Eight Emerging Artists to Keep an Eye On


Aaron Boorstein

Smino’s hit-song, “Anita,” plays on an iPhone

Aaron Boorstein

2018 has been an unforgettable year in music. Kanye West released his avant-garde song, “Lift Yourself,” Bruno Mars won six Grammys, numerous feuds between artists materialized, Cardi B and Camila Cabello became full-fledged superstars, and Childish Gambino created the politically-driven “This is America” music video. Although 2018 has been an eventful year for the music industry, I believe that 2019 could be even more lively. These are eight artists that may make 2019 an action-packed year as they begin their ascent to stardom:


1) Maggie Rogers




Maggie Rogers is a singer-songwriter from Easton, Maryland. She rose to fame after playing her song, “Alaska,” for Pharrell Williams at a New York University masterclass. After exploring many of her songs, I gathered an immaculate, modern, and singular sound from her that I have never heard before. She has performed on numerous late night shows and is selling out music venues across the nation. Rogers is scheduled to release a new album in 2019 titled, Heard It In The Past Life. I highly recommend remembering her name, as she is primed for a massive breakout.



2) Jaden Smith



Jaden Smith, the multi-talented son of Will and Jada Pinket Smith, is hoping to make his mark in the music industry. You may remember his verse on Justin Bieber’s 2011 hit song, “Never Say Never,” however, Smith’s musicianship has taken a new form after the release of his 2017 album, Syre. In Smith’s song, “Icon,” he sings, “I am just an icon livin’,” but is his bold statement true? The short answer is no. It takes years of experience and a large amount of hard work to become an icon. Beyonce did it. Michael Jackson did it. Jaden Smith is not an icon yet, but you should keep your eye on him because he has the talent, connections, and confidence to become one.



3) Mahalia




Mahalia Burkar, better known as Mahalia, is a singer-songwriter from the United Kingdom. She began performing at open mics with her guitar at the age of 12 in her hometown of Leicester, UK. The way in which her honeyed voice flows across soulful R&B and Neo-soul beats is a sound that should be heard by everyone. I expect her to earn more popularity as her recently released album, Seasons, gains traction.



4) Kota the Friend





New York City-based rapper, Kota the Friend, is turning heads with his deep lyricism, smooth flow, and intriguing visuals. At a young age, he was exposed to Jazz, R&B, and Hip-hop, which all gleam through his songs. In high school, Kota was the lead trumpet player while teaching himself how to play guitar and piano. Like rappers Kendrick Lamar, Noname, and Chance the Rapper, Kota infuses his music with flavors of Jazz to make songs glide. I’m excited to see what this young artist has in store for the future.



5) Wafia




With musical features on Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat and praise from Pharrell Williams, Wafia Al-Rikabi, known professionally as Wafia, has become one of Australia’s most intriguing artists. She creates music that is electronic and poppy but has a soulful delivery. After briefly studying biomedicine at a university, she returned to her passion: writing songs and creating hits. She is looking to release a larger body of work very soon, so stay tuned.



6) YBN Cordae



Cordae Dunston, professionally known as YBN Cordae, is sure to be a favorite of many. The Maryland-born wordsmith is a member of the rising YBN rap crew, alongside rapper YBN Nahmir and YBN Almighty Jay. Cordae first began dropping music in 2014 under the name Entendre. He raps with youthful cadence, complex lyricism, memorable flow, and brings much-needed wordplay to the new school of hip-hop. He has the talent, work ethic, and potential to blow up very soon.




7) Kodie Shane




Atlanta, GA artist, Kodie Shane allures fans with her youthful and infectious personality. She seamlessly flows from ballads to cheerful pop songs, and the video for her upbeat hit song “Drip on My Walk” has more than four million views on YouTube. Shane is the sole female member of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team rap collective, and she has collaborated with Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert. She brings a unique sound to the rap industry, and with her overflowing positive energy, I expect great things from her.



8) Smino





Smino, born Christopher Smith Jr., was born in St. Louis, MO to a family of musicians. His family exposed him to jazz, gospel, and blues at a young age, which evidently influences his music. The soulful rapper moved to Chicago after high school to attend Columbia College, where his cousin, Drea Smith, introduced him to the music scene. He remains in Chicago and commonly collaborates with Chicago artists: Saba, Noname, Monte Booker, and Ravyn Lenae. He has released a multitude of singles, but caught the attention of many with his 2017 debut album, blkswn, which features the hit song “Anita.” Smino has the flair, originality, and skill to burst into the spotlight very soon.