Think Ahead Thursdays: 5 Rising Stars To Watch in 2016

By Anton Constantinou

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With christmas ’round the corner, and the MOBO’S/ BET Awards out the way, all attention now is on the next rising stars to break through in 2016.

To get you in the mood, we’ve pulled together of 5 must- know artists ahead the new year. These range, established acts, soon to embark on a new career milestone, to rookie artists yet to find their feet in the competitive world of modern rap:

1.) Santigold

Critically acclaimed crossover artist, Santigold, will be dropping her first album in 4 years at the end of January next year. 99c will feature the groovy, feel good lead single, Can’t Get Enough of Myself-  currently trending on Youtube and Soundcloud.

The Mezzo Soprano singer- whose drawn comparisons with M.I.A- has collaborated with Lily Allen, Mark Ronson and Basement Jaxx. She’s also toured alongside Bjork and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Currently under her belt are the albums, Santogold and Master Of My Make-Believe– both of which feature hit singles. Master Of My Make-Believe was so successful it shot to number 1 in the Billboard Dance/ Electronic album charts.

Her music fuses new wave with alternative rock and reggae. She also has links in the hip hop community, having co wrote the title track on GZA album, Beneath The Surface.

Having toured in support of her first two albums, Santigold will no doubt hit the road again when 99c launches.

2.) Kevin Gates

Kevin Gates will be  on every rap fans radar when his debut album, Islah, launches at the beginning of next year. In the lead up to it, the Louisiana rapper is currently touring and will continue to do so until the end of January.

Gates first arrived on the rap scene in 2008 with his single Get In the Way– which co-features  fellow Louisiana native, Little Boosie. After catching the attention of Little Wayne, he  began being managed by Young Money Entertainment’s Management Wing.

In 2013, he released his popular mixtape, The Luca Brasi Story, followed closely by the street album, Stranger Than Fiction– which contains guest appearances from Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J.

Spin Magazine have labelled him a “rapper to watch for years”, while XXL previously named him among their freshman class for 2014. In short, Gates is a rapper on the come up with a lot more to give. Further details of his forthcoming tour can be found here.

3.) Emapea

Seeds, Roots & Fruits is the atmospheric new debut feature length album from Polish beatmaker, Emapea, due Jan 29th, 2016. Emapae is a regular on the Cold Busted Label compliations which mix hip hop,trip hop and downtempo . That same label has boasted the likes of Gramatik and Dj Vitamin D.

Continuing in the Cold Busted tradition, Seeds Roots & Fruits will pack loungy instrumentals laced with doses of jazz and psychedelic, and, if a success, put Emapea on the map as a vibrant young producer to watch next year.

4.) A$AP Ferg

Best known as a member of the hip hop collective, A$AP Mob, A$AP Ferg is set to take to 2016 by storm with his second studio album, Always Strive and Prosper. Ferg let the album title slip back in October during an in interview with Hot 97 in which he said ” The name of the album is “Always Strive and Prosper”, takin’ it back to the A$AP roots where we come from, that’s what A$AP stands for.”

To coincide with the album’s release, the harlem rapper will be going on tour from the beginning of January, making pit-stops in Portland, Seattle and Chicago, before eventually finishing up in L.A.

Contrary to most rappers,Ferg started out making garms before grabbing the mic. He attended art school and even went on to launch clothing and jewelry lines at a young age.

That all changed in 2009 though. With some encouragement from his high school friend, A$AP Rocky- who recognised him for having an “impeccable hustle game”- he got into rapping and 3 years later dropped his debut album, Trap Lord. Big stars on the album include Bone Thugs N Harmony and Onyx.

In 2014 he followed up with the mixtape, Ferg Forever– which features the delishly wacky single, Dope Walk. If you haven’t seen the video for it yet, check it out:

Having up to now been somewhat dwarfed by the impressive body of work by Rocky- who already has 21 singles to his name (including 11 as a featured artist), Ferg  now has running chance at fighting back come the new year.

5.) SonaOne

Malalysia was a country little known for it’s hip hop scene, until the early 90’s. For most part, the popular music dominating the charts was rock, pop and love ballads. Then came the arrival of rap groups, Poetic Ammo and Too Phat, who succeeded in pushing hip hop out of the underground and into the mainstream.

Flashforward 20 years and we have SonaOne: a Malaysian emcee, producer, songwriter  and graffiti artist who will very soon be dropping his debut album Growing Up Sucks.

Sona began making beats aged 15, while on a camp with friends. Thereafter he caught attention of Too Phat member, Joe Fizzrow and started to take things more seriously. To date he has released  4 mixtapes and recieved over a million downloads online. Outside of the U.S he has fans in Thailand and Singapore.

Rumour has it Sona is behind 90% of the production of his new album. We’re expecting big things. For a snapshot of what’s to come, give a listen to Sona’s hit 2013 single, No More.

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