Five Artists to Watch in 2017

A new year means another year of new music and breakout artists. Last year was a monumental year for music, bringing both major album releases and newcomers to the forefront. That being said, here are five artists that are sure to impress this year.

Smino

The St. Louis, Missouri native has already gained a following with the release of two EPs and as an opening act on Mick Jenkins’ recent tour. Now Smino is prepared to enter the spotlight with the release of his debut album blkswn early this year. Though a release date hasn’t been announced yet, Smino has been teasing its release with snippets of new songs on his snapchat as well as a new single, taking the same name as the album. Expect the album to be packed full of bars and smooth production, both staples of Smino’s craft. Listen to “blkswn.”

Ravyn Lanae

Ravyn Lanae has slowly made her mark through features with notable rappers, including Mick Jenkins, Noname, and Saba. Her debut EP, Moon Shoes, established her as a strong solo act, making effective use of her angelic voice and versatility to create songs that can be both groovy or moody. Her busy year has already begun, opening for Noname on tour (in Seattle February 15) and hard at work on her debut album, which is set to drop sometime this year. Be on the lookout for Lanae to drop new music soon and possibly perform in a city near you. Go hit up Moon Shoes.

Aminé

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Aminé has already made a name for himself with the smash hit “Caroline”. His performance last year on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon further elevated him status when he added an additional verse to the song, addressing the recent presidential election and his disapproval of its unfortunate results. His unique style and upbeat flow are a joy to listen and dance to, even though his library of work is relatively small (he has two singles on Spotify and one album on Soundcloud). Although he has yet to announce an album release this year, more new music is expected to come from the young star, so make sure to stay alert. Watch Aminé’s performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Kaiydo

Florida has recently become one of the hottest spots for new artists, introducing the likes of Denzel Curry, Kodak Black, Twelve’len, and Marcellus Juvann. Kaiydo is another one to add to the group. His typically bouncy songs have caught fire in the hip-hop community. My personal favorite, “Arcade”, has an incredibly bangin’ beat paired with a catchy hook. Kaiydo’s library only includes a few singles, but he told the music blog Pigeons and Planes that his debut mixtape Kartoons is on the way. Hopefully his mixtape includes the same catchy songs that he has released so far. Be sure to listen to “Arcade.”

Khalid

Khalid uniquely fuses electronic and R&B to create a genre all his own. His breakout single “Location” has already amassed over 30 million plays on Spotify, and his performance at ComplexCon has helped him gain national attention. He recently kicked off a tour to promote his debut album, releasing March 3. Khalid manages to create diverse music, as is evident on the song “Coaster”, a piano-driven ballad, and “Hopeless”, a song that sounds like an ode to 80s electronic music. Make sure to give Khalid’s album a listen when it releases, as it is sure to blow up in the weeks following its release. Definitely check out “Location.”

-Archie O’Dell

Outlander in the Emerald City: MegaFlora Records (my Hometown Heroes)

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I am sure I am not alone in saying the few weeks of winter break gave us some much needed time away from the hustle and bustle of UW life and a return to the relaxed comfort of home.  For many, home resides somewhere within Washington state or its surrounding areas; however, for a small number of us, going “home” meant traveling thousands of miles to a distant land, where culture and customs are quite different from those in Seattle.  For myself, home is a small town outside of Philadelphia called West Chester.  During my high school years I was lucky enough to be a part of WC’s small but mighty music scene, catering to a diverse set of genres that included (but was not limited to) indie/garage rock, hip hop, electronica, and a multitude of singer-songwriters.  When I was involved, the scene was kicking but remained primarily localized due to the lack of a cohesive entity to bring us all together and display us to the public.  I always thought some sort of, I don’t know, record label would do the trick.

Well, my dreams have finally been realized – two buddies of mine, Branden Bauer (of the Absolute Sky) and Ian Solonsky (Is the Rapper) have decided to put together MegaFlora Records, a compilation of the best talents hailing from West Chester and the greater Philadelphia area.  MegaFlora’s catalog is a fitting representation of the diversity of the WC scene itself, featuring indie rockers such as The Absolute Sky, the classic hip-hop styling of Is the Rapper, the poppy (and somewhat off-kilter) electronic ramblings of Pleb Mahogany, and many, many more.  It’s a rare and beautiful thing to see the talented musicians you know and love successfully promoting their own music, and an even greater feat when a number of them decide to collaborate for the common good of their musical careers.  If you dig getting in on the “ground floor” of a scene, MegaFlora is guaranteed to have something that fits your taste, coming at you in a localized, fresh package.  

Below are a few of my favorite tracks from MegaFlora’s most recent release, the Garden Showcase compilation.  Although I honestly dig the whole album and highly recommend checking it out in its entirety, I feel these tracks display the diversity of MegaFlora’s catalogue quite nicely (and also just kick ass).  Check out MegaFlora’s Facebook and bandcamp for more information!  Happy listening 🙂

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line leader – “East Coast Beach Ghost”: Lo-fi lovers rejoice, this surf-rocky tune by West Chester natives line leader shows those west coast beach bums that us east coasters know a thing or two about the beach, damnit.  With its darker, fuzzy twist, this track would make Ty Segall proud.

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Jason McCue – “Come to Me”: This song makes me melt.  Jason’s voice weaves in and out of the spacey acoustic pickings with the precision of a needle through fabric, while his beautiful lyrics paint pictures in your brain.  Although elements of the tune carry an Elliott Smith influence, the feeling of chills running up your spine when that three-part harmony kicks in is only something a Jason McCue original could make you feel. 

Is the Rapper  “Arcade” (feat. Pleb Mahogany): Featuring a menagerie of classic video arcade bleeps and bloops, frequent collaborators (Is) and Cameron (Pleb Mahogany) combine forces to bring you a hip hop track that is equal parts innovative, nostalgic (who doesn’t love arcade noises?), and tight as shit.  These clever fellows are guaranteed to show you a good time.

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Katie Hanford