Best of SXSW 2018: Rap’s Real Freshman Class

My apologies that thoughts about the rap acts at SXSW written by Kevin Ritter is late to the table…

In 2018, it is no secret that many rappers claim to be independent when in reality they are signed to a major label. One primary reason for this façade is the belief that audiences will root for artists who turn down the resources that come with major label backing, in order to create music without corporate influence. This misleading phenomenon makes it even more difficult for artists that genuinely are independent. For this reason, Emerging Indie Bands is shining the spotlight on the best truly independent hip hop acts of SXSW 2018.

Best of SXSW Emerging Indie Bands

Best of SXSW Emerging Indie Bands

Derez De’Shon has been making noise in the south for a while now but his wave is finally spreading nation-wide, thanks to his hit single Hardaway, which just peaked at #61 on the Billboard Top 100 charts last week. Although he is technically “signed” to the urban music collective Commission Music and is frequently seen with Cash Money’s Birdman, De’shon does not appear to have any label backing, making his charting even more impressive. Although De’shon only had one major show at SXSW, his performance was one of the best of the week.

Shah reportedly rejected the record deals that came after he was named Trap’s Newest Star by Complex magazine following the success of his breakout hit Just Text. His SXSW included sold out shows on some of the festivals bigger stages, and more raucous overflowing pop-ups that had Austin buzzing. He’s already received many SXSW awards ranging from Top New Artist of SXSW to SXSW’s Best Canadian artist. Hood Illustrated also named him one of their Breakout Artists of SXSW. Shah’s commitment to his fans and genuine independence is why he’s our Best New Artist of SXSW 2018.

Sonny Digital is a name that is probably familiar to hip hop fans as a producer. Sonny is signed as a producer to Universal and Gucci Mane’s label 1017 Records, but he recently began rapping himself and is has his own independent label to which he is the only artist signed, making him technically an independent rapper. Although one can argue that he must have access to connections and has the benefits of a signed artist through his production deal, Sonny put in the work during SXSW this year and performed at several shows. He deserves much more shine than he’s been getting, and is our Best Artist/Producer of SXSW 2018.

YBN Nahmir has a huge following so it might surprise some but he is also unsigned. His hit single Rubbin Off the Paint peaked at #46 on the Billboard Top 100 charts and #9 on the Emerging Artists Chart. Only 18 years old, Nahmir’s successes are impressive without any label backing. Perhaps it will come out that he is an industry plant as well, but for now it appears that he is truly independent. Nahmir had several shows at SXSW and was one of the fan favourites this year.

Some other notable mentions that are also independent artists are: 24Hrs, Blocboy JB, DJ Luke Nasty, Kemba, and Killy. The last few years of SXSW have been more commercial, so it was nice to see a return to celebrating independent artists this year.

Thanks to Kevin for once again adding a detailed insight to the rap scene.

For more of the best of independent rap – join Emerging Indie Bands on Google+.

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  1. Didn’t know sonny digital rapped. Derez and Shah litty

  2. Hope Hilton smith


  3. very informative read

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