BY: STEPHANYE WATTS
Freezing temps and lightening storms were no damper on this year’s SXSW conference in Austin. Sure, the commercial aspect of the week has overshadowed the original purpose of discovering new artists, but they are still coming out in droves and lighting stages on fire. Check out our five SXSW favorites that need to be on your radar for 2016.
R&B bands are back! Smshng Hrts made their splash on the scene at the end of 2015 with their phenomenal EP, “So Cosmic”. A quarter through this year, the Smshing Hearts (ages 17 and 20) are gearing up for the release of their full-length album on RCA. With Raphael Saadiq as a mentor and an already healthy stash of timeless music under their belts, the only way Smshng Hrts can go is up. Prepare to be blown to the cosmos!
Sammus is the intersection where academia, gaming culture, hip-hop and black cool meet. After dropping the concept project “Another M” in 2014, she returned with the incredibly powerful “1080P” tackling the stigma of adulting and mental health. Fresh off of a successful SXSW run, she’s released her latest EP “Infusion”. Besides being a sick spitter, Sammus also produces her own music. On a new track “Mighty Morphing”, the chorus explains that she is not just one, two, three, or four things. One thing that’s for sure though, is that Sammus is thee thing.
Whether you call her Psalm One, Hologram Kizzie, head of RapperChicks, or Cristalle Bowen, the fact of the matter is, she has bars. A mainstay in the underground hip-hop scene, her lyrical prowess and stage command deserve somemainstream buzz. At SXSW16, Psalm One performed with the rapstress collective, Rapper Chicks, which include Angel Davanport. We should note that they just dropped a single with the iconic Gangsta Boo. Now if that ain’t some serious girl power!
Pop music ain’t what it used to be. The days of great storytelling, amazing bridges, and feel good vibes have dwindled, but Austin-based Mobley, is back to restore its glory. The plot twist is that he’s seamlessly weaving in themes of anti-blackness on American soil throughout. Manning every instrument on his records and belting out vocals that sit with you long after the song has ended, Mobley is a truly multi-faceted artist. You can tap into his magic by watching his video “Swoon” or pre-order his next project “Some Other Country”. One of his influences, James Baldwin once said “The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no one wants to go there now.” Trust, Mobley is going there. He’s just waiting for us to catch up.
There is just something about Atlanta. Artists from that city are not afraid to experiment and carve their own lanes, inviting the rest of us on the ride. Singer Bosco is sticking true to that theme. Last year she released the downtempo R&B EP “Boy” that had us bouncing like a 90s Timberland beat. Summer is approaching and Bosco is giving us the perfect soundtrack in the form of a mixtape with famed Atlanta DJ Speakerfoxx. Put their single “Beemer” on and let those sun rays glo’ you up!
As NYC’s biggest fan in the form of the coolest black girl alive, Stephanye’s quest to discover everything dope, cheap, and black+ excellent below 14th Street is chronicled on her travel site iso14below.com. Stephanye is also the woman behind NYC’s only R&B trivia night, "Rhythm & Bodyroll". Follow her on Twitter at @so14below.