As the year continues wind down, Our Generation Music’s editorial staff took a close look back at our favorite new artists of 2021. While in no specific order, each artist carries their own weight with immense value for years to come. This is the final section of the 2021 Our Generation Awards, which also covers staff-picked albums, songs and feature our favorite music videos from the blossoming new wave.
What’s your favorite newcomer of 2021? Let us know in our social comments!
Age: 18 | Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
SoFaygo’s emergence — off the back of his underground hit “Off The Map” — in 2021 has been stratospheric to say the least. Since signing with Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack imprint in late 2020, the Atlanta-bred singer-rapper has certainly made himself a dime a dozen among his new wave compatriots — crooning instantly entrancing melodies that get stuck in your head for weeks on end. Touting over 3.5 million Spotify monthly listeners, Faygo’s stock only keeps going up — touting collaborations with Lil Yachty, Trippie Redd, Ty Fontaine and others in 2021. Expect the young hitmaker to be everywhere once the new year rolls around.
Age: 19 | Hometown: Summerville, South Carolina
Internet Money phenom Dro Kenji has quickly become one of the most beloved artists in the new wave for many reasons, but one sticks out amongst the rest: consistency. Dropping a jaw-dropping four projects in 2021 — all with equally definitive replay value — Kenji’s blessed with the ability to make any track he touches his own. Working with artists like Scorey, BOSLEN, $NOT and a slew of others this year, Kenji is poised to become our generation’s next big star, and the time it will take him to achieve that status is much sooner than you think.
Age: 18 | Hometown: Lafayette, Louisiana
The common denominator between every artist mentioned on this list is not only how youthful they are, but how their talent fully shines through in their music. This was instantly evident when SSGKobe dropped his breakout hit “thrax” at the end of 2020, allowing him to ascend to greater heights as rage-rap’s unsung hero. While gaining the attention of Cole Bennett — earning a coveted Lyrical Lemonade video treatment to his summer turn-up track “MIA” — Kobe’s allure lies between the confines of hypnotic bars, innovative production and his high-pitched “yuhhh” ad-libs. Taking the next generation by storm with his 7-track EP KO, SSGKobe’s star power is one to not be underestimated, shooting for the best version of himself in true “super saiyan god” fashion.
Age: 19 | Hometown: Carmel, Indiana
The Indiana-based, hyperpop rapper has become the poster boy for genre-bending in the underground. Taking influence from hyperpop’s earth-shattering production style — touting a collected chaos of electro-infused 808s and synths — Midwxst has certainly become an undeniable force to be reckoned with in 2021. Dropping a new wave classic in SUMMER03 earlier this year, he followed up the success of his hit track “Trying” with a slew of collaborations with Glaive, ALDN, KA$HDAMI and others. Since SUMMER03’s release, Midwxst has risen to the top of the pack of underground talent — embodying the complexity that his niche ultimately presents. As his latest effort BACK IN ACTION — which sees a handful of collabs from new wave stars in Baby Santana, ericdoa, DC The Don, OnlyBino! and more — continues to bolster the young talent’s mainstream appeal, listeners will more than likely be blurting out Midwxst’s angst-filled, love-torn lyrics at one point or another in 2022.
Age: 24 | Hometown: DMV / District of Columbia
DC-based artist Ty Fontaine is an enigma — unable to be confined to a specific lane, sound or genre. His debut independent album Ascension is truly the highlight for Fontaine post-Internet Money — leaving the label this past summer to pursue to the type of music he wants to share. That thinking has certainly paid off for him, as Ascension not only turned the heads of some of hip-hop’s best, earning co-signs from Trippie Redd and Lil Uzi Vert, but put Ty on a trajectory that only points toward superstar status. Releasing Ascension’s deluxe in Virtual World 2 in October, his stake as one of the underground’s most versatile and talented acts was bolstered by the album’s amount of firepower, boasting hits with Joony, Lil Tecca, Cochise, Summrs and Trippie Redd. Make no mistake, if Ty Fontaine decides to continue making music following his self-proclaimed final album Beautiful Michi Girls, the rap game is in for a rude awakening as he continues to ascend to greater heights.
