10 Rappers to Watch in 2015

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10 Rappers to Watch in 2015


Each year offers a new promise -- a fresh batch of budding poets who help us make sense of the world by pulling us into theirs. This year's lineup is diverse, with MCs from Detroit to London. All of them have one thing in common: they are powerful voices that deserve to be heard. This list isn't about who may or may not blow up in 2015 -- it's a celebration of the 10 rappers worth following throughout the year.

B-boys and b-gals, here are the 10 best new rappers making blips on my radar this year.

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Denzel Curry


Denzel Curry is making his second consecutive appearance on the 10 to Watch list. Curry is still widely slept on, despite making some noise last year. For the uninitiated, Curry is a Carol City, FL native. Last year, he built some buzz with his mixtape Nostalgic 64. If one of the bigwigs decides to take a chance on Curry he's in for a big year in 2015.

Denzel Curry - "Threats"

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Shy Glizzy


If Young Thug and Rae Sremmurd warble too much for you, try Shy Glizzy. Glizzy is the perfect gateway rapper for new trap enthusiasts. He broke big last year with "Awwsome" and will look to build on that buzz in 2015. Not sure where to start? Dive head first into Fxck Rap and Young Jefe.

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Lil Bibby


The first thing you'll notice about Chicago's Lil Bibby is that his deep bass is well advanced beyond his baby face. Once you get past that novelty, Bibby becomes a budding trap star with a keen sense of the beat and of the pockets of space worth stuffing. His scope rarely extends beyond the hustle, but he's shown immense promise as one half of a duo (with Lil Herb) as well as on his solo projects.

Lil Bibby - For the Low

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If it's syrup you want, you could probably find someone better at that. But if you're into blistering bars and sharp-witted punchlines and all that hip-hop stuff that make you run the track back and nerd over rhymes, Rapsody is your girl.

Rapsody - Beauty and the Beast (EP)

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Your Old Droog


Nothing can derail or quicken a budding career faster than comparisons to a living great. In Your Old Droog's case, it was his flow and Nas-esque tales (draped atop soul loops) that had hip-hop heads trying to catch the upstart in the same room with the Queens legend. 2015 could be the year a relatively unknown talent emerges to breathe fresh oxygen into the Big Apple. Nas couldn't have dreamed up a better narrative.

Your Old Droog - Hoodie Weather

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Virginia rapper Goldlink makes hip-hop in the style he dubbed "future bounce." Whatever you call it, the frenetic crossroads of dance and rap that colored last year's The God Complex is a style all his own. If you like your hip-hop with kaleidoscopic pulsations, Goldlink should be making rapid blips on your radar this year.

Goldlink - "Sober Thoughts"

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It's not entirely fair to characterize Raury as a rapper. His music shows much more promise beyond the confines of genre. But let's not get caught up in the labeling game. Raury is here because, like Andre 3000 and Santigold, his sound hits home on a visceral level. As I streamed Indigo Child through my headphones this morning, half-awake and hazy-eyed, trying to process the tension between Raury and his mother, his vocal space shot invaded my brain and turned everything to pomade.

Raury - "God's Whisper"

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Kembe X


Strange to think it, but Kembe X may be the most original of Chicago's latest crop of developing rap voices. The Fellowship 777 member is as meditative as he's poetic. He enunciates his words with the vocal vigor of a preacher but is rarely preachy. If given a shot, Kembe X could go on to become one of the most exciting new rappers of the year.

Kembe X - "As I Unfold"

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Little Simz

Little Simz
Little Simz.

Straight outta North London, Little Simz (born Simbi Ajikawon) has been quietly gathering momentum over the last couple of years. Her style is a handshake between a medicated Lauryn Hill and a caffeinated Drake. Two songs you should consult immediately are "The Hamptons" and "Mandarin Oranges." On the former, she calmly maneuvers a slick beat, keeping pace with the meandering track throughout. On "Mandarin Oranges," she speeds things up, weaving a nimble flow around Sango's staccato beat. "I wanna meet the older me," raps the 21 year-old firestarter after wondering "what the future will hold." Then she compels us to come in and taste these "Mandarin Oranges."

Little Simz - "Mandarin Oranges 2"

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Dej Loaf


As you read this, there's a six-foot-three Jewish executive in a bespoke suit eating cereal and dreaming up the perfect sign-on package to lure Dej Loaf away from the bidding table. She blew the door wide open last year with "Try Me." 2015 is the year of the Loaf.

Dej Loaf - "Try Me/We Good"