5 Chicago acts to watch in 2017

5 Chicago acts to watch in 2017

The thing about the Chicago music community is that everywhere you look there's talent. Everyone we've covered heavily in 2016, from Jamila Woods and Kweku Collins to Whitney, Joey Purp, Saba, Chance the Rapper, Twin Peaks and Eryn Allen Kane, has enough on their side to easily follow up on their success in the coming year and there's so many more on the fringes of Chicago's scene who look to finally make a bigger mark.

The hardest part about this list was limiting it to just five, as artists like Homme, Yeesh, Circuit Des Yeux, Melkbelly, Mick Jenkins, Vic Mensa, Post Animal, Noname, Lucki Ecks, Joseph Chilliams and more could've easily been added on. But below, you'll find small selection of artists who are definitely dropping projects in 2017 that are sure to turn heads. 

KAMI 

Where you've heard him: “Home Movies” and as one half of Leather Corduroys, the local rap duo featuring Joey Purp 

What's next: A not-yet-titled project, out early 2017 

It's hard to think of an artistic collective that churns out more talent than Savemoney, the sprawling group of artists, musicians and creatives that's produced Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, Towkio and more. 2017 will bring the release of KAMI's long-awaited project, which includes the already-released tracks “Foundation,” “Home Movies” and “Right Now,” which features Mensa. RedEye has heard an early version of the project, and we can happily report it's as fun, multifaceted and creatively vibrant as you'd expect from the Leather Corduroys member. 

Meat Wave

Where you've heard them: 2015's amazing punk album “Delusion Moon.” 

What's next: An as-yet-untitled album, likely out early 2017 

While its release date hasn't been announced, RedEye has been lucky enough to have heard Meat Wave's follow-up to “Delusion Moon.” Though we won't spoil much, we will say that had it been released in 2016, it would have cracked our Top 10 favorite albums of the year. In May, they recorded the full-length with esteemed Chicago engineer Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studio. You can get an early taste with their anxiety-laced banger “The Incessant,” which dropped in November. 

NE-HI

Where you've heard them: “Drag,” “Stay Young” and their 2014 self-titled debut 

What's next: “Offers,” out Feb. 23 via Grand Jury 

Seeing NE-HI live is one of the best local music experiences the city can offer. There's a visceral, joyous energy to their shows, and on “Offers,” their second album, they've captured that spirit on tape. Recorded with Dave Vettraino (The Hecks, Public House Recordings) at Minbal, the forthcoming album comes right out the gate with clanging post-punk rancor. Boasting the dual-frontman combo of Jason Balla and Mikey Wells, who split lead singer duties throughout, there's little chance NE-HI will stay just-local favorites by the end of 2017. 

Ravyn Lenae 

Where you've heard her: On Noname's “Telefone,” Saba's “Bucket List Project” and her own “Moon Shoes” EP 

What's next: A "short project” to be released in February 

It's tough to think of a rising Chicago artist other than Ravyn Lenae who has more potential to break out, and by break out, I mean really make a leap into earbuds across the world. The 17-year-old singer is a member of Zero Fatigue, the artist collective featuring St. Louis rapper Smino and wunderkind producer Monte Booker, and she makes some of the most forward-thinking pop and R&B music I've heard. Just take “Alive,” the Booker-produced track she dropped in November, and tell me that this isn't better than everything on the Billboard song charts right now. 

Warhol.ss 

Where you've heard him: “Speed Racer,” his breakout single that has well over 300,000 YouTube plays. 

What's next: On tour with Robb Banks in 2017; new project likely 

Last week, when I did an informal Twitter poll asking local music fans which Chicago artist they were most excited for in 2017, the overwhelming response made mention of South Shore-raised rapper Warhol.ss. It's easy to see why. He's been remarkably prolific, dropping several straight heaters throughout the year such as the Famous Dex collab “On My Waist,” a hypnotically melodic and moody track. It's got over a half-million streams on YouTube, so there's no doubt the people are catching on.  

@joshhterry | jterry@redeyechicago.com

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