What makes an artist influential? It's one of the greatest debates in Arizona hip-hop. Many believe that having the most streams or playing a lot of events means you're garnering influence, while others think it comes down to the potential of raw talent manifesting itself and spreading to peers through community-based efforts.
Either way, over the last several years the Phoenix hip-hop scene has taken things to the next level, with everything from city-sponsored festivals to artists like Futuristic and Ali Tomineek making their mark on national TV. Those are just a couple of examples of the many ways artists can carry the torch of the local urban community to the next level.
Plenty of artists will be making moves in 2018, but here's a look at 10 artists you should keep an eye on in the coming year.
At this point in his career, Mouse Powell could be considered a veteran of Phoenix hip-hop. He has stellar projects like These Are the Good Times under his belt, and he's traveled the country with the likes of Grieves. Mouse has spent the last four years gaining a wealth of experience and knowledge in preparation for releasing his long-awaited new album, First Love. If his previous efforts are any indication, he'll likely deliver one of the most compelling releases of 2018.
Jalopy Bungus (20 Pounds)
With cadence and flow that could be compared to Tyler, the Creator, Jalopy Bungus hit the scene with strong bars and stage shows that had his name flying out the mouths of his peers and fans alike. Simplistic but strong songs like “Rushmore” and “$ouL Pt. 2,” did a great job introducing Jalopy’s grimy, underground sound to the local community. The stars are aligned for Jalopy to make a lot of noise in 2018.
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T R U V O N N E
With cosigns from artists including Futuristic, T R U V O N N E has already managed to carve out a unique, soul-tinged sound that makes her stand out from others in this scene. Songs like “Alright” show her sensual side, while bangers like “G.T.F.O.” remind the listener that she has a rougher side as well. Her appearance on Futuristic’s “Good Pain,” a track from his recent What More Can You Ask For EP, exposed her to his rabid, growing fan base, acting as a launching platform for the young artist, who's sure to drop more heartfelt music in 2018.
In 2017, Delly Everyday took on a few acting roles while he pushed his hard hitting single, “Hometown,” to all-time highs. This year, Delly hit the ground running, promising to release a song every day in 2018. With his name continuing to gain buzz in the streets and his undeniable work ethic, there's a good chance that Delly Everyday will leave 2018 as a top-tier artist out of Phoenix.
Toure’ Masters ended 2017 by dropping his latest project, Finally Champion, to stellar response. His creative approach on songs like “Faucet Water” and “Bigger Plan” show that Masters might be one of the strongest creative forces in the city. Since then, Toure’ has been on a promotional tear, with radio and cypher appearances in support of the strong project. This year, we hope to see Toure’ push his creativity to the max, as the self-proclaimed “king of the chill” is looking to release even more great music.
Dann G hit 2017 extra hard with the solid release of his iTunes charting album, Jesus, and played festivals including Goldrush. While he's done a great job cultivating his success as an individual artist, his focus is switching to his growing fan base, known as “Rennagades.” In other words, Dann G is determined to be on everyone’s mind by the end of 2018.
Julius King’s clever, thought-provoking music combined with his high energy stage shows to turn several heads in 2017. Which means he's set up to have a stellar 2018. His newest song, “Sumn,” is a brilliant piece of work that puts King in the running as one of the strongest songwriters in the city. Expect him to step up to the plate throughout the year.
This conglomerate of creatives dropped some of the best videos and music in 2017. The multifaceted group consists of Malik Scott, Lewis Santana, 30 Spice (Simply Damon), and Terick Lamont. Together, they hit the streets hard with compelling releases, eye-popping videos, and most importantly, solid music. Vibe Lane have set themselves to be one of the strongest squads to move forward in 2018.
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Teek Hall spent 2017 cultivating his MatMania podcast with co-host MegaRan and working on his highly anticipated album, The Living Daylights. Produced entirely by one of Arizona’s most sought-after producers, Charlie Mumbles, the album features Open Mike Eagle and MegaRan. It's poised to launch Hall — as well as the Phoenix hip-hop scene — higher into the stratosphere in 2018.
This creative lifestyle brand collective made a considerable amount of noise in 2017, mostly propelled by electrifying beat crafters like Galore and Blk Llama — and performances from the acts like Valley Sons. And they show no signs of slowing down, as Guild's already large collective continues to grow in not only members but in local admiration.
Honorable Mention: You
Easily the most important factor in the livelihood of the burgeoning Phoenix hip-hop community in 2018 is the support from the fans, fellow artists, and well-wishers. Years of animosity between artists, tastemakers, supporters, and all-out haters have caused a deep rift in the growth process and unified success of the Valley's hip-hop scene. As time goes on, events like the Arizona Hip Hop Festival and the success and support of artists like Futuristic and MegaRan continue to chip away at Arizona's hardened stereotype. But that's only because fans and supporters are willing to champion these ideals. As the spotlight begins to shine brighter on Arizona hip-hop, it will be interesting to see who remembers this. One thing is for certain: 2018 will be a big year.