There is nothing more exciting- and terrifying- about a new year than the unknown. As time does its familiar dance, we wonder what new memories will be made. What experiences are we yet to have that will, in ways great and small, happen to change our lives? And, important for us here at soulhead, we wonder about the rhythms that will become our anthems, hymns, and battle cries. Already in 2014 we are pretty stoked about the music to come. Outkast has just subtly confirmed its reunion via an announcement as the first night headliner at Coachella. The perennial soulhead favorite, Prince, is slated to lead the Essence Music Festival this year. And, rumor has it that some of our favorites from recent years are heading back to the studios (cough, cough, Adele). And then there are others, like Frank Ocean, who have been low key, give us hope that they will be making returns based on their guest spots.
But while we have much love for our established favorites, there are some artists that we are pining to hear more from. Ranging from traditional R&B and new-wave funk to the most divinely ratchet hip-hop, we love the new crop of artists shooting up this year.
The following list is a compilation of soulhead’s 20 Music Artists to Watch in 2014. From the cultivated ears of the soulhead contributors, we believe that these acts have what it takes to not just make hits, but also to make memories. These are the artists that will highlight the twilight of warm summer nights, sit between you and your lover on a rainy day, and give you that comfort in your soul to know that you are where you need to be.
Presenting, the soulhead 20 Music Artists to Watch 2014.
This trio gets it! And we get them. King is a trio of lady soul singers that organically make beautiful sounds. Influenced by our own beloved Prince, they will be playing at the Essence Festival this year. Do not wait until then to become a fan!
The latest member of the A$AP Mob to get solo play, we love this Harlem based MC. Making traction with his crew on their new single “Trillmatic,” we can’t wait to see what 2014 brings for him.
We already have previously noted the resurgence of hip-hop coming from the Left Coast. Vince Staples is yet another rapper from the Southland proving our point. With a crisp flow, insightful lyrics, and modern beats, this is everything we want and need for cruising music.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap was the sleeper hit of last summer. Putting on for his native Chi Town, Chance has a rhyme style unlike most of his contemporaries. We predict a huge breakout year for him.
Angel first got our ear with her response to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis‘ “Same Love.” On her take, she offers, in biting verse, her truth as an out queer woman of color. Needless to say, we’ve been in love with her since. Stand up, female MCs!
An R&B chanteuse in every sense of the word. Algebra’s style of R&B is matured and mellow, a style that we have so deeply been missing. She has music made for lovers and memories!
The newest (and first Black) Maroon 5 member is sure to continue to make hits with his stellar band. But we appreciate him for his budding solo career. This summer, he’ll be playing at Essence, which will hopefully bring him some great exposure.
Tink is the definition of a versatile artist. With the ability to both sing and rap on her own tracks, she is breaking both genre and gender expectations!
Ty Dolla Sign
Admittedly, we slept on Ty last year. That is not the case for 2014! Known for making absolute “ratchet slaps,” we know that Ty will be providing us with many club anthems from now through the holidays!
International funk + soul+ electronica. That is Blood Orange, the alter ego of British singer-songwriter Dev Hynes. The mashup of these sounds are pure audio adrenaline.
We spent some time last year to talk about her album Super Conductor, but we still cannot get enough. This girl is bad, singing, composing, and masterfully shredding the game with her guitar. Please fall in love with Andy!
How we adore Black Hippy! The current standard-bearer of west coast hip-hop and flagship group in Top Dawg Entertainment, this crew of MCs is so fresh and dope as a collective, but they are equally credible as individuals. SchoolBoy Q is no exception! Next on the plate to go solo following the success of Kendrick Lamar, we know SchoolBoy is bound to make a classic record this year.
With her debut mixtape, Dear Sallie Mae, and original guest spot on Wale‘s hit “Bad”, this woman is singing the blues of Black women millennials. Able to speak about all issues from romance to criminal justice to outrageous student loan repayments, we want Tiara to tell us something!
We recently covered Bridget’s latest EP and, her issues of individuality notwithstanding, we dig the music she brings to us! We are hoping to have many special moments with the voice of Ms. Kelly.
Watch the Duck
And so you might be thinking, what a strange name for a band. Perhaps, but we are already thinking about how much this funky band reminds us of a modern Outkast … which means they sound like they are from the year 2030! Nonetheless, we love it!
An R&B crooner in the vein of Ginuwine and Keith Sweat, this young cat is making good music. Also slated to appear at Essence, he is guaranteed to make us love (and love good) in 2014!
Another band that we slept on around the end of last year, this is a crew that is making REAL music. They have a sound that we are most excited about, bringing funk and soul back in meaningful ways.
Isaiah Rashad is a brash, bold, and brilliant MC! Signed to Top Dawg Entertainment (yes, THAT Top Dawg Entertainment), he might not share the immediate prestige of Black Hippy, but he might as well! We are fans of his rap style and believe that this is a young cat to keep eyes on.
Probably known for being the craziest member of Black Hippy, Ab-Soul’s rhymes are unfiltered truth, and we just don’t want it to stop! Our hope is that after SchoolBoy’s solo piece drops, Ab will be next on the block.
Our main man, 100 grand — Luke James! This New Orleans native has been in and out of the industry for years now, but his late 2012 EP Whispers in the Dark still has us buzzing. And soon to wrap up as the opening act of the Mrs. Carter Show, this man indeed has been knighted as worthy to be a force in soul music. Someone akin to Marvin Gaye, 2014 is Luke’s time to shine!
What are your opinions on the artists named above? Have we missed anyone? Who would you include? Tell us who you are excited for in 2014 in the comments below!