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+.

Hyphen – Lost – Audio

Hyphen is an English rapper who is currently working towards the release of the EP – Dance Songs To Die To.

Hyphen

Hyphen

With a selection of tracks around, a commonality of theme, is that wrapped inside the lyric lays a wry humour, sometimes self-deprecating, other times casting wary eye at the world around, encased in easy to engage compositions.

It is the lightness of touch that allows Hyphen to create songs that have far broader appeal than the to be expected home crowd, in fact, in many ways the style is likely to cause consternation with dedicated hip-hop supporters.

Music often doesn’t require a raging torrent to effectively remonstrate a perspective and in Lost – from the forthcoming EP – that is certainly the case.

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Winstan – Let Go – Audio

Within the past twenty four hours the English rapper Winstan released the latest couple of tracks.

Winstan

Winstan

Frequently surfacing with new material each of different temperature, of the two that surfaced most recently Let Go caught my attention.

A track which challenges the desire of chasing ‘perfect looks and lifestyle’ as espoused by style magazines, resulting in plastic lives, plastic bodies and plastic intentions whilst extending the offer – that it is perfectly normal to just Let Go and enjoy the moment for the moment it is, not the moment someone else informs is what is meant to be ‘enjoyable’.

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Joe DOE

Joe DOE is a solo vehicle for the Fort Wayne USA based musician who uses the same name to offer a welcome change with that I will call alt-rap.

Joe DOE - alt-rap from the USA

Joe DOE

I had a good listen to a twelve track LP and such is my suspicion of the genre that I even then had to check and ask for some lyrics as I thought my ears may have become auto-blocked, which confirmed, this is actually hip-hop with something useful to say.


Rather than feeling sorry for itself, the music Joe DOE releases contains the expected anger, but it is delivered with relevance and in well constructed poetry that illuminates the issues to hand leaving the listener, not excluded, but elucidated. Angry music of any genre when delivered coherently can and does draw an inclusiveness and to his credit, this is where the sounds head. How could I not agree with the sentiment included in the line – ‘So Much Rap Is Trite’ – One of the related bands to Joe DOE headlines itself – The rap group for people who hate rap – If this is the way ahead, then I am a convert to the genre with its visceral and intelligent lyrical content that even manages to draw on much of the language of the mainstream genre and use that to poke fun of it.

The electronic loops pulse away in the background surging into the veins, but I was far more focussed on the lyric. I look forward to getting to know more bands on the independent label – Sykophunk Productions.

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The Wyld

The Wyld a raprock trio based in Mount Eden in New Zealand is Joe Pascoe (Guitar / producer), Mo Kheir (vocals) and Brandon Black (vocals / production).

The Wyld - raprock from New Zealand

The Wyld

I am wreathed in smiles as I find another cohesive rap / hip hop undercurrent which has found space to grow and the grin gets even wider when I find it emerges from New Zealand. The trio filter the dross to, deliver music which flows with invective and musical competence to leave a clear fluidity of sounds that buffer the head from side to side in a valedictory salute.


I oft bemoan the world of want to be ‘ghetto’ music with its perpetual racism and misogyny positing there is a legitimate ground on which to play and whilst I was able to find in My Peoples a cousin relationship , I find a direct progeny with The Wyld, so it is with some excitement that I take this opportunity to introduce a band who have a handle on the realities of the 21st Century and choose to neither  portray themselves as victims or protagonists and for that very fact are the more powerful and relevant.

The grained guitar enables the material to gather relevance and barbed wire wrist cuffs whilst the electro structures are Meccano kits of spanners and bolts, holding it all in to shape as the vocals deliver viper flicks.

A new EP – Abstract – is set for imminent release and my advice is – get there as soon as possible  – for the best of hip hop – The USA has been superseded by New Zealand.

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