Ah, December. The time for ugly sweaters, holiday parties with open bars and awkward interactions, and yearly wrap-ups. And while we’re not in 2015 quite yet, there’s no better time to go back to the future with the musical artists you should be looking for in the new year. Everyone wants to be aware of the next, big thing before it happens, so read this list, sharpen up, and be sure to know what you’re talking about when you’re putting someone on to the wave. Here’s my Top 5 artists to look for in 2015.
1. Vic Mensa – Few artists have traveled the road of Vic Mensa. Whether it’s having a near-death experience being electrocuted and thrown from a live power line, to his seemingly rising group Kids These Days suddenly disbanding, the Chicago-bred mc has managed to keep his stride musically. After releasing his project “Innanetape” following the Kids These Days breakup, Mensa received much acclaim from critics due to his unique soulful, easy-riding sound, as shown on songs like “Orange Soda” and “Lovely Day”. Matching relatable lyricism with genre-crossing production, Mensa reached international success with the single “Down On My Luck” (which is my personal favorite in the “Song Of The Year” conversation), as it charted in several European countries. If it he isn’t further promoting his SAVEMONEY crew (along with fellow member and Chi-town representer Chance The Rapper), Vic Mensa is a young man with a mission. And someone that you should definitely keep an eye on in the New Year.
2. PARTYNEXTDOOR – Some may say that the center of the musical world is not New York or Los Angeles, nor is it Atlanta or Chicago. It’s not even in our 50 states of the USA. Toronto, Ontario, Canada has staked its claim for the hottest city in music, mostly due to the accomplishments and achievements of one Aubrey “Drake” Graham. The 416 has definitely elevated itself in the hotbeds of music culture. And the city’s next rising star may be asserting himself a place at the figurative table sooner rather than later. Jahron Braithwaite, also known as PartyNextDoor, comes from Mississauga, Ontario, a small suburb minutes out of downtown Toronto. But the 21-year-old crooner makes no mistake in representing for the “Great White North” and beyond. Signed to Drake’s “OVO Sound” record imprint, Party’s mysterious nature has done nothing but attract more fans to his music. Living in that newly found, still not quite identified genre of “Electronic Dance Music-influenced R&B”, Party first came onto the scene with his self-titled album in 2013, which made it onto the “Best Of” lists of both consumers and critics alike. After touring over the summer and being featured on Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same” album, it was his second project, “PartyNextDoor2” that catapulted him into the public limelight. Handling the vocals and production, Party transferred the essence being a young man dealing with the spotlight and everything that comes with it in songs like “FWU”, “Recognize” and “Options.” With the future of OVO Sound looking bright, the “Prince of the Six” is looking to claim new land across the border in 2015.
3. Tink – “Life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better with change.” These are the words of radio host Charlemagne spoken on “Around The Clock,” a four-minute introduction to Tink. Also hailing from the streets of Chicago, the 19-year-old rapper/singer shows that some hard-hitting bars can come from a small package. And getting a co-sign from one of music’s most legendary producers helps, too. Timbaland is willing to bet the bank on Tink, and has been very vocal in making sure everyone else does too since being introduced by Da Internz. Signing her to Moseley Music Group, Timbaland is going to make sure that the world is going to be more than familiar with Tink soon enough.
4. Kaytranada – Music, like everything else in the world, is always changing. And with people coming closer together and cultures blending, the genres of music start to lose titles and labels and just begin to exist in a space of its own. And Montreal’s Kaytranada is a perfect example of that. The Haitian-born producer/DJ has put in the work to master his craft of creating both original pieces and mind warping remixes of some of your favorite songs by artists such as Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Missy Elliott, Disclosure and more. Falling in love with music at the early age of 14, Kaytranada started DJ’ing, and after being introduced to music production by his brother, his signature sound of thumping drum samples, piercing snares, and funky bass lines started to fill dance floors and clubs the world over. And after recently locking down a residency on Britain’s number one radio channel, BBC Radio One, odds are you’ll find yourself dancing to the beat of Kaytranada’s drum and not even know it.
5. OG Maco – Atlanta, Georgia has been a hotbed for musical talent since the days of Outkast, Dungeon Family, and So-So-Def, and nothing has changed. Culture often comes in generational waves, and now the “New Atlanta” music class has taken center-stage in leading the city into 2015 and beyond. OG Maco is no different, a young, loud and passionate rapper who will be heard whether you like it or not. A second generation Nigerian-American, Maco often talks about listening to death metal as much as hip-hop growing up in the A, and it definitely resonates in his sound as an artist. Mosh pits, stage dives, and rambunctious behavior is nothing new to the 21-year-old rapper, but it was his guerilla-style video for “U Guessed It” that landed him both on your favorite websites and social media platforms. Shot in a Washington, DC hotel following his performance at the rising music festival Trillectro, the viral project has over 15 million views on Youtube at press time. But Maco’s no one trick pony. He recently released a 3-track EP portraying his thoughts on the recent happenings in Ferguson, New York and more. Based on what he’s shown in the second half of the year, best believe OG Maco is looking to make 2015 his and his alone.
Cory Townes was born and raised in Philadelphia, and currently lives in Brooklyn. A devout Philly sports fan, Townes is the Social Media Manager for EBONY.com. When he’s not planning on cheering for his Philadelphia Eagles or checking his inbox for holiday party invites, you can reach him on Twitter @CoryTownes.