The music world runs on a "what have you done for me lately?" mentality. We’re obsessed with something one minute and couldn’t care less the next. That here today gone tomorrow dynamic has always existed, but it went up a notch for hip-hop in 2014. It seemed like every week a new it artists suddenly appeared—especially in the second half of the year—riding the impact of one popping song all the way to stardom. In the past, people deemed an “overnight celebrity” often had years of hard work behind them. But nowadays, thanks to YouTube, Vine, SoundCloud, and Internet in general, people do actually go from struggle to stardom in mere days. Just look at the way a complete unknown like Bobby Shmurda Shmoney Danced right into our hearts.
2014 was the year of the hip-hop one-hit wonder. This year wasn’t just a weak year in rap releases, it was a rebuilding year—just like 2009 was. Maybe that's why there were more overnight success stories than usual. All of a sudden it felt like the most popular songs of the year were one-off hits from artists none of us knew last year, and few (if any) of them had full length projects worthy of their breakout hits.
Most times, one hit wonders have their careers end before they even really got going because they let their first song, and its ensuing fame, define them. So as 2014 comes to a close we felt it was the perfect time to run through all the artists who went viral this year and offer our thoughts on what their future could be. Who will end up among rap’s elite? Who is the new Trinidad James? Only time will tell, but we hope you enjoy our predictions.
[Ed. Note—Rae Sremmurd is not a one-hit wonder as they had two songs reach Top 40, plus "No Type" is actually a bigger hit than "No Flex Zone." Meanwhile, acts like Raury, Goldlink, and others were notable newcomers, but they didn't have the breakout songs to hit this list. Either way, we look forward to all of them in 2015.]
Max Goldberg is a writer living in New York. You can follow him on Twitter.