Damn! 2013 was a great year for music in DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Fat Trel got signed to Maybach Music Group, Trillectro was insane, and Clipse is recording again. If we can claim Kelela, then I’m adding the release of Cut 4 Me to the list, too!
Before you fill my inbox with hate mail and dick pics please check last year’s list to see who’s on it. There are a ton of amazingly talented people making great music, but I also wanted to highlight a new crop of artists that may be new to people.
If you still feel like I missed someone, feel free to follow me on Twitter and send me mean tweets about my crappy grammar and oddly shaped head.
ALSO: Keep an eye out for a big fat BYT SUPER SAMPLER pt. 2 showcase announcement in a few days, featuring A LOT of these artists.
Behold! In no particular order…
1) KALI UCHIS
The undeniable allure of Kali Uchis is hard to articulate. She’s obviously talented—in that genre-bending way that causes comment section flame wars—and she exudes that effortless cool that artists desperately try to replicate. It’s a killer combo that has piqued the interest of industry heavyweights like Diplo and Snoop Dogg. If there is an uncrowned queen of the DMV, she might be it.
Lo-Fang—formerly known to mortals as Matt Hemerlein—has been doing epic shit in D.C. for years, but has recently signed to 4AD and will be touring with Lorde in 2014. That’s right…Mother. Fucking. Lorde. Hard work pays off kids! After a few years of recording, Lo-Fang is poised to release his first album, Blue Film, in a few months. While you are waiting for that gem to drop, check out this string-laden sex anthem:
3) YUNG GLEESH
It looks like Yung Gleesh might be the next D.C. rapper to find his place in the national spotlight. With a few YouTube hits under his belt, Gleesh has established himself as an up-and-comer with a lot of potential, and in separate lane from the artists like Shy Glizzy and Fat Trel. 2014 could be a crucial year for him to further carve his own niche locally and national. #SadBoyz
4) ALEX YOUNG
Part human, part cyborg, Alex is from DC, but was obviously created in an underground laboratory near the Pentagon. Dude is 17. Yea, 17 fucking Earth years and he’s already caught the eye of international heavy weights. If he doesn’t make it as an artist (which he will) he’ll undoubtedly be one of the best producers the DMV has ever had. He’s also affiliated with Indigo Studios and Crackbeetz—I told you they are secretly plotting a musical coup!
RDGLDGRN is the spawn of everything great about the DMV rolled up into vowel-less chromatic ball of unadulterated greatness. How do you pronounce their name? Who gives a fuck, they worked with Pharrell and Dave Grohl last year. Game over. I have a feeling these dudes are going to keep doing big things, while crafting a sound that could define the DMV for years to come.
GEMS wins 2013. They were in Pitchfork, Buzzfeed, WaPo, and pretty much all over the damn Internet. The only person in D.C. who got more media coverage in 2013 was Healthcare.gov and maybe that Congressman who did cocaine. I hope in 2014 GEMS continues to make incredible music and get the recognition they deserve.
7) FARMA WESLEY
Farma is one of the most talented and earnest dudes rapping in the DMV right now. He’s got a nice flow, great live performance, and also put out one of the chilliest videos of the year. Good luck getting this Sade and Eazy-E sample out of your head:
8) ME & THIS ARMY
Me & This Army is definitely one of my new favorite bands. They have great vocals, instrumentals, and I also heard they are really good live! I look forwards to seeing and hearing more of them this year.
9) J. ADDO
It’s hard as fuck to be an emerging R&B artist—just ask Ice JJ Fish! But, this Maryland native is producing some consistently good music and seems like he has a good team behind him. Honestly, I just want J. Addo to get big so Raheem Devaughn finally has someone to beef with.
9 out of 10 scientists agree that Misun is the fucking greatest—that 10th scientist totally sucks and everyone knows it. Misun had a big year! They consistently put out amazing music, got signed, and moved out West to pursue glory and weather that doesn’t cause seasonal depression. Seriously, someone call Denzel Washington and Chris Pine because Misun is…unstoppable.
