As another year draws to a close, here’s a look at what’s around the corner in the world of hip-hop in 2013….
Since the release of her mixtape King in July 2011, it seems that Angel Haze (pictured) is fast becoming one of the hardest working females in hip-hop. Her melodic rhyme flow is possibly due in part to her strong singing voice which is all too rare for rappers of either gender. Two more mixtapes followed, but it was Classik that gained the most attention. It featured a re-working of Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ which is a jaw droppingly graphic account of her experience of sexual abuse. In December 2012 she released the New York EP and recently signed to Def Jam. With Haze’s star on the rise in 2013 (she has just been named on the BBC Sound of 2013 long list), Nikki Minaj might have to focus more on the quality of her rhymes rather then her over-blown, attention seeking stage productions.
Canadian MC Shad K’s debut album When This Is Over was released in 2005 and was financed with the winnings of a hip-hop talent show. He has been compared to the likes of Common and K-os and has become known for using his music to highlight social issues. The university graduate, who raps about everything from day to day life to the Rwandan genocide, has won numerous awards including Juno Rap recording of the year. The bilingual hip hop scholar and musician also released a documentary about the recording of his album TSOL. His 2012 mixtape Melancholy And The Infinite Shadness shows a diverse mix of inspirations and sees Shad sampling Lenny Kravitz and even Milli Vanilli. Shad is currently signed to Black Box recordings and is due to present his new studio album in 2013.
Big K.R.I.T. is the latest MC from America’s “dirty south” making waves. The Mississippi native’s string of mixtapes like K.R.I.T Wuz Here and guest appearances for artists such as Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y helped him to cement a deal with the Sha Money XL label in 2010. His mixtape Return to 4eva received praise from both fans and music critics making his 2012 full length studio album Live From The Underground one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year. Now also signed to Def Jam, the record debuted at number 1 in the U.S hip hop charts proving that the hype surrounding KRIT was well deserved. His collaboration with Christian artist Lecrae ‘Mayday’ is taken from the Grammy nominated album Gravity.
Although more alternative R&B than hip hop, honourable mention goes out to Solange for the True EP. Released digitally in November by Independent label Terrible Records, it will also be available on physical format in January 2013. The rebellious singer/songwriter who is known for her turbulent relationship with the media, refuses to answer questions about her uber famous sister Beyonce and has constantly struggled to find her own musical identity. It seems she has finally hit gold this time around. Her mix of retro influences, electronica, jazz and flawless vocals create a distinctively leftfield soul sound. On ‘Fuck The Industry (Signed Sincerely)’, a track taken from an unreleased mixtape; Solange sings “I’ll never be picture perfect Beyonce”. Thank Christ for that, one is enough.