Keep On Eye On These Artists In 2024

December 17, 2023 0

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  THAT MEXICAN OT                                                         
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Rolling “r’s” with abandon through his diamond-studded grin, That Mexican OT made a major first impression in 2023. The modern day cowboy and Bay City, TX native broke into the mainstream with his massive hit “Johnny Dang,” a barred-out banger that connected him with Houston legend Paul Wall. OT built upon that hit with a singular From The Block (or should we say, From The Ranch) performance, going viral for rhyming his verse with a live chicken under his arm. Spending 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 with a #65 peak, “Johnny Dang” was merely the start of an inevitable rise, marked by follow-up singles like the bilingual, Tejano anthem “Barrio” ft. Lefty SM, and the villainesque piano-led romper “Cowboy Killer.” OT collected these songs on his ambitious, critically acclaimed concept album, Lonestar Luchador, which peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album paved the way for the fast-selling “Lonestar Luchador Tour,” selling out dates in markets across the country.

Though That Mexican OT enjoyed success in 2023, it feels like his potential is only beginning to be realized. His sound reflects the cultural melting pot of his home, Texas’s gulf coast, mixing Houston rap with Tejano attitude, cowboy aesthetics, and an infectious joy for making music. Hailing from a historic rap region and with talent to spare, look for That Mexican OT to continue his rise to rap’s A-List next year.

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Whether she’s attacking the mic with hard-nosed rhymes or painting the contours of instrumentals with burbling melodies, Bktherula is as real as it gets. Since her first cult hit in 2019, “Tweakin Together,” she’s blazed her own trail through the Atlanta scene, commanding a cult fanbase with her bite-sized anthems. In 2023, Bk ascended to LVL5, sharing the mixtape LVL5 P1, which Pitchfork called one of the “best under-the-radar rap mixtapes of 2023” and earned coverage in V MagazineDAZED, and NME, among others. The tape featured collabs with Destroy Lonely and Rico Nasty, and tape highlight “Crazy Girl” earned a remix featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again. As she built buzz with LVL5 P1 and the “LVL5 Tour,” Bk’s older music started to gain traction on TikTok (particularly her song “Uh Huh,” which has over 70k creations), becoming the soundtrack for a “zesty” dance trend that took over high schools and colleges across the nation.

Still only 21-years-old, Bk is primed to expand her cult in the next year. Her bite-sized bangers and brutally honest mini-ballads are perfectly suited to the modern moment, her expressive delivery imparting more emotion in their short run times than many rappers put into an entire full length. Next year, the innovative artist hits the road with a fellow internet-savvy star, PinkPantheress, and prepares to rise even further with LVL5 P2.

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Affectionately known as Lagos’s “Prince of Afropop,” Oxlade already has a global hit to his name. His 2022 song “Ku Lo Sa” enraptured Afrobeats fans across the globe, when he performed the song on COLORS. The “COLORS” version of “Ku Lo Sa” captured the passion and pipes that make Oxlade a special vocalist, becoming a major hit with over 300 million global streams and racking up over 78 million YouTube views.

With “Ku Lo Sa” in his rearview, Oxlade turns his attention toward his forthcoming debut album, Oxlade From Africa. Though he’s been a fixture in the Nigerian scene since releasing 2020’s “Away,” he believes that Oxlade From Africa will be his defining statement. Oxlade started the road toward OFA in 2023, reaching the UK Official Charts with “Intoxycated,” his collaboration with Dave. Most recently, Oxlade showed his range, sharing the confident and gorgeous epic “KATIGORI” and the amapiano-inflected dancefloor banger “Piano.”

With Oxlade From Africa on the way, the golden-voiced artist plans to reach a new echelon of stardom. Sit back and watch his rise.

  YTB FATT                                                                          
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The home of horrocore and thunderous Tennessee trap, Memphis is universally regarded as one of hip-hop’s most vital cities. Located just across the Mississippi, however, is West Memphis, Arkansas, a small exurb in the larger city’s sphere of influence, which is best known for an infamous court case, not for producing famous rap stars. That is, until YTB Fatt started his meteoric rise in 2023.

Fatt started his career as many southern rappers do: building a following on YouTube. Throughout 2022, the rapper who calls himself Fox showcased his breathless flow and sly charisma on a series of local hits, culminating in early 2023 with the release of “Get Back,” his breakthrough hit (25 million streams). “Get Back” drew the attention of Moneybagg Yo, who signed Fatt to his Bread Gang imprint, and featured Fatt on two highlights from his album: “Shot Off Gumbo” (10 million YouTube views) and “Rock Out,” which also features Lil Durk.

This summer, Fatt capitalized on his momentum by releasing Who Is Fatt, his debut mixtape. Who Is Fatt charted on Billboard and Apple Music, reaching #4 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums and charting as high as #12 on Apple Music’s All-Genre Album Chart and at #6 on Apple Music’s Hip-Hop Albums Chart. The mixtape helped him become one of the most in-demand rising artists in the hip-hop industry, leading to features on songs by Trippie Redd, Rob49, Icewear Vezzo, and many more.

