10 Music Artists to Lookout for at SXSW 2018

If these music artists can make their way to the SXSW stage, this year will be unlike any other the festival has seen before.
February 24, 2018
7 mins read

March is just around the corner and it’s that time of year again. As spring breezes in and long overdue sunshine descends upon Austin, Texas, the city prepares itself for an annual week of music, film, tech and madness in South by Southwest (SXSW)

Between day parties, riveting panel discussions and tons of free drinks, at the core of a great SXSW experience is the chance to see some of music’s freshest talents for the reasonable fee of an RSVP. This year, like any other, is looking forward to the city’s largest festival has brought about rumors and speculations of which of your favorite new artists you can expect to grace the biggest stages.

Here are 10 artists I would love to fit into my already jam-packed SXSW schedule (should they appear in Austin for the weekend).

1. Rico Nasty

Rico Nasty is bringing fun to rap. Her “Sugar Trap” sound has carried her to the forefront of hip-hop’s new class and she isn’t showing signs of stopping anytime soon.

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Her 2017 album, “Sugar Trap 2,” was one of the best albums of last year, earning her placement on Rolling Stones’ top rap-albums list, as well as several other “artist to lookout for” lists. Her high-energy anthems and electrifying stage presence undoubtedly have a place at SXSW.

2. Kodie Shane

Kodie Shane is an Atlanta native and the first lady of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team. But, despite her affiliation with the group, she is making a name for herself with hit songs like “Sad,” “Drip on my Walk” and “Losing Service.”

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She gets better with each release and her 2017 project, “Back from the Future” is a culmination of her growth so far. She also covered Teen Vogue for their 21 under 21 issue last year. There’s a radiance to her music that makes it both uplifting and personable for her listeners, and that appeal is definitely something that is needed every year at SXSW.

3. Ravyn Lenae

Ravyn Lenae is putting out some of the best ambient R&B of our time. Her “Midnight Moonlight EP,” from earlier last year, put her on the map as one of the frontrunners in the new school of R&B.

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Her latest project, “Crush EP,” which she worked on with Steve Lacy, proves that she is a force to be reckoned with. The combination of her voice and her songwriting ability is special, and I’d love to see it showcased in Austin this March.

4. 6 Dogs

6 Dogs was anything but quiet in 2017. Since the release of his self-titled debut, 6 Dogs has amassed over 15 million plays on that album alone.

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Now, he is back with his latest single, “Buttcheeks,” which, along with “Flossing,” has gained some serious traction on YouTube with the help of standout visuals, both of which sit well above a million views. And, when it comes to building on newfound success, there’s no better place than SXSW.

5. Maxo Kream

Maxo is a SXSW veteran, and this year his presence would be just as epic. In Jan. he dropped off his latest album, “Punken,” which served as an ode to a post-Harvey Houston, while also holding true to his earlier projects, with songs like “Astrodome pt. 2” and “Work.”

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Who knows? You might just get lucky and find yourself partying after a show with Maxo somewhere downtown.

6. SZA

It’s sincerely my hope that the meteoric rise of SZA after her 2017 project, “CTRL,” was only the beginning of a lofty career. I can only dream of hearing Solana perform “Sobriety,” along with newer “CTRL” cuts, while high kicking across the stage like only she can.

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Seeing the Grammy nominee don some of SX’s biggest stages would be a treat, to say the least.

7. Playboi Carti

There are few new rap artists as captivating as Playboi Carti. Aside from putting out a dominant debut album, he has bagged features with almost every prominent hip-hop personality that there is.

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Songs like “Magnolia” and “Wokeuplikethis*,” as catchy as they are, practically took over the internet last year. The energy of SXSW fosters the perfect venue for an artist with swag like Carti has.  

8. Kelela

As named by Complex and The Guardian, “Take Me Apart” was one of last year’s best offerings. Kelela’s music is an enjoyable poison, filled with raw emotion, stunning vocals and a dance beat here and there to get you moving.

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With a break in her worldwide tour between early March and early April, it is probable that she could show up as one of SXSW’s showcasing artists, or at least I hope so anyway.

9. Danger Incorporated

Out of Atlanta, Danger Incorporated is one of the most unique underground R&B fusion duos to appear in recent memory. The sound of Danger Incorporated, a twosome composed of Louie Duffelbag and Boothlord, could be most accurately described by not labelling it at all.

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Drawing influence from artists like J. Dilla, Yung Lean and King Krule, the Awful Records signees are well versed in pulling eclectic styles into something that makes sense. Since the duo has over 190,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, SXSW is the perfect place for them to take the buzz that they have a step further.

Their unconventionally smooth sound and internet-bred styles are sure to catch the eyes and ears of anyone they come into contact with this festival season.  

10. Jaden Smith

While technically already confirmed for Pandora house, this choice still has me pretty amped. Last year, Jaden blessed us with his debut album, “SYRE,” solidifying his presence as a legitimate creative force in the realms of music, visual art and fashion design.

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Jaden will be making his way to Austin this March, and the best part is that fans will be able to see him for free. 

Disclaimer: This is not an official list of headliners. These choices are strictly based on speculation and personal preference.

Onaje McDowelle, University of Texas at Austin

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Onaje McDowelle

University of Texas at Austin

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