D.C. sounded good in 2017. It sounds better in 2018. Is this everyone in the area making good music? Hell no, not even close. But that’s a good problem! Let’s keep it up.
I want to give a special shout out to a few past artists who were featured on this list that did some epic things last year: IDK (‘16) who crushed it with his album IWASVERYBAD, Kali Uchis (‘14) on her GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations, Goldlink (‘14) and Shy Glizzy 9’15) on their GRAMMY nomination, Manny Wellz (‘15) for touring with Jidenna, and Nappy Nappa (‘15) for performing on Adult Swim, to name a few.
Since my last list, we also lost some great artists to gun violence: RIP Swipey and 30 Glizzy. Two talents taken too soon. Be good to each other out there.
Check the lists from past years below before you say I missed someone! There is a chance they were featured another year. If not, send me their names on Twitter or in the comments so I can keep an eye on ‘em in the year ahead. Past years here: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, (2017 I skipped cuz I’m lazy tbh).
Anyway, here ya go. Enjoy!
Rico Nasty: Hands down, Rico Nasty won 2017. “Poppin’” blew the fuck up! Especially after being featured on Issa Rae’s show Insecure. But she dropped a ton of other gems including my personal favorites “Rojo” and “Key Lime OG.” She’s going to crush 2018.
Corbin Butler: I’m responsible for at least 1,000 of the plays on this video since it came out. Damn, this song is fucking catchy as hell. Great feature from the gawd, Ras Nebyu, too. I need more of this in my life.
Noochie: Noochie has an instant likability that’s hard to ignore. This track is fucking great — it has a familiar energy and flow, but it’s also uniquely Noochie. It won’t be long until people don’t have to ask #WhoIsNoochie.
Ari Lennox: Ari is incredible. The D.C. signer signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville records, released her newest EP, PHO (which is rock solid from beginning to end), and is generally kicking ass and taking names. She is the perfect modern extrapolation of her influences. You can’t stop listening and I’m so siked to see what she does next.
Lil Nei: WHY IS THIS SONG SO SHORT, I NEED MORE. It’s stuck in my head and the beat is cool as hell. I hope to hear more catchy tracks from Lil Nei in 2018.
Blaise: Blaise is a low-key genius. The man wrote a song about Dua Lipa just so he could hop in the DMs (I assume) and IT WORKED. Dang. But seriously, this is just the tip of the iceberg with Blaise. Work around town is that he has a deep collection of unreleased music that is next level.
Trak Girl: Trak Girl is a talented producer and songwriter who has made music for folks like Luke James, King Chip and more. With more and more top producers coming out of the area, I bet we’ll see her at the front of the pack in the near future.
Phlegm: Phlegm and the whole M.I.L.F. team are always putting out great shit. Phlegm’s got a unique, deep and raspy flow that demands your attention. This track is from his most recent project Anger Management, which I really enjoyed and has some strong features from Tedy Brewski and K.EYE.D.
El Cousteau: I saw some footage from Cousteau’s shows and it looked fun as fuck. One thing’s clear: the kids love Cousteau! Cousteau seems to have limitless energy, solid fundamentals, and a clear lane that he is in the process of carving out. He has some real potential. The Lightshow co-sign is a good look too!
Odd Mojo: I FUCK WITH ODD MOJO HEAVY. Filming a music video in the back of McDonalds is also next level. I need a cigarette stat. Keep ‘em coming!
Innanet James: This dude has a bright future. Everything about his last project Quebec Place is enjoyable. Plus, 368’s leadership under Dre the Mayor continues to develop a deep roster of talent. It’ll be interesting to see how they plot his next few years.
Brent Faiyaz: I kinda feel bad linking to the “Crew” video for Brent’s feature, but c’mon that shit is amazing and the man got nominated for a GRAMMY this year. This track will be a DMV legend for millenia to come. Is there room on Ben’s Chili Bowl to paint these three up there?
Matt McGhee: Matt’s been around for a minute but is finally finding his stride. He’s a strong writer and producer with a solid team. That’s a great combo I think he can do a lot with.
Joe Maye: Joe has PIPES. Dang, listen to this guy. He had a HUGE few years as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice, where he made it pretty damn far under the tutelage of Ms. Christina Aguilera’s. In 2018 I wanna hear Joe on features, singles, jingles, EVERYTHING.
Lil Dude Luciano: Lil Dude’s feature on Goldlink’s track “We Will Never Die” is so fucking epic. I mean, the whole song is epic, but for me, that was a moment when Lil Dude went from local artist, to someone who has a ton of potential nationally. It was a perfect fit and a stand-out track.
Nuex: Everyone should immediately go see Neux. They are incredible live, their music is dope as hell, and they are also wonderful people. I hope they keep doing their thing and win in 2018. I’d also love to see some local collaborations with them too. eyeball emoji
Oviim: Anyone who fucks around and films on the Dupont elevator clearly doesn’t fear death and is going to keep winning. That shit is like 3,000 feet tall!
Will The Rapper: Will is getting a lot of traction in D..C and beyond. He’s produced a steady stream of popular Internet hits — one of his videos has over 3 million views. I hope he can translate that success into long term momentum.
Joy Postell: Her video concept and song are really cool. Now I’m curious! She hasn’t put much out in the last year. Is she still making music!? Is she OK?! Joy make more stuff plz!!!!
Ayes Cold: Ayes Cold is a legend in the making. She’s been featured in a million glowing articles in the last few years and has made a strong name for herself outside the DMV. She seems super cool, has a great message, and seems poised for world domination.
O-Slice: This track is fucking great and only has 1,600 views!? How!? Stop what you’re doing, click play, and smash the thumbs up button.
Trayze: Trayze is hardly a new artist, but he’s been low-key winning the past year and recently won the Red Bull Thre3Style Championship for America. No just the DMV, all of goddamn America — pretty awesome. Check out his winning set.
April + Vista: This woman has the voice of an angel. I really like everything they’ve been doing and think they have a lot of potential. Sidenote: Shout out to Beyond Studio for continually making great music and content with local artists and being generally awesome.
Super Nike Nando: I saw SNN a few years ago upstairs at Etete (I believe?) with Visto and some others. He had a palpable energy and was great live — it was a tiny moment that always stuck out to me. He’s steadily put out some solid tracks and has some good momentum on his side.
Q DA Fool: Q came out with some really solid music and visuals last year. His track “Guns & Bells” has even earned over 1.7 views on YouTube. If he can continue to differentiate himself and leverage that momentum, he could do big things in 2018.
Thanks for reading, see y’all next year. Send me music!
We realize not all of the artists on this list are hip-hop artists but since hip-hop is the most represented genre, we’re going with Top 25 DMV Hip-Hop Artists to Watch in 2018.