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10 New Artists You Need to Know: June 2014

Meet the rising stars of rock, R&B, EDM, pop and more acts shaping your tomorrow
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Courtesy Big Smo

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Big Smo

Sounds Like: If Run-DMC's "Walk This Way" stomped out of Queens and ended up in the rural south.

 For Fans Of: Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem," Jay Z's "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," unexpected fusions thereof

 Why You Should Pay Attention: A product of the New South heralded by Bubba Sparxxx's 2001 Dark Days, Bright Nights, Big Smo has spent the past decade and a half grinding through the sun belt, playing hypeman to Juggalo favorite Haystak and pushing a handful of independent LPs at gigs of his own. Now, with a more polished version of country-rap bubbling onto the radio, Smo's hoping that his self-titled new A&E reality series, a cross between Duck Dynasty and ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show, will provide a backdoor to mainstream success. Kuntry Livin', a new album featuring Nashville favorites Rhett Akins and Charlie Worsham, suggests he might not need it.

 He Says: "My brother was a fan of the movie Breakin' and my father turned me on to outlaw country, so when I was a kid I'd listen to these tapes with Hank Williams Jr.'s 'Born to Boogie' on one side and Fat Boys' 'Wipeout' on the other. With the show, we want to provide the visual aspect that people need so that they're not scared off by the word 'rap' or completely turned away by the word 'country.' They'll see that I'm just a product my environment, the adult version of a 12-year-old kid from Tennessee who likes to listen to both genres."

 Hear for Yourself: "Workin'," a hick-hop "Hustle Hard," uses a heavy riff and a thick bass line to make the most out of a life in where the narrator says he "spent more time on the clock than I do with my wife." By Nick Murray

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