If you’re paying hundreds of dollars to attend a two-day festival, you’re probably in it for the big guns. This year’s Made In America festival was full of them—Beyonce, The Weeknd, Big Sean, J. Cole, Future—and thousands of attendees were basically waiting around for their sets (or arriving just in time for the big show). But the appeal of dozens of hours of live music on end is also obviously wrapped up in rising talent, and the handful of smaller stages throughout the weekend played host to some of the most exciting new musicians in the country. We don’t need to tell you anymore about Beyonce shutting down the main stage on Saturday or The Weeknd proving his star power, but the smaller acts often get lost in the margins. With that in mind, here’s a shortlist of our favorite artists to watch that performed in Philly this past weekend.
Charlie Yin goes by the stage name Giraffage, and while he first became known as a remix artist, his own original productions are equally as enticing. Once known for cramming as many samples as possible into a single mix, Yin has since bounced back and forth between sample-filled beats and completely original production. Through it all Yin has built a style of his own and clearly has plenty of fuel left for the long haul.
Mayaeni is a diversely talented singer from Detroit, and while she’s yet to hit it really big, that hasn’t been for a lack of material. Her first release dates back more than a decade to 2005, and ever since she’s been pumping out original songs and trying her hand at different styles. A few years ago she signed on with Roc Nation (hence her Made In America spot) and now we’re waiting for a full-length debut.
Katie Crutchfield has been at it for years, but it was her 2013 album Cerulean Salt as Waxahatchee that sparked the most attention. Crutchfield is now 26 and a confirmed talent. As Waxahatchee she’s now released three albums, settling into an endearing mix of punk and indie that’s almost dangerously brought her onto a bigger stage. Crutchfield is completely herself, and listening to her music is an experience in diving into her personal life and details.
Remy Banks is a rapper on the verge: he’s just released his first solo mixtape, higher, and if you’ve listened to that project at all you can hear a burgeoning talent. Banks is a Queens native who will be first to tell you he’s a Queens native, but his hometown pride is ingratiating, not trite, as is the sentiment from many other New York emcees. Remy is smartly moving at his own pace, and he’s using that speed to plot a perfect come-up. Catch him now and watch him grow.
Mick Jenkins has already proven himself in bursts: last year his The Water[s] mixtape confirmed his lane-making abilities in a crowded Chicago landscape of young musical talent. This year he returned with Wave[s]. The water theme is intact, but Wave[s] was less a natural progression than a case of becoming more accessible. And considering Jenkins has plenty to say, it was a smart choice, sacrificing a little of his underground charm for a chance at a larger audience without dropping any of the substance.
Jidenna has mined his irresistible charm and fashion sense for the better, aligning with Janelle Monae by signing to her label Wondaland Records. Jidenna’s first legitimate single, “Classic Man,” launched him into the national conscious, and the Kendrick Lamar-assist on the remix didn’t hurt in that push either. Since, Jidenna teamed up with Monae and the rest of the label in releasing a powerful protest song called “Hell You Talmbout,” a track that finds the whole roster paying homage to scores of Black men and women killed by police with urgent chants of, “say his name, say his name, say his name!”
READ MORE ON THEURBANDAILY