VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — All right Hampton Roads. Here we go again.
Something in the Water is back again for another year, and the lineup, as expected, is jam-packed with incredible artists.
While people might be familiar with a few of the bigger names like Chance the Rapper and Usher, there are some artists that might make you go 🤔.
But for real, if you never have listened to Snoh Aalegra, H.E.R. or Mahalia, I suggest you make your way to your favorite streaming services and give them a listen. And as an Atlanta native, I was pretty excited to see EARTHGANG and Playboi Carti on the list.
Regardless of your familiarity with the performers, we've got you covered with full explanations on each of the performers and their backgrounds.
Tyler, the Creator
First up, Tyler. This man's fan base is insane. That's probably because he lives up to his moniker being a rapper, producer, fashion designer and music video director. His production skill is arguably the most celebrated of all his talents. He's created a sound like no other that comes from his love of jazz. It's strange to think that it was 2011 when Tyler first went mainstream after "Yonkers" basically went viral. But what's kept Tyler at the top over the years is his savvy in developing and evolving his sound. And it shows from projects like Goblin and Bastard to Wolf, Cherry Bomb, Flower Boy, and Igor. He also performed at last year's Something in the Water festival as a featured friend of Pharrell.
Long after Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl founded it in 1994, Rock band Foo Fighters still manages to sell out whole arenas. And it's no surprise with the band's ability to keep bringing a modern-day freshness to Rock music. Some of its most popular songs include "Learn to Fly," "The Pretender," "All My Life," and "Everlong."
Chance the Rapper
How to thoroughly describe Chance the Rapper's influence in only a few sentences... You really can't, honestly. Chance the Rapper is...a rapper, obviously, but also a singer and songwriter out of Chicago. His projects have made major waves across the country and around the world. He makes note of his spiritual journey with God, and it's no wonder when many of his songs are oriented to the Gospel sound. Acid Rap was the mixtape to get him on the map, but he's stayed on with succeeding albums Coloring Book and The Big Day.
This powerhouse Rap trio out of Lawrenceville, Georgia has spent part of the last decade entertaining listeners on an unimaginable scale. The group is made up of three members: Takeoff, Offset and Quavo. If you don't listen to them regularly, you might know them best from their Grammy-nominated song, "Bad and Boujee." But fans more familiar with their work know hit singles like their breakout song "Versace," as well as "Fight Night," "Look At My Dab," "Motorsport," "Stir Fry," and "Walk It Talk It," featuring Drake. One of the members, Offset, is married to Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B.
Pharrell can't forget other hometown heroes, including Clipse. Brothers Gene and Terrence Thornton, known by monikers No Malice and Pusha T, were raised in Virginia Beach. Pharrell collaborated with the pair early on in their careers, and the duo became a staple in Rap music through the 1990s and well into the 2000s. Clipse's album, Hell Hath No Fury, received massive acclaim after its release in 2006.
Whether you know him for his music or his recent mentions in the political sphere, A$AP Rocky has had quite the year and quite the career. Originally from Harlem and part of rap collective A$AP Mob, A$AP first received solo acclaim in 2011 when he released mixtape Live. Love. A$AP. He was also the center of a political flex from President Trump this past summer when Trump made a call on the rapper's behalf to get him released from jail in Sweden. He was also cited in the impeachment hearings. Circling back, if you see him featured on a song, 10 times out of 10, it's fire. You'll know him from hits like "No Limit," "F**ckin' Problems," "Praise the Lord," and his latest hit, "Babushka Boi."
Post Malone's career has been atomic. In the time it takes some artists to launch to mainstream success, this rapper had already amassed a huge following and worked with high-profile artists. It's likely because of the sound he's produced, which fuses hip hop with pop. His hit single "Congratulations" went triple platinum in 2016, thrusting this artist to fame. And his albums Stoney and Beerbongs & Bentleys have received massive attention, the second of which was Grammy-nominated for Album of the Year in 2017.
