As accessible as information is today, it’s no easy feat to stay in tune with even the mainstream music. Our ‘Curiously Curated’ column is dedicated to the tough task of finding the soon-to-be stars, so you don’t have to. This marks the start of a weekly series, which alternates between artists and producers every week. The series will be run in tandem with a playlist of the same name.
In this piece, we list 10 of our favorite up-and-comers in no particular order. Without further ado, welcome to volume one of our ‘Curiously Curated’ series.
Out of Philadelphia is emerging talent T$AN. The rapper recently finished up his stint with Columbia Records, and has been moving independently in the time since. A good bit of traction came early on from his unreleased record with Lil Uzi Vert, which was leaked on SoundCloud by one of T$an’s fans. In the time since, the rapper has been building out his sound and collaborating with an impressive array of artists, including Lancey Foux, who’s the only feature on T$AN’s latest album, Til The Death of Me.). TTDOM is a 22-song project that’s bound to get you hooked to his music. T$AN has continued to evolve as an artist, from his sound to his style and engagement with fans. Today’s a great day to get hip, especially on the heels of his recent release.
Who hasn’t heard of or seen HBO’s hit show Euphoria? It’s almost impossible to find anyone who hasn’t at least heard of it. That means chances are, you might already have heard this next artist on our list. Even if not from having a song the show, perhaps you’ve heard of him from his presence on Spotify playlists or the rampant use of his music on TikTok.
Say hello to ericdoa, one of the most rapidly growing young artists in 2022. I met ericdoa last year in New York City, and was immediately taken by his charisma and genuine passion for making music with his friends. It felt impossible to not root for him on his creative mission, and still does. ericdoa’s knack for music and stardom in general has set the stage for a major year for him, and a bright future to follow. With almost a million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, and two songs at over 10M streams, it’s only a matter of time before he’s a household name. If you aren’t already familiar take a peek at his video for “sad4whattt,” which was featured in Euphoria, in the link below.
New York hip-hop has evolved over the years, and its latest drill movement has only grown since its conception. Of the many notable characters leading the drill charge, Leeky G Bando is definitely an artist you’re gonna want to get familiar with. His deep voice sets him apart from his competition, and makes any of his songs instantly recognizable.
If you’re familiar with Bizzy Banks, one of the last artists to be co-signed by Pop Smoke, then you’ve probably already seen or heard of Leeky G Bando. Both artists are managed by producer RubiRosa, whose cuts include “Fabo” by UnoTheActivist and “Bully” by Jay Critch. Leeky has his sound figured out, and has been steadily growing alongside his tight-knit team. Getting money is essential for this Brooklyn-based rapper and his crew.
After catching attention recently for charting in the top 10 on the iTunes store, XORA has continued to become more and more established with every day that passes by. XORA has a very memorable sound, and is rapidly growing with grace.
The Ottawa, Ontario native’s music on DSP dates back to 2018, but his latest project, Moonchild is the apex of his creation thus far. The only feature on the project is fellow up-and-comer cxldface. With 9 songs on the tape, and 8 of them solo, Moonchild is the perfect way to get introduced to the world of XORA.
One of my personal favorite bars I’ve come across on social media in the past year is Columbus, Georgia native BabySantana‘s lyrics for “Antisocial”: “She ask me like ‘tana are you antisocial, and I told her no girl, I’m socially-anti.” Both the writing and delivery felt like a subtle way of making people go, “oh shit, rewind that again.” Sonically speaking, it felt like an iconic moment for the fifteen year-old rap star.
Before this iconic moment, BabySantana signed with Galactic Records, Lil Tecca and his manager Giuseppe Zappala’s imprint with Republic Records. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the reference in “Antisocial”: “Me and Giuseppe, we hit Benihanas and spent us a bag, she like boy you so fancy.” BabySantana is insanely fun to listen to because of a thorough approach to lyrics and an insanely original sound. “Antisocial” proved to be an amazing initial step for the young talent; it charted on SoundCloud and Spotify, and set the stage for BabySantana to be ready to join Tecca and Bktherula on Tecca’s latest tour.
