Each year, there are new variables that shape the success of up-and-coming artists. And as we settle into 2021, there are more questions than answers about what will unfold in the next 12 months.
Has an app like TikTok pop up and change the way people share and consume new music? How will virtual events evolve as the pandemic continues? Will festivals and major concerts return by the end of the year? Despite the uncertainty, however, there are clues that indicate which artists are closing in on their big breakout moments.
Throughout 2020, new rappers figured out ways to make a splash during an extremely tumultuous year, and many of them show signs that they’re about to level up in 2021.
These are The Sauce top picks for the American rappers to watch out in 2021:
Some people say my sound is dark, but I don’t really see that,” $NOT told Pigeon & Planes. “its hella chill.” He’s right. Separating himself from fellow Florida rappers who exploded on SoundCloud with loud and aggressive songs, $NOT uses his naturally deep voice to set the tone for his music, effortlessly gliding over bass-heavy production as he delivers deceptively catchy melodies.
The 300 Entertainment signee has been steadily building momentum over the past couple of years, earning a placement on the Euphoria soundtrack, releasing viral hits like “GOSHA.” Pulling a hoodie over his head whenever he steps outside, $NOT presents the image of a rapper who likes to keep things low-key and mysterious, but if he keeps making addictive hits like “Mean” and “Like Me,” he might have to adapt to life as a superstar.
For fans of: Roddy Ricch, Rod Wave, and Drake we recommend you listen to “Quicksand,” “Switched Up” and “Big Decisions” first.
If you watch any of Morray’s music videos, you’ll see he has the kind of natural charisma it takes to become a major star. For now, though, the quality of his music is more than enough to hold our attention. Possessing an exceptional ear for melody, Morray writes songs that will get stuck in your head after just one listen. And as you keep playing them over and over, you will pick up on his knack for storytelling too. With each new track, Morray lets us in on a new chapter of his life story, while proving himself as one of the best new melodic rappers out. He really has it all. Now, we can’t wait to see what he can do over the course of a full-length project.
For fans of: Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, Don Toliver.
Listen to these songs first: “Adderall (Corvette Corvette),” “I’m Single,” and “Take Off.”
There weren’t many newcomers who closed out 2020 as well as Popp Hunna did. His song “Adderall (Corvette Corvette)” blew up on TikTok, thanks to its catchy intro and bouncy production, before the release of a remix featuring Lil Uzi Vert poured gas on the viral fire.
Digging into the rest of his 2020 project, ‘Mud Baby’, it’s clear this is not a case of an artist who lucked out with one fluky viral moment, though. Songs like “I’m Single” and “Take Off” show he has the ability to churn out upbeat, addictive songs on a consistent basis. Like his collaborator Lil Uzi Vert, it’s very clear how much fun Popp Hunna has making music, and that energy is infectious. No wonder so many people danced and made TikTok when they heard his music last year. It’s impossible to sit still whenever Popp Hunna comes on.
4. Lil Eazzyy
For fans of: G Herbo, Polo G, and NLE Choppa.
Listen to these songs first: “Onna Come Up,” “Finally Rich,” and “Feeling Different.”
The new movement of voices for the Chicago streets is in full swing, and Lil Eazzyy is chief among them. The young rapper has been on the rise since performing “Onna Come Up” as a freestyle that he put on his Instagram page. Since then, he’s steadily gained fans who appreciate his nimble flows and gritty reflections, which were most recently on display next to G Herbo on the “Onna Come Up” remix. He just graduated high school, and now it looks like he’s poised to skip college and head straight to the league of rap stardom.
For fans of: Rod Wave, Roddy Ricch, and YK Osiris
Listen to these songs first: “Sapiosexual,” “Poetic Pain,” and “Love Cycle.”
Toosii first caught buzz in 2017 with his EP ‘Why Not Now’, a collection of melodic records that featured personal lyrics detailing his life and struggles. And by 2020, he has released a series of projects, including 2020’s ‘Platinum Heart’ and ‘Poetic Pain’. Like those titles might suggest, Toosii wears his heart on his sleeve, often creating soothing tracks that draw on experiences from romantic relationships and his personal life. Though many of his songs appeal to female audiences, he has the range to reach all demographics. Toosii can do everything, and if he keeps the momentum up from 2020, he seems primed to have his best year yet in 2021.
6. Erica Banks
For fans of: Asian Doll, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby
Listen to these songs first: “Buss It,” “Trip Out,” and “Toot That.”
Erica Banks’ “Buss It” was one of the first viral sensations of 2021. Like so many hits of the last few years, it became a hit on TikTok, surrounded by a dance called the Buss It Challenge.
While the single has brought her a lot of casual fans, her future as an MC is more exciting than one viral craze. The Texas rapper favors bass-heavy, club-ready beats, and her taunting flow is ferocious. Banks’ delivery is hypnotic, and she populates her songs with layers of vocals, making it sound like she’s attacking the beat from multiple angles. It’s easy for viral sensations to fall into the abyss, but Erica Banks has more than enough skill to turn her breakthrough moment into a long-lasting career.
7. Pooh Shiesty
For fans of: Young Dolph, Yo Gotti, and Key Glock
Listen to these songs first: “Back In Blood,” “7.62 God,” “Twerksum”
Signed to Gucci Mane’s 1017 record label, Pooh Shiesty is one of the hardest new rappers out. The Memphis artist generated major buzz with “7.62 God,” which would have probably been even bigger if everything were open outside. Songs like “Twerksum” feature his already popular ad-lib “bdrrrrrr,” which has become synonymous with Shiesty. He has a limited discography so far, but his potential is through the roof, as nearly everything he has dropped has attracted tens of millions of plays. He’s yet to drop a debut project, but when it arrives in February, we expect it will send him into a different stratosphere.
Who else are you looking out for amongst the new wave rappers on the scene?