Back again for the festival's second year, Usher was a hit at the first Something in the Water. And he's sure to bring the heat again. This artist is an R&B king, who has climbed the charts time and time again from the time he was a teenager up until now. Albums like My Way and Confessions propelled the singer to stardom and he's retained his place by delivering hit after hit like "You Make Me Wanna...," "Yeah!," "Burn," "Confessions Part II," and "My Boo."
Beck is an experimental powerhouse. His innovative style is known wide and far in his decades-long career. He's a musician, singer, and producer that's dipped his hand into the cookie jars of several genres, including hip hop, folk, alternative and soul. He's generated fourteen studio albums, one of which won three Grammys in 2014 including Album of the Year beating out Beyonce's self-titled album and Pharrell's G I R L.
You may know Jaden Smith best by his acting roots, but this artist has leaned well into his penchant for hip hop and songwriting. After landing memorable roles in The Pursuit of Happyness and The Karate Kid, he showed his capacity to take on other arts like fashion and music. Projects like Syre and Erys have secured massive attention and landed Jaden a solid music fanbase.
Wale and the BackYard Band
Wale has always been a favorite in the music world, not only for his lyrical ability but for his introspection and openness on how he handles the industry and fame. And all his projects, from Attention Deficit to Wow...That's Crazy, were welcome gems. A true D.C. native, he never forgets his roots, which leads us to The BackYard Band. This group performs go-go music, a funk-oriented sound that originated in D.C. and is popular to this day. This collab should be one to remember.
You might know him from the notorious hit "Hot In Here," but that song only further solidified Nelly's place in the music industry. This rapper's debut album Country Grammar made waves, going platinum nine times. You also might have seen him in a few movies from time to time, like The Longest Yard. He's also collaborated with Pharrell on several projects.
Pharrell & Friends
Well, of course, Pharrell has to be at his own festival. From his time with The Neptunes and N.E.R.D. to his solo career, it feels like the Virginia Beach native's career has never gone south. In the early 2000s, he delivered songs like "Frontin'," but he's cemented his place in music with his remarkable craft as a producer. He's won several Grammys over the years, but even the song "Happy" got him nominated for an Academy Award. At last year's Something in the Water, his "Friends" included Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Diddy. Let's hope this year stays as stacked as the last.
He's one half of The Neptunes, one-third of N.E.R.D. and literal friend of Pharrell. Chad Hugo's instrumentality has been an essential tool in several memorable songs for various artists over the years. Born in Portsmouth, he started The Neptunes with Pharrell. They later started N.E.R.D. with Shay Haley in the late '90s. You might not see his name plastered on the covers of albums these days, but best believe, he's probably helping produce them.
This R&B singer-songwriter has been crooning to listeners for well over a decade. Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, he rose up to become one of the most celebrated R&B singers of the 2000s. After releasing debut album I Gotta Make It, he garnered attention as an up-and-comer in the industry. Succeeding albums like Trey Day, Ready, and Passion, Pain & Pleasure would also see major success. Trey Songz has also written for and collaborated with a number of superstars, from rappers to singers and producers alike.
H.E.R. is everything. She experienced an explosive burst into the music scene. Before taking her stage name, Gabby Wilson was known as a musical prodigy at a young age. But where to start with her success? After the R&B singer-songwriter released debut album H.E.R. in 2017, she showed her penchant for writing hit R&B songs with lush sounds. The record won the Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2019. She followed that up with her sophomore album, I Used to Know Her, which continues to deliver those quiet storm vibes. She's one of my favorites on this list.
This Atlanta rapper is quickly becoming well-known for his flow among today's young talent. His career really took off when he became acquainted with A$AP Mob, after which he began performing with artists like Lil Uzi Vert and A$AP Ferg. He definitely proved himself a standout in the industry after releasing hits like "Broke Boi" and "Magnolia." His music's vibe is so catchy and his apt for the craft is illustrated on his EPs which gained massive attention and feature artists like Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky.
Major Lazer is well known for their work on tracks for several major artists, but their own stands out just as well. Producers Diplo and Switch joined forces in 2008 to create this electronic group, which helped bring about the rise of EDM (electronic dance music). You'll know them for major hits like "Lean On" and "Cold Water". Look up their albums Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do and Peace Is The Mission.
