Every year, if there’s anything you can count on in Baltimore music, it’s that a new name will break out and carve a lane for themselves each year. The biggest songs in the city have been shared by a new, different artist each of the past four years, and it’s expected that 2018 will be no different.
It’s difficult to say just who that artist will be next year, with a month to go in 2017 and plenty more to go for next year. However, here are ten names to watch in general for next year. Some are established in the city, and may be ready to make the splash onto the national scale. Some are bubbling amongst circles and may be ready to be known as a household name. Whatever the case may be, here are 10 artists to have on your radar for the next calendar year.
There are tiers to the Baltimore music scene, and President Davo has been on the top one as one of the most recognizable names in the city for a while with his “I Don’t Wanna Be a Playa” freestyle in 2014. Since then, it’s always felt like Davo was just one song away. However, between instances of quitting rap and disses to the city and its music scene, it seemed like for a while, Baltimore forgot about one of its most talented artists.
2017 was perhaps his most consistent year yet, with arguably his best body of work in Forever released earlier this February. Now, as a part of The System and his focus back on the music, 2018 just feels like the year where he makes that “one song” and breaks out.
When videos of Lor Choc first surfaced years ago, she automatically drew comparisons to Dej Loaf for her ability to both sing and rap. Now, she’s setting her self apart, as most recently demonstrated by her hit “Fast Life.” At just 19 years old, her raps are autobiographies of life in West Baltimore. Her uncanny ability to tell these stories while both singing and rapping make her a prime candidate to build off the success of “Fast Life” in 2018.
Marr Grey murmurs began this summer, as a video released of Drake going on a night jog alongside boxer and fellow Baltimore native Gervonta Davis. If you’re familiar with the story of Drake partying on his birthday years back with a Cousin Stizz song playing in the background, you already know how this story may end as well. The records have been few and far between, but impressive nonetheless each time. Records like “Safehouse” and “LA” show him at his best.
The beats are bubbly, but the raps are about pistol totting and risking it all – a perfect balance. If we’re grading artists based on the progress they’ve made from January to November, few have done better than Baby Kahlo. From lyrics, to crafting a marketable image, everything seems to have just come together quickly for her with just two freestyles and one song to her name. The upside is there though, and with the belief that she can only get better from here. it’ll be interesting to see if this pace keeps up for 2018 with her debut project due some time in the near future.
When you speak about upside and ceilings, one of the guys that comes to mind is La’ Matic. His debut mixtape 90’s Juvie showed flashes throughout, so much that The Demo Tape’s judges for The Tapeys handed him nominations for Best New Artist and Best Album. “Baltimore Playaz Anthem” was one of the highlights of 90’s Juvie, showing just how capable he is of making a hit. His appearance on Chris Cassius’ “Speed Dial” also showed how his energy can take a track to the next level. If this is what his first year has to offer, the future looks very bright.
Maya Milan is the full package. The stunning voice for songs like “Honest,” a more-than-capable writer as shown by songs like “Another One,” and the purple hair to set everything off. She spent the year pushing her 11:11 project from 2016, and completed a three-week residency in Las Vegas with Keith Sweat as well. If there are any doubts surrounding the R&B talent of Baltimore, Maya Milan should serve as a reminder that it hasn’t gone anywhere. This year for The Tapeys, she’s nominated for Best R&B Artist, Best R&B Song for “Honest,” and Best R&B Project for 11:11.
If not the, Michael Taylor is one of the most creative artists I’ve seen in the city. From directing, to curating, to actually making records, he possess the skill set to become one of those artists that becomes a jack of all trades. “Low Life,” “DRUGSILOVE,” and “Big Body” all serve as examples of him bringing out the best in other artists – two are also records he produced.
He doesn’t quite have it all figured out just yet, but his ceiling appears to be high. Even if he doesn’t figure it all out next year, it’ll just be fun to watch the process because he’s one of those artists that isn’t afraid to experiment outside of the box. He’s only 20, but be patient wit him and the stars will begin to align.
Tony Austin and 300 Entertainment may have found a gem in Montage. He’s an entertainer at heart, and is a hybrid that can both rap and sing. He showed this on his collaboration with Atlanta’s YFN Lucci earlier this year with “What’s The Combo.” They’re taking their time with artist development, but there’s no question he has the makings of the full package when everything comes together.
It’s safe to say FingaoBaby may be the best in the city in terms of handing a rapper a beat and seeing who can make the best freestyle. That ability was shown on Redemption with his “Uber Everywhere” freestyle and the one he dropped over “Down In The DM.” Now, he’s forming original songs like “#ThatsButter” and “Savage Ambitions” from his album Butter. If he can continue to do both at a high level, he may write the script for himself that involves a big 2018 campaign.
For YTK to be so young and deliver a project like jimmymac speaks volumes. His sound is vintage, but not in the way Joey Bada$$ was when he debuted, with the sound of the 90’s living through him. YTK’s old soul shows through in his aesthetic and beat selection, but his lyrics about being on the verge of adulthood and leaving high school give a refreshing sound to his music. All of this is wrapped in him being one of the best writers the city has to offer, all at 19 years old.