Now that the year is over and your identity has been determined by what aura your Spotify habits gave off, it is time to tell you why your 2021 Spotify Wrapped was not the best. This year, flooded with music of all genres and some of the most iconic sound bites from artists, gave us the largest “album of the year” contest that I can imagine, and works that have left most of your favorite artists behind in last decade. Whether your Spotify Wrapped did in fact suck is not my concern, what is my concern is telling you which artist’s you missed out on this year. Since we have reached the end of the year, we can officially turn off Donda, CLB, CMIYGL, and focus on the incredible works these artists have to bring next year. Enjoy a variety of artists from multiple genres, and most importantly sounds you may have never thought to check out:
Yvngxchris Year Listeners - 1.7M Breakthrough Single - Get Off The Leash 2021 Major Album Release - N/A Although the crazy addictive TikTok sound “Blood On The Leaves” may not see the green light for Spotify, I feel that it has contributed to a lot of the crazy success yvngxchris has seen late this year. The artist with the largest growth on this list of over a million new listeners has nothing but up for 2022. The marketing, the reach, and most importantly the music will make yvngxchris a top artist next year. My 2022 Prediction is a well-rounded EP or Album, a feature on a billboard charting project, and taking TikTok rap to a whole other dimension in the way the app promotes and shares music.
Chavo Year Listeners - 2.6M Breakthrough Single - Michigan 2021 Major Album Releases - This World and Chavo’s World 2 Chavo was definitely an under the radar artist this year for a lot of people. You either had him on your top songs last year, or this year, but as an artist I want to see Chavo making himself a household name. This World, an excellent follow-up to the two-part collaboration series with Pierre Bourne, caught my ear in the way it reminded me of my late teens. The truly raw cut “Fast Money” and bouncing tune “Kansas” wrap this project together nicely. I see Chavo breaking through in 2022 for possibly two more small projects, bringing heat and a new single to complement “Michigan”.
Amindi Year Listeners - 1.9M Breakthrough Single - Pine and Ginger 2021 Major Album Release - nice Inglewood based Amindi’s colorful album Nice did not get to me quick enough to get on my Wrapped this year, but the incredible catchiness of it and branding on her website just drew me in, to the point I can’t not include her. Amindi brings years of experience and multiple sounds to this Afropop genre that cannot go unnoticed next year. Amindi has shown great attention to detail in her visuals this year, most notably “Telly”, a track that I cannot get enough of. With an incredible late-year performance at Afropunk and strong LA connections, Amindi is bound to have a great year.
AG Club Year Listeners - 5.1M Breakthrough Single - Memphis 2021 Major Album Releases - Fuck Your Expectations Part I and II The largest group on here with an insane variety of talent, AG Club brought fans this year a newer sound and stood out amongst the rest of boy bands in their 4th year. The two-part series Fuck Your Expectations gave me my favorite redveil verse of the year and a surprising NLE Choppa appearance on the remix to “Memphis”. AG Club had one of the most exciting late-year tours this year, appeared in Madden 22, and is bringing heat into the new year.
HVN Year Listeners - 1.2M Breakthrough Single - Backhand 2021 EP Release - All Girls Go To Heaven Houston’s HVN surprised me the most this year with his overall success following the wildly diverse “Backhand” 2020 performance. HVN brings the true nature of Houston's creative aura in his latest album ALL GIRLS GO TO HEAVEN from the videos, the aesthetics within each teaser, and his crazy release party. Houston is the home I have yet to make, as it seems every artist/creative I love and truly admire seems to hail from there. HVN’s overall image and likeability will only go up next year, with recent appearances in the #MyCalvin’s ad, and the major tour pickup with Brockhampton next Spring.
Jordan Ward Monthly Listeners - 405,522 Breakthrough Single - OkOk (Hibachi) 2021 EP Release - Remain Calm My first 314 artist on this list, and one of the most vocal St. Louis creatives out now. Putting on for his city at his Blueberry Hill concert a few months back, Jordan Ward has more than enough on his resume to top your list next year. I found Jordan on twitter in 2019, promoting his appearance in Beyonce’s Homecoming Film as a dancer in her world stopping Coachella performance. At the time I did not think he was an artist, I saw a kid from my city dancing with Beyonce and thought that it was cool. Finding his hit song “OkOk” maybe a month later got me so attached to the sound that this guy brings to my city. It is always important to stay true to yourself but what Jordan Ward has brought is incredible Valley/West Coast sounds to the midwest and not make it corny. Fast forward to this year, Jordan gets my stamp for a top spot not only for his EP Remain Calm, but for the great performance on “Link Up Time” by duckwrth.