Another Atlanta native, this MC's smooth, dazed sound has captivated R&B and hip hop listeners. "Prblms" in 2016 gained him some notoriety, but this songwriter's work extends beyond himself. He often writes for and is featured on other artists' songs. If his first album Free 6lack, made waves for R&B listeners, his second, East Atlanta Love Letter, with songs like "Pretty Little Fears" solidified his place among some of the up-and-coming talent.
Snoh Aalegra is a cannon. This Swedish singer's EPs have garnered acclaim and recognition where everyone only wants more. Honestly, it's her voice, her sound, her vibe that keeps me listening. She was made to perform R&B. Aalegra's sound is one that's introspective and makes you feel like daydreaming. She released debut album, Feels, in 2017 followed by her sophomore album, -Ugh, those feels again, in 2019. Her place among this performance list is one that's very welcome.
This producer's prowess for formulating beats for chart-topping songs is what launched him to stardom. He's worked with rappers like Gucci Mane, 21 Savage and Post Malone. He produced Future's hit song "Honest" and was behind Drake's "Jumpman," Big Sean's "Bounce Back," "Bad and Boujee" by Migos, "Mask Off" by Future...need I go on?
Brittany Howard is the lead vocalist and guitarist for bands Alabama Shakes and Thunderbitch. Her voice feels so easy and classic. After years of releasing hit songs for the Alabama Shakes, Howard tried her hand at a solo record called Jaime, which was named after her sister who died at age 13. The album takes an open and intimate look at her life.
From College Park, Georgia, Gunna has been highly sought after and featured on the songs of high-profile rap artists like Travis Scott and 21 Savage. He's worked with several of this year's festival performers including Metro Boomin. After being featured on fellow rapper Young Thug's track "Floyd Mayweather" in 2016, Gunna went from start-up to standout.
Atlanta natives Johnny Venus and Doctor Dot make up the hip hop duo, EARTHGANG. After their song "Shallow Graves for Toys" hit the Billboard charts in 2015, they continued to perform and produce more music before being signed to rapper J. Cole's record label, Dreamville Records. This group has a unique sound that doesn't mimic but reminds you of another Atlanta group -- OutKast. My personal favorite album of theirs is Strays with Rabies.
070 Shake first hopped onto the scene in 2016 after Kanye West picked up her single "Trust Nobody." This artist has a unique rap style bristling with a wicked and ferocious delivery. She made a mainstream leap after working with Kanye, PARTYNEXTDOOR and DJ Khaled on a few projects. Her music has also been featured on Netflix show On My Block.
Mahalia is a welcome force for R&B and soul. Her voice drips honey onto supple and smooth beats. She's put out a few EPs, including Head Space and Seasons, Diary of Me in 2016 and her most recent project LOVE AND COMPROMISE. But this U.K. singer-songwriter is a rising star and has secured a massive following on U.S. soil with ease.
Kali Uchis has made a name for herself among hip hop and R&B artists. Raised in Virginia, this artist has collaborated with and been featured on songs of several artists, including Tyler, the Creator. She's known for her ability to sing and write across genres, from R&B to pop. Many listeners know her from her collaboration with Daniel Caesar on "Get You," but Kali's album Isolation, released in 2018 drove her solo career to solid cruising speed. She's well on her way.
This D.C.-area rapper delivers her rhymes with an intensity and flow that won't mirror any other rapper's style today. After dropping songs and a couple of mixtapes for a time, rapper Lil' Yachty remixed one of her early songs, "Hey Arnold," which helped her secure an even wider fanbase. She's featured on the song "Mamacita" which is on the Fast and Furious soundtrack.
This Latina songstress has a sultry voice that will make your eardrums melt. Ms. Claudio made major waves after compiling some of her R&B songs on EP Confidently Lost in 2017. Her debut album, About Time, which was also released in 2017, hit Billboard charts. She's captivated listeners with her soulful sound and style. "Don't Let Me Down" is probably my favorite song of hers, but whatever song of hers you listen to likely won't disappoint.
