Another year, another gang of artists but who will actually have a massive breakout moment?
Every year we see a new artist break out. 2019 just so happened to be the breakout years of DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion, who undoubtedly entered 2020 stronger than they did 2019. The year prior, Lil Baby and Gunna took the rap game by storm. However, this year is different -- 2020 marks not only a new year but a new decade, and artists who emerge this year have the potential to define an entire era of music; no easy feat.
It’s hard to predict what trends might be set in this decade but presumably, TikTok will have a heavy hand in it considering its current influence in taking relatively unknown songs to the top of the charts. However, regional forces, paired with the power of tech, will still be thriving this year. An artist like Yung Baby Tate has been heavily buzzing in Atlanta and without a doubt will make a major mark on a national scale in the new year. With the rise of Brooklyn drill, specifically in the last few months, it’s safe to say that we’ll be hearing a lot more from artists like Fivio Foreign and Pop Smoke in the coming months.
As we enter a new year, we’ve made a list of artists that we’re genuinely excited to see grow and breakout in 2020.
Who are you excited for in 2020? Let us know in the comments.
Yung Baby Tate
Yung Baby Tate is a little bit of everything -- she’s a singer, a rapper, producer, and overall creative force that’s bound to shift the culture. In the last five years since buzzing in the local Atlanta scene, she’s made national waves with the release of her 2019 album GIRLS and the deluxe version that followed months later. Ahead of its release, she was invited to Dreamville’s legendary Revenge Of The Dreamers III session, earning a placement on “Don’t Hit Me Right Now” alongside Bas, Cozz, Buddy and Guapdad 4000.
Entering 2020 with her first Grammy nomination, Yung Baby Tate has a promising year ahead of her. Paving her own lane as a rapper, producer, and singer, among other things, she’s readying to lead a new wave of ladies into the 2020s.
At a time when Brooklyn’s regional drill movement is beginning to reach national heights, Sheff G is finally beginning to get his rightful credit. Helping usher and define the Brooklyn drill sound in 2017 with “No Suburban,” he released his debut project, THE UNLUCCY LUCCY KID in 2019 and officially stampedhis name in the rich history of NYC’s hip-hop scene. Although it featured appearances were limited to Mozzy and Sleepy Hallow, Sheff G is slowly gearing up to bring his reality to the world through his music. It’s grim, it’s abrasive, but Sheff captures the raw reality of his neighborhood without compromising his roots in lyricism as a New York City native.
Atlanta defined rap this decade without a doubt but it would be incredibly unfair to downplay the contributions Toronto made as well. The Weeknd and Drake’s influence shifted hip-hop and R&B simultaneously while Tory Lanez was one of the most prolific songwriters of the decade. While these artists topped the charts, there’s a sea of raw talent bubbling in Toronto right now. Among them is Lil Berete who’s been making major strides outside of North America. Blending international sounds such as afrobeats, grime, and dancehall with Northern Trap, all while keeping his music personal and vulnerable, makes him an artist that encompasses a lot of aspects of Toronto-- from the racial and economic disparity to cultural boundaries meshing together in one. 1 Way Out, his 2019 project, had him squaring off with artists from the UK and the States. His versatility is his strength but at 22-years-old, the Regent Park-bred rapper is surely becoming a voice for his own hood, and beyond.
Brooklyn Drill will be the wave in 2020 so don’t be surprised about the amount of New York rappers on this list. Sleepy Hallow has been slowly rising the ranks alongside Sheff G. Only emerging about a year and some change ago, he’s gained a strong regional buzz within Brooklyn through tracks like “Panic Part 2” and his appearances on Sheff G’s The Unluccy Luccy Kid.
Formally introducing himself with DON’T SLEEP, Sleepy Hallow delivered a body of work that shows promise. The rawness in his music is vividly portrayed through his lyrics but at the same time, songs like “2 Fake” serve infectious hooks with grim undertones reflecting his environment. Alongside Sheff G, Sleepy Hallow is revving up for a big year ahead of himself.
Truthfully, it feels like Melii’s time should’ve arrived in 2019. The star potential has always been there, even as far back as her 2018 single, “Icey.” Although co-sign’s aren’t necessarily needed, artists like Meek Mill and Tory Lanez, the latter signed her to his label One Umbrella, saw early potential in her. With the year 2020 upon us, Melii’s already proven that she has the it factor to become a huge star in her own right. She recently announced that she’ll be taking a step back from music in 2020 but we're only hoping she changes her mind. She has the looks, can rap, sing -- in both English and Spanish, might I add -- and has the ability to shapeshift from R&B singer to reggaeton artist and head back to her New York City roots as an MC.
After releasing two projects in 2018, phAses and MOTIONS, Melii has undoubtedly proven to be a rare commodity in the music industry, especially as Latin urban music, hip-hop, and R&B continue to dictate and determine the sound of pop music.
As previously noted, Brooklyn Drill will be the biggest thing in hip-hop this year and Pop Smoke’s has a heavy hand in that. Needless to say, he will likely be the hottest thing in hip-hop in 2020, whether or not his career sustains -- which it likely will. First getting a major co-sign by Pusha T, who’s manager, Steven Victor signed him to his label, Meet The Woo hit the streets at a perfect time when both Brooklyn Drill and UK Drill began moving past its notoriety into a mainstream light. “Welcome To The Party” officially ushered in a new era in East Coast hip-hop, especially in New York City and later received the official stamp of approval from Nicki Minaj and Skepta, both of whom remixed the track.
