It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the numerous acts at South By Southwest, especially in the hip-hop/rap genre. With artists from all across the world set to take over local music venues this month, The Daily Texan recommends five rappers to catch at this year’s festival.
Gaining critical acclaim for his 2015 album Summertime ’06, Vince Staples tells his story of growing up in Long Beach. Staples’ sound is direct, speaking to the listener with a direct tone and candor. Staples has elevated himself to the top tier of the current rap scene, recently touring with industry heavy-hitters A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown and Tyler, The Creator. With Staples set to build upon the success of Summertime ’06, SXSW 2016 is an ideal time to catch his performance because he’s at the crossroads of initial critical success and commercial stardom.
Artists you might like: Earl Sweatshirt, Flatbush Zombies, Casey Veggies
Jazz Cartier is a product of Toronto, a city now on the hip-hop radar thanks to Drake’s success. Though Drake’s influence is noticeable in his music production and flow, Jazz immediately distances himself from Drake, rapping “I’m from Toronto, but they call it The Six” in his song “Secrets Safe/Local Celebrity Freestyle.”
His sound is distinct and varied — at times sounding like Fetty Wap and at others, Danny Brown. Though his music is sometimes criticized for being overproduced, his LP Marauding in Paradise is experimental instrumentally, mixing sounds without overshadowing his voice.
Artists you might like: Drake, Travi$ Scott, PARTYNEXTDOOR
Virginia-based artist D.R.A.M. is the beneficiary of social media’s increased role in promoting artists. Gaining fame through his viral hit “Cha Cha,” D.R.A.M. released his full LP Gahdamn! last October. “Cha Cha” rose to fame when Beyoncé posted an Instagram video of herself singing and dancing to the song.
D.R.A.M. escapes the tag of a one-hit wonder with Gahdamn!, capitalizing on the growing use of collaborations in the industry by working with frequent Chance The Rapper collaborator Donnie Trumpet and SZA, the first female artist to sign with Top Dawg Entertainment.
Artists you might like: Post Malone, Rae Sremmurd, Fetty Wap
Hailing from Brooklyn, a city steeped in hip-hop and rap history, 19-year-old Jimi Tents attempts to tell his story in the post-Biggie and Jay-Z era. Jimi Tents boasts his unpredictable flow, drawing on influences that transcend the boundaries set by geographical region or stylistic eras. The lead single from his EP 5 O’Clock Shadow is “Landslide,” which starts by borrowing from Jay-Z’s hit “Big Pimpin,” before delving into a series of short quips and ad-libs that match the pace of the forward-moving track. Drawing from the likes of Chance The Rapper, Tents supplements his tracks with live instrumentation instead of the heavy reliance on synthetic bass.
Artists you might like: Chance The Rapper, Isaiah Rashad, Kamasi Washington
Growing up in Baltimore, Tate Kobang has no shortage of city pride. One of his earliest works, “Dance My Pain Away,” appeared on the soundtrack for “The Wire,” a crime drama set in his hometown. His hit single “Bank Rolls” features the recurring line, “I love my city, ask about me and I bet they know me,” establishing his place in Baltimore’s rap scene. The city doesn’t share the rich history of rap like New York or Los Angeles, but Tate Kobang is on a quest to put his city on the map. A recent signee of 300 Entertainment, Kobang stays true to his roots in his “Bank Rolls” video, featuring his hometown friends in neighborhood locations.
Artists you might like: Pusha T, Freddie Gibbs