With over 80 million streams on his discography to date, Fatt is ready to rise even further. Whatever he has in store–much more music under the brand new Loaf Boyz Ventures, a joint venture between Moneybagg and 10K Projects for which Fatt is the first signee–he’s already made West Memphis proud.

  BYRON MESSIA                                                               
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Byron Messia‘s anthem “Talibans” was one of the songs of the summer, taking over New York City for months, climbing Billboard charts, and enlisting Burna Boy for the smash hit remix. In total, the song racked up over 200 million on demand streams and 60 million YouTube views. The song is fierce, but highly melodic, dripping with a sense of pain and vulnerability that does not often make its way into dancehall hits. Such is the unique talent of Byron Messia, the 23-year-old artist from the small Caribbean nation of St. Kitts & Nevis (population: 50,000), who takes pages from dancehall, emotive hip-hop a la Rod Wave, and modern R&B to create a hybrid genre he calls “dance-soul.”

Byron’s raw nerve emotion and smooth, rhythmic singing has converted many fans who discovered him through “Talibans,” leading to follow-up hits like “90’z” and the New York Times-praised “Mad Dawgs,” plus recent high-profile collaborations with Chris Brown, Fridayy, and many others. Influential figures across the culture have taken notice of Byron’s rise. Burna Boy was merely the latest in a line of high-profile artists who co-signed Byron, including Drake, Lil Baby, Dave, Popcaan, Cardi B, Rod Wave, and Swizz Beatz, among many others. The 23-year-old rising star has garnered critical acclaim, earning mention in BillboardClashBETThe FADERPitchfork, and Complex, who listed “Talibans II” at #3 on its list of 2023 Songs of the Summer.

Hard at work on his next project, Sad & Famous, due to drop early in 2024, Byron Messia still has much further to rise. He has his sights on becoming the biggest Caribbean crossover artist in years, but the young artist has already won–with “Talibans II,” he became the first-ever artist from St. Kitts & Nevis to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

  EEM TRIPLIN                                                                    
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Eem Triplin made waves as an artist in 2022 with his viral, Tyler, The Creator-sampling “AWKWARD FREESTYLE,” but in 2023, the 23-year-old artist proved that he has superstar potential. He kicked off the year as the direct support on LUCKI’s “FLAWLESS LIKE ME Tour,” performing to sold out, 3k-capacity crowds across the nation. He kept the momentum going with his debut EP, STILL PRETTY, a 7-track effort that showed the breadth of his abilities as a vocalist and producer. Co-produced by DJ Dahi and his frequent collaborator Charlie Myles, STILL PRETTY featured fan favorite tracks like “WALKED IN” (12 million Spotify streams) and the soulful, carefree “WHAT DA OPP SAID,” and gave rise to the “STILL PRETTY Tour,” Eem’s first-ever headlining tour, which crossed the country this fall.

The biggest moment of Eem’s 2023 came this summer, when he returned to his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania (a small town between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) to perform his first-ever headlining concert. 1200 fans packed the local venue, singing along with each word and cheering on their hometown hero. For one afternoon, Eem turned his small hometown into Rolling Loud, galvanizing the locals with his clever and deeply musical rap tunes.

Eem has many more accomplishments to earn in the years ahead. Stay tuned for much more music and viral moments in 2024 and beyond.

  LAY BANKZ                                                                       
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Philadelphia has become a hotbed of uptempo jams, emerging as a center of the club music boom taking the industry by storm. While most of the young artists in the scene approach these fast-moving instrumentals with equally fast-paced rhymes, one young artist–19-year-old singer, rapper, songwriter, and dancer Lay Bankz–is redefining the role of a vocalist on club instrumentals.

Effortlessly skating over these uptempo instrumentals, often provided to her by her close collaborator JUMBO, Lay demonstrates her facility with melody, applying traditional R&B songwriting chops and grafting them onto the instistent percussion common in club music. On songs like the Pitchfork-acclaimed “In My Bag,” Lay Bankz’s deliberate vocals create a magnetic push-pull with the club beat, her melismatic runs slicing through the negative space while the drums race on like an accelerating heartbeat .On other occasions, Lay Bankz grabs the microphone and chooses violence, unleashing a spitting ability that rivals anyone in her crowded scene. She first revealed her rhyming talent in a performance with On The Radar, and since then has been dazzling with her athletic raps. Her versatile talents led to collaborations with the likes of Ciara and club rap contemporary Bandmanrill.

In 2023, Lay leaned into rapping, sharing the breathless club rap banger “Na Na Na.” Mentioned as a potential Song of the Summer for 2023 by The FADER, “Na Na Na” generated over 20 million streams and went viral on TikTok to the tune of 133k creations. “Na Na Na” appeared on Now You See Me, her debut EP, along with follow-up viral anthem “ICK!” (285k TikTok creations). On the other hand, Now You See Me gives Lay the opportunity to flex her vocal chops, on the trap-style, radio ready “Smackdown,” the slowed-down club of “IDFWU,” and breathtaking closing ballad “Flowers,“ a waltz-time plea for recognition that recalls torch songs by R&B divas past.

With her debut EP under her belt, Lay Bankz looks to follow-up a breakout year by uniting hip-hop, R&B, and club music under one banner. It won’t be long before Lay Bankz is the next face of Philly.

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