To conclude our coverage of everything next-level in 2011, these are the eleven most compelling “breakout” acts of the year. The list was arrived at by considering hundreds of hyped storylines from the past twelve months, and running that through a filter of our own taste. What follows are a handful of the names you’ve seen everywhere, curated into what would make one insanely diverse and “relevant” playlist. Enjoy!
[Badge num="11" class="eleven"/] [BoxTitle]Clams Casino[/BoxTitle] [FreeDownload]http://heavy.com/music/hip-hop/2011/04/mixtape-clams-casino-instrumentals/[/FreeDownload]
Whether it was being the man behind the beats of Lil B, Soulja Boy and A$AP Rocky, or the one flaunting his own creepier instrumentals—which appealed to Burial heads as much as they did #based minds—New Jersey’s Mike Volpe aka Clams Casino owned 2011. The Rainforest EP introduced Volpe as an expert from the start, working with a sound already distinctly his own—ghostly vocal samples echoed in a dream-like haze, all with an eery sense of hip hop bump and melodic pop drift. His Instrumentals mixtape would further it, and wind up sitting right next to proper LPs on many folk’s best of-s.
[Badge num="10" class="eleven"/] [BoxTitle]A$AP ROCKY[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://heavy.com/music/music-video/hip-hop-music-videos/2011/12/asap-rocky-purple-swag/[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/artist/13ubrt8QOOCPljQ2FL1Kca[/Spotify] [FreeDownload]http://heavy.com/music/2011/11/aap-rocky-liveloveaap/[/FreeDownload]
He burnt holes on Hot 97 and his videos for “Purple Swag” and “Peso” blew up over YouTube, which lead to “the biggest record contract for a rookie since 50 Cent”—a reported $3 million deal with Sony / RCA—all before dropping a single mixtape. When LiveLoveA$AP did land at the end of October, it quickly cemented the 23 year old Harlem rapper as a voice worth caring about.
[Badge num="9" class="eleven"/] [BoxTitle]EMA[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://heavy.com/music/music-video/indie-music-videos/2011/05/ema-milkman/[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/artist/0MT8Af4BlhE02l91O6cfyQ[/Spotify]
Erika M. Anderson broke up with her boyfriend (and Gowns bandmate) Ezra Buchla and decided to focus all that pain and depression into an album far more vulnerable than anything she’d done before. It’s a likable story (even Ezra approved of it), and sets the tone for Past Life Martyred Saints, an affecting document of failure and self-mutilation, and what would become an out of nowhere success story. A full web-zine saturation followed, each post bearing some Courtney Love-esq press photo, or her front and center on the green-screened music videos for “California” and “Milkman.” The EMA brand was strong, and for good reason.