Over the past year the music scene in Upstate New York has continued to grow with a number of artists really starting to take their time with their craft and working to grow their fan base as well as their skill set. The editors of Upstate Aesthetic have been fortunate enough to be a part of this growing scene for the hip hop community in Upstate NY. Throughout 2019 the editors were consistently looking for new talent to feature on the website. Every month a plethora of new projects or tracks would release as this talented scene never seems to sleep. Over the past few weeks we have received a number of nominations from fans of the music in the local area and listened to every project from front to back. Over 20 different projects ranging from straight lyrical miracle hip hop to melodic trap and even a few rocker chicks. This contest was a fantastic experience for us as we were able to really dive in and listen to some projects we may have given a short listen to but not taken the time to hear in full length. After listening to so many fantastic projects we did our best to compile a worthwhile top ten list of projects you HAVE to check out. Before we jump into the official top ten projects of 2019 for Upstate NY according to our editors let's check out the honorable mentions:
School Emotions - Saint Kid is still extremely young and the future is so bright for this extremely talented artist/producer. School Emotions is a great melodic collaboration album but is very much music for a younger generation. This isn't a bad thing as it will be exciting to see Saint Kid grow throughout 2020 and beyond.
Beyond Me - Ryan Pierce is another fantastic artist/producer combo out of Upstate NY. Ryan is the man behind so many great Dim 136 tracks and his work shouldn't go unnoticed. His solo effort really stood out to us and shows his potential to truly shine not only as a producer/engineer but also a legit artist. Melanincholy - The Miserable Genius was all the way off our radar but popped up through this competition. His lyrical ability and storytelling strengths make him easily one of the top artists we are keeping an eye out for in 2020. Melanincholy was real raw hip hop and was undeniably one of the best projects of that genre of the year. The Mandela Effect - The Supreme Soup falls directly in line with The Miserable Genius. He is an unapologetically raw hip hop artist and he will not sacrifice any of that to gain a couple extra streams. Soup came hard with many lengthy tracks on his over one hour project. If you are a hip hop nerd who will listen to a damn near seven minute track just to get Soups crazy yet relatable plot twist on "The Next Step" like me then you'll love "The Mandela Effect." However if you're only interested in what is generally played on the radio then Soup might not be for you but you have to respect his dedication to his craft. Lone-Star - J.J. Wolfe is similar to Soup in that he will not sacrifice his vision of what his music should be to get people to listen. Wolfe continuously attempts new things throughout this project and didn't cut anything down to fit the mold of what an industry standard project might be. Wolfe is a machine producing new music throughout all of 2019 this young artist has a bright future. With his energy and ability to fit into rockstar mold its almost a matter of not if but when will J.J. Wolfe blow up. Fresh - TyEsco94 had one of the best projects of 2018 with his debut "94" project. He followed that up with his Fresh EP in 2019. TyEsco's music quality on "94" was a big reason for Upstate Aesthetic even starting up however Fresh was too short to really rank fairly with full length projects. Throughout most of 2019 fans were waiting for something more along the lines of a full length project from TyEsco. TyEsco closed 2019 with two brand new tracks so there's hope that 2020 will be big for this talented young artist. Breaking News - SNLenjay is another artist who has a ton of room to grow but absolutely shines already as a potential heavyhitter going into the next year. While Breaking News may not lyrically be the best project out of upstate it has some seriously catchy bangers. The opening track "Olsen" is one of the only tracks to get stuck in my head off any project.
The Top 10
10. Harvest EP - ‘Dwellers
The ‘Dwellers are set for a potentially huge 2020 following a great 2019 with the release of their "Harvest EP" as well as Yellaboi’s "Enter the Dragon" project. These two create melodic music that is ready to take the entire area by storm and their popularity is unquestionable. One of the most listened to local acts on Spotify the ‘Dwellers are easily one of the most popular acts in the area. "Harvest" is a great showcase of what the duo can do providing melodic hits from top to bottom. They provide a more mainstream sound that is still somewhat unique to the area as they are the only ones doing it this well. Harvest is absolutely more directed to a younger audience as the melodic vibes on this project tend to take priority despite the duos unquestioned ability to really rap as well. If your music taste is more directed towards a melodic sound this could easily be ranked your number one project of the year. I believe these two have the potential to keep building on the sound they’re creating and really master it to provide fans with some great music. Keep an eye out for these two to potentially legitimately blow up in 2020 as they continue to be one of the most popular duos in upstate NY.
