We run this list every year now, but only because Soundset organizers do their job every year, too.
The 10th annual festival — now arguably the biggest all-hip-hop fest in the country — has consistently provided a snapshot of some of the year’s biggest young buzzmakers in rap. Not that we’re expecting another Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper or Wiz Khalifa to emerge from Sunday’s fray (all of whom used Soundset as an early steppingstone), but we do at least anticipate a handful of acts to show us something new and exciting.
Here are five strong contenders to do that this year.
1. Lil Uzi Vert
The 22-year-old Philadelphian hit the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart twice this spring, first as the featured spitter on Migos’ megahit “Bad and Boujee” and then with his own single, “XO Tour Llif 3.” He got earlier attention as a Don Cannon and A$AP Mob protégé, and from the “Fate of the Furious” soundtrack. His stage name references his knack for machine-gun-like rapid delivery, but it also suits his knack for repeating a hook over and over until he’s shot it deep into your head, earworm-style. Other songs like “Money Longer” and the Snapchat-dissing “Erase Your Social” have a synth-whirring, club-booming backdrop that could turn the State Fair Midway into a giant dance floor. (3:10 p.m., North Stage)
2. Denzel Curry
One of the highlights we saw at this year’s South by Southwest festival, this Miami-area rapper — also just 22 — piles on his lyrics fast, hard and heavy like a metal guitarist. He also goes off like dynamite on stage, prone to drop into or onto the crowd. Curry got his break from the Odd Future crew and signed with the buzzing label Loma Vista to release last year’s album, “Imperial,” a dense and dark mix of angry politics and personal tales. Of local note, he has been on tour and collaborating on tracks with St. Paul wiz kid Allan Kingdom, who’s also playing Soundset with the Stand4rd. Guest appearance, perhaps? (4:30 p.m., Fifth Element Stage)
Big things have been happening for this oddball, fun-loving Virginia rapper ever since Beyoncé touted his 2015 club hit “Cha Cha.” Foremost, he landed the even bigger hit “Broccoli” last year with Lil Yachty, actually about another green plant and as infectious as it is hilarious as it is offensive. He also appeared on Chance the Rapper’s and Gorillaz’s latest albums, and he racked up his own gold-status album sales (but not another hit single) with his October debut, “Dig Baby D.R.A.M.” His warbling, Biz Markie-like voice adds to the novelty value, but it’s clear he’s also a seriously gifted rhymer with clever if sometimes kooky ideas. (6:15 p.m., Fifth Element)
She actually made her Soundset debut two years ago and has been producing her own albums and mixtapes for several more years, but this appearance feels like a new coming-out since she signed with Rhymesayers Entertainment last year. The Atlanta-based MC harks back to classic Black Star-style hip-hop but also has a futuristic and sometimes spiritual edge — not to mention feminist, too — all heard on last year’s wild EP “Metamorpheus.” She makes a killer appearance on her frequent tourmate Brother Ali’s new record and is working on her own album for their label, with the Roots’ Black Thought among the known contributors so far. (1:40 p.m., Fifth Element)
5. Nazeem & Spencer Joles
Pals from Southwest High in Minneapolis, this duo earned a leg up early on thanks to Nazeem’s lineage (scene pioneer Muja Messiah is his dad). They quickly made their own name, however, with last year’s debut LP, “The Album,” full of angsty but playfully experimental tunes and a few straight-up party tracks. The album’s buzz earned them a slot at First Ave’s Best New Bands showcase in January, where they brought a horn section and rabid energy, and then they ran away with the show. Similar results could be seen in the Fifth Element tent on Sunday. (12:20 p.m., Fifth Element)
See our review and photos from Soundset 2017 in Monday’s Variety section or at startribune.com.