5 Artists for 2016

Paradigm Shift

The world has obviously changed. No longer do artists need to send out their demo tapes to record labels in hopes of being discovered by the mainstream world, with the internet acting as a vessel, artist have built their respective cults by directly communicating their music to their audience. In fact, these days most record labels won't even listen to your demo or mixtape unless you have generated a sizable buzz. Unfortunately there's one thing about the internet that is not good for any ones music, over saturation. There's music everywhere! Every week, there's a new artist and every day, thousands of mixtapes are dropped. Mainstream radio stations used to break in a lot of hot artists but because of the financial decline of radio in general, and the general need to appease the public, there aren't too many stations out there dedicated to finding new artists and giving them radio play. When you turn on mainstream radio, its the same songs played a hundred times a day which makes me want to rip out my hair. 

Thankfully, taste-makers are not completely extinct, and through amazing syndication's like Level Up! Magazine, we still have a voice. On this list I bring you five Chicago Artist that have grown their legacy considerably in 2015 and their music/ work ethic, has me as a fan optimistic for 2016. 

1) Roy French


There is no doubt about it, Roy French is quite simply, The Man. This summer alone he dropped an EP Titled "Clear" and he dropped a mixtape of unreleased tracks called "YungDripMane" both were heat. Roy French is always delivering good music, performances and surprises. The fact of the matter is we all know a Roy French. He's that dude who is at every party who is cool with everyone he meets and is always down to turnup. The thing I like most about his music is not his lyricism, his uniquely sampled beats or his flow. My favorite aspect of his music is that its fun. Roy's music hype, sonically pleasing and always great on a night out. 

2) Ace Da Vinci

Head of the Smartmouf collective, Ace Da Vinci delivers political activism, outlets for other artist to shine, conscious lyrics and a dope vibe. I've written about Ace before when he dropped his EP "SevenDayHigh" but his energetic performances and unique sound have compelled me to give him a spot on this list. Ace Da Vinci is one of the great song writers emerging from the city, he just knows how to write amazing hooks that flow seamlessly into the song. Ace, please give us more music.

3) Jack Metaphor

Jack Metaphor, member of the Foster & Jack collective offers a refreshing and bold sound that is down right quality. Jack Metaphor has great cadence and flow, his music is exciting and political he's just a very well rounded artist with bundles of talent. The only thing I find frustrating is that we don't have more of Jacks music laying around. All well, here's hoping for 2016! We're really expecting Foster & Jack to change the world with their quality sound. 

4) $tevie adam$

$tevie adam$ is one of the most entertaining and electrifying stage performers in underground hip hip. Every time this guy performs the crowd gets hype, and when he leaves the audience always wants more. That's probably why he opens for other artist so much, he's that guy that's known for delivering energy. As hard as I try, I cannot categorize stevie's music though, its just unique. Dude doesn't even care to rhyme sometimes! and yet, it works! $tevie adam$ has a great flow with a low smooth Mick Jenkins type voice. $tevie is usually seen chilling with Chicago Underground local legend Chai Tulani, and their collaborations never leave us hangin. 

5) Trillz

So my last entry on this list happens to be the most recent artist in Chicago underground hip hop. I wasn't going to include him because I shot a short documentary about him not to long ago, and he's a great friend of mine so it doesn't get more biased than that. However, Talent is Talent and Trillz is rising really fast in Chicago. In the past week alone he has been on the radio and on TV promoting and performing tracks from his new and freshmen mixtape "Trash in The Attic." The Rise of this artist is incredible, his super loyal fan base was created in like a day and every one now wants him to perform at their show. Even though Trillz is new to the scene, he's been actively improving his sound for years, in fact the reason he didn't release this project two years ago was because he didn't think it was good enough and he didn't want to put out a whack project. After all, he's the guy who was offered a deal at MMG and decided not to sign.  Trillz is known at the Subterranean for being the freestyler who comes, rips it up and doesn't even curse. Trillz's religious beliefs has pushed him to build his vocabulary and flow to the point he can go anywhere. The most unique thing about his music to me is that he doesn't depend on heavy instrumentation, he uses his voice as instruments. "Trash in the Attic" was a great introducion, and Trillz has been on the rise. However now I'm left with a lot of questions, will Trillz be able to blow up? Whats his next project gonna look like? what artist is he gonna collaborate with? Will he sign with a label? Will he crack under pressure and become a cautionary tale? I guess we will learn the answers to these questions and more in 2016.