Whether it’s dedication to creating and evolving, relentless self-promotion, constant performing and networking with peers, touring and making connections on the road, or some combination of all of these things, the artists represented in the 2016 Music Issue possess the sort of dynamism, drive and resolve that, in a perfect world, should take them to the next level. These are artists actively taking steps to make a name outside Tampa Bay while also being active within it; that have the potential to be discovered, drum up a buzz, and get some meaningful national exposure. In sum, they’re artists poised to break out.
It feels fitting that I’d spotlight artists working their breakout because I, too, am breaking out of Tampa Bay, if in a different sort of way. After more than a dozen years at Creative Loafing and more than three decades living in Florida, I’m hanging up my hat as Music Editor and embarking on a new adventure, returning to the West Coast, but to a city much farther north than Santa Cruz, California, where I was born: Seattle.
I plan to visit Florida frequently — my folks live here after all — and I’ll continue following the Bay area scene even as I set roots 3,000 miles away, so you’ll still see my byline here, though with far less frequency. Plus, I have a few issues left in me before my successor (more on that soon) takes over, including this very special one, and I’m particularly pleased that I got the chance to feature each of these high-quality locals before my exit.
Three “Breakout” artists were spotlighted in the issues leading up to this one — Billy Mays III and his Mouth Council project, The Ries Brothers and Mike Mass. The remaining 10 — Betty DawL, Alexander & the Grapes, Displace, Polyenso, The Jackettes, PLEASURES, Sonic Graffiti, QueenofEx, Jordan Esker & The Hundred Percent, and Soapbox Soliloquy — put us at a baker’s dozen, and encompass an eclectic range of talent. There are also tales of two artists on opposing sides of larger success — one who made it, one who didn’t — and a first-person narrative from the perspective of a hip-hop group that just experienced a taste of fame and some quality exposure battling it out for a chance to appear at Brooklyn’s AFROPUNK Festival.
I hope you’ll enjoy discovering these artists just as much as I did. —Leilani Polk