9. Winna The Album - Winna Skellz
"Winna the Album" is undoubtedly one of the more popular projects of 2019 if not the most popular project out of the area for the year. The turnout for the project is a fantastic sign for the young artist who continues to grow going into the new year. Winna’s ability to create melodic club ready tracks is unquestioned and the entire project is full of potential bangers. Coming in at 36 minutes this project easy to listen to and consistently provides the listener with upbeat catchy tracks for the listen to enjoy. If you’re unfamiliar with Winna as I was going into this project you will be pleasantly surprised with what the young artist provides the listener. 2020 will be a potential breakout year for Winna especially locally as his style of music could easily translate to the upstate music scene. Check out "Winna the Album" if you havent already and keep an eye out for a potential follow up sometime in 2020.
8. Prodigy Reloaded - Alonzo Brunn
Going into 2019 Zo was teasing the potential of retiring his budding career way too early. Instead the artist removed himself from most some social media platforms and began to focus in on creating a new project. "Prodigy Reloaded" is the perfect showcase of how great of a lyricist Alonzo is and how easy it is for the young artist to navigate his words over a track. Alonzo is not interested in necessarily appealing to the mainstream consumer but to the hiphop head ready to listen in to what Alonzo has to say you will always walk away impressed. He has an ability to either make a consumer love or hate and him his unfiltered lifestyle has at times hindered his growth as an artist. This project was a sign of Alonzo’s ability to step away from the immaturity and focus in on creating a great project which is exactly what he did with "Prodigy Reloaded". If Alonzo’s hottakes on social media have turned you off of the artist I suggest you set personal feelings aside and enjoy one of the better lyrical projects of the year.
7. Sunsets Over Burning Cities - Corey Loveless
2019 was a busy year for local Ithaca artist Corey Loveless dropping two full length projects on streaming services as well as a mixtape and a remix series on social media. Loveless closed the year out with his best project to date and a very clear and apparent sign of growth for a young artist. No longer the sadboy of upstate music Corey has shown himself to be a legitimate lyricist who just happens to wear his heart on his sleeve. Corey has been a major figure bringing together many local artists in the area alongside his frequent producer Ryan Pierce. Under the Dim136 umbrella a number of artists shine including on this project. J.J. Wolfe, Process and P.S. all make incredible appearances throughout this project. This shows Loveless' ability not only to put together a great project but a great team of artists. 2020 looks to be huge for the entire Dim136 squad as that team never sleeps. If you haven’t listened to Sunsets yet allow yourself the experience of enjoying Corey’s interesting concept album that is undoubtedly one of upstates best of the year.
6. Sheridan Carter Crane - Sheridan
"Sheridan Carter Crane" is unique in the aspect that throughout the entire project Sheridan possesses a little bit of everything that every project in the top five specializes in. This project is at times incredibly unique with Sheridan taking a more rock inspired route while at other times showcasing his vocal and lyrical ability as a true hip hop artist. One of the more impressive things about "Sheridan Carter Crane" is that this is a debut project. Sheridan is relatively new to the scene but his musical ability as well as his creativity provided him not only one of the more well done projects of the year but also one with a ton of fan turn out. This impressive debut has afforded Sheridan the opportunity to continue reaching out to other local artists despite continuing to build his fanbase after moving across the country. Sheridan paired his release with a number of posts on social media detailing his process creating the tracks for this project. If you’re unfamiliar with Sheridan we suggest giving him a chance as his ability to create unique music true to his sound will make it fun to watch him grow throughout 2020.
5. Heads - GScaffa + TY Burst
This project suffered from lack of promotion behind the rollout but the project itself was absolutely one of the better projects released from Upstate in 2019. GScaffa and TY Burst have a fantastic chemistry as the duo have consistently worked together in the past. The two come together on this project to provide a quality lyrical piece that also has a lot mainstream radio appeal. In a lot of ways it’s surprising that this project didn’t have more commercial success in terms of immediate streams as both GScaffa and Ty Burst are not only two of the more entertaining melodic 607 artists they are also extremely popular with their fan base. While the promotion and turn out left something to be desired the project itself didn’t. GScaffa and TY Burst worked so well together creating melodic hits that those upstate especially can connect with. It was initially teased that this project would receive an immediate follow up titled "Tails" however the duo have held off to finish the project. Keep an eye out for the potential release of "Tails" sometime in 2020 as Gscaffa and Ty Burst look to continue making moves going into the new year.
