Who They Are: JID has steadily risen to hip-hop fame with his commitment to the craft of his verses and the essential talent of freestyling. Born and raised in East Atlanta, Destin Route established himself within the Atlanta scene and beyond with his Earthgang-produced debut EP, Dicaprio. By 2017, the rapper signed to J.Cole’s label Dreamville, through which he released The Never Story and 2018’s acclaimed Dicaprio 2. Though his rapping chops already take JID above his competition, his deep, dark lyrics are what often distinguish the rapper, from opposing drugs on “Off Da Zoinkys” to reflecting and remembering a friend who passed away on “LAUDER”. “If you literally listen to the words, it’s more sad than it is like, ‘Oh he barring,’” he told Genius about the lyrics of Dicaprio 2 single “151 Rum”. “I’m barring, like it’s fun because the beat is getting you, but what I’m talking about, I was really talking about like some real painful shit for real, for real.”
What to Expect: With two Dreamville records under his belt, JID no longer has to prove himself as an opener under J.Cole’s shadow. Expect rapid-fire deliveries of JID’s newly beloved Dicaprio 2 verses, along with more potential for freestyling and demanding for truth within the social impact lens of the Emerge festival.
Essential Tracks: “Off Deez”, “NEVER”, and “LAUDER”
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Who They Are: With the help of her instrument of choice, the Buchla 100 synthesizer, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has become a pioneer in experimental electronic music since 2015 with raw and organic, nearly surreal soundscapes. After cementing her musicianship through her acclaimed records EARS and The Kid, along with composing scores for various films and brand projects, Smith has taken her transformative sounds to an even deeper, more transcendental level. Last year, the Los Angeles-based musician released Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga on her own label, Touchtheplants. Recorded in 2013 for her yoga teacher mother and with Smith’s own guided meditations in mind, Tides flows between the simple and the sublime.
What to Expect: In addition to a full-festival performance, Smith will lead an hour-long guided meditation for EMERGE festivalgoers. Such an unprecedented music festival experience warrants no preparation or expectations. “I don’t like to tell people about it so that they don’t have an expectation,” she told Consequence of Sound about her meditations. However, she said, “One thing I do like to tell people is that it’s all intended to teach people about how to interact with their subconscious.” At a festival that often asks audiences to watch and listen to others, Smith’s set will encourage fans to look inward.
Essential Tracks: “To Feel Your Best”, “Tides I-IX”, and “Stratus”
Who They Are: Leikeli47 has maintained a secretive identity by always wearing a bandana or balaclava over her face. Her rising popularity, however, is far from a mystery. Raised in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Virginia, the musician and producer self-released a string of projects before signing to signing to RCA Records, where she released her full-length debut, Wash & Set, in 2017. The album’s success brought her from Afropunk to Coachella to a couple of features on HBO’s Insecure. On last year’s Acrylic, the artist began to reveal more of what’s underneath her mask. While tracks like the stoner-girl-honoring “Girl Blunt” and fashion show soundtrack “Post That” are extremely fun, tracks like “Iron Mike” and “Hoyt and Schermerhorn” shout out her home in Brooklyn, “Roll Call” celebrates the entity of America’s historically black colleges, and “Walk-Ins Welcome” considers the gender dynamics present at a nail salon. Every track shares another piece of Leikeli47’s highly concealed life, providing anecdotes for listeners to connect to one another. “It’s a great way to engage people and get them talking to each other,” the artist shared in a press statement about Acrylic. “A lot of the time we don’t know how our worlds relate because we barely talk to each other. We take stuff too seriously — it’s time to have fun and be part of a melting pot of individuals.”
What to Expect: If her recent Tiny Desk concert is any indication, a Leikeli47 set can vary from a rowdy, hot-and-heavy hip-hop blowout to a neo-soul-inspired, chilled-out groove session. Like the rest of Leikeli47’s persona, the makeup of her set will only be unveiled when the artist is ready to show it to us.
Essential Tracks: “Girl Blunt”, “Post That”, and “Attitude”
Who They Are: Electronic duo Marian Hill rose to platinum-selling status with the support of blogs like Hype Machine, which catapulted the indie artists into viral pop sensations. The structural, minimalistic beats of Jeremy Lloyd paired with the crisp vocals of Samantha Gongol earned the musicians millions of streams and an Apple commercial for “Down”, a track from their debut album, ACT ONE. After releasing their moody, surreal musical and visual album UNUSUAL last year, the Philadelphia-bred, New York-based pair are now working on their next project.
“When I listen to it next to our older stuff, it feels less restrained,” Lloyd told Consequence of Sound about the new music. “It’s a little more in-your-face and right there and really doing whatever it set out to do. Some of them are more experimental, some of them are more in the vein of what you’d expect from us, but I think they all have a different kind of edge and it cuts a little more.” Gongol continued. “We’ve had this period of unrestrained freedom, which is really nice. I think even thematically, we’re experimenting with aspects of relationships that we’ve never had before.”
What to Expect: “They could expect to dance and they can expect some excellent sax solos,” Jeremy says, referring to their only previous collaborator, saxophonist Steve Davit, who often joins the artists on the road. Plus, as the pair record their new album this year, a live set feels like a unique, rare experience. “Every time we get to perform, it’s a lot more special right now,” he said. The artists also hope to include a couple of brand-new tracks in their set.
Essential Tracks: “Down”, “Subtle Thing”, and “One Time”
Tank and the Bangas
Who They Are: Tank and the Bangas represent the distinguished, legendary New Orleans music scene, combining fun pop lyricism, eclectic hip-hop, soulful jazz, and passionate roots grooves. Frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball had already established herself as a slam poet in the city by the time she met her bandmates, Merell Burkett on keyboards, Joshua Johnson on drums, Norman Spence on bass and synth keys, and Albert Allenback on alto sax and flute. Tank’s writing talents gained a soundtrack from her new friends, and before long, the group were playing at open mics and festivals around New Orleans and had released their first album, Think Tank, in 2013.
Fast-forward a few years, when the group’s submission to NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Contest was noticed by Bob Boilen, who determined them the winners over 6,000 other entrants. Last week, the band released their label debut, Green Balloon. After performing live for so many years, it was unclear to the band how an LP released through a major label would turn out. “I was scared sick to record, because it’s a lot of personalities. It’s a lot of ideas,” Tank admitted to Consequence of Sound. “It actually was cooler than I thought it would ever be. And much more healing, much more therapeutic. I need that time with my guys. We knew what type of sound we wanted to do, so it was electric, beautiful, fun, good energy.”
What to Expect: “I would describe it as an actual teenager,” Tank says about the band’s evolving live set. “Somebody that is changing and learning themselves, falling in love and dating, trying out different restaurants, and traveling, because it really is a person. It grows with each experience.” She insists, however, that no matter what the band does, every set is dependent on its unique audience. “The energy is always pretty unmatched and always depending on the place where we’re at.”
Essential Tracks: “Smoke.Netflix.Chill.”, “Oh Heart”, and “Nice Things”