List of 2017 Break Out Artists | Hiphopsoundz
Find out which breakout star made the most noise in 2017.
One of the great joys of being a hip-hop fan in 2017 was not only enjoying some strong studio outings from proven veteran talents, but also to witness the rise of the next generation of rap superstars, seemingly all at once. From Soundcloud rappers to emcees who have toiled for several years that are just now getting that big break, success came in all kinds of different forms in the world of hip-hop this year, and dazzled many with potential that is still clearly untapped.
In 2017, we had no shortage of “overnight” success stories, many of them reaching pinnacles that few would have thought possible a year ago. NAV, the Toronto native who only started taking his music career seriously a short time ago, is already linked up with some of the biggest names in the business and enlisted some eye-catching features on several of his singles. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie signaled his presence as one of the next ones to watch from the East Coast, while the guys in Brockhampton have done the same for the West Coast. Even someone like Cardi B, whose signature song was inescapable for most of this year, has figuratively gone from rags to riches and ascended into the rarefied air of hip-hop’s A-list crowd. Finally, let’s not forget XXXTentacion, rap’s problem child who, for better or for worse, drove much of the conversation surrounding the next generation of rappers.
What’s astonishing is the young age at which these emcees and/or singers are breaking through the online music clutter and the “every man/women for themselves” mentality of being an independent artist in today’s digital age. Where a rapper may have had to pay their dues 20, even 10 years ago, scaling those ivory towers has proven to be a non-existent issue for today’s crop of budding stars. In fact, it often plays out in reverse order now: record labels will look to pounce on someone once they’ve obtained a minimum level of viral appeal online, instead of emcees trying to use those institutions to help bolster their career beginnings.
Who was 2017’s biggest breakout star? Read on to see the entire list.
YoungBoy Never Broke Again
“Prodigy” is a word that is often very loosely tossed around in terms of an emcee’s potential to be a superstar, but YoungBoy Never Broke Again has been called just that by some higher-ups in the rap community. The rapper, who just turned 18 this past October, has already carved out a sturdy following and is quickly gaining respect for the quality of his musical output. He dropped two full-length projects this year in AI YoungBoy and Fed Baby’s, gifting fans singles like “No Smoke” and “Untouchable,” the latter of which was released one week after he exited prison following the acceptance of a plea deal in May. If the Baton Rouge native can avoid any more run-in’s with the law, the sky might be the limit for NBA YoungBoy.
6lack is an artist who may have flown under a lot of people’s radars this year, but not ours. His soulful, brooding sound was honed to near-perfection on Free 6lack, the follow-up to his strong 2016 single “Prlbms.” The critically-acclaimed full-length offering featured strong singles like “Ex Calling” and “Luving You,” both of which performed admirably in terms of their sales plus streaming number. He didn’t stop there either, dropping two more recent tracks to satisfy the appetite of his growing fan base, “First F**k” and “That Far.” All of this earned him a nomination in the Best New Artist category at the Soul Train Awards, which only adds to the evidence that 6lack has officially arrived.
Though she’s been on the rap scene since 2016, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” was the crossover heatseeker that no one saw coming this year. The track’s meteoric rise to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, where it stayed for several consecutive weeks, gave Cardi the first unassisted No. 1 for a female artist since Lauryn Hill did it with “Doo Wop (That Thing).” While that is impressive in and of itself, Cardi’s sudden rise to prominence goes far beyond that. Likeable and honest whenever she’s giving an interview or interacting with her fans on social media, her unique persona arguably rivals only that of Nicki Minaj when you’re talking about the most recognizable female emcees in the business. Oh, and she’s about to tie the knot with Migos rapper Offset, a wedding that will surely give the party that Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir put on earlier this fall a run for its money.
Unquestionably the most talked-about young rapper from the past year, XXXTentacion has gone from popular Soundcloud artist to full-blown hip-hop phenomenon. At just 19 years of age, the Broward County, Florida native has quickly made a name for himself because of his music — most notably with the melancholic sounds of his full-length effort 17 — and his ability to keep his name in the music industry tabloids and trending on social media. Though domestic abuse allegations from an ex-girlfriend polarized the hip-hop community as to whether it was “okay” to enjoy X’s music or not, there’s no denying that his fan base has had a voracious appetite for each new musical offering that he’s brought to the table. Whether you deem him too controversial for your tastes or not, it’s safe to say that XXXTentacion is a rapper who saw his star rise the most in 2017.
