As we say goodbye to 2015, a new year is upon us and with it brings a host of new emerging talent. Last year was dominated by the release of huge albums like To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar and Compton by Dr. Dre, but also provided a lot of other bright spots in the hip-hop industry as well. There were great albums from rising stars Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples, as well as solid projects from legends in the game like Tech N9ne and The Game. While no one can tell the future, it’s clear that the pool of talent in the hip-hop industry is constantly rising. 2016 is slated to introduce some amazing projects, as well as new rising talent that can add to the already bubbling hip-hop industry. Here is our list for the top 10 hip-hop artists you should be listening to in 2016.
- Vic Mensa
After releasing the critically acclaimed Innanetape in 2013, Vic made some pretty huge moves in the following months. He began work on his debut album, Traffic and also got some pretty huge co-signs from Kanye West and Jay-Z. After the huge success of the Single “U Mad” featuring Kanye West, Mensa got the call and confirmed on April 21st, 2015 he would be signing with Roc Nation. Mensa is a very creative artist and definitely has talent as a lyricist. Being his debut album with Roc Nation, Mensa will surely be out to impress and deliver a great album in 2016. Traffic does not have a release date but is expected to be out early in the year.
- Mick Jenkins
After a steady release of solid mixtapes since 2012, Mick Jenkins has been honing his skills and building up the anticipation for an amazing debut album. Jenkins released the critically acclaimed mixtape The Waters in 2014 and anticipation only grew larger for the young emcee who was constantly garnering more and more attention. Co-signs from the likes of Joey Bada$$ and touring with Redman and Method Man show it’s clear the fans are not the only ones recognizing the talent of the young Mick Jenkins. The Waters and Trees and Truth both demonstrated how well he can make a concept album and The Healing Component only expands upon this concept driven theme. Be on the lookout for a huge year of success for Mick Jenkins, especially after The Healing Component drops in early 2016.
After being signed to J.Cole’s Dreamville Records, Omen released his debut album Elephant Eyes on July 21st, 2015. The album was well received and featured a great video for the single “Love Drug”. Omen gained even more attention when Dreamville released their collaborative project Revenge of the Dreamers 2 on December 7th, 2015. 2016 looks to be a huge year for not only Omen but really the entire Dreamville record label. Revenge of the Dreamers 2 was a great follow up and is setting them up in 2016 with tons of momentum. Look for everyone on the label to capitalize on the success and acclaim riding into 2016.
After releasing a Billboard charting album in 2015, Locksmith is looking to continue his independent success into 2016. Lofty Goals was released on June 30th, 2015 and even made B-Sides top 10 albums of 2015 list. The album established him as a force to be reckoned with and was received extremely well by the industry. With a vast amount of lyrical skills and a magnitude of flows to choose from, Locksmith is a well rounded emcee that any hip-hop fan will enjoy. Look out for him to follow up his biggest year to date with an even bigger one and continue on with the massive amount of momentum he has going for him.
- Isaiah Rashad
After being signed to one of the most coveted record labels around, TDE, Isaiah Rashad has capitalized on the massive opportunity and released a fantastic project in early 2014. The Cilvia Demo was released on January 28th, 2014 and received widespread acclaim from multiple sources. The EP features a series of very melodic songs and creative flow styles, combined with raw emotion and lyricism. Since, Rashad has been hard at work. Touring with Schoolboy Q and even finishing up his follow-up project. After dropping his next single “Nelly” in late 2015, you can definitely expect a full-length project sometime in 2016. The stage is set for a young Isaiah Rashad and he has all the proper components around him to be great.
- The Underachievers
Based out of Flatbush, New York, The Underachievers are an extremely talented duo of rappers who are actively trying to open the eyes of the youth and help them engage in a true a spiritual connection. After achieving success in 2012, they decided to release a few mixtapes and EP’s in order to test the waters and see what the fans truly liked. When experimenting was over, they released their debut album Evermore: The Art of Duality and it is by far their most complete work to date. With the same spiritual message intact, The Underachievers come through with a well rounded debut album. Their delivery is rapid and the lyrical ability is better than its has ever been. As it seems right now, The Underachievers are only going to continue getting better so look out in 2016 for them to have another huge year.
- Chance The Rapper
After emerging onto the hip-hop scene in 2013 with the release of his critically acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap, Chance has remained as one of the most sought after independent artists around. While 2015 didn’t produce a new solo project from Chance, we were gifted with a group project with his band The Social Experiment.The project features guest verses from hip-hop elites like J.Cole and Big Sean as well as legends like Miss Lauryn Hill herself. The album was good enough to be placed in multiple outlets top 10 albums of 2015, including our list where Surf came in at number 10. Look for Chance to continue to capitalize off oh his current success and the rumors of a follow-up project are definitely heating up in 2016.
- Kevin Gates
If you’re familiar with Kevin Gates then you know that over the past couple years he has risen to near stardom level and is a growing force in the hip-hop industry. After releasing multiple mixtapes, which were all received very well from fans, Gates is ready to release his debut album Islah in early 2016. Gates combines the gritty sounds of the streets with a relatable human being that is caught in the middle. Gates speaks on things like addiction, murder, and drug dealing, with no censor and the result is a huge fan base that is launching Gates into 2016 with a lot of confidence. All of the singles from Islah have received a ton of attention and are currently sitting at over 5 million views each. Look for Kevin Gates to capitalize on his rising profile and release a great album to start off 2016.
Based out of Arizona, Futuristic is a young artist who is turning a few heads in the hip-hop industry. Musically he combines witty humor with talented flow schemes and the result is a relatable artist. At times, he can make you laugh like on “The Greatest” and then can flip it and make you tear up on songs like “Music Saved My Life.” After releasing the well received album, The Rise on May 12, 2015, futuristic stayed hard at work and released a collaboration album with Devon Terrel on December 25, 2015. His views are constantly growing and it’s clear that his work ethic is definitely strong. Look for Futuristic to make some more waves in the industry coming into 2016.
Oddisee is no stranger to the hip-hop scene and has had a prevalent underground following for many years. However, with the release of his latest album, The Good Fight on April 28th, 2015, more people than ever before are keeping an eye out for the talent that is Oddisee. Combining true lyrical skill with soulful boom bap sounds, Oddisee is a fresh take on the classic 90’s era golden age in hip-hop. Multiple outlets listed The Good Fight in their top 10 albums hip-hop albums of the year and introduced a slew of new listeners to another extremely talented emcee. Look for Oddisee to continue on making great music and sending his message into even more ears in 2016.