Capping off 2019 with the release of his anticipated collab with Travis Scott, “GATTI,” Pop Smoke is currently working on his debut album which is set to drop this year. Although no release date’s been set yet, Pop Smoke’s on a journey to claim his stake in the rap game.
The lines between rapper and singer have been blurred in the past decade and Rod Wave walks a very thin line between the two. The St. Petersberg, Florida-bred artist bares his soul on every track, detailing pain as if it’s being inflicted on him and bellowing his sorrows as he wrestles his demons on wax. Through all of that, he became a beaming light to emerge from the South, honing elements of R&B, soul, and gospel over trap-infused production.
The release of PTSD and the Kevin Gates-executive produced Ghetto Gospel showcased what Rod Wave’s capable of doing. With elements of street and gospel fusing together, Rod Wave has proven that he’s a unique force.
Drill has not died at all. While Brooklyn and London have co-opted the sound regionally, Chicago’s drill sound hasn’t phased out but evolved since its emergence with Chief Keef and Lil Durk. Polo G is one of the artists carrying the torch into the 2020s. Along with artists like Calboy and Lil Tjay, he’s ushering the new generation of rappers who are surely on their way to greatness. If you don’t believe me, look no further than his debut project, Die A Legend. Influences of G Herbo and Lil Durk can be heard throughout his music as details the pain and paranoia from growing up in a ruthless environment.
Polo G might be one project deep but we’d be foolish to think that he doesn’t have more in the arsenal. He’s an exceptional rapper with the ability to croon over Mustard production just as easily as he can freestyle on Funk Flex’s show.
There are two things that are certain in 2020: Detroit’s having a musical renaissance and Scam Rap is officially on the rise. And the thing is, the rise in both coincide as is slowly becoming known as a hub for fraud. Among those leading this movement out the D is Teejayx6, the 19-year-old self-proclaimed scammer who’s delivering anthems and game on how to actually finesse on the Internet. In the span of a year, he gained prominence in Detroit as Scam Rap began to take off while dropping gems on the trade with sprinkles of humor throughout. “Swipe Lesson” is a prime example of this. Titled “Teejayx6 - Swipe Lesson (Official Music Video) *FREE MONEY & METHODS*” on YouTube, Teejayx6 doesn’t bother with a rhyme-scheme, instead, he provides the step-by-step process of scamming.
Teejayx6 might not end up being a chart-topping artist but he’s certainly paving his own lane, dropping gem on the trade of fraud like how Biggie did for the crack game.
Sada Baby surprisingly hasn’t blown yet but there’s something to be said about the fact that your favorite rapper probably has a few of his tracks on his playlist. Skuba Steve has already been dubbed one of the hottest artists in Detroit by a few people, including Danny Brown, but he also has music in the stash with Chris Brown and more. As he’s maintained a strong buzz in the past two years, and continued to flood the street with music, he has a cult following of sorts.
Fresh off the release of his new project Brolik, Sada Baby kicked off 2020 on a solid note that seems like a strong indication of what he has in store this year.
Lil Tjay came into 2019 hot. Already racking up millions of clicks on Soundcloud, he emerged as one of the hottest newcomers in the game. A native of South Bronx, he’s a product of a sound that A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie helped spearhead regionally. His song “Brothers” propelled his career into the limelight, as did his appearance on Polo G’s “Pop Out,” but his debut, True 2 Myself gave a glimpse at his promising future. He raps for the fellas, sings for the ladies and makes hits fitting for the radio. 2020 will usher in a new star in the hip-hop world. Although it’s too early to determine who it might be, Lil Tjay has a good shot at taking the throne.
Another Brooklyn drill artist rising the ranks right now is Fivio Foreign. You may have seen the name pop up on your timeline a few times in the last few months. With the release of “Big Drip” making waves, his impact has already been seen. Axl, the producer behind “Big Drip,” explained to Complex that it was that song that apparently made Drake’s people reach out which resulted in the release of “War,” the song that many believed Drake bit Fivio’s flow on. Aside from potentially inspiring the biggest artist on the planet, he’s made major strides in recent times on his own accord. “Big Drip” received a remix with Tory Lanez (it’s since been removed from Soundcloud) and he’s worked with Rich The Kid on “Richer Than Ever.” As drill continues to dominate hip-hop nearly a decade after its introduction, Fivio Foreign is among the artists emerging from New York to keep an eye out for.
2019 was undoubtedly the year of DaBaby but he didn’t make strides across the world without Stunna 4 Vegas by his side. Signed to Billion Dollar Baby Ent., Stunna 4 Vegas has shadowed DaBaby during his reign in the music industry while releasing a steady output of quality music on his own. BIG 4x, Stunna’s Interscope debut, had him swapping bars alongside Lil Durk, Offset, Young Nudy, and more, even while he was only beginning to introduce himself to the world.
Stunna 4 Vegas is certain for a big year ahead of him. Making appearances on Jimmy Fallon and booking slots at Rolling Loud, DaBaby’s fans are already familiar with Stunna 4 Vegas. Now, we wait for the rest of the world to catch on.