Hip hop connection UK regular, ben freeman, picks the artist that he predicts will blow up this year. Anyone else we should be looking out for? Tell us in the comments.

Isaiah Dreads

Two years ago this young British rapper was virtually unknown but flawless performances at Leeds and Reading festivals in 2015, and a hotly anticipated ‘fire in the Booth’ awaiting release, that looks set to change. A metamorphosis is about to go down for the young artist – he’s a breath of fresh air for the UK hip-hop scene!

I first heard Isaiah when a short clip of him spitting appeared on my facebook timeline, a little over 2 years ago. He was only 16 at the time but despite this, his flow was impeccable. Stupidly, I left the clip without noting down the rapper’s name. The next appearance I saw from Isaiah came in the form of a post on a facebook group I’m also part of (shout out to the basement). The post detailed planned summer performances at Leeds and Reading festivals. Given that I was attending Leeds fest, I was eager to check him out. At the time, I hadn’t made the link between the name and the clip from my timeline but, as soon as I heard him live, I recognised the flow. Ever since I’ve been a huge fan.

Features of the 18-year-old’s music that seem to have (understandably) gained him a lot of attention are his snippets of reworked covers of prominent songs from recent years. From R. Kelly’s ‘ignition’, to ‘love yourself’ by Justin Bieber (later released as a full length track), the variety of material in his portfolio of covers and remixes highlighted his versatility and ability to rhyme over all kinds of styles. I mean, when you decide to rework and rap over a legendary beat like ‘ignition’, you’ve got to go hard. Isaiah does exactly that. Clocking in at only 26 seconds long, the remix is certainly short, but sweet. Even now I find myself replaying the clip 4 or 5 times over to alleviate the stress of the clip being over too soon. When he dropped the video on his twitter account, many were in awe, and from that point his follower numbers have rocketed.

Isaiah reminds me of a young Mac Miller. Independent, dedicated and fresh. If I was being really critical, I’d say that his content is a little adolescent (a lot like Mac Miller in his earliest years) but this takes nothing at all away from the excellence in lyricism and delivery. I have every faith that content will evolve in due time – just comparing older tracks on his Soundcloud to more recents uploads shows just how capable he is of improving and progressing.

He’s just recently released his newest mixtape, ‘Lights Go Green’ and I’m loving it. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement in his newest work is the production, and quality of the sampling. Virtually all the instrumentals of tracks he’s released of late have had an incredible, effervescent feel to them. The ability he’s demonstrated to implement such effective sampling should be respected. People don’t realise just how difficult producing music can be, but when you hear the penultimate track on the mixtape, ‘thankful’, you’ve really got to appreciate the skill in sample selection. In a genre built on a foundation of sampling, few current producers are able to do it as seamlessly as the unsigned Isaiah has done here with the impressions’ “people get ready” (a sample that’s the backbone of the game’s “bang along”).

Isaiah Dreads

Above anything, he’s young and he’s having fun with it. This is something that shines through in almost all his tracks, and it’s great to be able to feel that vibe through an artists’ music. There will be no holding back Isaiah Dreads in 2016. Potential oozes out of every bar he spits and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a figurehead for the UK hip-hop scene. After the success of his second independent mixtape, you can only presume that Isaiah’s time is now. He’s ready to take off. For the young rapper, the Lights truly have gone green.

Words by ben freeman

For those who haven’t heard Isaiah’s music before, take a few minutes to introduce yourself with the tracks below:

Thankful ft. BenjaminAD

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is a great track built on a great sample. Isaiah also shows here that his music is a lot more than just rapping quickly and snappy punch lines. He illustrates how well he can tell a story by explaining his pursuit from a young rhymer to the rapper he is today.

Love yourself cover

Although the recording is low quality, the cover itself is far from that. In this track he executes a change of flow really well on more than one occasion which is something a lot of well established artists struggle to do. The content here deals with the trials and tribulations of getting to where he wants to be which works very nicely over the acoustic beat.

Family Business Remix

Often I’m a sceptic of remixes so with this being the first cover I saw from Isaiah I didn’t know what to expect. Family business is one of my favourite Yeezy tracks so I was extra hesitant when first hearing this, but the only disappointing factor is it being a minute and a half long!