With TikTok and streaming becoming even more popular last year, many unknown or mid-tier artists found huge success out of nowhere. Many of these artists fade into obscurity the second their song stops trending online, but there are some artists who are able to capitalize on their success and grow their fanbase and popularity. Here I have 5 rappers that I think could find huge success this year due to a viral hit, word of mouth, or even accolades. Most of these rappers have found success in the past but I think they have the opportunity to gain a lot more success this year.
Slowthai exploded into the rap scene with his spectacular debut album Nothing Great About Britain released in 2019 and is probably the most well-known British rapper behind Skepta and Headie One. Expect that to change as his second album, TYRON, releases very soon. His 2020 had a few surprises with a couple of great, gritty singles and features on Gorillaz and Aminé’s new albums. TYRON looks to be a deeply personal and more pop-based album which could find slowthai more mainstream success.
Songs to Listen to: “Momentary Bliss”, “Doorman”, “feel away”
EARTHGANG has been slowly creeping into the mainstream for the past few years, with their major label debut album Mirrorland, numerous features on the popular Revenge of the Dreamers III, and Spilligion with the collective Spillage Village. The energy and creativity they bring to their music is unmatched by many other artists and they are long overdue for more people to recognize them. With an album, or at least more singles, very likely on the way this year, look for EARTHGANG to have more hits.
Songs to Listen to: “Sacrifices”, “Proud of U”, “Baptize”
Baby Keem has the hits, the fans, and the backing from the industry and other artists, now we just need to wait for more new music. Keem only released two songs in 2020 but managed to make a splash with endorsements from other artists, by starting a collective with his cousin Kendrick Lamar, and making the XXL 2020 list. Meanwhile, his 2019 album grew in popularity as more people discovered his music (including me). We already know more music is coming from Keem and based on the two singles he released last year many people are excited.
Songs to Listen to: “hooligan”, “ORANGE SODA”, “FRANCE FREESTYLE”
Another artist to come out of nowhere and receive viral success, $NOT has a unique, chill sound that not many other rappers can replicate. He’s only been releasing music for the past three years but went on a tear last year with two hugely successful albums for how small of an artist he was. With an album released only a few months ago, there may not be much new music coming from him soon, but his name will be showing up a lot more this year.
Songs to Listen to: “Sangria”, “GOSHA”, “Like Me”
Freddie Gibbs didn’t treat last year like an off year as many artists did. He released his Grammy-nominated collaboration album with the producer The Alchemist, Alfredo, as well as featuring on many other artists albums in songs like “$500 Ounces” and “One Way Flight”. Freddie has been a king of the underground rap scene for a couple years now and 2021 will be the year he breaks into the mainstream with a major label debut album coming this year. Look forward to hearing a lot about him this year.
Songs to Listen to: “4 Thangs”, “Something to Rap About”, “One Way Flight”