10 Rappers to Watch in 2016

01
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Who Got Next?

Lady Leshurr

Each year brings a new crop of rap contenders eager to make their mark. As hip-hop continues to gain more exposure, set new trends and break grounds, these 10 up-and-coming artists are poised to keep the torch lit.

Meet the 10 best new rappers to watch in 2016.

02
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Futuristic

Futuristic
Futuristic is ready for his H&M commercial. Jim Louvau

"All my white fans say the N-word / It's okay to use, but not if it's out of tune."

One of the keys to success is mastering the art of grabbing attention. Futuristic has this in his arsenal, as you can tell from the lyrics up top. But the Illinois-born rapper isn’t all about shock and awe; he’s a budding talent breathing life into the game. He has moved around quite a bit in pursuit of his golden ticket: Tempe, Phoenix, Los Angeles. Futuristic comes from a music-loving family (father was a DJ). Hip-hop courses through his veins. Look for Futuristic to have a big year in 2016.

03
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Lady Leshurr

Lady Leshurr

One of the UK's brightest exports, Lady Leshurr emerged from the shadows last year. Her "Queen's Speech" series generated over 20 million views on YouTube. There are probably teams of interns at all major labels scoping out her work. Little Simz proved it's not impossible for talented UK rappers to cross over to the States. Leshurr will be looking to do the same in 2016.

04
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Boogie

Boogie

Boogie uses a blend of intelligence, insight and masterful songwriting to make music that sounds like nothing else on the radio. At 25, he has already amassed a huge following and shared the stage with some of the biggest names in rap. The streets inspire his stories, but his purview extends to the big lights. If you like Cozz or Kendrick Lamar, you’ll like Compton’s own Boogie.

05
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Lute

Rapper Lute

Lute has been grinding forever. “It’s good I got n—as starting to believe,” Lute proclaims without a hint of animosity on his much lauded West1996 EP. “Just a young nigga spitting on J Dillas, praise the RZA.” You get the idea? Lute is a throwback. Maybe that’s why J. Cole, another purist favorite, swooped in and hoisted Lute over to his Dreamville label. Cole believes in him: he pronounced him the “best rapper out of Charlotte” long before the deal. Look for Lute to reward Jermaine’s trust with quality products.

06
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King Mez

King Mez
Instagram/KingMez

Sure, Dr. Dre put King Mez on the map on Compton. The man born Morris Wayne Ricks II was all over Dre’s swan song, logging three guest spots on the album. He also shared songwriting credits on 12 songs, which leads all contributors. But Mez still had to deliver. And deliver he did. Now Mez is ready to stand out on his own, and make the most of his newfound platform.

07
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Kevin Abstract

Kevin Abstract

Kevin Abstract is a fascinating mix of profound ambition and an easy-to-root-for affability. Blend in his Future-esque introspection and you’re staring at one of the brightest hip-hop stars in recent memory. 2016 is the year of The Abstract. Word to Kamaal.

08
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Mick Jenkins

Mick Jenkins

Mick Jenkins came out of nowhere. The Chicago native stole hearts in with The Water[s] project. The follow-up, Wave[s], cemented his status as a rising force in hip-hop. Mick's poetic prowess was apparent on both projects. He's perfect for fans of Vince Staples and J. Cole. He certainly has the chops to take his art to the next level in 2016.

09
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Kodak Black

Kodak Black

While rappers like Chief Keef and Shy Glizzy explore the parameters of trap through the lens of their environments, there's a self-awareness quality in Kodak Black's music that will have you spinning on loop. He stares inward and draws from his immediate environment--the blacktop streets of Golden Acres projects, the BB guns in his kiddie backpack and the wavering thoughts that haunt him at night. His star quality is undeniable. At 17, Kodak Black just might be the "Chosen One."

10
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Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak

Among the bevy of newcomers on Compton, two stood taller than Kilimanjaro: King Mez and Anderson .Paak. You wouldn't know it from his rhymes, but .Paak is a skilled drummer who still performs at the St. Paul's Baptist Church. He's truly a well-rounded artist. If you haven't heard his 2016 LP, Malibu, drop everything and go give it a spin right now. You won't be able to put it down for two weeks.

11
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Noname Gypsy

Noname-Gypsy.jpg

Noname Gypsy reminds me of AZ. Like Mr. Aziatic, Noname introduced herself to the world via an outstanding guest spot. AZ broke big after his cameo on Nas' "Life's a B---h." For Noname Gypsy, it was her spectacular turn on Chance the Rapper's "Lost" that grabbed attention.

Before rap, Noname was a slam poetry specialist. You can still hear it in her music. She writes the type of rhymes you want to print, frame and hang on your living room wall. She's a rapper trapped inside a poet. The self-crowned "dopest female MC" delivers her words with care and melody. It's hard not to listen.

Up next for Noname is a Donnie Trumpet-produced project, Telefone. If she can string together a solid body of work, 2016 will be a big year for the Chicago native.

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Adaso, Henry. "10 Rappers to Watch in 2016." ThoughtCo, Feb. 12, 2016, thoughtco.com/rappers-to-watch-in-2016-2857969. Adaso, Henry. (2016, February 12). 10 Rappers to Watch in 2016. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rappers-to-watch-in-2016-2857969 Adaso, Henry. "10 Rappers to Watch in 2016." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rappers-to-watch-in-2016-2857969 (accessed November 22, 2017).