18 Breakout Artists To Watch For In 2018
18 Breakout Artists To Watch For In 2018
Photo Credit: Laura Alston for Okayplayer

18 Breakout Artists To Watch For In 2018

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. Illustration: Laura Alston for Okayplayer

As 2017 comes to a close, @Okayplayer has a collection of standout talent that you should commit to memory for 2018.

Music fans were tremendously busy this year, sifting through project after project from big name artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Bruno Mars, Solange, J. Cole, Ed Sheeran, Kehlani and Jay-Z, just to name a few. It’s been difficult keeping up with the musical output but we’re not complaining.

As 2017 comes to close, there’s more music, more singles and new artists to mull over. And those artists, perhaps on the cusp of greatness, are clamoring for your attention. Conversely, we’ve seen acts like the Creek Boyz mobbing through Baltimore, serenading us with woozy melodies coupled with gritty imagery. Then there’s Deem Spencer, the young Queens, N.Y. native whose somber vocals toil, alluding heartbreak and loss.

Let’s not forget Bay Area local GQ, who shined through with a strong feature on Rapsody’s track “Ridin’”. On the R&B tip is Chicago crooner Ravyn Lenae, the vivacious voice behind some of Mick Jenkins and Noname’s hooks, aiming to win fans over with her six track EP titled Midnight Moonlight. And 6 Dog, hailing from Georgia, flaunts lackadaisical lyrics and bass-heavy beats on his internet-rocking single “Faygo Dreams,” which garnered over three million views on YouTube.

These artists have released songs that, in some cases, have only reached fans in the depths of the underground. Those levels happen to be the far corners of the internet, consisting of platforms like SoundCloud, where they have taken their music, and whisked it up to the digital heavens, hoping something would stick. But that just won’t do. Audiophiles are famished, seeking a break out, looking to shape next year's sound. They want to embark on the path that their seasoned contemporaries have set ablaze. They want to become the next K. Dot, Drizzy or Jay.

So, with them in mind, we ask that you give their music a chance and help tell the world of their talents. Below you’ll find a collection of standout artists looking to make a splash going into next year. Here’s @Okayplayer’s roundup of 18 breakout artists to watch for in 2018.

Joyner Lucas

Joyner Lucas raised eyebrows this year with his racially-charged viral video for “I’m Not Racist.” The Massachusetts-based rapper released a mixtape called 508-507-2209 which charted at no. 7 on the Heatseekers Albums chart on Billboard.

Creek Boyz

Maryland’s own Turk P Diddy, Young Fedi Mula, and J Reezy came through with a catchy sound that best reps their town. Look for the Creek Boyz to carry that vibe into next year with more catchy Baltimore swag.


Dallas-based rapper FXXXXY generated buzz last year with "‘20 Taliband". He started the year off on a good note with the tantalizing ten-track EP Flawed Up Shawty.

6 Dogs

6 Dog’s Faygo Dreams essentially broke the internet this year with over eight million plays on Soundcloud. The sky is the limit for this SoundCloud rapper.

Ravyn Lenae

Ravyn Lenae’s "Sticky," produced by The Internet’s Steve Lacy, is budding with energy. In August 2017, she began opening for SZA on her Ctrl tour.


The Australian artist gifted the world late last year with a heavy, beat-bending cut called Insanity, and steadily releases singles that leave our ears begging for more.


GQ dropped several records over the past few years, but this year, he released his latest body of work E 14th, with the help of 9th Wonder, emphasizing the North Cali emcee’s silky flow.

Jayy Grams

Baltimore rapper Jayy Grams released his Good Times EP with notable cuts like "5AM" and "Real N***a Hours". He looks to test the boundaries of hip hop, vowing to bring the focus back to lyrics.


Lute’s been bubbling for a minute. The North Carolina native released "Juggin," a homage to hustling, catching the ears of many, from his debut album West 1999 Pt. 2, which should carry his buzz into 2018.


J.I.D signed to Dreamville and the rest is history. He released his debut album The Never Story in March then went on to open for J. Cole on his 4 Your Eyez Only</em. tour.


IAMDDB hits us with "More," a track about unrequited love with over one million views on YouTube. Look for her to have a standout year in 2018.

Yxng Bane

Yxng Bane is a British crooner of Congolese descent who was featured on the UK’s Top 10 Single Bestie in 2017, released his track called "Rihanna," which has over 11 million views on YouTube.


EarthGang has been bubbling for a minute since releasing their debut EP in 2010. This year, they were featured on Vevo’s Artists To Watch list, and put out their Rags, Robots and Royalty EPs.


The young St. Louis rapper released his critically acclaimed debut album, blkswn back in March. In October, he was the opening act for T-Pain on his Acoustic tour.


London-born singer Col3trane is all about love. His single “Penelope” is based off two romantic stories from The Odyssey. If you loveFrank Ocean, you might bang with Col3trane.

Marco McKinnis

The 18-year-old out of Virginia has his own voice, but clearly draws influences from 90’s R&B performers. Last year, he landed a feature on Saint Heron and has over 200,000 plays on SoundCloud.


Thutmose, the Nigerian-born Brooklynite, famously rapped over Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” beat this year. He then joined rising pop star Billie Eilish’s on her sold out North American tour.

Morgan Saint

Morgan Saint is a emerging artist who released her debut EP 17 Hero on Epic Records this year. The Mattituck, N.Y. native landed a feature in Vogue Magazine for her thick voice and unique style.


Andrew White is a New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared on Complex, Lete Magazine and International Business Times. You can find him kicking the ballistics on Twitter @DrewGoesIn.