4. Richy Seaon 2 - MBK Richy
"Richy Season 2" was MBK Richy’s second full length project of 2019 and was a return to Richy’s roots as a much more lyrical artist. After trying his hand at something new with his earlier 2019 project "Primetime" Richy decided to create a follow up to his "Richy Season" project with another more raw project. The return to form proved to pay off for Richy as "RS2" has been one of the artists most popular releases and has consistently received positive reviews for the artists ability to spit real raw content and his great lyrical ability. “What If” is one of the standout tracks on this project and really embraces all of Richy’s strengths in one song. This project has allowed Richy the ability to connect with more artists as his reach throughout upstate continues to grow. Richy’s growth as an artist is evident in this project and 2020 looks to be a great year for him following the positive response to "RS2". Make sure to keep an eye out for whatever Richy has in store this year and go stream "Richy Season 2" if you haven’t heard the project yet.
3. SET - Mr. McBean
"SET" is one of, if not the most unique albums to come out of upstate in 2019. Mr. McBean is a bit of a hidden gem for the upstate area. While he doesn’t have the following that Anthony Kannon has the two have been frequent collaborators under the Smacked Records umbrella for a number of years now with McBean actually bringing Kannon into the fold early on. While McBean is seen as one of the better minds for music in the upstate area his dedication to perfection at times can be seen as a bit of an issue for the artist’s fans. McBean is the definition of a perfectionist so he has consistently teased fans with new music before eventually deciding to return to the drawing board. Finally in 2019 McBean dropped “SET” and while it didn’t have the attention of the masses those who did tune in were treated to a musical gem. This is not your typical hip hop album. McBean is absolutely doing what he wants when he wants throughout this project. Only requesting the assistance of his peers for one track “C’est la Vie” featuring two of upstates more popular and creative artists Matthew Cornwell and Meech Booker. The project comes in at just 20 minutes leaving fans of this unique sound BEGGING for more. As someone who listened to many local albums over the course of this month many could learn from McBean that less is more. If you’re one of the many who has been sleeping on this project do yourself a favor and introduce yourself to Mr. McBean.
2. Blur - Anthony Kannon + Meech Booker
"Blur" is undeniably one of the most popular albums to come out of Upstate in 2019. With over 10,000 streams on a variety of tracks throughout the album not only did Meech Booker and Anthony Kannon produce one of the most professional bodies of work of 2019 they also created content that their fanbase could connect with and keep coming back to. Kannon and Meech have a fantastic chemistry throughout the project on the tracks that both are featured on but also provide some solo strength on a couple of tracks just to show each artists isolated strengths. This project has provided the artists with the opportunity not just to collaborate with each other but also other artists in the area as both Anthony and Meech have been featured in many local shows following the release of “Blur”. The ability to create amazing music that has a mainstream appeal that people locally can connect to is the perfect mix to create one of the best albums out of Upstate for 2019. While many would rank this project number one out of the area in 2019, and we wouldn’t be mad at that, the stiff competition and quality music in the area left “Blur” at number two on our list of best projects on 2019. Not a bad feat at all especially considering the fact that “Blur” easily captured our number 1 spot on the fan vote for album of the year, so many in the area have come to the conclusive decision that “Blur” is one of the best albums out of upstate NY for 2019.
1. Madagascar - T.Y. Vega$ + Slick Fashionz
Despite it’s relative popularity in local circles "Madagascar" is one of Upstates most criminally underrated projects of 2019 and slides right in at number one for the editors of Upstate Aesthetic for the best overall project of the year. Slick Fashionz and T.Y Vega$ bring a combination of energy, lyricism, reality, versatility and mainstream appeal throughout the entire project that places them at that level among the best in upstate. Coming in at 33 minutes the project doesn’t feel like it runs long at any point consistently bringing something new to the listener anytime things start to feel redundant. This project has all the makings of a certified hit not just locally but across the nation with the proper promotion behind it. Collaborative projects were some of the best projects to come out of 2019 for the sheer fact that you could sense the friendly competition among the artists. This friendly competition feels like it’s evident throughout the entire project with both Fashionz and Vega$ consistently bringing their best on every track. With the ability to bring tracks as hard hitting as "Bingo" and "Jaws" but also tracks with mainstream appeal like "Breathe" and "Vibez" it’s no surprise this project is our selection for album of the year. While many other projects had some of these pieces for a great album, none of them put the pieces together as perfectly as Fashionz and Vega$. If you haven’t yet stream "Madagascar" below and keep an eye out for both T.Y Vega$ and Slick Fashionz as both look to continue dominating the music scene throughout 2020.