Pandora Predictions to Know: Brockhampton, EarthGang & Stefflon Don

Johnny Nunez/WireImage
Merlyn Wood, Ameer Vann, Kevin Abstract, and Dom McLennon of BrockHampton backstage at Highline Ballroom on Sept. 11, 2017 in New York City. 

Three rappers who have made -- and could make -- waves on the Billboard charts, according to Pandora and Next Big Sound.

Judging by their performances on the Billboard Hot 100 and various hip-hop and R&B charts, it’s already clear that Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti are some of the hottest newcomers in the rap game. But who will be the new names that we might be talking about, say, six months or a year from now? That’s exactly the thinking behind the Next Big Sound  Predictions chart, powered by Next Big Sound, the music data analytics company owned by Pandora.

Next Big Sound has two charts that spotlight up-and-coming artists: Trendsetters (a list of the up-and-coming artists with the highest number of artist station adds on Pandora) and Predictions (which uses social media growth over the past week to try to predict the artists who are most likely to hit the Billboard 200 chart for the first time within a year). The charts refresh on Pandora’s website on Fridays and on Billboard on Tuesdays.

While Next Big Sound’s charts reflect all genres, one thing is a near constant: hip-hop tends to dominate. On any given week, it’s not surprising if over half of the artists on Trendsetters are rappers. Rappers also tend to rise up the chart relatively quickly, such as past charters Lil Yachty, D.R.A.M. and Lil Uzi Vert. Outside of hip-hop, Dua Lipa debuted at the top of the chart about a year before she arrived on the Hot 100 with “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” (No. 72, Nov. 5, 2016) and a year and a half before her even bigger hit, “New Rules” (a new peak of No. 56 on the latest Hot 100). In other words, it’s not a bad place to be.

Here are a few other artists who’ve recently appeared on the chart or are currently charting.


While Odd Future may be defunct as Tyler, the Creator and company embark on solo careers, there’s an equally promising, equally weird rap collective rising up to fill that void. Led by Texas native Kevin Abstract, the Los Angeles-based Brockhampton -- comprised of more than a dozen artists -- has had a busy 2017, and it’s quickly paying off.

The group started making noise on social media and streaming after the release of its debut album, Saturation, in early June. That noise got more deafening after the release of its follow-up, Saturation II,  just two months later, helping both Kevin Abstract and Brockhampton land on the Predictions chart. (Brockhampton appeared at No. 9 on the ranking dated Sept. 1, while Abstract is currently in that same spot on the Sept. 15-dated list.)

In the past month, the group has added around 30,000 Twitter followers and 35,000 Instagram followers. It’s also almost tripled the number of Pandora artist station adds compared to the previous month and has seen five times the number of Pandora spins. All the activity allowed for rises to its Next Big Sound Billboard 200 score (the Billboard 200 score measures an artist's likelihood of success on the Billboard 200 based on growth across several social media metrics on a scale from 0 to 100), and it worked out, as Saturation II bowed at No. 57 on the Billboard 200 – the group’s first appearance – earlier this month (Sept. 16) with 9,000 equivalent album units, according to Nielsen Music.

More good news for Brockhampton: Its artist station adds on Pandora are exponentially outpacing its track station adds, meaning this isn’t a case of a one-hit wonder. But if there was a standout off Saturation II, it would be “Gummy,” which is their most popular track so far on Pandora. (The song has earned 3.7 million on-demand audio and video streams across all services to date, pulling in 572,000 in the latest tracking week that ended Sept. 14.)


While Brockhampton reps Los Angeles, EarthGang hails from Atlanta. But the duo, composed of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, has made it clear that its material isn’t anything like the trap music popularized by fellow ATL artists like Future and Migos. EarthGang debuted in the top 10 (No. 8) of the Predictions chart (dated Sept. 8), shortly after it signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records and released a new EP, Rags.

While the duo has been releasing music for about seven years now, it hasn’t seen activity quite like this before. This month compared to last month, EarthGang has seen a 700 percent increase in Instagram followers, a 350 percent increase in Twitter followers and a 275 percent increase in Facebook page likes. The duo has also seen a 200 percent increase in traffic to its Wikipedia page, a sure sign that people are curious about EarthGang. Like Brockhampton, its artist station adds are also heavily outpacing track station adds. EarthGang is currently at No. 11 on the Predictions chart, with its Billboard 200 score at 20.

Stefflon Don

Making noise from across the pond is Stefflon Don, a rising femcee from East London. While she was born in Birmingham, her parents hail from Jamaica, and you can hear the reggae influences in her music, which mixes rap and dancehall  -- with a bit of patois -- into one. Born Stephanie Allen, Stefflon Don has already become a bit of a household name in her home country, but now she’s starting to see more and more crossover success after the success of her December mixtape Real Ting, as well as a string of big-name collaborations that started with Jeremih’s “London.” Most recently, it’s “Hurtin’ Me,” a collaboration with French Montana, that’s making noise, prompting her debut on the Predictions chart at No. 20 (Sept. 15).

The release of “Hurtin’ Me” in August has helped Steff see, month-on-month, a 100 percent lift in Facebook page likes, a 75 percent increase in Instagram followers and a 110 percent lift in artist station seeds on Pandora. In case that wasn’t proof enough, the fact that she can pull this off should be enough to let you know she’s going to be big. 


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