Afropunk Festival Portraits, August 22-23, 2015

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L   ast year was one of the best in music in recent memory, and it looks as if the new year is primed to surpass it. With hip-hop and R&B clocking in as the most streamed genre , 2018 is sure to see a new crop of talent break through to mainstream success. Here are six artists we think are primed to see their stars shine bright in the new year.

Steve Lacy

Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 2017 - Day 2

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If you’re familiar with the band The Internet, you know of Steve Lacy. The 19-year-old well-rounded musician serves as the group’s guitarist, and he also contributes musical production and engineering. After the critically acclaimed album Ego Death, the group announced they would take a year to venture into solo projects, and Lacy definitely made the most of his 2017. From producing songs with fellow group members Syd and Matt Martians, to collaborating with artists like Goldlink, J.Cole, and Kendrick Lamar (on his iPhone, at that), he was busy. Lacy also released his own project, Steve Lacy’s Demo. With songs like “Ryd,” “Dark Ryd,” and “Haterlovin,” and his upcoming production credits, Steve Lacy is a name we’ll be hearing for a long time.

Kelela

Festival d'ete de Quebec

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Kelela is no new face on the music scene, but it does appear that her stars are aligning for a 2018 takeover. The first generation Ethiopian-American from Washington D.C. has gained a faithful fanbase over the years, starting with her debut mixtape Cut4Me back in 2013. Her debut studio album, Take Me Apart, earned much praise from fans and critics alike, as her soulful crooning and introspective material are food for the ears. She’s already received big-time praise from big names like Solange Knowles and has appeared on records with acts like The Gorillaz and Danny Brown. We’re sure to see Kelela’s wave carry her well into the new year and beyond.

Jaden Smith

Exclusive Umami Burger Remodel Party At The Grove

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Respect Jaden Smith. Yes, he’s an actor. Yes, he is Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s son. Yes, he’s the creator of some of the most famous, mind-blowing quotes on the Internet right now. But more than that, he is a musician, and a pretty good one at that. From his early days collaborating with Justin Bieber, many wondered if the younger Smith was just following in his father’s footsteps, or if he had legit musical talent. If that’s still in question, press play on Syre, Smith’s genre-bending debut studio album where he seemingly bounces from track to track, weaving through the instrumentals with his big-flexing bars. Rapping runs in the family, yes, and Jaden is ready to take on the music game in his own way.

Childish Major

Dreamville Presents Ari Lennox

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Childish Major has bided his time long enough, but it seems that he’s finally ready to take the leap into stardom. After producing the hit smash record “U.O.E.N.O.” for fellow ATL rapper Rocko, the rapper/producer kept his head in the studio, releasing many loose tracks and freestyles over the last couple of years as well as working with some of his fellow up-and-comers such as Isaiah Rashad and SZA. He finally released his first studio album, titled Woo$ah, in late 2017, and many cited it as one of their favorite projects of the year. Childish Major is a talent through and through, so we’re excited to see what he accomplishes by year’s end.

Sabrina Claudio

6lack In Concert - Atlanta, Georgia

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Sabrina Claudio’s debut EP Confidently Lost placed her in the realm of rising acts tasked with bringing that “feel-good” sound of R&B back to the mainstream. The project landed the Miami native on her first North American tour, going on the road with fellow upstart 6lack on his “Free 6lack Tour” in 2017, and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The sultry project—featuring songs such as “Unravel Me,” “Belong To You,” and the title track “Confidently Lost”—bring an infectious energy that acquires new fans and supporters with every listen. This year is poised to bring us much more of the young songstress, and we’ll be there every step of the way.

Kamaiyah

Treasure Island Music Festival 2016

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If you want to listen to some straight up inspiration, songs that’ll make you want to tackle all of your goals and dreams like no other, you might want to throw on some Kamaiyah. Hailing from Oakland, Calif., the young rapper finds a way to merge that famous Bay Area sound with some sort of vintage feel of legendary female MCs of the past to her music, creating something that’s been missing from music of late. If you suddenly find the urge to throw on some gold and floss after listening to one of Kamaiyah’s songs,  just follow that energy all 2018.

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