It’s that time of year again to celebrate Minnesota’s best and brightest upcoming hip-hop artists.

There are a lot of people who could have made the list this year, but here are some musicians who showed a lot of promise over the past 365 days. These artists had a high output of work and made a big impression on our readers.   


Head of the Free Minds Entertainment brand, GainesFM has had quite the productive 2017. He kicked off the year with the “Smile” EP in late January. To date the nine-song project has racked up more than 38,000 online listens with production from past “5 for” winner Finding Novyon.  Gaines also released some impressive visuals with “Smile’s” video release in August (20,000-plus YouTube views) and “Blame” racking up more than 14,000 YouTube views in a little over a month. On the live performance side of things, he’s been packing out shows and giving crowd-pleasing performances. GainesFM is definitely poised to make a big impact nationally in 2018.

Jayso Creative

Northside wordsmith, Jayso Creative, has been on a noteworthy run over the past two years.  In 2017 her catalog included some powerful singles including, “Single,” produced by TreyV and “P.A.W.S.”  The official video for “P.A.W.S.” hasn’t done massive numbers yet, but showcases a Jayso’s playful style.  Her rapid-fire, yet laid back, flow fits right in the pocket of current day music, while also showcasing community consciousness. Jayso has got what it takes and is one the way to make some real noise in 2018.   


The dynamic duo of Envy and Fancy absolutely crushed it in 2017.  With the incorporation of a strong band for their live show, they’ve received critical acclaim. Combining hip-hop and R&B, their sound has a lot of replay value and throwback appeal. In September they won night two of Paisley Park’s “Musicology” 2017 contest.  Their “Love & Loyalty” album has been in heavy rotation.

Dwynell Roland

Jamari “Dwynell” Roland had nothing short of an amazing year 2017. In March he was the official opening act for Sims on a seven-city tour that went from Los Angeles to Vancouver.  Performing at the Zombie Pub Crawl saw Roland opening for the likes of T-Pain and Tech N9ne.  He played the packed out Rock the Garden concert with the Walker Art Center and opened for Machine Gun Kelly at Myth. A true fan favorite, Dwynell Roland is set for an even bigger year in 2018.

DJ Mickey Breeze

There is a lot that can be said about St. Paul’s Mickey Breeze, but two words come to mind immediately – pure talent.  The 16-year old DJ and producer already has years of work under his belt. In February he was featured as an official performer with Illa J for Dilla Day Twin Cities.  Breeze became the official DJ for “Candy Fresh,” the variety show on SPNN television. Competing in several beat battles and competitions, Breeze won the Slam Academy competition in October. Though dealing with some publicized health complications (sickle cell anemia), Mickey Breeze brought his gear with him to the hospital and made beats for his doctors. As a result, he was asked to make official music for the hospital. His trap, wavy and hip-hop beats will be highly sought after in the coming years. Artists better get one now before the prices go up.


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