by any other artist, label, or brand. He’s just been putting in work, releasing his work, and building his fan base solely from his talent alone. No gimmicks. He’s headed to SXSW this year for the first time. So, I can pretty much guarentee you’ll be hearing more from him this year.

River Tiber

Every few years or so, we come across the most soulful of caucasian men, and he serenades us to the point where we forget color and wish he’d bless our ovaries with pretty mixed babies. 😩 Weeelll, here lies Tommy, aka River Tiber, from Toronto. The one-man-band who has pretty much been training to be a musician all his life. A mini breakthrough came when River’s vocals from his track “No Talk” were sampled on Drake’s “No Tellin’”. In addition, he recently dropped a track featuring King Push titled “Illusions”.


First starters, I think I've just realized I've got a thing for very unique vocals and pitches. Smino has a very unique sound and flow. What's even cooler is that he's about to bring the midwest back; he's from Nellyville aka St. Louis (although, he's currently based in Chicago). Instead of trying to explain how dope this guy is I'm just going to drop this track "Kolors" below. Then, I want you to play the video under that and check the flip he did for the exact same song, live on Soulection Radio on Beats 1.

He cold, ain't he? I know.


Supposedly, SiR secretly signed to TDE last year, which just might be true due to their close relationship. Also, if this is true, TDE is the most genius label. And, well, I say this because I would consider SiR something like a vet in this industry. He's engineered for Tyrese, written songs for many artists including Anita Baker and Jill Scott, and his voice is fucking hypnotizing. The man lives and breathes music. Oh, and as far as his 2015 debut album "Seven Sundays"...there. are. no. skips. About his 2016 EP "Her"...same fucking thing.  Seriously, this man is like Ryan Leslie, The-Dream, & Ne-yo all in one.

As I'm drafting this, the greatest president of all time, Barack Obama, is passing the torch to this man named Donald Trump... But, also, as I'm drafting this, it was announced via TDE's twitter the official signing of SiR to the label...

Look at God.

Black excellence wins again.

Home, Music, PlaylistsNeish Culbreath