2014 was a great year for artists in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) — a region that is sometimes reluctant to embrace the three-letter moniker, but at the end of the day, comes together like Voltron to flex its collective strengths and mend its shared weaknesses in the face of stronger music markets. Here is a look a few of those artists to keep an eye on in the year ahead.
Think I missed someone who should be on here? I probably did — there are a lot of good artists out there! Feel free to follow me on Twitter and send me 140 expertly-crafted characters about who you think we should keep an eye on. Before you fill my inbox with hate mail and dick pics, check the previous lists here and here to see if they are mentioned there.
Before we dive in to this year’s batch of artists to watch, I just wanted to quickly recognize some folks who have been featured before, but had a stellar year: Goldlink, Nacey, Shy Glizzy, RDGLDGRN, Oddisee, GEMS, Uno Hype, Lightshow, Ras Nebyu, Kevin Sinatra, OG Dutch Master, and Kali Uchis, just to name a few.
Also, keep an eye out for our annual Emerging Artist Super Sampler that will feature some of the artists below.
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CHAZ FRENCH — Chaz’s latest project, Happy Belated, is 13 tracks of heartfelt and passionate greatness. If Chaz is any indication of how 368 Music Group will continue to develop their artists, I’m really excited to see what’s next. A lot of work went into this project and it really shows.
MANNYWELLZ — Every once in awhile, an artist like Mannywellz pops up seemingly out of nowhere with a great sound and dedicated to crafting their own lane. DecadeXperiment and WellZ are both great projects you should check out immediately. I bet you a half smoke this dude gets some good looks from labels by the end of the year.
YUNG GLEESH — Gleesh made the list last year, but with an all-star year that included scene-stealing dance moves in A$AP Rocky’s video “Multiply” and a slew of great videos, we gotta throw him on here again.
REDLINE GRAFFITI — Redline Graffiti is team of talented musicians simply making great music. I have a feeling 2015 will be a good year for them as they explore their sound and continue to build a following.
DEW BABY — This Sluttly Boyz affiliate has regularly put out work, but dropped this gem on Wale’s recent project, Festivus, along with Fat Trel. This could be a signal for greater things to come for him in the year ahead, or at the very least it’s the start of some bigger buzz outside of the District.
SHABOOZEY — Shaboozey ninja-smoked into the scene with this epic track. Since then, I assume he’s been laying low plotting his next move. Sure, building on the NASCAR narrative may be tough, but he could write his next song is about how Tony Stewart totally killed that dude on purpose.
ROYAL — Royal has been around for a bit, working with CrackBeetz and producing for rappers like Black Zheep DZ , but recently seems to have found his footing and getting some solid traction with songs like “Passenger.”
CCL$ — I think the one of the best thing an artist can do is show progress. I’ve been watching the CCL$ dudes for awhile, but they really stepped it up on the quality and production of “War Fever.” At this pace, I have a feeling 2015 will be a great year for them.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEFJ3c5I73M
M.I.L.F. — I gotta admit, I kinda slept on M.I.L.F., but over the past year they’ve put out some of my favorite music. M.I.L.F has a deep bench of talented dudes including Phlegm, Mitch, Lil Boogie, MFK, Big Trees, and Avi Twat that come together to form a high-energy group you gotta see live.
EZKO –– There are a lot of awesome things about this track. First off, everyone on it is from the DMV. Drew Love’s hook is smooth as fuck. Phil is on point as always. And Ezko, who has consistently put out solid work, proves he can stand with the best of ‘em.
J.A.P.A.N.N DOT –I don’t really know much about J.A.P.A.N.N DOT, but this song featuring Hassani Kwess is pretty fucking awesome. I’m really interested to see what else he has in store.
THE WALKING STICKS — The Walking Sticks played at last year’s Emerging Artist showcase and they were fucking awesome. Their lead singer has an incredible voice and they keep making great music. Definitely check ’em out if you have the chance!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChIL60EqKN4
BOND ST. DISTRICT — Speaking of awesome live shows, Baltimore rapper DDm (who I once saw preform an epic set in a mink coat and a Burger King crown) has teamed up with producer Paul Hutson to form Bond St. District. Their first project, Everybody So Sleepy, is just as entertaining and definitely worth a listen.
BOOMSCAT — BOOMscat is a rejuvenating musical duo with the kind of sound that makes you just wanna hear more. They do some pretty awesome videos of live recordings you should check out, and they recently dropped their first album, No Life Jacket.
SIR E.U. — Sir. E.U. is an artist who has put in some serious work in the past year, putting out a great project, MADAGASCAR, a series of great visuals, and has been constantly preforming at shows across the city — on top of that, he’s a really nice dude. I’m really interested to see him continue to grow in 2015 and especially interested in watching the expansion of talent in his collective, KOOL KLUX KLAN.
CHRISSY VASQUEZ — Chrissy is a talented, yet still unpolished singer from Baltimore who has done some solid collaborations. I’d love to see a project from her in 2015.
HAILE SUPREME — Haile has an incredible voice, but he’s also really focused on building a team of positive, like-minded artists in the city. His enthusiasm for cultivating local music is infectious and I hope he does really well in the year ahead. Check out his group, Congo Sanchez, too.
MIGHTY MARK — While hardly a newbie, Mighty Mark — formerly, Murder Mark — put out a great self title EP this year under his new moniker. It’s solid from beginning to end and absolutely worth a listen.
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LOUD BOYZ – What appears to be an unholy merger of former members of New Rock Church of Fire, Rattler and other local bands, Loud Boyz is an all around good time. This 5 piece punk band has been putting on great shows and music for the better part of a year and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
FLASH FREQUENCY – Flash Frequency — AKA Caleco Vision, AKA The Dude That Let’s Your Girl Get Guacamole at Chipotle, AKA Kevin — is a talented artist and Bombay Knox affiliate who does just about everything. Production, photography, design — you name it, he’s probably good at it. He’s put in a lot of work this year both with other local artists and independently.
ACE COSGROVE — Ace has gotten some great press this year, most notably from Complex and Pigeons And Planes, that gave him a boost outside the DMV I think will really help him. He’s a solid artist building a good following who I definitely think we’ll see more from.
KELOW — Kelow hasn’t released a project in a bit, but she’s released some really solid collaborations and is rumored to be dropping a great project very soon. In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite features from Kelow this year, with Kari Faux.
NAPPY NAPPA — Nappy Nappa is another dude with some really good buzz who seems to have some solid potential. Damn, I just really want the Play Station jersey from this video.
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Let us know in the comments who YOU’RE keeping an eye on