Chicago is the best city in all of hip-hop, and I’m not about to argue that. The massive collection of diverse and unique artists are second to none. Let’s talk about some of the artists I look forward to seeing make the biggest waves in 2018.
Lowkey, I probably shouldn’t put Joe on this list because of the massive year he’s had in 2017. I mean, he dropped his debut project, Henry Church, and has toured twice, once on a massive US tour and the other in Europe. Oh he also sold out the House of Blues with his brothers in PIVOT Gang. It would not be surprising if Joe took some time off to work on music or just relax, but I don’t buy into that. He’s got a headlining show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago in a two weeks where he’s promised he’s got some new music. I look forward to seeing what kind of year Joe has cooked up for us.
Ravyn Lenae is another artist who has already “popped.” This year she toured with Smino and SZA on the CTRL tour and put out one of the most beautiful projects of the year, Midnight Moonlight, but that all seems minor in the grand scheme of things. Ravyn has legendary potential, she can really take over the music industry. She’s got a collab project coming with the musical prodigy Steve Lacy that is bound to be one of the AOTY. 2017 started the Ravyn Lenae takeover, but 2018 is where she’s really going to blossom.
Kweku Collins is one of the most promising artists signed with Closed Sessions. His 2017 album, Grey, was one of the most interesting albums of the year, and showcased Kweku’s ability to blend genres almost effortlessly. His live performances are also insane. Kweku played Lollapalooza for the first time this year, and drew one of the most active crowds I’ve seen an opener bring. Look for Kweku to continue to build onto his massive year.
Melo is the second PIVOT Gang member to make the list. His debut album, Melodramatics, was one of my favorite projects of the year. While he has been on the local scene for some time, this was really the first year that we were blessed with music by him and fans are already begging for more.
Another Closed Session signee, Femdot is insanely versatile. Whether he’s bringing the bars back on some boom bap raps or slaying something more RnB inspired, you can rest easy knowing that Fem is going to kill the track. He’s also one of the most creative people coming out of the city, something that he proves in the short film he released inspired by his ‘to(u)’ project.
Ric Wilson continues to impress. I first got hooked on Ric with his sophomore project, Soul Bounce, where he pushed black empowerment and positivity. The music really makes your soul bounce. He continued the message on his 2017 EP, Negrow Disco. I look forward to seeing what Ric has for store for us in 2018, hopefully we get another full length.
Sage, the 64th Wonder:
Sage, the 64th Wonder is one of the most unique up and comers in Chicago right now. He has truly created his own lane over the past couple of years by consistently releasing new, interesting music, and as a result has built a solid base of loyal fans. It’s easy to get behind him, as he brings a fresh perspective to the Chicago scene, with the bars and talent to back it up.
“He’s like if Prince and Thugger had baby.” That was my first introduction of Sahbabii and he did not disappoint. His mixtape, S.A.N.D.A.S., is wild. It perfectly blends his trap influences with his singing creating the perfect balance of hard bars and beautiful melodies. I can’t wait for any new music Sahbabii brings in 2018.
Ajani Jones has so much soul. His 2017 project, Eternal Bliss, was damn near a perfect project and showed how Ajani can do it all. He’s got some of the best, most creative wordplay in the scene and when you combine that with his ability to flow and his ear beats and production, you have some damn good music.
Jean Deaux is one of the most impressively diverse artists coming out of Chicago. She can sing, she can rap, she can really do it all. She’s been fairly quite this year, dropping only a hand full of verses and her single, ‘Wikipedia.’ After hearing her destroy Frsh Water’s ‘Piss Po’’ I honestly can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.