From the time this synth-pop artist debuted in 2014, she's achieved massive popularity for her alternative and contemporary pop style. After she released "Warm Water" in 2013, listeners stay tuned for more songs. The next year, her debut album, Goddess, got ranked at #12 on the Billboard 200 chart. She's toured with artists like The Weeknd and performed at other major music festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo.
Baby Rose's voice sounds like the rebirth of Billie Holliday. She's a fairly new artist to the R&B music scene, but she's secured her following with her unique vocals which emit a class and magic that's on par with the old rhythm and blues greats. Take a listen below.
Tierra Whack blends a colorful and carefree style in such an effortless way. And she delivers that style in her music. She's a rapper who hails from Philadelphia and has a super playful vibe. I love her adlib the most.
Leon Bridges' music makes you feel like he's channeling beautiful sounds and styles from an era before this one. However, this Grammy-nominated artist takes on an array of genres like R&B, soul and country and blends them effortlessly in his music, giving off a rock-steady feel. His albums, Coming Home and Good Thing, are both utter gems.
Mereba is an R&B and soul artist who has collaborated with so many up-and-comers. After she released her 2013 EP Room for Living, she started appearing on several songs with artists like JID, Earthgang, 6Lack and Vince Staples. On her newest album, The Jungle Is The Only Way Out, her intimate style really shines through.
Buddy first made his debut after releasing his track "Awesome Awesome" in 2011, which he collaborated on with Pharrell. He's released tracks through the decade and collaborated with several major artists. In 2018, he released hip hop and rap album Harlan & Alondra where he raps about his life through the years with charisma and magnetism.
KP The Great
This DJ and Grammy-Award winning songwriter is a standout on this list. Another literal friend of Pharrell, KpTheGreat has developed several major artists since the 90s. He's helped propel the careers of artists like OutKast, P!nk and Usher. He's also served as Head of Music for Pharrell's creative agency called i am OTHER. Did you know he also co-wrote Kendrick Lamar's "Alright"?
Venus X is a DJ whose mixes with punk and electronic music is said to have helped shift the clubbing scene in New York.
This artist wrote part of the chart-topping hit "Old Town Road," but she's been writing for and collaborating with major artists for a while now. She got her start after working under Portsmouth natives Timbaland and Missy Elliott. Since then, she's written for Fergie, Lil Wayne and G-Eazy. She released a few singles this year like "I'm Gone," "Feel So Good" and "Sucka Free."
A former member of group Fifth Harmony, Lauren Jauregui's solo work has put a soulful touch on pop music. Once Fifth Harmony formed in 2012 during the show, The X Factor, Jauregui went on to perform hit songs like "Reflection" and "7/27" with the group. On the solo end, she's worked with artists like Halsey and Steve Aoki.
This collective of rappers, producers, songwriters and musicians specialize in fusing genres like jazz, hip hop and rock. According to their website, they started as a pair of friends in Burlington, Vermont, who expanded the group to other mutual friends. They then moved to the downtown Burlington area to focus on music. After listening to a few of their tracks, I'd say they're a complementary and welcome addition to the Something in the Water lineup.
Lany is an indie-pop band made up of multi-instrumentalists who formed in Los Angeles. Their self-titled album peaked at #4 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart in 2017. They released their sophomore album Malibu Nights the following year. They've worked with artists like Halsey, Ellie Goulding and Troye Sivan.
After this rapper released "Ransom," he took off on music streaming services. He released album We Love You Tecca this past year and has collaborated with other artists like Lil Tjay, A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Juice WRLD (R.I.P.).
After releasing his first few tracks, this rapper blew up online. While in jail, Lil TJay wrote lyrics, some of which he recorded upon his release. His songs take on a reflective and almost melancholic tone as he raps about facing down adversity in his life. He's also been featured on songs with French Montana, Lil Tecca, Tory Lanez and Wiz Khalifa.
Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Nickelus F has a bit of a battle rap reputation after being BET's 106 & Park "Freestyle Friday" champion for seven consecutive weeks in 2007. He's collaborated with Drake on some of the Canadian rapper's early projects and mixtapes, as well. Check out some of his albums like Vices, Triflin', Stuck and The Gold Mine Vol. 2, which was released this year.
