You never know who is going to be the next Chance the Rapper or Kendrick Lamar at Soundset. But you can make some logical guesses, as we do every year.
Over its impressive 12-year run, the groundbreaking Twin Cities hip-hop festival has booked Chance, Kendrick and numerous other future rap stars on their way up, plus many upstarts who didn’t go on to be megastars but did carve out innovative careers. Here’s our pick of young talent with bright horizons in this year’s lineup. (We probably could’ve included Lil Uzi Vert, too, but we already picked him for this list in 2017, and he wound up being a no-show at the festival — his loss.)
Trippie Redd: Already big enough to have headlined Myth nightclub this past winter and landed a platinum single with “Dark Knight Dummo,” the Canton, Ohio, rapper/singer is still only 20 years old and coming out of the shadows of Diplo and the late XXXTentacion. He was featured on the former’s rather unbearable, minor pop hit “Wish” and guested on the latter’s breakthrough single “[Bleep] Love.” He’s coming to Soundset five months after dropping his “Love Letter to You 3” mixtape, which landed at No. 3 on the Billboard album chart and was backhandedly praised by Rolling Stone as “gloriously carefree, opting for nonsense that sounds good over any sort of lasting coherence.” Hmmm. (Performing at 3 p.m., St. Paul Stage)
Doja Cat: After catching on with her oddball cow tribute “Mooo!” last year — intended as just a meme, and it showed — the Los Angeles singer/rapper is now catching fire with the much more clever but still weird and wily hit “Tia Tamera,” featuring her similarly bawdy and razor-tongued cohort Rico Nasty. Personal anecdote: A tweet I sent out last month of the pair performing that song at Coachella is still getting likes and retweets on a daily basis. Too bad the real-life Amala Dlamini, 23, also made disparaging comments for which she’s still catching hell from LGBTQ advocates. (2 p.m., St. Paul Stage)
B.A.G.: Sort of the female answer to fellow Soundset 2019 players Run the Jewels, Blimes Brixton and Gifted Gab were already known indie rappers on their own when they teamed up in 1+1=3 fashion. Their slow-but-deadly two-minute collaboration “Come Correct” unexpectedly became a viral hit in 2017, prompting them to craft a duo moniker (after “Blimes and Gab”), drop another mud-thick single “Nasty,” and now work on a full album under a new deal with Anderson Paak’s management team. (1:15 p.m., Atmosphere & Friends Stage)
YBN Cordae: Part of the Los Angeles-based Young Boss N — — z crew alongside YBN Almighty Jay and YBN Nahmir, the 21-year-old Washington, D.C., area native first gained attention by posting remakes of Eminem and J. Cole songs. His viral buzz led to a slot on Juice WRLD’s tour last year and a deal with Atlantic Records, which recently dropped his Baby Jesus-invoking single “Have Mercy” ahead of his awaited debut album, “The Lost Boy.” In interviews, he has repeatedly talked about bridging old-school rap’s social relevance and with younger rappers’ intimate, internet-driven sensibility, which makes him a very good fit for Soundset. (3:45 p.m., Atmosphere & Friends)
Dua Saleh: “My music career still feels accidental, but I feel like I was always going to be an artist one way or another,” the Sudan-born, St. Paul-raised, nonbinary-identifying poet-turned-rapper told us in January, same week their debut EP, “Nur,” earned an excited 7.5 review from Pitchfork. Produced by the Stand4rd’s sonic wiz and Yung Thug collaborator Psymun with input from Mike Frey and Velvet Negroni, the EP boasts a futuristically funky soundscape that Saleh matched with free-flowing, almost jazzy wordplay, from the dreamlike nighttime fantasy “Kickflip” to the sexual time bomb “Sugar Mama.” (Noon, Atmosphere & Friends)