So, let me just qualify this list. Briefly. As of right now, I’m slightly more than a blip of nobody on the hip hop radar. My opinion, while valuable enough to qualify me to write for the Bloglin, doesn’t carry weight in the public sphere. While they should, the New York Times isn’t calling and asking for my input, Red Bull isn’t asking me to host Music Academy events, and I don’t get invited to Combat Jack or other popular radio shows. And so, I’m not writing this list as someone who observes rap, and orchestrates stuff off the page. I’m writing this list as a very excited artist, and fine tuning it as a uniquely informed critic (are there any other rapper/critics out there?).
Most of these folks are my friends, and I’ve made music with several of them. I’m sure there are tons of totally unknown producers out there making dope tunes, and making moves, but I don’t know that I should be watching them in 2012. Likewise I’m sure there are tons of equally-watchable producers out there who are more widely known, but I don’t know who they are. MP†C asked me to make a list of the folks to watch, and so as a rapper/producer/critic my take on this is informed by my own work as much my own observations.
These are the folks doing stuff that I’m excited about, and who have gotten enough of a buzz in 2011 that they could take off in 2012. But even if they don’t take off in 2012, these are all folks who will be delivering music in 2012 that will likely continue to raise the Wave and change the tide (with the exception of Mike Dean and Ken Lewis cause those dudes are way too big to be Wave).
• Beautiful Lou (San Antonio, Texas)
What do you get for the man who has everything? New gear. It’s going to be an interesting year for Beautiful Lou. He’s been gaining steam steadily through 2011, as his beats on Live.Love.A$AP seem to have spread his name even further. His work with Tink has been nothing short of amazing and I’m pretty sure 2012 is going to show him a lot of love.
But the real question is what is his music gonna sound like as his rig changes? It’s not one of those “Will he still be dope when he’s not super lo-fi,” type of things because you can hear so much variety in his music that it’s clear his brilliance isn’t embedded strictly in the process. Get on it now, because once dude really hits next year it’s probably gonna be tough to keep up.
Download Beautiful Lou Thinks Ur Beautiful 2 (Click Here)
• Skywlkr (Detroit, Michigan)
Skywlkr is in a very similar position as Lou, except without the A$AP features, so he’s not quite as fast-tracked. But again, the gear is going to play a role. I know he just got an MPC, and he’s got more new gear coming, so it’ll be interesting to see where it all takes him. Skywlkr is really good at sampling. He has a great ear for engaging samples, and he knows how to do the least that will do the most. And that’s what really good sampling is about: discovering amazing moments in sound, and finessing those moments into new soundscapes.
And with collabs from at least a half dozen Wave People already completed it’s gonna be tough not hearing his name next year.
Download Skywlkr’s Strawberry Cough (Click Here)
• SpaceGhostPurrp (Miami, Florida)
I think SGP and Lou are in very similar boats. While you can draw some comparisons in their sounds, they are very different, but the both seem to be equally well-positioned for some heavy hitting in 2012. 2011 was definitely Purrp’s year low key. He was brought on to ensure the rise of the A$AP crew, and then promptly returned to Miami, where he has continued to mine the darker and more sinister side of Miami’s musical heritage.
Hip hop is nothing new at the bottom of the USA, but Purrp’s take on it is certainly a break from what the world might expect. And yet, with all the intrigue that has been sparked, it would seem that we haven’t even gotten the slightest clue of what he’s capable of. Yet. Expect that to change in 2012.
Download SpaceGhostPurrp’s Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6 (Click Here)
• Nem270 (Ottawa, Canada)
I still don’t know much about Nem, aside from the the fact that he is grindin’ it the fuck out, and slowly building a rep as one of the hardest working dudes on the Wave. His sound is super-polished, and perhaps a bit more accessible than some of the other dudes on this list, but it’s still every bit as unique.
Nem takes very familiar sounds and rolls them out in unpredictable ways. It’s like he moved into the house of hip hop and totally renovated. Actually, no. It’s more like they tore down the house of hip hop and Nem got ahold of the best pieces of the house. And then he took them somewhere totally foreign, and used them to build something new.
Download Nem70′s Dank Worries EP (Click Here)
• Friendzone (San Francisco, California)
This odd duo manages to crank out a steady stream of music that is anything but odd. But perhaps it’s odd that their beats have the majority of the hip hop blogs using word like “dreamy” and “peaceful”. But it’s accurate. Friendzone makes music for people who don’t like stress. Unlike a lot of other folks on this list these dudes went to school for music, and they clearly have roots in electronic musics that are not hip hop. But, that don’t mean shit because hip hop doesn’t care where you’ve been as long as you can drop bass. And drop bass they do.
But they have created a uniquely tempered sound that has played a noticeable role in the Green Ova sound. And, if everything is everything, they’ve got collabs coming with _________ and _________. The suspense could kill you, I know, so stay with these cloud seeding dudes and see what kind of weather the year brings.
Download Freindzone’s Kuchibiru Network 2 (Click Here)
• L.W.H. (Dallas, Texas)
Imagine if you could give your video game LSD. Now hold that thought, sample it, and put some bangin drums under it. Now you’re ridin’ with L.W.H., AKA Aerobiz, aka the dude behind the camera for Unforgivable. While unexpected is a word I’d use to describe a lot of producers on this list, unpredictable seems to be more suited for Aerobiz.
His knowledge of music runs very deep, his sample library is filled with obscurities, and he can go from beats that were barely finessed into existence, right over to intensely composed works. If you like music that sounds good, you should be checking up on dude. It. Is. Just. That. Simple.
Download L.W.H.’s The Tape Hiss Hooligan (Click Here)