Niko B Year Listeners - 2.2M Breakthrough Singles - Mary Berry and Who’s That What’s That 2021 Major Album Release - No album yet, strictly singles with incredible rollouts Tom Austin, or known by most as Niko B, is quite frankly my favorite person alive. The streetwear designer turned rapper from the UK found me in his late 2019 visual “Mary Berry”, a track paying homage to the well-known British chef, SEAT Ibizas, and lots of circumcision references. What caught my eye about this video is the promo of his brand Crowd, and the overall aesthetic of it all that I had never seen before. I stayed on as a fan and watched him get bigger and bigger through the pandemic, with the release of the UK hit “Who’s That What’s That”, and my favorite “International Baby”. Niko’s ability to turn any of his videos into a teaser for merch will always cheer me up, check out the brand crowdlondon.co.uk
Ken Carson Monthly Listeners - 569,937 Breakthrough Single - Yale 2021 Major Album Release - Project X ATL’s Ken Carson has not only grown to be a household name in the underground but his appearance on the wild adventure of the Narcissist Tour has gotten him to another level this year. Ken Carson is tapped in with all the right people and his signature sound will be the factor for him next year. If you missed him on your list this year, be sure to tap into “Yale” off his debut album Teen X.
DESTIN CONRAD Monthly Listeners - 247,470 Breakthrough Single - CAUTIOUS 2021 Major Album Release - COLORWAY Putting Destin Conrad on this list deserves no explanation but what does is me not knowing he was vine famous. I am not opposed to vine stars turned artists but what surprises me the most about this year is the success and sound IQ of all of them. Destin’s COLORWAY album belonged on my love playlists from 2017, and the vocals he puts together for every track make me listen for hours. The hits “BILL$” and “IN THE AIR” possess my favorite lead-in flows to an R&B track. Destin is that artist you will for sure be that artist on your top 5, and release the catchiest single of the spring let’s hope!
Ryan Trey Year Listeners - 4.5M Breakthrough Single - Mutual Butterflies 2021 EP Release - A 64 East Saga When someone says a song changed their whole taste in music, I feel that huge when I first listened to Ryan Trey. Ryan released an amazing EP his senior year of highschool, and what followed was probably some of the best-sounding projects of my peers that I had ever heard. Later that year, the visual “Mutual Butterflies” dropped which was my top song. Ryan has brought elements of DMV, STL, and his good friend Bryson Tiller all into his music to create his incredible project A 64 East Saga. I feel that Ryan has officially gathered himself in the last two years and found great success in the visuals, his brand, and the feedback he’s getting in his music. For someone so young to have this much passion towards the detail of his work and expression, I see nothing but great things in 2022.
Yeat Monthly Listeners - 1.5M Breakthrough Singles - Gët Busy and Sorry Bout That 2021 Major Album Releases - 4L and Up 2 Më One artist you could not go without hearing was Yeat, known mostly for his breakout song “Gët Busy”, featuring large bells, distortion, and a wild visual budget. Yeat brought to TikTok what many could not which was a general consistency in sound, a trend that lasted the majority of the year and helped him sign one of the largest deals of all time with Interscope. Yeat has received the cosigns from rap's hottest like Drake and Lil Yachty, and will reach heights next year that I don’t see anyone else on this list hitting.
PARIS TEXAS Year Listeners - “BOB MOB” (monthly of 393,103) Breakthrough Singles - SITUATIONS and FORCE OF HABIT 2021 Major Album Release - BOY ANONYMOUS South Central’s Paris Texas, coming off their highly anticipated BOY ANONYMOUS album, ends up on this list for their sound awareness and adaptability. The amount of different sounds you can hear in their music is what tells me they know what they want in a project. The guitars, the swagger, and the core of it all brings me to the conclusion that 2022 will be the most productive for them. Appearing alongside HVN and Jean Dawson on Brockhampton’s Tour, I think the exposure and growth they see will be remarkable.
CRASHJORDY Breakthrough Single - BORNSTAR 2021 Major Album Release - SHADOWBOY BASQUIAT (REVAMPED) The newly Atlanta based rockstar CRASHJORDY is the sleeper on this list. Jordy’s music is only getting better and the projects he is contributing to are incredible. Finding an artist who truly has interest and passion in multiple avenues is fascinating and what I have seen is Jordy is somehow, someway going to get into a crowd of important figures and belong there too. 2022 brings us fans of the Shadowboy, a well-rounded masterpiece, new visuals, and major features.
SSGKobe Year Listeners - 1.6M Breakthrough Single - thrax 2021 EP Release - KO. 18-year-old SSGKobe brought the heat in 2021 with his crazy releases “thrax”, “MIA”, and Lyrical Lemonade visual “Calabasas”. Now that “Ko” is 19, we may just be seeing some of his best work as there is so much more room for development, features, great visuals, all of it. SSGKobe will be a light addition to your list as his discography is pretty fresh but there is so much more to hear early next year.
