2019: The Year of the Comeup

By Andre Kettle

If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent these last couple of weeks looking back and reflecting on the year. Many music-focused publications have been releasing their final wrap-ups, lists, and top 10s, shining one last light on all of the music that we should be thankful for from this year. While it’s important for us to appreciate the music that 2018 gave us, it’s equally as important for us to prepare ourselves for yet another powerful year of music, 2019.

Of course, we can always look forward to new music from the greats and our “personal faves,” but I’m much more interested in the activities of newer artists. I’m looking forward to artist breakouts, debut (and sophomore) albums, and label signings. I’m excited for artist discoveries, song placements, and larger platforms. While mainstream music will always be important to me, I believe that 2019 is the year of the come-up. The new kids on the block are working hard, and 2019 is their year to eat. Here are a few hungry artists that I’ll have my eye on in the new year:


Versatility in music is crucial for artists who aim to separate themselves from the pack, and this artist is a clear testament to that. Whether he’s singing, rapping, or even yelling on the track, it seems that Paris Michael has created a lane for himself that no one else can enter. Though he has proven himself to be a skillful rapper, he is also walking proof that Rock music started with Black people. He gracefully maneuvers between the two genres, and sometimes even intertwines them on songs like “BURNOUT.” His lyrical content ranges from dreams about wearing designer clothing and living the highlife to love, lust, and heartbreak. His music might often be dark and ominous, but this Chicago artist has a bright year ahead of him, and I’m excited to see what he does next. 


The new year should be fun for this new artist, as he’ll be coming off of a strong 2018. As evidenced by his 2018 release of “R n Bizz Vol.1,” the Brooklyn native plans to remain focused and enter into the new year with an even hungrier attitude. With 94k+ streams via Spotify, Bizz-E has found himself a fan base and established himself as an artist you should know. If that’s not enough to convince you to add his music to your library, it may help to know that he’s been cosigned by artists such as Mac Miller and Jadakiss, and he even landed a feature from Smooky Margielaa. I’m convinced that Bizz-E BlazE is next up, and I hope you are, too. You can expect a lot of great things from him in 2019, but in the meantime, check out his latest single “True.”


If this artist is not on your radar for 2019, then you’re missing out on something special. This alternative artist is clearly enjoying the process of perfecting his specific sound, as he challenges his own vocal abilities and experiments with unique and eclectic instrumentals. Although you could describe him as a niche artist, his discography has a little something for everyone—whether you’re looking for feel-good music or a soundtrack to get through rough times, you’ll find at least five Jae Luna songs that do the trick. His latest EP “Projected Self” is a prime example of his artistic ability, highlighting his songwriting skills, his vocal range, and his keen ear for good production. Take a listen, explore his discography, and make sure you keep your eye on him coming into the new year.


There’s something special about an artist who knows how hit the heart, and Niko Brim does it well. This rapper hails from the south side of Mount Vernon, NY and invites his listeners to join him there through his music. In his 2018 sophomore album, “A Thousand Pictures: Book Two,”Niko paints a picture of his Mount Vernon upbringing and the influence it had on his hustler mentality. The 15-track tape takes listeners through his struggle, his discovery-of-self, his visions of success, and several other relatable topics that speak to the hearts of up-and-coming artists. Niko’s passion for music is evident—you can feel it from his lyrics all the way to his beat selection. 


Jacquees recently crowned himself as the “King of R&B” and subsequently sparked a prolonged social media debate about who the R&B greats of our generation really are. As usual, the big names were listed, but it’s about time that we open up the conversation to include some of the genre’s upcoming Casanovas. James Bambu is a musical force to be reckoned with, and his praise is long overdue. This debonair singer-songwriter will have you transcending above the clouds with the killer combination of passionate lyrics delivered by a smooth and rich voice. He and his music have stolen our hearts, and they continue to make their way around the world—he even blessed Germany earlier this year with an outstanding performance at the “A COLORS SHOW.” We’re still swooning over his 2018 release of his “DEL SOL” project and will continue to do so, but we’re ready for James Bambu to bless us with new music in 2019.


Don’t sleep on Ohio. Despite having been the birthplace of music legends such as The O’Jays, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and John Legend, this Midwestern state is often skipped in conversations of new-age music. However, this particular Columbus, OH rapper has made it his mission to bring the discussion back home. If you enjoy Chance the Rapper’s positive raps with that refreshing new-to-the-game-rapper energy, then you might want to check Ceezar out. Despite his optimistic music, this rapper has seen a lot and been through a lot, which fuels his desire to use his music as a tool to not only speak up but also give back. His motivational and inspirational bars coupled with his lyrical prowess are reasons that Ceezar is what some might call a “TED Talk rapper.” If you don’t want to take my word for it, check out his most recent EP, “Just In Time,” to listen to his gems for yourself.

Chioma NwanaComment