Let’s just get it out of the way now: this list will piss some of you off. Chances are you’ll let us know about it in the comments section. “Y’all left out [insert name of local rapper with a decent Instagram following here]!! This whole list trash,” you’ll write. Maybe you’ll use an expletive; maybe you'll add a clown emoji.
And you know what? We're good with that. Because it's a great sign. It means that right now, Canada's ripping at the seams with so many notable up-and-coming artists that it's friggin' impossible to name them all. And not just any artists, mind you, but one's worth trolling for. Artists people give a shit about.
Last decade, the world paid more attention to Canada's music scene than it did, well, ever. Thanks to the likes of Drake and The Weeknd, our country gained a rep for being a leading cultural hotbed, with exports more diverse than rootsy folk singers and goateed grunt-rock bands. Finally, outsiders—and even insiders—started looking at us and saying, "Hey, maybe there's more to Canada than we thought."
Well, turns out they were right. The North is entering 2020 with an embarrassment of exceptional talent from coast to coast, spanning many different cultures and genres. What's more, since the world is watching, these artists are wasting no time making noise. Some of the ones on this list already have Grammy nods; some have already gone platinum. Some have collaborated with Kanye West; some are massive in Asia. So what do they all have in common? They're all still on the come-up, and all still have the potential to go supernova this decade. You know, like what Drake did in the last one.
Without further ado, here's our list of 20 Canadian artists to look out for this year. Go ahead and @ us.
To say that Haviah Mighty had a great 2019 would be an understatement. As the first hip-hop artist to win the Polaris Music Prize with 13th Floor, an unapologetic album that forcefully addressed racism, sexism and colorism with adroit rhyme skills, Mighty’s significant achievements cannot be dismissed. While the Brampton, Ontario native’s membership in The Sorority with Keysha Freshh and Lex Leosis has ended due to the much-beloved crew’s dissolution, Mighty is now poised to capitalize on the momentum of her Polaris win. Anyone who has seen her creative drive up close knows she’s going in for the kill. —Del Cowie