J. Cole
It would seem that this Jay-Z character knows a thing or two about music. This makes his choice of J. Cole to be the first artist to be signed to Jay’s Roc Nation label sort of a big deal. The refreshing thing about J. Cole’s music is that, unlike most of his contemporaries, there’s no gimmick. It takes the fundamentals of people like Nas and Pac and builds a fresh sound on top of it. He’s released two full lengths prior, but expect his debut major label release this year.

Here We Go Magic
Luke Temple, now playing with a full band going by the name Here We Go Magic, has for some time skirted the line between potential break out and simple mediocrity. On their new album Pigeons they seem to have finally put enough of a sound together to really make a name for themselves. The issue seems to be that the album is split between these incredibly intricate pop songs that are so tight and catchy they need to be heard, and middling executions of what has left them out of the spotlight for the past few years. That said, enough of Pigeons is so incredibly pleasing that, even if it may not be 100% there yet, the sound they’ve put together to this point can’t be ignored.

Kanye West
Hey remember that Kanye character? If memory serves he was a pretty decent MC there for a while. After taking some time to release the forgettable 808’s and Heartbreaks, make a social pariah of himself, and subsequently fall off the face of the Earth, he has returned. When I say “returned” I mean returned to what made him a household name. He’s released the first single, “Power,” off the forthcoming Good Ass Job. Kanye’s ear for what sounds good never went anywhere, and “Power” is simultaneously a return to form and a big fuck you to everyone who wrote him off (myself included).