Predictions 2017: Billboard forecasts the year's breakthrough artists, key shot-callers and industry innovators.
The 22-year-old rabble-rousing rapper Lil Uzi Vert has always defied genre conventions. He dyes his hair in an ever-changing spectrum of colors; he performs in a very Kurt Cobain plaid-on-acid-wash uniform; at his solo shows, he's more likely to crowd-surf than stay onstage. On Instagram, where he has more than 2 million followers, he follows a single account: Marilyn Manson, the androgynous rocker whom Uzi calls his greatest inspiration.
In just a year's time, the North Philly artist born Symere Woods has captivated a social-media-obsessed young audience with tuneful rhymes warbled over trap-inflected, electro-brushed beats. His single "Money Longer" rose to a No. 7 peak on Billboard's Rap Streaming Songs chart (and garnered more than 80 million streams on Spotify). On SoundCloud, the seven tracks on his latest release -- the 1017 vs. the World EP, a collaboration with Gucci Mane -- accumulated more than 22 million streams in three weeks. This summer he'll release his debut studio full-length, even as some elder statesmen of hip-hop call him out for rebuking rap's traditions, like WQHT (Hot 97) New York DJ Ebro Darden did when Uzi refused his request to rap over a DJ Premier beat.