UPDATE: Pop Smoke was shot and killed on Feb. 19 during a home invasion robbery. He was 20 years old.
"Welcome to the Party" was a huge hit this past summer. Pop Smoke's rugged voice and heavy beats are all part of his unique New York style. After releasing EP Meet the Woo, the up-and-coming artist started appearing on songs of other major artists like Nicki Minaj and French Montana. Pop Smoke also just released his second album Meet the Woo 2.
This songwriter hails from Detroit, Michigan and is known for his blend of hip-hop, reggae and pop music. He's got two albums under his belt -- The Story of Us and his latest release, From Michigan With Love. As a Detroit native, he cites that many of his musical influences are from Motown Records and that he fused that sound with other genres as he cultivated his own sound and style.
SoSuperSam's voice and sound are so smooth and intimate. Hailing from Los Angeles, this DJ and singer has put out two EPs -- Garden and Priority. After listening to some of her music, she's got an easy style that feels like it blends R&B and pop influences.
Not many up-and-coming artists can say they made Barack Obama's 2019 summer playlist. But Rema can. The Nigerian singer's track "Iron Man," which was released earlier this year, was a favorite of the former president's. Since then, he's taken off on music streaming services. He's released three EPs this year, including Rema, Freestyle EP and Bad Commando.
The Head and the Heart
Indie folk band The Head and the Heart formed 10 years ago and first made waves in the Pacific Northwest after they started touring and performing. They racked up a pretty massive following in that part of the country before signing to a label. They've got four studio albums under their belt, including newly-released Living Mirage.
Tank and the Bangas
This New Orleans-based R&B band formed in 2011. As the frontwoman, Tarriona Bell's rich voice and poetic style are a complementary polish to this band's smooth and soulful sound. They made their television debut this year on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, singing one of their newest singles, "Nice Things," from their 2019 album Green Balloon.
R&B and soul artist Love Mansuy hopped onto music streaming services with EP Of Age, which highlights his outlook on family and relationships. His introspective style is delivered in an emotional fashion.
Noodles is a Los Angeles-based DJ who plays with R&B, rap and electronic sounds in her mixing style. After meeting major R&B artist Kehlani in 2014, she started touring with her and performing as her disc jockey.
These Virginia Beach natives formed their indie-rock crew in 2009. They made a full debut a few years later releasing EP Magnolia in 2013, followed up by Peripheral Vision in 2015. Their newest album, just released this year, is called Altogether.
Photographers, artists and other non-music collectives:
Something in the Water isn't just known for delivering major artists to the stage. The festival puts all arts at the forefront, showcasing several crafts like photography and fashion design and honing creative agencies for inventive workshop opportunities. Here's a list of some of the non-music related groups who will also be at this year's festival:
Owner of the largest art gallery in the world, JR is a French photographer and street artist based in Brooklyn. According to this photographer's website, he specializes in collage technique and his portfolio features a wide array of photographs that feature international landmarks and chronicle national and worldwide issues.
Bae Worldwide is a movement dedicated toward empowering female leadership and a pioneering spirit in male-dominated industries. This initiative seeks to create a dynamic and safe space for women who seek higher opportunities in their respective fields. They provide services in event production, film producing, DJing, graphic design, illustrations, animation and experiential.
Pop-Up Church Service
Back for its second year, the Pop-Up Church Service was a hit at last year's Something in the Water festival. The non-denominational, worship event drew hundreds of attendees and featured pastors, choirs and dance ministries from all over Hampton Roads. The sentiment behind the service was to create an uplifting and unifying space.
Kaws is also back for Something in the Water 2020. He's an artist and designer whose art depicts unique character motifs. His beach installation was a festival favorite last year, gracing the Instagrams of hundreds of festival-goers.
According to its website, Global Citizen is an international coalition with the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. These advocates make it their mission to learn the systemic causes of extreme poverty in order to build a sustainable foundation to end it.
FriendsWithYou also is returning to Something in the Water. For the inaugural year, the collaborative art project set up shop along the Oceanfront and at the main festival stage with giant, inflatable art installations that featured colorful and whimsical designs.