A new year means a whole load of new music to come and, perhaps more importantly, a bunch of new artists who will shape the sound of 2017. The first in our series of Artists To Watch 2017 looks at the rappers and hip-hop artists who will shape this year alongside some of RouteNote’s brilliant up-and-comers.


Hotly tipped to be the ‘other John Doe‘ that has joined TDE, SiR has been building his reputation as a singer and songwriter, featuring on Jay Rock’s 2015 album 90059 and working with fast-rising Anderson Paak. SiR’s blend of hip-hop beats and soulful R&B singing sets him apart as a unique artist ready to start making waves this year.

SiR released his EP ‘HER’ in 2016, building up more hype to a big 2017. Whilst SiR has been building his reputation on his own if the Inglewood native does become the next TDE signee he’s undoubtedly on to big things, as TDE stands as the pinnacle label for quality rap and hip-hop right now.



Following Beyonce’s support, dancing to D.R.A.M.’s 2015 track CHA CHA on Instagram, 2016 was a giant year for the singer/rapper. D.R.A.M. found hit success with Broccoli, his breakout single with Lil Yachty, before releasing his feel-good single Cash Machine – both of which ended up on his debut album ‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’, released last October.

D.R.A.M.’s music has found mainstream appeal thanks to his mixture of trap beats with pop melodies and catchy hooks. With his unique gravelly voice and a surprising vocal range D.R.A.M. has established himself as an artist on the up and if 2016 was anything to go by, 2017 we’ll be seeing even more of the talented Big Baby D.R.A.M. as he established himself as a force to be reckoned with.


ATO is the first RouteNote artist in our list. The UK rapper combines talented lyricism and powerful production for tracks that are full of passion. ATO’s rhymed storytelling is perfectly complimented by moody beats, creating a unique atmosphere for each track.

Blending the styles of traditional hip-hop, trap, rock and Drake-like hooks, ATO has found a unique sound that is sure to continue spreading. The rapper has already amassed over a million plays on SoundCloud and we think 2017 is going to hold many more opportunities for ATO.


After spending years working to make his mark on the industry 6lack finally broke out last year through the success of his debut album ‘Free 6lack’. 6lack’s career got off to a difficult start thanks to his old label, but after creating his own brand and gaining success without them 6lack found his way on the right path to getting his music heard.

6lack’s debut album drew attention to him, particularly through his popular single ‘Prblms’, and now he’s in a position to start making real waves in 2017. The Georgia native’s music blends a smooth mix of chilled out beats and auto-tune vocals that will no doubt lead to some killer features from the rapper as his rise to fame is established.

AJ Tracey

AJ Tracey is a grime artist from West London who has been making many of the upcoming lists for 2017. The MC has been building his reputation over the past years and with his hits from last year ‘Pasta’ and ‘Buster Cannon’ Tracey started gaining the recognition his abilities deserve.

AJ Tracey is kicking off 2017 with a UK tour starting January 20th with half of the tickets already sold out. With his new EP ‘Lil Tracey’ released last month and a massive tour to kickstart the new year we agree with other publications that this is going to be a big year for the Grime MC.


Asfalt are an Egyptian Hip-Hop group and another RouteNote artist. Their tracks focus on the struggles of everyday life covering issues that talks to the average person like societal issues, politics, culture clashes – particularly the struggles and conflict surrounding their nation.

Asfalt have built a massive audience for their music and their exciting live shows where they combine instruments, beats, vocals, rap, poetry, beat boxing and dance for an unmatched live experience. Asfalt have a large following, with almost a million likes on Facebook, that they have built over 10 years and 2017 looks set to be their biggest year yet. We can’t wait to see what they come out with next

Nadia Rose

Nadia Rose is a quick rising female grime MC who has found herself quickly rising to fame thanks to her viral singles in 2015. Last year saw her recognition boom as she rapped her way onto the front stage of the Grime scene with more hits like her breakthrough hit from last year – ‘Skwod’.

Now she’s primed 2017 as her year to shine with the release of her debut album ‘Highly Flammable’ on the 13th January. Nadia Rose has been drawing attention from all over the world and she’s set to become the new leader for UK’s female MC scene.

Normanton Street

Normanton Street may not be the most well known RouteNote artists but they are one of our in-house favourites. The four-piece group based in Brighton blend hip-hop and soul thanks to the amazing pairing of Nicholson and Ned’s intelligent raps complementing singer Phoebe’s incredible voice.

With tight backing the group meld between jazz, funk and hip-hop sounds as the three vocalists set the scene for their tracks. Last year was a phenomenal year for the band as they were invited to fly over to Texas and perform at the giant SXSW music festival and releasing their latest awesome EP, Life’s Real.

With such a great year in 2016 we don’t see Normanton Street heading anywhere but up from here.

You can read our interview with Nicholson from Normanton Street here: https://routenote.com/blog/normanton-street-routenote-interviews

That completes our list of the top hip-hop artists and groups to watch out for in the next year. Keep an eye out for our next in the series where we’ll be looking at the electronic artists and producers we think will shape 2017.
Is there anyone you think should have been included? Get involved and let us know down in the comments below!