11) SHEILA D YEAH
Sheila D is leading the charge of talented female emcees from the DMV. In 2013, she released an epic mixtape, The Kamikazi Come Up, which featured the two stand out tracks Instagram and Feels Alright. The latter is featured below. So…click that shit.
Lightshow put out one of my favorite mixtapes of 2013—Get Well Soon. Unlike a lot of other artists in the area–sometimes through no fault of their own–Lightshow has built a solid foundation of local supporters that follow his every move. This is a huge advantage that will give him a better chance of sticking around and getting attention outside the DMV.
13) MARGOT MACDONALD
Margot has been doing her own thing for while and recently put out a great project called Canvas. If you haven’t seen Margot live, you have to! She frequently employs the use of looping wizardry to ensorscell onlookers with ethereal perfection.
Everything about this female hip-hop duo is fucking awesome. Akoko is carving their own lane and a genuinely interesting sound propelled by hard hitting beats and a great lyrical style. Do yourself a favor and check out Akoko’s newest project CATARAPS and I promise never to write “female hip-hop duo” ever again.
Indigo Studios and Crack Beetz Records are quietly pairing some of the DMV’s best rappers and producers in their new Maryland studio. I.V. is one of these dudes who have produced some down right epic shit for rappers like Hassani Kwess, Farma Wesley, and Uno Hype. He’s also put out a project of his own that is cool as fuck. Keep an eye on this dude because he’s already crafting the sound for a new wave of local artists.
16) HASSANI KWESS
Hassani is an interesting dude. He’s a talented rapper, a great producer, but rarely puts out stuff or does shows on his own. You’ll be at a show–and BAM!–Hassani Kwess appears and plays an epic set or feature. Everything he’s put out with I.V. is also just pure awesome. I hope they keep that up.
17) UNO HYPE
Do yourself a favor and listen to the tape Uno Hype put out last year, Be Good. Uno seems to be making all the right moves, working with great producers, lining up great features, and putting out consistently material. On top of that, he’s an all around good dude. Keep your eyes on this Bombay Knox affiliate because I have a feeling this is gunna be a big year for him.
18) RAS NEBYU
Ras Nebyu, starting quarterback for the Washington Slizzards, is easily one of my favorite artists of last year. His whole team is positive as fuck and completely unafraid to do their own thing. On top of that, DMV kingmaker DCtoBC claimed his tape Babylon’s Most Wanted was the best to come out of the city all year. I might have made that up and I can’t actually find the tweet to support my claim–but BYT is kinda like the 60 Minutes of semi-national culture blogs–so I stand by my statement.
19) PRIMARY ELEMENT
As one of the first House Studio Artist grantees, Primary Element has had a great opportunity this year to develop as an artist and work with good people. Black President was the first song I head from him and it was refreshing departure from the repetitive subject matter that at times can stifle rap. Primary Element is part of a larger group of talented artists, so I’m really interested to see what him and his team do.
20) DREW LOVE
I honestly don’t know much about Drew Love. All I know is that this dude teamed up with Royal (another Indigo Studio regular) to make a pretty fucking awesome song.
Goldlink is a working under the guidance and patronage of Henny Yegezu, a dude who has a good eye for talent. He’s put out a lot of awesome remixes and is poised to launch his first major project sometime this year.
22 KEVIN SINATRA
Kevin kinda came out of nowhere in a big way with this track and video. I’m siked to see what he does next. Him and OG Dutch Master are a pair I’d really like to see more of actually.
Words can’t describe DDm. The openly gay, openly awesome emcee from Baltimore is a local gem. And no one can touch his live show. Period. It’s party comedy, part dance party, and filled to the brim with great rap. DDm is definitely one of the smartest dudes out there right now. Someone please get him a record deal or a TV show–or both!
Soduh is a member of CCL$, associate of 7th Floor Villains, and product of the Basement Rap scene that has turned out a number of talented artists including Butch Dawson, Black Zheep DZ, Ryan P, Palm Tree Tommy, and OG Dutch Master. His new project “Van Buren” should be dropping soon.
25) EX HEX
Mary Timony’s new band Ex Hex is awesome and their first single is catchy as fuck. That is all.