1. Noname Gypsy
Nicknamed ‘the new Lauryn Hill’ (by, erm…me) for rhyming with a similarly lazy and eloquent flow, Gypsy should really be able to find some more airtime in 2014. You could be forgiven for listening to the start of this breezy tune and labelling it a Corrine Bailey Rae-esque joint, but just give it a bit of time. She’s equal parts witty, accessible, and fun loving, which should allow her to pick up some more mainstream recognition in 2014.
It’s not all poppy though. Noname featured on one of the biggest underground albums of 2013, Chance the Rapper’s ‘Acid Rap’ (Chance, having just featured on a Justin Bieber song – ‘Confident’ – has probably stepped above the list of ones to watch this year), in the song ‘Lost’. It’s a great feature and her playful discussion of some pretty dark issues should win over those who demand something substantial in an artist’s lyrics before they start sharing the songs on Twitter. I couldn’t say I’m a huge fan of everything in this list, but I have a soft spot for Gyspy. I hope she makes it.
I guess Logic pretty much has to be in here. It makes completely no sense as to why he hasn’t already blown up to the size of Lupe Fiasco already, given his very radio friendly production and the borderline harmless flow that he brings to the table. Pretty much all of his tracks from the Young Sinatra mixtapes have millions of views on Youtube.
It’d be easy to dismiss Logic as catering only to the masses, but he does have some pretty introspective pieces. A lot of his lyrics deal with being a white rapper and his difficult relationships with his parents. I’m not saying that that makes the guy anything new, but it does pull him above slightly less interesting pop rap artists. Anyway, what did you get up to at the Weeknd? (lol).
Most critics’ major issue with the guy is that he’s a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ kind of rapper – ie. That he can put out a good rap and croon, but it’s nowhere near as good as Drake, or that he’s alright at producing trap, but it’s nowhere near as good as Gucci Mane – but the truth is that he can rap and that he has been signed to Def Jam. He’ll find a sound and stick with it soon. As he recently tweeted that he plans to release his debut album this year, 2014 will be a make or break year for Logic.
3. Vic Mensa
I’ve just realised that all of these rappers are younger than me, and I’ve only just graduated from university. I dunno what that says about my life so far. [EDIT Logic is 23. What an idiot! Who’d be that old?]
Anyway, Vic Mensa received a lot of plaudits last year for releasing the INNANET mixtape after breaking up with the group Kids These Days. It’s pretty great, starting off with some big boom bap sounds and great hooks.
Chicago’s sound is supposedly the sound to watch this year (yeah, he comes from Chicago), so Mensa could be on to a winner in 2014. He also seems to be consistently posting great music on his Soundcloud, so there’s not really any risk of him dropping off. And, again, he should pick up some serious credit for featuring on Chance’s Acid Rap, on ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’ – which Chance repaid by featuring on a song that Mensa put out towards the end of December, ‘Suitcase’.
4. Joey Bada$$
About to drop the most wickedly titled LP like, ever, ‘B4.Da.$$’ – which means both ‘Before the Money’ and ‘Badass’ – 2014 may be the year that Joey achieves the recognition he was on course for after putting out ‘1999’ in 2012. Last year’s ‘Summer Knights’ was pretty forgettable, but that can probably be put down to the darker tone he went with on the tracks, influenced by both being older and experiencing some personal tragedy. I mean Joey straight-up growled his way through half of the album.
Let’s face it though, Joey was only 17(!!!) when 1999 came out, and he still managed to score some production on a couple of tracks by legends J Dilla and DOOM. The kid has plenty of talent. I’d love for B4.Da.$$ to be a return to the old school, chill sound of 1999 – maybe in the vein of one of my favourite of his tracks:
5. Erick Arc Elliot (The Architect)
One third of Flatbush Zombies, the East Coast group that hit it big, Eric is both the producer for most of their tracks and the most accessible of the artists in a solo capacity. He won’t shout at you, he won’t rap you to sleep, but he will intrigue you. Plus it’s hard to watch an interview with the guy and be anything other than charmed by his clearly endearing attitude.
Elliot named Pharell and Brian Eno as some of his producing influences, which I guess gives you an indication as to where he’s at. The track below is my favourite joint of his. It’s a low-key piece that comes with the duel accolades of having zero thumbs down on Youtube and being declared ‘better than Kendrick’s verse on Control’ by one commenter – which, as everyone knows, is like the dopest compliment you can pay any new rapper, because Kendrick’s verse on Control is second only to Shaq’s solo work as the best piece of hippity hop ever. (Seriously though, it is a good verse. But people need to calm down with all the hype).
Bonus – aforementioned Shaquille O’Neal rap. Be prepared to be blown away..