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
This young NYC-born sensation has made quite an impression on the rap community over the course of the year. The first real sign that A Boogie was on his way to stardom was being named as part of XXL’s 2017 Freshman Class, alongside Playboi Carti, Kyle and XXXTentacion. That excitement gave way to the eventual release of his proper debut album, The Bigger Artist, for Atlantic in September. Boasting popular tracks “Drowning,” “Undefeated” and “Say A,” the album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. It was also a chance for A Boogie to collaborate with the likes of Kodak Black, 21 Savage, Chris Brown and more. It’s been an impressive start, to say that least, to A Boogie’s journey towards becoming a rap A-Lister.
For Amine, 2017 has been an unbroken boulevard of green lights. The Portland, Oregon native built off of the success he tasted with his 2016 single “Caroline” and gained even more notoriety in the rap game. After dropping the single “REDMERCEDES” in March, Amine followed that up with his proper full-length debut, Good For You, which featured some strong collaboration work with Offset, Nelly and Ty Dolla $ign. Combining elements of old-school funk and soul with the trendy trap sound of today, Amine is also a rapper who’s shown a willingness to experiment with his sound. He feels like the next act primed for mainstream hip-hop success.
Born Rayshawn Lamar Bennett, the man better known as YFN Lucci had himself a banner year in 2017. His EP Long Live Nut, which was released in April, boasted some solid production work and big-name features like Rick Ross, PnB Rock and Boosie. That was followed by the mixtapes Wish Me Well and Wish Me Well 2, showcasing Lucci’s ability to not only keep up with current trap trends and nab collaborators like Migos, but also his willingness to go into more introspective, vulnerable territory. All told, his music tasted some chart success as well, with Nutdebuting at No. 27 on the Billboard 200 and “Everyday We Lit,” his hit single featuring PnB, peaked at No. 33 on the Hot 100.
The latest Canadian hip-hop star to break through and find worldwide success, NAV has come a long way since his humble Soundcloud beginnings. The release of his self-titled album early on in 2017, featuring tracks like “Myself” and “Up,” was met with immediate enthusiasm from fans, which made his follow-up one of the most anticipated projects of the summer. That LP, a long-form collaboration with Metro Boomin’ called Perfect Timing, was an immediate smash hit, garnering hundreds of millions of streams and immediately making NAV one of the genre’s hottest commodities. Having worked with the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, Offset, 21 Savage, Playboi Carti and Belly, there’s no doubt that the Toronto native is poised for even more success in 2018.
Partially founded on the Internet forum KanyeToThe, Brockhampton are fast becoming known as more than just “The Internet’s first boy band.” In fact, there are few acts who have released the amount of quality work as this collective has over the course of the calendar year. Saturation dropped in June and Saturation IIfollowed quickly in August, catapulting the group from obscurity to buzzworthy, while Saturation III, which just arrived on Friday, is the icing on the cake. Kevin Abstract (real name Ian Simpson) is the driving force behind most Brockhampton’s quirky lyricism, while Romil Hemnani has helped spearhead their unique sound, with distinctive string sections often floating over effects-drenched beats. They may not have broken into superstardom territory yet, but with Saturation III upon us, and yet another album already announced (Team Effort), Brockhampton are certainly an act to keep all eyes on in 2018.
A teenager who has seen their stock rise considerably in 2017, Khalid has let his soulful baritone do the talking and blossomed into a bankable crossover star in the R&B world. Led by his hit single “Location,” the singer watched his albumAmerican Teen become one of the most talked-about LP’s of the year, scoring several Grammy nominations. In addition to that success, his collaborations with Calvin Harris and Marshmello have helped him prove his worth as a guest vocalist for DJ’s and producers from diverse genres of music. Racking up hundreds of millions of streams on Spotify and Apple Music alone, Khalid is now an unmistakable audience favorite. Many music fans will be waiting with great anticipation to see what kind of material he’ll gift the world next.