2018 was arguably one of the greatest years in hip-hop history. A plethora of albums were released within the year that will be considered classics to future generations of hip-hop enthusiasts. A multitude of beefs, conflicts, and rap battles kept the masses entertained. And, of course, tragedy struck all too often in 2018 with the sudden deaths of Fredo Santana, Mac Miller, XXXtentacion, and so many more. But as their souls may rest in power to never be forgotten, we here at AXS have curated a short list of up-and-coming hip-hop acts to be on the lookout for. Not to replace those that we lost this year but, to display that the culture is a forever blossoming entity set on a course of constant positive progression.
Without further ado, check out these hip-hop acts to keep out for in 2019.
Duckwrth is one of those artists with the potential to cultivate an extremely large mainstream audience. He already has one of the largest audiences on this particular list but, yet has to become a household name amongst hip-hop heads.
The 30-year-old rapper released his first studio album, I’m Uugly, in 2016, only to have his very own single alongside Shaboozey on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse original soundtrack two years later. The LA-native has the ability to play with harmonies while his cadence is digestible for the palettes of even the most casual rap fans.
With the machine of Universal Records already behind him, Duckwrth continues to deliver and 2019 could potentially be his. After checking out his latest single in “Soprano” in the video above, watch the eclectic hip-hop personality chop up the instrumentation with ease on his single, “Fall Back”, here.
When it comes to experimental hip-hop and a sound unlike no other, look no further than Zelooperz. Many hip-hop enthusiasts were originally introduced to Zelooperz back in 2014 when he dropped his first critically-acclaimed mixtape, Help. Since then, Zelooperz has gone on to drop two impressive studio albums in Bothic (2016) and A Piece of the Geto (2017) alongside Shigeto at the helm of the project’s production.
Sonically, Zelooperz embodies his hometown of Detroit fusing genres of hip-hop, ghetto-tech, punk, and more. The “Unfold” rapper’s approach to music is so fluid some could consider his musical offerings as unable to box into one specific genre. Not only does Zelooperz find music as a creative outlet, he’s also one hell of a painter who curates his own original pieces and, in the past, was commissioned to paint a basketball court in Detroit. You can check out some of his work, here, via his Instagram account.
Be sure to look out for more coming from the Bruiser Brigade’s Zelooperz as well as the clique’s frontman, Danny Brown who is performing at All Points East in 2019, and members Dopehead, Fat Ray, and Kash The Kushman. Also, check out another personal favorite of ours in Zelooperz & Dopehead’s “Everybody Like Me”, here.
Real J Wallace
Real J Wallace isn’t your average musician. He’s also a renowned and distinguished community activist in his hometown of San Diego as well as a creative. He’s curated programs to inspire the youth to find outlets in the arts and also uses his platform to let others in the community voice their experiences in what can be a cruel Southern California climate.
Not to mention, The Holyfield CEO has bars. His conscious approach to his personal brand of hip-hop relays important messages while his delivery has a very west coast-inflection that allows listeners to experience their own emotional connection to the subject matter he’s passionate about.
Avico (Art, Vision, Innovation, Creativity, Originality) is the only group to make our list of upcoming hip-hop acts to look out for in 2019. At one point in time hip-hop groups ruled supreme, now we’re beginning to see more solo acts team up with their favorite counterparts in order to form their own movements. However, this doesn’t always work for the majority of personalities hoping to form a collective but, it definitely does for Avico.
After coming together in Oct. 2014, the Atlanta-based group has been able to fuse the individual sounds of Chadster, Zagan, and FarsideKev to curate sonic vibrations that are unlike anything available in mainstream hip-hop at the moment.
Not only is Avico an emerging musical act, but the group also consists of a larger collective of designers, photographers, videographers, producers, skaters, and overall creatives. With the release of the group’s first EP, A8, taking place Oct. 2018, and their first single “Lightning Bolt” gaining traction, Avico has the opportunity to become a standout act to gain their own cult-like following in the new year. Listen to Avico’s first initial musical offering, here.
Hip-hop has strayed away from the gang life aesthetic in recent years but with mainstream personalities like YG, RJ, Nipsey Hussle, and more revitalizing the gangsta rap sound it has allowed for personalities like Saviii 3rd to come to the forefront of underground gangsta rap.
Saviii 3rd hails from the streets of Long Beach, California (East Side to be exact) representing the city’s notorious Rollin 20s Crip Gang that has been made famous by the likes of the Dogg Father himself, Snoop Dogg. Saviii 3rd is also another well-known artist to make this list but still has yet to be granted the exposure of a mainstream audience.
Saviii’s ability to play with melodies in conjunction with his raspy voice and classic west coast go-to instrumentation evokes the emotion of the streets that is needed in today’s somewhat softened hip-hop scene. With Birdman launching Cash Money West and signing Saviii to the label this past summer, the sky’s the limit for the Beach-born hip-hop artist. All Saviii 3rd has to do is continue to do the work and the masses will follow.