If you consider yourself to be in tune with the Atlanta rap scene, then you have to know Bear1Boss. He’s been making a wave out of ATL and online via SoundCloud, Instagram and other platforms.
With 100k followers on Instagram and 17k monthly listeners on Spotify, this artist is at a unique point in his growth process. It seems like any day now that the Spotify stats will have a drastic boost. After all, his name is being mentioned in all corners of the industry, and has even been covered by platforms like Lyrical Lemonade and Pitchfork. Some of his top songs out right now include “Xan!,” “Stoopid Gas,” and “$$$.” Bear1Boss is likely your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper right now, so get familiar while it’s still considered early for the soon-to-be star.
GMO Stax is another artist who should definitely be on your radar. Detroit has been known to be producing some of hip-hop’s best acts lately, and GMO Stax is no exception. The crisp, calm nature of his sound is one of a kind. Even though many other Detroit rappers are pursuing the same style, he stands apart thanks to his voice, sense of rhythm, and lyrics.
GMO Stax is a standout, and is helping to continue the relevance of Detroit’s slick, relaxed sound. He’s collaborated with artists like Pooh Shiesty and Big 30, along with #10 on our list today, PGF Nuk. When you read more on PGF Nuk, you’ll see how impressive GMO’s taste and strategy is. Not only can he land major features, he has an ear for the underground and impeccable timing.
Introducing the “king of samples,” Shawny Binladen. New York is a hotspot for the unique; after all the whole ethos of the city is to shamelessly be yourself. Lo and behold, Shawny Binladen has emerged in the hip-hop scene with an unforgettable sound.
Sample-fueled drill beats have become commonplace lately, and samples have long been a part of making music. However, Shawny built a direct affiliation with samples, demonstrating phenomenal taste and a knack for making these old sounds feel new. A combination of the producer curation for his work and his distinctive vocal approach have amounted to a very special relationship with his listeners. Take a listen to one of his biggest hits with Bizzy Banks in the link below.
Lately, there’s been a large buzz in the music industry about Groupthink. The 10k Projects signee started his career sounding like nobody else around, and has only continued that trend, which is a proven recipe for success.
Groupthink’s latest release, “Guilty Pleasure” is his highest performing song so far, and it comes with a really fire video to match. I first heard about Groupthink from seeing his marketing tactic of “hacking 10k Projects’ Instagram,” which was pure genius. It brought the mayhem of pure artistry to the company who signed him, and to fans new and old watching, it felt like they were welcomed to be a part of the mischief. From the music to the visuals to the marketing approach behind all of it, Groupthink has a natural ability to stimulate his audience. You’re gonna love it all when you get up to speed.
With the craziest song as an official intro to a mass audience, PGF Nuk first stepped into the limelight with a Polo G co-sign and feature. “Waddup” is the only proof-of-concept needed to show just how special this rapper is. After hearing “Waddup,” it’s only natural to wonder if he’s got a severe cold, or if that’s his actual voice. His stuffy-sounding vocals in “Waddup” are in fact not a cold; if you take a listen to the rest of his catalog, you’ll see that is actually his natural sound.
With such a hard-hitting song, it’s typically a challenge to match that energy visually. In PGF Nuk’s case, it seemed like it happened with ease. The chemistry between him and Polo G, along with the rest of his crew, is blatantly apparent in the video. Watch the video in the link below, and see if you can resist looking for more bangers from the young Chicago talent.
These are the first 10 artists to be covered in what will surely prove to be a memorable journey for ‘Curiously Curated.’ Learning more about the underground artists who are separating themselves from the pack is wildly entertaining. There’s definitely a method to the madness of finding talent early, and we’re gonna be continuing to refine that ability together. Even if you don’t have an interest in finding the talent yourself, you can still stay enjoy the luxury of listening to our finds.
If you have any suggestions of artists you think our team should know about, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter, or our Discord!