A hotbed of buzzing talent, the CMJ Music Marathon kicks into high gear this week in New York City. From Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, hundreds of breakout artists and veteran performers will be performing for lucky CMJ badge holders and other concert-goers at venues throughout the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. With so many acts performing, it can be difficult to figure out who's a must-see and who's not. But The Boombox has got your guide to this year's festivities.
Of course, there are the veterans like Sisqo, who's on the comeback trail, and Just Blaze, who's slotted as one of the conference's panel speakers as well as a performer (Oct. 17 at Output at 10 p.m.). But it might be bit harder if the performers are lesser known.
So instead of flipping through the thick booklet of artists, we've got a list of which hip-hop and R&B artists and groups you need to check out this week.
Audra the Rapper has been in the rap game since she 15 years old after she released 'I Got Yo Weave,' a track she wrote when she was 14. The DC spitter has released a series of mixtapes including 'Miseducation of Audra' and 'No Such Thing Does Exist.' She was named one of the 20 Emcees to Watch in 2012 by Funk Master Flex and IFWT as well as featured in Essence Magazine. In June 2011, she was named one of Hello Beautiful's 30 Under 30 list when she was 21.
Audra the Rapper is performing on Oct. 16 at Littlefield at 10:25 p.m.
German-born, Los Angeles-based rapper Schoolboy Q is one of the west coast rappers leading that scene along with Top Dawg Entertainment spitters like Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock. Inspired by Jay-Z's "rhyme-style," the now Interscope artist was named one of XXL Magazine's 2013 Freshman Class. With two independently released LPs and 'Oxymoron,' his third album and first major label effort due out this year, Schoolboy Q is clearly on the rise and is one to check out next week.
Schoolboy Q is performing on Oct. 17 at Webster Hall at 12:25 a.m.
Vic Mensa is ready to show everyone that he is no longer the fresh-faced rapper that was with Kids These Days. His recent release, 'INNANETAPE,' shows a more mature side to him with a bit more grit. No doubt this Chicago-based rapper will not only perform the hits from his first solo EP, 'Straight Up,' but also his new material.
Known best for being the lead singer in '90s R&B group Dru Hill and his infamous 'Thong Song,' it looks like Sisqo is making a comeback. After 12 years since 'Return of the Dragon,' he will soon be releasing his third solo LP, 'Last Dragon.' While there is no set date for when that will drop, we have no doubt that he'll be giving the crowd a sample of his new material at CMJ.
Sisqo is performing on Oct. 17 at S.O.B.'s at 11:30 p.m.
The Kid Daytona may be born in Atlanta, but this rapper has New York running through his veins. Growing up in the Bronx, he formed his first group in high school called, The Aces. He was obviously destined to be a solo artist and was signed to Atlantic Records in 2002. His releases include 'LRG x The Interlude,' The 'Interlude II' and 'Summer Games: The Kid with the Golden Pen' and 'Lost Luggage.' He was also named 'Grey Goose Rising Star' in 2011. He was recently featured on Raekwon's 'Turkey' and 'Damier Suitcases.'
The Kid Daytona is performing on Oct. 16 in Santos Party House at 9 p.m.
Hailing from Rockland County, N.Y., Bishop Nehru has already toured with Wu-Tang Clan and is working on a project with MF Doom. Did we also mention that he is only 16? The young rapper caught everyone's attention with his mixtape, 'Nehruvia.' Now you can see, in person, if Nehru lives up to the hype.
Bishop Nehru is performing on Oct. 16 at Webster Hall at 9:30 p.m.
If there's any rapper that'll make you do a double take, it might be this one. Houston rapper Riff Raff is all about the fun. Rising to fame with the help of some off-the-wall YouTube videos, he's received praise from the likes of Chief Keef, Drake and Snoop Dogg -- just to name a few. He's released a number of mixtapes as well as collaborated with a various artists like Diplo (who signed him to his Mad Decent label) and Action Bronson. His sophomore effort, 'Neon Icon, is due out in January and his CMJ performances will give fans a rare chance to see Jody Highroller's antics live and in color.
Riff Raff is performing on Oct. 18 at Irving Plaza at 7pm.
Known best for their relentless spitting and psychedelic hip-hop approach, Issa Gold and AK, also known as The Underachievers, will be bringing that same energy to this year's CMJ. Releasing two mixtapes -- 'Indigoism' and 'Lords of Flatbush' -- this year alone, this Brooklyn duo will be the "Lords of Williamsburg" on the night they perform.
The Underachievers are performing on Oct. 16 at The Music Hall of Williamsburg at 9 p.m.
Everyone seems to be raving about World's Fair. Hailing from Queens, N.Y., the sextet aren't new to performing. They each have released their own material as solo artists or as sub-group called Children of the Night. Aside from the fact that each rapper comes with his own style, they really want everyone to have the chance to hear their music. So instead of charging for their new album, the group decided to give 'Bastards of the Party,' away. Now even though we may like them a tad bit more due to the freebie, the group has sheer talent that CMJ attendees will find great.
World's Fair are performing on Oct. 16 at Santos Party House at 9 p.m.
Kelela just released her new mixtape 'Cut 4 Me' earlier this month, but she's been causing a buzz amongst critics for her unconventional approach to music. Blending her R&B and soulful vocals with electronic wavy beats takes what innovators in the genre like Janelle Monae to another level. If you're willing to open your mind to a new way to hearing R&B check her out.
Kelela is performing on Oct. 15 at Music Hall of Williamsburg at 8:30 p.m.