Hate Sonny Year Listeners - 945.k Breakthrough Single - Kill Bill 2021 Major Album Release - N/A Where TikTok has done some great things for artists, it may have changed the way artists release music as well. Chicago’s Hate Sonny, who released his single “KILL BILL” watched it grow into a viral TikTok sound as a sped up version. Finding the original sound was a difficult task and it forced the release of a full “fast” version to be put on Spotify weeks later, which has received over 6M streams. My personal favorite track is “shollam”. Hatesonny has always surrounded himself with great minds in Chicago, but now he’s in a position to grow with artists like Serena Isioma and Nombrekari.
Matty Wood$ Year Listeners - 1.3M Breakthrough Single - Sunday 2021 Album Release - Autotune St. Louis’s Matty Wood$ is the centerpiece of our underground rap scene. From 2016-2019, going to a basement show, house party, or venue with Matty on the cover was the highlight of my weekend. Tracks like “Sunday”, “Drugs on Me Pt. 1”, and collaboration pieces with Anwar were some of my earliest memories of being in the community in the city. Matty brings newer sounds each year after wrapping up his Tony T series and focusing on bringing St. Louis sounds to the Windy City.
Tom the Mailman Year Listeners - 1.4M Breakthrough Single - Traveling Alone 2021 Major Album Release - Sometimes Sorry Isn’t Enough Your favorite postal worker and model Tom the Mailman had one of the biggest leaps from 2019 to 2020 in my opinion. Releasing Liephas Evil and complementing it with the incredible visuals for “Sunday'' and “My Storm”, I thought there was nothing more Tom could do to win my co-sign but he surprised me in 2021 with his incredible spring project Sometimes Sorry Isn’t Enough. Tom is one of my favorite live performers and rockers on this list.
Yeek Monthly Listeners - 1M Breakthrough Single - Only in the West 2021 Major Album Release - Valencia Yeek cracked my 2020 top five with his incredible sounds in projects Sebastian and IDK WHERE. Yeek’s raw energy in both projects and his soft alternative vocals behind strong guitars and drums had my heart the whole pandemic. This year Yeek released his alt-futura album Valencia and with it a funky track titled “3000 Miles”. Even if you still have 2017 tracks on repeat, or if you are like me and are excited for the next project, Yeek will have a spot on your list.
Baby Keem Monthly Listeners - 13M+ Breakthrough Single - ORANGE SODA 2021 Major Album Release - The Melodic Blue I know what you are thinking, Baby Keem may be too big to be on this list but bear with me. The Melodic Blue features some of the best tracks of this year and his movie-like performances in the “family ties” and “first order of business” videos deserve some recognition. Baby Keem spent the first half of the year feeding us singles and visuals that kept us going for the major release, which is why he may have been on your list already. But for fans who were not attentive to the lead-up, and waited until the Kendrick memes to finally hop on board, you have missed some of the best visuals and production by a new generation artist in over a decade. Getting the nod from Ebro as essentially the next Kanye West, expect a break this year probably but go in and dissect DIE FOR MY BITCH and The Melodic Blue front to back, I promise you it is worth it.
Teezo Touchdown Monthly Listeners - 862k Breakthrough Single - Social Cues 2021 Major Release - I’m Just a Fan Single and rollout Beaumont’s history of being the Black Cowboy City and the recognition it has received in works from Solange Knowles, Houston’s Josh Allen, and many more, it is no surprise a black alt icon like Teezo Touchdown rose to fame. Teezo has quite literally the largest co-sign on this list in his appearance in Tyler, The Creator’s “RUNITUP” and the CMIYGL Tour next year. Teezo’s insane look, Anti-Mid Campaign, and beautiful personality put him as truly the most unique character on this list.
Bktherula Monthly Listeners - 1.2M Breakthrough Single - LEFT RIGHT 2021 Major Album Release - Love Black Since moving to ATL I can say with 100% certainty that Bktherula has it. BK brings one of the rawest sounds to Spotify and has led the movement for the “Internet People” to be a reputable genre and playlist. BK not only blends sounds well in her new album “Love Black”, she actively changes the sound of the future. The next generation of artists are definitely bringing it but Bktherula is in control with the millions of new fans to come next year.
Jean Dawson Monthly Listeners - 355k Breakthrough Single - Power Freaks and his Pixel Bath release 2021 Major Album Release - N/A Out of the five artists on my list, Jean Dawson was the only one to do so with just one album. The 2020 classic Pixel Bath is front to back my top album and features some of my top screaming in-the-shower choruses of all time. Jean brought me my favorite album rollout of 2020, my favorite artist website of all time, and my new favorite artist. Tracks like “Devilish”, “Bruiseboy”, and “Starface” all belong in whatever friend road trip playlist you are building for 2022. Jean if you are reading this please take me on tour with you! Whether you read the article to its fullest or just sped through it, please enjoy the playlist with all my favorite tracks from this list: