Someone who I thought was a shoe-in to be on J. Cole’s new record, the Dreamville signee released a decent mixtape with Too High to Riot, and I’m excited for what he has next. His commentary on “Black Owned Business” was some of the most apt social commentary I heard all year.


Cakes da Killa

Bluntly stated lyrics of sex, self-indulgence and the pursuit of personal pleasure dominate nearly all of the subject matter over the record. Blending rap with uptemo club bangers like “Been Dat Did That” or “Up Out My Face” off of Hedonism, the openly gay rapper had some of the hardest songs I’ve heard this year.



Big Baby D.R.A.M. sees the lovable artist finally coming into his own. He’s like R. Kelly mixed with the kid that plays “Dustin” on Stranger Things. Only D.R.A.M. could say something like “I choose you like a Pokemon” and have it be so overly corny yet on character that it actually comes off perfectly endearing. As wacky and honest as Big Baby D.R.A.M. can be at the same time, D.R.A.M. is a refreshing bit of optimism.


Domo Genesis

Although Tyler, the Creator might have been Odd Future’s radical leader and Earl Sweatshirt the out of nowhere prodigy, Domo Genesis has always been the third best rapper in Odd Future’s rap collective. His record Genesis is a solid journey of self discovery. Domo just has to decide where he goes from here.



Gallant could be the next Seal, Brandy, even the next Usher, especially following the succes of lead single “Weight in Gold.” With a strong R&B falsetto, his debut Ology is something to hear, showcasing a brilliant knowledge of the modern R&B style and paving a way of its own.


Isaiah Rashad

If every track sounded like “Free Lunch” or “Wat’s Wrong,” or even just that first half of the record, The Sun’s Tirade would have been amazing, but at 17 tracks and a little over an hour long, it seems Rashad can’t really hold an album of this length and style all on his own just yet. “Free Lunch” was amazing though.


Joey Purp

Joey Purp is the definition of next generation Chicago. Along with his SaveMoney crew, composed of Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Donnie Trumpet, Towkio, and Kami de Chukwu, Joey Purp might be the only one to most accurately carry on the torch of the Chicago sound. One of the most underrated rap mixtapes of 2016, iiiDrops was truly amazing.



He may not be “new,” but Kaytranada really came into the spotlight this year, especially with the help of Anderson .Paak, who most notably sounds right at home on the single “Glowed Up” from 99.9%. He’s one of the best producers around currently.



His record Bucket List Project was actually one of the weaker albums that I heard come from Chicago rappers this year. Not to say that Saba isn’t a decent rapper–tracks like “Angels” from Chance the Rapper and “Church/Liquor Store” with Noname were great songs–I just think he has some time to grow as an artist.

3dnatee3D Na’Tee

Hailing from New Orleans, 3D Na’Tee showcased her aggressive flows and insult-humor-styled wordplay on her record The Regime. Appearing on Sway and gaining attention from Missy Elliot and Kendrick Lamar, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of 3D next year. Nicki might have crowned herself the queen of rap, but  given the opportunity her and 3D Na’Tee could honestly go toe-to-toe.