DJ Rashad Hayes has had one foot entrenched in the world of underground hip hop and the other providing the nightly soundtracks to some of Manhattan's most exclusive clubs. Or as he puts it, “[My] sound is definitely boom-bap influenced” with “a clear eye on the future.”
It's a daunting task, but he seems to have a firm handle on things. In the last year alone, the multi-instrumentalist has been featured in Rolling Stone and US Weekly, and he's created acclaimed mixes for Questlove's ubiquitous left-field music site Okayplayer. He's rocked the tables at VIP events for Jay Z and Drake and crafted acclaimed tribute mixes to Mos Def and the late J Dilla.
So we had to ask, who's on his playlist of artists to watch in 2015? And he answered, in a BET.com exclusive.
Tinashe. “She's amazing. She's already hard at work on her second album," he said. "I admire her drive. I would love to work with her in future. I really think this woman has all the tools to become the next superstar. Her summer smash ‘2 On’ was great but her mixtapes before that, as well as her excellent debut album, showcase an artist with a serious eye on her craft. I'm really rooting for her because she is carrying the torch for young, gifted, Black writers and performers."
PARTYNEXTDOOR. "He carved a name for himself with his latest mixtape, which stopped the comparisons to The Weeknd. He's an artist in his own right with his own unique sound. This dude is dope. I'm looking forward to what he'll create in the future."
Francesco Yates. "This young dude is extremely talented. Please listen to his joint ‘Call.’ He's a 19-year-old artist from Vancouver and he's working with Pharrell on his debut album for good reason. He's most definitely the goods. I predict big things, and I'm in his corner."
Raury. "He's already gaining comparisons to André 3000 and being championed by Kanye. Listening to his song ‘Cigarettes’ immediately intrigued me to hear more. I love discovering new artists that aren't limited by genre. I look forward to seeing how his sound develops. He has a bright future."
SZA. "Her projects have all been sublime and she's shown a clear aim to being a true artist. Being both inventive and exciting are her main attributes. Listen to her whole discography. Great stuff. TDE never disappoints. She's another artist that we definitely need to support."
K. Flay. "She's another dope genre-less artist with an interesting background and story. She just keeps churning out dope inventive music and my favorite is ‘Make Me Fade.’ She's as talented as any artist out there. Remember the name. True hip hop is universal and she proves it without being a contrived version of the culture. Salute."
Kayla Brianna. “She's been signed to Interscope and Birdman just added her to Rich Gang with Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. With her talent and work ethic, I'm predicting big things for her in 2015. She writes her own music and her new song ‘Honest’ is a banger. All her work has been quality. Loving it.”
Manolo Rose. ”Troy Ave remixed his song into the eventual 'All About the Money,'" Hayes noted, adding, "This Brooklyn MC definitely solidified his buzz with the current club banger 'Run Ricky Run.' He's absolutely an artist to watch for in 2015 and it looks like his pen game is on point. He has a lot of talent, is tearing down his live shows in the city and I'm definitely checking for his records. I would love to work with him on some joints in the future as well."
Fetty Wap: "He has the song of the moment in 'Trap Queen' and it looks like a monster hit. But what people will find out is he's got a gift of melodic hooks and a unique style. 2015 could definitely be a breakout year for him."
Audrey Rose: "This singer/songwriter is the crown jewel of our squad on The Feature Presentation music group with DJ Suss-One. She's getting major radio play in New York with her singles 'Your Love' and 'Ice Cream' and has dynamite talent. Her EP, Guns & Roses is releasing this year and, trust me, it's a banger."
Tink: "The whole world will know about her. She's a true double threat (incredible singer and MC) and signed to Timbaland. This Chicago artist turned heads when she remixed Rick Ross and Jay Z's 'Moving Bass' in stellar fashion while also building her fanbase with amazing mixtapes. I can't wait to see what she has to offer with her debut album."
As for his own musical forecast, he says his "bar is aimed high" for 2015 and beyond (he cites Mark Ronson, Q-Tip, Kanye West and Madlib as inspiration). He plans to show and prove via his Instagram and upcoming mix project, a remix album of songs that he has been "working on heavy in my studio," he said, adding, "I'm happy to finally present it to the world."
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