Top 5 Artists To Watch In 2012


Matt Diamond and Lucas Zimmer of Coalmine Records/Diamond Media 360 breakdown their top five artists to watch in 2012.



1. Emilio Rojas

Diamond:  I’ve had the privilege of seeing Emilio’s movement from its fledgling inception to where he is now and to say it’s impressive is putting it lightly.  From releasing a consistent batch mixtapes that are better than most veteran’s albums, to an incessant release of internet freestyles, collabo tracks with the likes of Yelawolf, B.O.B., Killer Mike, Freeway, Cory Gunz, Crooked I, Casey Veggies, and countless others to co-signs from everyone and their mother, endorsement from Billionaire Boys Club and label deal rumors from Rozay’s Maybach Music, Emilio is that dude.  To boot Rojas has DJ Green Lantern as his DJ, gets laced with beats from the likes of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Needlz, V12 The Hitman and has probably one of the hottest tracks of the year with “Middle Finger To The Law” produced by M-Phazes, who cooked up one of the illest dub step inspired tracks I’ve ever heard.  The fact that Emilio enlists some pretty ridiculous dimers to play his leading ladies in his videos certainly doesn’t hurt.  All this from a rapper that can actually rap – crazy right?  I really doesn’t see a limit to to Emilio’s potential – once the machine fuels what he’s already started, it’s a wrap.




2.  G-Side

Zimmer:  Over the last few years the sound of the south has been defined by the ominous synthesized orchestra of Lex Luger which sounds great in the club or in the ride but at times has left many haters of his creations with one valid point:  What about the soulful and melodic sounds that put the South of the map in the first place?  The answer to that question is Huntsville, Alabama’s G Side, whose southern musical lineage is owed more to UGK and Dungeon Family than say the “trap sound”.  Aside from sonically forging their own identity, hard work and a love for the grind has really put this group on the path to major things in 2012.  Releasing two albums this past year with Cohesive and Island respectively, along with a non-stop touring schedule has earned them praise from influential outlets such as Pitchfork, NPR, The Fader, and Spin.  While being entirely independent and no co-signs from any major artists, G Side has thrived in a time when most artists’ music doesn’t go past the reach of their facebook and twitter followers or as put best by their managements bio, “Trying to make a million off a free wi-fi connect”.  Believe that.




Diamond:  DOPEHEAD, along with Danny Brown represent the rebirth of Detroit Hip-Hop with their Bruiser Brigade movement.  First off, I’m a fan of anyone that makes up words for the fuck of it and DOPEHEAD stays dropping new school vernacular on Twitter like jooky, style and bruiser – fucking amazing.  I’m tempted to start using them in regular conversation, but something tells me I just won’t be able to pull it off like he does.  DOPEHEAD, who also doubles on tour as Danny’s hypeman, has a similar style and energy, but trust, he’s no padawan, dude hold’s it down..he’s eccentric, raw and he doesn’t give a fuck.  Perhaps a bit more subdued at times and perhaps not quite as punchy in his delivery as Danny, I actually find DOPEHEAD to be a better songwriter.  In my opinion, his debut mixtape Plaid Palm Trees ranks among the best downloads of 2011.  If my opinion doesn’t’ mean shit, the good people over at ranked PPT at #16 in their 50 Mitapes You Need Now post.  Backed with production from the likes of Drumma B, Nick Speed and Sheefy Mcfly, Palm Trees reveals a promising artist that can stand on his own two.  I don’t see any major labels knocking down his door per se, but I do say a very strong independent movement on the horizon from DOPEHEAD….style.



4.  ScHoolBoyQ:

Zimmer:  When rappers claim to be versatile they usually just sound like a voice on whatever style of beat they appear on, Schoolboy Q on the other hand IS versatile and no matter what type of track he rhymes on, It becomes a Schoolboy Q record.  As a member of Top Dawg Entertainment, Q fits in perfectly between the lyrical gymnastics of Kendrick Lamar and the street vernacular of Jay Rock as an MC that has appeal to everybody.  His album Setbacks was one of the most slept on projects of the year, memorable verses of Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80 and A$AP Rocky’s Live Love A$AP, as well as a few leaks off his upcoming project has made his new album Habits & Contradictions one the most anticipated albums of 2012.



5.  Mr. Motherfuckin’ eXquire

Diamond:  Representing BK to the fullest, eXquire is one of the few NY based artists whose image and sound are accurately translating to the current cultural landscape of the city and people are starting to take note.  Although I honestly felt that his inaugural effort Lost In Translation leaves a little bit to be desired, I saw a glimpse of an artist that is a necessary nutrient for the game.  “Huzzah” is perhaps one of the grimiest yet simultaneously catchiest tracks I’ve heard in recent or even distant memory, which gets an extra nod for the Necro production.  To boot his visuals on “Lou Gerigno’s Mad” lets us know that his creative persona isn’t isolated to his music.  Eccentric and criminal, both eXquire’s sound is a homogenization of Sir Menelik and 50 Cent…and to me, that’s fucking genius.  If eXquire continues to push the envelope, pen strong hooks and stay on his grind, I can see his movement catapulting him to the forefront of New York Hip-Hop.



The Rebel Society. “Top 5 Artists In 2012 w/ Diamond Media 360 (@DiamondMedia360)” December 20, 2011, December 20, 2011


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