It's a happy new year, indeed. 2016 has come and gone and we are SO ready for a new year of music. Every year, there's a fresh batch of new and unfamiliar voices that come onto your radar and bring you joy on your toughest days. These five artists deserve more credit for their angelic voices, creative lyricism and musical talent. Some of them have been around for a couple years, some of them were introduced to us in 2016, but we think this is their year to gain some attention. So here are five hip-hop and R&B artists to watch in 2017.
2017 is going to be D.R.A.M's big year - I just know it. D.R.A.M. (whos real name is Shelley Marshaun Massenburg-Smith) released his debut single, "CHA CHA" in 2015 and released two EPs the same year. Besides when Beyonce Instagram'd
herself dancing to "Cha Cha" that year - which helped the song go viral. It wasn't until 2016 when he released his debut, full-length album Big Baby D.R.A.M.
that he started getting the attention he deserves. The album features Lil Yachty, Young Thug, and Erykah Badu on tracks that are full of happiness, memorable hooks and slightly-hilarious lyrics. I think D.R.A.M. will only go up from here.
Back in 2013, Saba gained recognition by his verse on Chance The Rappers mixtape Acid Rap,
in the song "Everybody's Something." A couple years later, Saba was featured on Chance's "Angels" and the Chicago duo performed the song on Late Night With Stephen Colbert
later in 2015. Saba just released his debut album, Bucket List Project
in October of 2016 and it talks about the struggles of growing up in a poor, violent neighborhood but he does it with spirit and soul. The album has overwhelming imagery and it seems like Saba never loses his hopeful optimism.
Kehlani isn't necessarily a newcomer. She released her attention-grabbing album, You Should Be Here
in 2015 - which features Chance The Rapper, BJ The Chicago Kid and more. She was featured on a few tracks in 2016, such as Zayn's "Wrong" and Pusha T's "Retribution" and released some singles "CRZY," "Distraction" and "Advice". It's pretty common for new R&B artists to pick a style and stick to it until they establish a place in the genre. But that's not the case with Kehlani. Her music keeps you on your toes with weaving instrumentals and warped vocals. Kehlani's 19-track sophomore album, SweetSexySavage
, is set to be released January 27th along with a world tour.
LA-based R&B soul singer, Kadhja Bonet, has a retro-fitted sound that mixes in psychedelia, soul and cosmic jazz along airy vocals that'll give you goosebumps. Bonet released "Remember The Rain" in 2015 and introduced a 8-track EP, The Visitor
in October of 2016, giving the world a taste of her unique sound. Bonet is a multi-instrumentalist with a background in classical violin and has worked with producers from across the world. She's a master of her craft and we have a feeling she will use this year to perfect it.
H.E.R. is a mysterious vocalist that has yet to release her identity - even after she released a debut EP, H.E.R. Volume 1
right before Christmas. The best part about her moniker is that H.E.R. is an acronym for Having Everything Revealed. H.E.R. produces music with heavy beats over atmospheric, brooding production, which gives her songs an old school-sounding R&B feel. It has the seductive, haunting sounds of Aaliyah and some have compared her music to Drake. Whoever she is, I think H.E.R. is here to stay.