Got Next: 10 Artists From Chicago Ready To Sign In 2012
When Young Chop signed a publishing deal at the tail end of 2012, I don’t think anyone was really anticipating the watershed moment it would turn into. Immediately following Young Chop, we saw Lil’ Durk and Lil’ Reese ink deals with Def Jam, YP signed with Universal, while Chief Keef signed with Interscope and L.E.P. is rumored to follow. In addition, King Louie changed his name to King L and signed with Epic. And just yesterday, Rockie Fresh made it official that he was joining the Bawse on Maybach Music Group. There are a lot of contracts going around the windy city, and I have a feeling that the well has not yet run dry. Chicago has a plethora of talented and diverse artists that could make great additions to a variety of labels. Here’s a list of 10 artists from Chicago that could sign a deal in 2012.
A couple things about this list as well… It’s based on information I know, as well as how many times I get asked to be put in touch with someone. It’s also partly about the music that I just think is dope and the artists that make it. It’s also based on an artist’s team and support system. In the end, it’s speculation to take with a grain of salt. Check it out.
1. Mikkey Halsted
Mikkey Halsted is no stranger to record deals. He’s been signed to Cash Money as well as Capitol so far in his rap career. None of those deals have worked out, and Mikkey has been going the independent route ever since. He self-released The Dark Room in 2011, and is currently working on new projects out in L.A. with The Legendary Traxster, No I.D., Don Cannon, Young Chop and others. There are rumors that Mikkey already has a record deal and just isn’t telling anyone about it. He told me a couple weeks ago, “When I announce it, then I have a home. And it will be time to announce it… There’s rumors, let the rumors keep being the rumors and we’re just going to put out the music. When you see me pop up on the release schedule that’s when you’re going to know Mikkey Halsted is coming out on this label.” I have a feeling that time is coming soon.
2. Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper’s #10Day mixtape is possibly the year’s best so far. I would put that mixtape against any other that’s dropped in 2012, and most definitely amongst the best debut projects. Chance is taking things in stride right now, and figuring things out as he goes along. He has been playing shows with Childish Gambino, and recently took a trip out to NYC for some label meetings. There have been some very interested parties that I won’t mention, but I know that a few labels are trying to land this multi-talented emcee. There’s no rush for Chance, as I think his options will only increase.
Tree really is having a monster 12 months. Since popping up as part of Project Mayhem, the soulful emcee and producer has been garnering a lot of attention as well as major props. His Sunday School mixtape is on a lot of best of lists, and Tye Hill has been telling me regularly just how dope this dude is. And Tye Hill never does that haha. Tree’s voice is practically an instrument in itself, and has the ability to really cut through the music and convey his passion. Tree is a double-threat, and even more appealing to a label looking for his growing brand of soul-trap.
4. Nez & Rio
I’ve known Nez & Rio for a long time. Before rubyhornet even started, I met them a couple times through Naledge. They’ve put in a lot of work, paid a lot of dues, and in 2012 those dues have started to pay dividends. They were able to link up with ScHoolboy Q early on and are now one of his go-to producers. They’re expected to have some joints on Kendrick Lamar’s official debut, and the unreleased stuff I’ve been able to hear really bangs. I wouldn’t be surprised if this production duo gets something similar to Young Chop, or at least garners interest from some indie labels looking for instrumental albums.
5. Million $ Mano
Mano has a plan. He works meticulously on his music and brand, and I think there’s a lot to come from the rising producer and current DJ for Watch The Throne and Kanye West. If you thought the last Treated Tuesday record was the end of the line, you’re sorely mistaken. Those records were more or less the b-sides. The real Treated album is being mastered right now at SoundScape Studios, and it’s a fucking banger. That’s all I can really say about that right now, but Mano has a lot to offer any label and I think there are plenty smart enough to see that.
Calez has a lot of people in the industry looking at him right now. The 2008ighties member dropped his first project last summer, and hasn’t stopped since. Kid With Raps has gotten a lot of burn, and Calez’ DIY style and work ethic are big positives. Anytime I get a lot of calls or emails about an artist, I know that there’s something brewing. Major label status may not be the move for Calez right now, but there are plenty of indies as well that could be a good fit for Calez and the launch of his crew members. Julian Malone is in that same category as well. And I know his production talents alone have a lot of people checking in. Those two may end up somewhere at the end of the year as well.
Will someone give Add-2 a record deal? Much love to LRG, but damn, I don’t want to see Add put out another project as dope as Save.Our.Souls via a clothing line and the internet. Add-2 is one the nicest with the wordplay, his stage show is full of energy and he won’t let himself be out worked. Add is a very humble and strategic artist, a label would do well to pick him up and just shine their light.
8. Chandler London
The more I listen to Chandler London, the more impressed I am with this kid repping the Pilsen area. I wouldn’t say I slept on his debut The Science of Sleep, which he created with Stefan Ponce, but it wasn’t in my everyday listening. A lot of the artists that we work with name that project as one of their favorites, and London’s recent guest work is song-stealing at its finest. It maybe a little too soon right now, but London is onto something.
9. Kids These Days
Kids These Days are ready. They’ve had interest for the last couple years, and have continued to grind and grow independently. They are in the upper echelon of Chicago bands, tore down Conan, and have a new album on the way co-produced with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. That album, Traphouse Rock, will be released in September, we’ll see where they end up after that.
ShowYouSuck is an artist people can believe in. I think its his honesty and genuineness that make him such a fan favorite. ShowYouSuck is the everyman, and his music reflects that. Plus his live show is ridiculous. He linked himself with Mishka early on, introducing himself to kids all over the world that rock with the NYC-based clothing brand. He appeals to fans of Adult Swim, Beavis and Butthead, and others that share his interests. Show also has a great supporting team around him that know how to get things done. Let’s see how Rest In Pizza does, as well as his forthcoming collab with Katie Got Bandz. I think Show is another artist ready for prime time.
There are a lot of artists that are also ready that I couldn’t fit in. Artists like Vic Spencer, Lungz, Project Mayhem, Nascent, Kembe X, Caleb James and many more that are also all worthy of a shot. Their time is coming as well. Keep an eye out for all of them, and let’s check back on this list in December.