Age: 21 | Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Garnering an immense amount of TikTok Fame over the course of 2021, Portland rapper YEAT is the real deal in every regard. Off the back of his 2021 projects in Trëndi and Up 2 Më, his scintillating singles in “Get Busy” and “Sorry Bout Dat” truly brought YEAT to the forefront of the underground — embodying the flair and poise that makes the new wave so special. With heavy auto-tune and a refined vocal presence, the Twizzy Rich artist has definitely earned his seat at the table amongst the next generation of blossoming stars. As if linking up with DotCom Nirvan and earning a co-sign from Drake wasn’t enough, YEAT’s consistency has reigned supreme this past year — dropping over 75 songs without any sign of slowing up. With an unmatched work ethic and skill that only he possesses, expect YEAT to become one of hip-hop’s most sought after young rappers as 2022 rolls in.
Age: 17 | Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina
At age 17, Glaive has become somewhat of an anomaly within the genreless, lawless nature of hyperpop. Building off the contained chaos his sound features, his latest single “prick” is the truest electronic-based track Glaive has shared in 2021. Releasing his long-awaited debut album all dogs go to heaven and recent collab EP with ericdoa this year, the new wave enigma is in the midst of transforming into a pop superstar with can’t-miss mainstream appeal. With immaculate melodies and syrupy, pop-infused hooks, the teenage hyperpop phenom is a byproduct of the residual gold found in 2000s pop. Combining the thick, auto-tuned harmonies of early Katy Perry and Ke$ha with shimmering electro-inspired production behind him, he’s continued to dominant the genre’s underground circles and is slowly becoming the face of the hyperpop wave — only getting better with every new track.
Age: 17 | Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
In the five months since he released his debut studio album epiphany, rising underground phenom KA$HDAMI continues to catch fire this year. Not only did he drop his fourth full-length project hypernova this past November, but further proved why he is a leading voice within the new wave’s signature sound — and has leveled up because of it. While epiphany may have ushered in KA$HDAMI’s come-up naturally, hypernova is a more concise, focused and personal look into his ever-evolving artistry. From mosh-pitting bangers to hypnotic plugg tracks, KA$HDAMI continues to impress at just 17-years-old — honing his sound and superstar appeal with each new release.
Age: 21 | Hometown: Dallas, Texas
KanKan definitely knows a thing or two about the grind to success. As a bubbling new wave voice with uncanny bars and chart-topping production, KanKan is the epitome of a “do it yourself” artist. Inspired by Speaker Knockerz and rising from SoundCloud’s next generation, the Dallas native’s start as a producer was extremely fruitful — securing placements with Lil Pump and Famous Dex (“Talkin Shit”) and Smokepurpp (“Fuck a Swisher”) at the height of their underground stardom. Releasing a steady string of singles over the course of 2021, KanKan has built up quite the discography since he took to the booth. His highest streamed single “Goin To Hell” embodies his artistry perfectly — brash, bold and unafraid to take risks. On his recent EPs Oxy & Codeine and ##B4RR, KanKan continues to develop his sound with rage-filled finesse, as his new album RR further displays the Dallas native’s ploy to break barriers as an artist — striving for greatness in 2022.
Age: 14 | Hometown: Columbus, Georgia
BabySantana just started high school, and is already established as an up-and-comer in hip-hop’s new wave. Having already worked with other artists like SSGKobe, Lil Tecca and KA$HDAMI, the un-signed Santana still feels like he is just getting started. He makes it a point to stay humble and down to earth until he reaches the pinnacle of rap — and at age 14, he has all the time he needs to achieve that. Santana grew up being heavily inspired by the Chicago rap scene led by Chief Keef and the late Fredo Santana, who inspired his rap name, along with BabyTron. So much so, that in August 2020, he dropped his mixtape Planet Sosa. Fast forward a few years later, and Tana is now the one inspiring young artists. Charting three songs over 1 million plays on Spotify and receiving co-signs from the likes of Cole Bennett and Tory Lanez, Tana continues to excel in every facet of the game at such a young age. Alongside frequent collaborators in producer Maajins and teenage rising star Slump6s — donning themselves as the new wave XXXTENTACION and Ski Mask The Slump God — the sky’s the limit for the 14-year-old phenom.