afropunk’s 10 artists to watch in 2014

December 30, 2013

2013 seemed like a year committed to proving wrong every jackass hipster who declares “nobody makes good music anymore!” And while there may be a little of that guy in all of us, here’s 10 artists we’re excited about in 2014.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

Sunny Gang

This New Jersey based quartet made a big impression this summer at the AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands. Their brand of hip-hop inflected punk rock earned them a spot at the Festival where their performance was one of the most memorable of the weekend. They’re currently working on their debut full length record, hopefully due in May 2014.

Me and This Army

Baltimore indie / punk trio Me and This Army got our attention with their 2012 single “You,” becoming one of the few bands to elicit a universal response of “oh, Me and This Army? Love those guys.” They spent 2013 recording a lot of new material, but releasing very little of it. Hopefully 2014 will see some new releases from Courtney and co.


It’s almost unfair to put Death on this list, since they’re about as far from “up and coming” as it gets, but the legendary punk innovators are set to release their first new music in nearly 40 years this year. If that’s not something to get excited about, I don’t know what is.

Mickey Lightfoot

2013 was a great year for forward-looking punk-spirited hip-hop. Mickey Lightfoot’s 2013 EP To Kill A Flockin Bird showed a producer and MC with no shortage of ideas, and the courage to make music that sounds like nobody else. Whatever he does next is sure to catch fire.

Last Year’s Tragedy

Last Year’s Tragedy are one of the most inventive and heavy bands to come out of Nairobi’s vibrant underground scene. Their 2013 EP Challenge Accepted made good on the promise of the band’s early singles. Here’s hoping for a full record in 2014.

Loaf Muzik

Loaf Muzik tore up the Battle of the Bands, delivering an unforgettable performance. The hip-hop collective’s mixtapes showcase a band capable of looking forward as much as they look backwards to hip-hop’s Golden Era. Expect great things from these kids in 2014.

Gordon Voidwell

Gordon Voidwell was quiet in 2013, releasing only a handful of remixes. But advance on word on his next record is that it’s gonna be killer. Get ready for it.

Neneh Cherry

The legendary singer hasn’t released a proper solo record in 16 years. Her next record is due out in 2014 and production by Four Tet suggests it’ll be as genre-busting as her classic records. Blank Project is coming February 26th, 2014.

Cakes Da Killa

One of the most exciting new rappers of 2013 is Cakes Da Killa. Loud, queer, and dope, Cakes’ debut The Eulogy is a standard-setter. If 2013 was the year that queer hip-hop got sick of getting attention for simply being queer in hip-hop, maybe 2014 will be the year Cakes Da Killa earns the respect he deserves for simply being one of the best new rappers out there.

Unlocking the Truth

It’s rare for a band so young and so new to already be “beloved,” but you can’t help but fall for the kids in Unlocking the Truth. They may barely be in middle school, but their music is heavy as hell; some of the best instrumental metal you’re likely to hear this year.