SleepWalker 2019 Freshman List
AMARI NEWMAN, BRENNAN BRYAN AND THE SLEEPWALKER TEAM // APRIL 12, 2019
We are SleepWalker Radio and you should tune into our radio show on Tuesday nights at midnight on 91.5fm or wobc.org. We listen to a lot of rap and watch a lot of rap music videos. Right now XXL is the only relevant hip hop outlet that puts out a “Freshman List,” which is a list of the best artists relatively new to the rap game who have gained a lot of attention in the most recent year. Unfortunately, every list that XXL has put out seems to be more and more out of touch with what actual fans of rap in our age range listen to. They also only highlight rappers in their list, even though so much more goes into the overall content put out by these artists including the beats they rap over and the music videos they put out.
So we’ve put together our own list of rappers, producers and videographers in the rap game that’s more in touch with what people are listening to and want to experience.
Splurge, from Arlington, Texas, is quickly blowing up. One of the youngest (he’s 17) and rawest people in the rap game, Splurge gets his beats almost exclusively from Beat by Jeff and Beat by Six7. His songs normally consist of him just going bar after bar over some hard ass drums and 808 patterns. Splurge doesn’t do hooks or choruses. He gets in the booth and spits strictly trap and street shit, resulting in some of hardest content put out in 2k18. Listening to his music really just makes you feel invincible. Like, if you commit any crime while listening to Splurge you’re almost never gonna get caught because it just gives you the energy to get away with anything.
This past year, Splurge began to blow up in the underground and mainstream community, as evidenced by rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and Chance The Rapper doing the #woah dance to his songs. He only has one feature on his released projects -- from Q da Fool -- but Splurge’s intense flow can be heard on tracks with YungManny and S3nsi Molly. He’s like if Lud Foe was from Texas and started rapping with a Hoodrich flow over slower but harder beats. Splurge is steadily getting more and more recognition in the rap community and is gonna be on some big moves this summer.
Songs by Splurge to listen to:
“Free Granny,” “No Deal,” “Tear it apart,” “UK Talk”
MIKE, from Brooklyn, New York, is operating on a whole different wave than the vast majority of people in the rap game, and the world. Choosing from an extremely diverse array of production ranging from old soul samples, piano riffs, and strange samples in odd time signatures, MIKE can rap over anything and everything. All of his music just sounds so different, in the best way possible. When you listen to him, you can hear the feelings and passion he puts into every verse.
MIKE’s been dropping music since 2015, and has a pretty extensive discography with each project having its own unique vibe, but still finding a way to fit perfectly within his overall body of work. Founder of the [sLUms] collective, MIKE has collaborated with a large group of artists in New York, and the general rap community, with people on similar wavelengths as his, including acts like King Carter, Wiki, Mehdane, Pink Siifu, Sporting Life, Navy Blue and 6press. At the moment, MIKE is one of the most recognizable people in his scene, and has become, in a sense, the face of a movement in rap’s underground that is steering the community towards more soulful and experience-driven music.
Songs by MIKE to listen to:
“Rottweiler,” “God’s with me,” “Nothin to Me,” “God save the Queen”
Bbymutha, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is just raw as hell. She be saying the most wildest, realest shit in a way that makes you be like damnnn whenever you hear one of her verses. She’s really one of the best in the game at talking her shit. You can feel her confidence and knowledge in every word she says. Her ear for good music has lead to her rapping over any and every type of instrumental, but she's still got unlimited songs of her fucking up some hi-hats and 808s.
She’s been putting out music from as far back as 2012, but started getting a lot of attention over the past year. BbyMutha has worked with artists like Rico Nasty, LSDXOXO and La Chat. She’s currently on tour with Earl Sweatshirt, MIKE, and Black Noise (which hopefully means future collabs). BbyMutha has one of the rawest energies in the whole game, and it seems like the rap community is quickly realizing this, if they didn’t already.
Songs by BbyMutha to listen to:
“Heaven's Little Bastard,” “Dragon,” “D.I.Y.,” “Playtime”
YungManny from Hilmeade, Maryland, is another one of the rawest and youngest (he’s 15!) people in the game. He uses the rapid “Maryland flow,” delivering a plethora of stand-alone bars over dark piano samples with hard ass drums behind it. YungManny honestly might have the best punchlines coming out of the “DMV flow” scene. The “DMV (D.C, Maryland, Virginia area) flow” is a style of rapping pioneered and popularized by rappers, almost all from Maryland, who design their verses to be filled with stand alone bars that follow one another rapidly, often cutting the tail end of each one off. When’s it's done right it can really get to crankin.
