For 13 years, the Pitchfork Music Festival has been one of the most exciting vessels for music discovery and artist engagement. And with their diverse lineup of music’s hottest and high-quality alternative artists from every genre, newcomers and legendary veterans alike, the 2018 edition does not plan on breaking that trend anytime soon. “This focus on progressive artists who push music forward brings together like-minded fans who care deeply about where music is headed, and that sense of community distinguishes the Pitchfork Music Festival from other summer festivals,” said Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber.
This year’s edition will certainly be a special occasion as the legendary Ms. Lauryn Hill will headline the festival while celebrating the 20th Anniversary of her groundbreaking solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In addition, #P4KFest will also shine with a midwestern and Chicago-centric lineup of acts like Saba, Rayvn Lenae, Smino, Noname, and many others. Chicago has been a massive cultural and artistic hub, bringing out some of the most talented, polarizing, and influential young artists of the decade.
“From both the standpoint of a programmer and a musician, I’m really proud that we’re experiencing a tidal wave of incredible Chicago music,” said festival director Mike Reed. “This year’s lineup reflects a tipping point of the last few years and that the greater world is truly feeling that wave as well.”
As we gear up for the 2018 Pitchfork Music Festival, here are nine unique and amazing artists and groups performing this weekend that music fans should peep ASAP. And if you didn’t cop your tickets, time’s running out ‘till the big weekend on July 20 through July 22. Get your one day and three day passes right here.
1. Saba (Chicago, Ill.)
Austin’s own Saba has been cooking since his 2012 debut project, GETCOMFORTable and has grown to become one of the dopest rappers to have come from the often-overlooked Westside Chicago since Twista. Especially after breaking through with his critically acclaimed Bucket List Project in 2016 and his heavier, emotional 2018 follow up Care For Me. With his picture-painting storytelling and emotional draw, Saba is certainly one of Chi-City’s premiere lyricists you don’t want to miss.
Deep Cuts: “LIFE,” “Stoney” ft. Phoelix & Bjrknc, “HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME”
2. Ravyn Lenae (Chicago, Ill.)
Among Chicago’s incredibly deep pool of talented women lies the dreamy pop/neo-soul singer Ravyn Lenae. She uses her disarming vocals and gleaming allure to captivate fans and lure them into her beautiful, multilayered musical universe. Ravyn opened for SZA on the 2017 CTRL Tour, and the Zero Fatigue crew member certainly charmed listeners with her latest EP Crush, released earlier this year.
Deep Cuts: “Sticky,” “Blossom Dearie,” “Moon Shoes”
3. Kweku Collins (Chicago, Ill.)
As one of Chicago’s DIY rising stars, the young bull Kweku Collins has masterfully crafted a name for himself as one of the Midwest’s most soulful, yet edgy and creative rap artists. With his unapologetic authenticity, the rapper/producer/poet’s music resonates deeply as it illustrates his past and present as a misfit in Chicago’s vibrant musical landscape. And just in time for the festival, he dropped a new track, the dark, autotune backed “Sisko and Kasidy.”
Deep Cuts: “Stupid Rose”, “Kings”, “Holla If Ya Hear Me”
4. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya (Chicago, Ill.)
Nnamdi is one of Chicago’s more eclectic and multi-talented musicians: not only can he rap well, but he’s also dexterous in a variety of instruments such as the drums and bass. Combining all of his skills, Nnamdi creates a wacky, funky, and highly unorthodox soundscape that will capture your ears in ways you wouldn’t expect it to. And when it comes to visuals, he stands out as one of the more colorful, and strangely offbeat and upbeat personalities as well. Don’t sleep on him and his 2017 gem, Drool.
Deep Cuts: “Hop Off”, “Let Go of My Ego”, “Book (Kinda)”
5. Melkbelly (Chicago, Ill.)
Chicago’s storied rock scene has just as much quality talent coming from its pool as its Hip-Hop and R&B realms and noise-rock group Melkbelly is certainly showing and proving. The four-member band has been delivering exciting, intense, and electrifying tunes since its 2014 debut album, Pennsylvania. Allow yourself to get captured by lead singer Miranda Winter’s disarming melodies, to be brought into a world of brooding, emotional, and aggressive, yet fun soundscapes.
Deep Cuts: “Twin Looking Mothafucker,” “Kid Creative,” “Off The Lot”
6. Smino (St. Louis, Mo)
Coming from St. Louis, VIBE Next artist Smino is one of the more groundbreaking emcees on this list as he creatively blends funk and soul music with clever and visual lyricism, a syrupy southern drawl and melodies. He’s still riding high from his critically acclaimed debut blkswn and is arguably one of the most creative, multi-talented, and musically inclined of his class. The Zero Fatigue frontman has been quite prolific this year after dropping the visuals to imaginative visuals to “Wild Irish Roses” earlier this year, and more recently, re-worked Drake’s “In My Feelings” into the equally jamming “I’m Chillin.”
Deep Cuts: “blkjuptr,” “Glass Flows” ft. Ravyn Lenae, “Netflix & Dusse”
7. Open Mike Eagle (Chicago, Ill.)
Open Mike Eagle comes from Chicago’s notorious Robert Taylor Homes, and he has carved a lane with something he calls “Art Rap,” a presentation of impeccable lyricism and clever wordplay over experimental and lush production. His unique style allows him to have a different kind of creative versatility in much of his music, especially with songs like “95 Radios” and “The Curse of Hypervigilance.”
Deep Cuts: “95 Radios,” “Legendary Iron Hood,” “The Curse of Hypervigilance” ft. Paul White.
8. Noname (Chicago, Ill.)
In an incredibly rich and deep scene filled with strong female spitters like Tink, Dreezy, and Queen Key, rapper/poet Noname (f.k.a. Noname Gypsy) claims her stake as one of Chicago’s best all-around creative artists, regardless of gender. In her own distinct way, she weaves poetic bars by channeling her spoken word presence and rapping with light, airy, mellow, and melodic vocals creating some lyrical #BlackGirlMagic. She is growing into a true star after breaking out with her stellar debut Telefone. And she’s recently announced she has some brand new music on the way.
Deep Cuts: “Yesterday, “Diddy Bop,” “Forever” ft. Joseph Chilliam & Ravyn Lenae.
9. Circuit Des Yeux (Chicago, Ill/Lafayette, Ind.)
The Indiana-born, Chicago-bred Haley Fohr, the lead behind her musical project Circuit Des Yeux, is known for creating bluesy and dark atmospheres for hardship and pain. Her 2017 album Reaching For Indigo was met with well deserved critical acclaim, and its dark vibes make for a very cathartic listen.
Deep Cuts: “Crying Chair,” “101 Ways To Kill A Man,” “Black Fly”