soulhead’s Top 10 Favorite Tracks from NPR Music’s “The Austin 100” SXSW 2015 Playlist


In just a few weeks, tens of thousands of musicians, record industry executives, and diehard music fans alike will make the annual pilgrimage to the undisputed mecca of music discovery: Austin, TX. Celebrating its 29th year, Austin’s South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW®) is a veritable paradise for music lovers and professionals, with thousands of live performances to feast one’s ears and eyes upon.

Recognizing that it’s never too early to kick off the festivities, the good – and extremely diligent – folks over at NPR Music have blessed us with “The Austin 100,” an ambitiously extensive and eclectic preview of 100 up-and-coming acts scheduled to perform at SXSW later this month. What’s more, the NPR Music team has generously made each of the featured tracks available for free download, as individual MP3 files or via bundled zip file, for a limited time through April 2nd. The playlist can also be streamed via their easy-to-navigate app.

As our readers know, nothing brings the team here at soulhead more joy than discovering and sharing our passion for new artists and their music. So we’ve happily devoted a few hours to listen to all 100 tracks hand-picked by NPR Music and selected our 10 favorite tunes to highlight for you below.

We hope you enjoy them and look forward to knowing what you think!

The 29th Annual SXSW Music Conference and Festival takes place March 17-22, 2015 in Austin, TX. More information here.

Little Simz – “Devour” @LittleSimz
With her complex, rapid-fire wordplay, this 20-year-old emcee from London is mature beyond her years and appears destined for worldwide acclaim, sooner than later.

Shamir – “On the Regular”
Recently nominated for BBC Music’s prestigious “Sound of 2015,” Shamir’s unique voice and buoyantly playful sound will have you pressing repeat…on the regular.

Vérité – “Strange Enough”
Widely tipped as one of the year’s most intriguing new artists, Brooklyn-based Vérité’s atmospheric electro-pop and seductive vocals prove an alluring combination.

Boogie – “Bitter Raps”
Boogie’s Thirst 48 mixtape took the hip-hop underground by storm last year, and this highlight from the song set showcases his penchant for provocative, melodic rhyming with a sharply critical eye.

Ibeyi – “Ghosts” 
Loosely reminiscent of the global soul of Les Nubians, this French-Cuban twin sister duo merge sonic inspirations from their Yoruba heritage with contemporary pop and R&B to create a refreshingly distinctive sound.

Your Old Droog – “Bad to the Bone (Remix)”
With a smoky tone and measured delivery obviously influenced by Nas’ rhyming style, this Coney Island-based emcee just might fool you into believing that hip-hop’s Golden Era never ended.

Fantastic Negrito – “An Honest Man”
Carrying on the Black Roots music tradition for a new generation, Oakland’s Fantastic Negrito sounds like Jack White’s bluesier, more soulful long-lost cousin.

THEEsatisfaction – “EarthEE” (feat. Shabazz Palaces, Porter Ray & Erik Blood) 
Self-described as “funk-psychedelic feminista sci-fi epics with the warmth and depth of Black Jazz and Sunday morning soul,” the Seattle duo’s spacey, hypnotic sound is undeniably addictive.

Tuxedo – “Number One”
Indebted in equal measure to 80’s funk and 90’s hip-hop as evidenced by this homage to Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun,” the collaborative partnership between Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One is already proving a fruitful one.

Amber London – “Strikkly 4 My Sippaz Freestyle”
Flexing her commanding, baritone wordplay over Aaliyah’s “At Your Best” (Remix) instrumental, we suspect that this precociously and prodigiously talented “underground queen” is primed for an aboveground breakout soon enough.


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