Top 10 Underground Artists That Deserve To Go Mainstream
Very short intro here. Some of the people on this list I've known for about 7 to 8 years now, others I've known for as little as just over a year. Regardless of how long I've known them, these are the 10 people I've recognized to possess that x factor to really do something and leave a dent musically with either their mixes, flows, or songs. And if you don't know them, get familiar, because they are probably better than some of your favorites of today. And when I say "deserve to go mainstream", I don't mean they should sell out, but I'm saying they deserve a bigger audience. Artists aren't here to perform to themselves, they need to have reach. The bigger the better.
1) DUCKWRTH (San Francisco, CA)
Duckwrth is a rapper from San Francisco, CA that's on some other level shit. He may be from the Bay Area, but he has a very New York style kind of flow. Or if he is to be compared with other California rappers I'd say he's a little bit more closely related to The Pharcyde than others. If you're picking up on it, I'm trying to say he's a lyricist. Don't let his skinny jeans, leather, or alternative attire fool you, this guy's game on a mic is straight hip hop at its purest and best.
2) PAUL & DAN (San Diego / LA, CA)
I don't know who is responsible for nominating, making, or selecting all these EDM fags (no offense to gays) the next big DJs and exalting them into superstardom beyond the stratosphere, but that shit really needs to stop. If anyone is due up next to make it big, it NEEDS TO BE these guys. Both hailing from San Diego before doing a short term stint in Tokyo, Japan and then returning back stateside, the DJ duo Paul & Dan have to be the biggest and best undiscovered electronic music DJs in the whole state of California if not all of stateside!
Individually they are quite good on their own merits as well which is why I can give them a place at numbers 3 & 4. Paul is steadily performing at gigs, while Danny spends more time producing original music and doing some occasional remixes. You can find him and his music on Beatport by the way. And for the both of them, you must attend their residency parties at "Clique", which is again the biggest and best DJ event series (and culture art movement) ever to hit San Diego's nightlife scene. My God it's so good!
3) Danny Fernandez
5) MARK DWAYNE (Birmingham, England)
This guy is big! A man of many talents. He's the biggest independent artist from the UK's second largest city located in the West Midlands, Birmingham, England. Not only is he a great R&B singer, but he's now a DJ, and he's hosted radio before, and he founded a magazine called "Street Cred" when he was 17 which is the UK's longest running urban and street culture magazine. I believe it's 17 years this year that magazine has been going strong. Additionally he's a club event organizer and promoter, and from what I hear, at the end of this year he will finally open up his own club and bar called "Swish" in the heart of Birmingham's city centre. He's been my personal friend since the MySpace era. Before everything else I only knew him as a great singer. I've pondered on it long and hard and realized he's really like the UK version of Tyrese! He's put in work for so long, he really needs to be signed to a big label to get his music out there in the world. Just what a personality.
6) HYBRID VIBES (Tokyo via London)
When I first met this guy as a patron in Tokyo during a nightlife countdown event 2012/2013, we talked a lot about music. Subsequently I met him again the following year at the same club for the 2013/2014 countdown party and we talked for hours on end about music. This time after hitting it off I got the guy's phone number and kept in contact. Since then we have joined together forming a DJ duo called "Masters Of The Groove". Think of us as a sort of Masters At Work meets Gilles Peterson sort of thing, a culmination of NYC x London.
But the talk is not that we are spinning together these days, the talk is why I feel this guy is my long lost brother. An avid record collector, musical connoisseur, and one hell of a selector, Hybrid Vibes like Gilles Peterson knows a lot about music. Even though we are very much the same on the deep house, soulful house, and jazz tip, this guy is very knowledgable also about broken beat, drum and bass, dub, rare groove, soul, funk, and folk music too among other styles. Until I met him and started getting him out on the Tokyo nightlife scene, Hybrid Vibes has been what you would call a recluse bedroom DJ and music professor that no one really knew about for years. I'm hoping to change that by putting this guy upfront on the Tokyo club scene. He's definitely the next Gilles Peterson or Joey Negro.
7) BIG DOXX (NYC, NY)
Here's another guy I met online during the MySpace era. A hip hop rapper from the Bronx, NY who looks at hip hop as an art form and not a fake commercial hustle for fame and to make a quick buck by selling out. So don't look to him as being the next Flo Rida or whatever sell out rapper is on the market these days. This is all about the lyrics, the message, and the boom bap, that street life, and the four elements of hip hop. That kind of shit.
Currently as of this writing you can get three Big Doxx mixtapes ("Real Spit", "R.A.P. Music FreeEP", "A Tough Work LP") online free from his Bandcamp page. He also has three other mixtapes out that are way harder to find and download, but maybe with a Google search and time you can. Those are called "Road To The Chip" and there are three volumes out, volume 1, volume 2, and volume 3 (I have them all).
8) DJ L-SPADE (Tokyo via Memphis, TN)
Both a rapper and DJ, the main focal point of recognition on his talent should be his rapping. Cut in the cloth of southern rap with a style closely resembling that of his Memphis area superstar peers Three 6 Mafia, DJ L-Spade comes in the game weighing in with fat beats, a southern flow, and that southern twang, he should definitely be rolling with the Hypnotize Camp Posse.
9) DJ MORBIN (Germany via Croatia)
DJ Morbin is a guy living in I guess rural Germany. Just going off memory from a conversation I had with him a very long time ago, I told him he was fantastic and he should be playing at major clubs in Germany. I think he told me his living location is not so idealistic for that. But this guy still has a large fan base and does gigs regularly. So how does he do it? One word, Mixify. Mixify is a website and platform founded in 2012 where DJs can spin live via online radio to the world.
In the two years the site has been active, Morbin has been on regularly and steadily to a point where almost everyone knows who he is now. He's grown his fan base from nothing to being a standout superstar DJ on this website. It's so impressive what he's accomplished using this site, but it's not surprising. His DJ skills are great and he can pull tunes from a wide variety of genres because of his love for music. He's the stuff real DJs are made of. I really want to see him take that leap and get gigs at some major clubs in his current country. He should already be getting booked at Cocoon Club in Frankfurt and such. I wish him the best.
10) DJ MARC ANTOMATTEI (Tokyo via USA)
OK, OK, OK, OK, LOL. Listen I had no one else honestly I wanted to put on the list. Would sound weird calling the list "The Top 9..." so I just made number 10 a vanity spot. But then again why not? I believe in what I do totally. You know why? Because I'm not only a genre bending DJ and can adapt to different styles but I have a hard work ethic.
I try to keep my event brand Tokyo Knights club events going steady, I just started my online Tokyo Knights mix show, I book people at my gigs and give them an opportunity, a chance, a platform they never had before to perform, I pay my DJs, no matter if an event is big or small I try to make sure everyone has a good time, and you know what else? I made this list. I don't see DJing as a competition or a race to the top, I help people, we all should be doing that (helping one another), we'll get to the places we want to go faster. I just big up'd nine of the best DJs, rappers, and singers that I possibly knew of in the world right now. If I was a record company A&R or big wig, these would be the first nine new talents I would sign to my new label. That's the kind of person I am.