It’s been an eventful, engaging and disappointing 2016 for some of our favorite rappers. A$AP Rocky and Lil Wayne feigned ignorance and the futility of #BlackLivesMatter. Legends Beanie “Beans” Sigel and Kanye West also took physical and verbal L’s this year. Former Roc-A-Fella artist Beans was sucker punched and knocked to the ground at Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Reunion tour stop in Philly. Yeezy had some choice words for Jay Z and Beyonce on the Sacramento leg of his Saint Pablo Tour. And if that wasn’t enough, the college dropout admitted that he would’ve voted for Donald Trump before being committed to the hospital for depression and exhaustion.
Drake, Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, and more recently, J. Cole had prolific years. Drake won his first American Music Award (AMA) for favorite Rap/Hip Hop album for Views, which also went triple platinum. Gucci Mane was released from prison after serving three-and-a-half-years for drugs and guns charged. He got engaged to Keyshia Ka’oir and released a handful of projects including Woptober, Everybody’s Looking, Free Bricks 2 (Zone 6) and 1017 Vs. The World with Lil Uzi Vert. Only a few months after finding out that 2014 Forest Hills Drive went double platinum, J. Cole recently released his fourth solo album For Your Eyez Only, which will more than likely satisfy rap fans and critics alike.
While all of the former was going on, there was a wolfpack of fresh-faced emcees ready to carve out their own lane and learn from the mistakes of their hip-hop elders and contemporaries. Here at VIBE, we’ve been keeping our ears to the streets and eyes on the ‘Net for the next kings (and queens) of hip-hop. In doing so, we’ve come up with a list of talented artists that you should definitely follow in 2017. Let’s hope these novice artists live up to their potential and push the culture forward with unprecedented creativity, mind-boggling lyrics and thought-provoking social awareness.