So it's been a long time coming, but I have finally put together a roster for you to see. As it stands, we are about halfway through 2009, and I've been keeping my eye out for artists making themselves a name around the country. Being the amazing person I am, I figured I would give you a look at some of these little gems dotting these great lands. Later down the line, you'll be saying I told you so when these artists make it to the top, with me always being right and all. I'm splitting this piece in three, so after reading this, keep your eyes peeled for part 2 and 3. Artists to Watch For '09. We runnin' this, let's go.

The CunninLynguists- Lexington, Kentucky

Deacon the Villian, Kno, and Natti

Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky is one of my favorite rap groups to date. The CunninLynguists (cleverly named after one of my favorite sports) have been rapping about the poor life, raising a family, deceitful women, and a little bit of Mary Jane, since their 2001 release Will Rap for Food.

Self produced by group member Kno, their most recent album will soon be released (the first of two volumes due out this year), entitled Strange Journey Volume One (obviously). Returning is Kno, Deacon the Villian, and Natti to tell us the story of their life plight, whilst driving in a broken down van in the dirty south. This album was great for its story telling interludes, not unlike groups like Outkast or the Goodie Mob. Which ironically works out, as the group takes cues from Outkast, and has featured several Goodie Mob members on their albums. Slug of hip hop group Atmosphere, Substantial, Goodie Mob, Tonedeff (fuckin' amazing), and other amazing MCs are featured throughout the cd. Part One also features remixes from their earlier album, Dirty Acres.

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Specifically, listen for the tracks Move, Don't Leave (When Winter Comes),and The Distance, to get a real feel of the groups talent, with White Guy Mind Tricks being the funniest track I've heard in a while. They are also known for their incorporation of lovely samples of Motown records, and live instruments.

Strange Journey Volume Two is slated for release on (my birthday), September 8th of this year. This trio is one of the realest groups out there. Not that same monotonous bullshit they play all day on the radio. Here's their MySpace and an amazing video about who these guys are, and what they're about.

Some Hear Explosions- Los Angeles, California

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One of the hardest things to accept is too go to a live show of one of your favorite bands, only to learn that they are MUCH shitter upon doing so. Thankfully, this band knows how to up the ante at the live shows, and leave you with ringing ears and a smile on your face, mixed with a sore-ass neck from rocking too hard.

Los Angeles rock band Some Hear Explosions has played it quite smart in the music game since the drummer (and long time friend) Alex Duddy told me about his latest. I'm not sure exactly how (yet, as I want to do an interview hah) they did it, but the band is managed by none other than Idris Elba. You may remember him from his role as Tango in American Gangster, Charles Miner in NBC's The Office, and my favorite, Mumbles from RocknRolla. Apparently this is his first managing gig. Who knew?

Bay, (crazy-ass) Ambre, Alex, and Drew

Alex Duddy is a versatile drummer, as you can detect from the heavy track It's Our Time Now, to the serene steady beat of Amazing. Bay Dariz has quadruple duty, with the guitar, a little bass slapping, Ivory tickling and singing a bit to boot. As daunting a task it is, he wears it quite well, especially live. The band didn't have a (dedicated) bass player for a little while, but Drew Milford stepped up to the task, as long as he promised to tickle the ivory every now and again too. And then there's front(wo)man Ambre Leigh, who has the insanely high sex appeal and fashion sense of Karen O, with the rock charisma of Shirley Manson. She can even do that cool voice vibration that Jewel did before she fell from grace.

I ask two things: Go see this band live whenever you can, and thank me when I right about how rocked your face gets. Check out their MySpace for info on their live dates here.

Ashthon Jones- Nashville, Tennessee

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When Red came to me with a copy of Nashville's latest, I didn't know quite what to think. After I did some digging with the information, I discovered that the critics are right about this "crossover diva" Ashthon Jones.

Why is she a crossover diva? First, it has nothing to do with basketball, rather with her ability to bring R&B, Hip Hop, Soul, Pop, and a little bit of Funk to here arsenal for us to interpret. She's got some pretty serious people standing behind her; such as Doug Colton (head of Dee Cee records) and Yolanda Geralds (hip hop video director).

But she's also a package deal, as you not only get her music mixtures, but also a writer of her own work and entertainer as well with her dance skills. She reminds me a lot of Beyonce, in that she sees she has a lot of work ahead of her, but welcomes the challenge in changing the game. Her mission to get respect in several walks of music will be arduous, but I think we may have a contender here. Here's a quote from our lovely diva on her life in the music game:

I really like creating and performing uplifting feel-good music and inspiring people to be happy and live life.  I feel that my voice is a gift from God; so is my talent.  There is sweetness, as well as a rawness about me that I think anybody can relate to and I hope that Introducing Ashthon Jones definitely touches lives.

Her debut EP, Introducing Ashthon Jones is out now on iTunes and on her MySpace page for you to sample. I would recommend the funky Can't Wait, with a side of the R&B genius of Dreamed of Love.

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There we have it my friends; the first lap around the country with Artists to Watch For '09. Part 2 will be up soon, and I hope you've enjoyed your stay here at Behind the Hype. Go check these guys out ASAP!

Until next time my friends,

~Flak