YungManny makes references to all types of off the wall shit ranging from Roots, viral memes, WWE, and, like, every Disney movie/show you can think of from the 2000s. It's hard to listen to any of his songs and not die laughing at something he says in it. It’s like every song is just him joanin on someone over a hard ass beat, and it just happens to rhyme. He can sing too.
Over the last year YungManny has released 6 tapes and a plethora of singles and features. Most of the projects Manny releases have very few features, but he is a frequent collaborator of Xanman (Free Xan) who has also become a punchline heavyweight in the DMV area. He’s also worked with upcoming rappers MoneyMarr and Splurge. It seems like the more music YungManny releases the more popular he becomes, so if you haven't heard of him already you probably will soon.
Songs by YungManny to listen to:
“W.O.F.”, “Bonfire pt. 2,” “All my guys are ballers,” “I’m Yungmanny”
ANKHLEJOHN, from Southeast, Washington D.C., has established his own very distinct sound. Often talking his shit over production filled with dark samples that sounds like an evil Madlib produced them, ANKHLEJOHN has developed a grimey flow that sounds like he’s on the verge of slapping the shit out of someone. When you listen to his music you feel like you’re with him on the block hitting a jack as he describes his surroundings to you and the wild ass adventures he casually goes on daily.
ANKH has released at least 11 projects in the last 2 years and most of them have one or no features, only really collaborating with other D.C. artists including Raheim Supreme and The Khan. He’s already garnered respect in the DMV area and it’s spread up the East Coast to New York too, so expect to start hearing about ANKHLEJOHN soon.
Songs by ANKHLEJOHN to listen to:
“God S**t,” “Round 2,” “First Class,” “UUV.”
Lil Xelly, from Rockville, Maryland, has recently flooded the rap game with an avalanche of content. He’s like 2017 Chxpo from Maryland. This past year Xelly has put out more than 30 projects and 260 songs, working with some of the hottest producers in the underground including Maaly Raw, DP Beats, Sparkheem, Noir Brent, Danny Wolf, nedarb, Chinatown, StoopidXool, Grimm Doza and Levitatingman. He’s got that “Maryland flow” with quick deliveries of a bunch of stand alone bars that follow one another rapidly. He spits every verse like he’s the last fool in a cypher whose been eagerly waiting his turn. His intense delivery over his extremely wide and diverse selection of beats is just a great combination, like he really be spitting over literally anything and it cranks.
This last year, Xelly has worked with budding underground artists like Warhol.ss, Chxpo and The Khan, along with underground legends like P2TheGoldMask and Sickboyrari (Black Kray). Xelly’s got so much released content out there that people can't help but come across it. His following is steadily increasing and I can see him really blowing up soon.
Songs by Lil Xelly to listen to:
“Vengence,” “Tony,” “Morgue,” “Stamina,” “V6”
Tisakorean, from Houston, Texas, is probably the weirdest and most interesting person in the rap game right now. He makes some of the most ignorant dumb shit out here that just gets to crankin for no reason. Honestly, if you listen to his music and don't immediately love it then it's just not for you because it's really that dumb ignorant ass shit that might just go too hard for you, and that's very understandable. His diverse, unconventional and unusual delivery is kinda weird, but goes for some reason. Also, his use of layered ad lib tracks of him screaming “ayeee” and “workkkk” with his whole heart and soul accompanies his wild ass bars perfectly. He reminds me of a toned down Dankgod.
This past year, Tisa has established a solid following, at first due to a dance he started called the “Dip” that was pretty big in Texas, and his weird but lit Instagram. He took down most of his posts, but there was a period where Tisa’s instagram was full of videos of him dancing in a random area with no music and freestyling, while dressed strictly in Aeropostale. After a few of his videos went viral, Tisa started to get noticed for his musical style with Lil Uzi Vert remixing his “Dip” song. Since then, he’s dropped songs with 10.K Caash and Kenny Beats, and has previewed content he’s worked on with A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky and Chance The Rapper on his Instagram. Tisa makes all his beats, not only showcasing his versatility, but also assuring that you really get his full vision when you hear his music. You definitely need to check this guy out because he’s got a good team behind him and he's probably gonna blow soon.
Songs by Tisakorean to listen to:
“But Not Wheat,” “Brush my teeth,” “Pat yo weave,” “Justice League,” “Bagel Chips”