Sounds Like: If you've only heard his international smash single "Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)," he might remind you of scratchy-voiced soft rockers like Chris Rea or Michael McDonald. But for years he's been a rapper for whom the closest touchpoint might be DMX's "Slippin'" if performed by a Dutch MC.
For Fans Of: Drake, Ja Rule or maybe Chris Isaak
Why You Should Pay Attention: The "Waves" remix is already Number One in the U.K., Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Probz (born Dennis Princewell Stehr) recorded the original in 2013, and the remix took off suddenly and without warning. It's en route to becoming one of the most popular dance records in the world, also charting in Australia and Africa. And while American hip-hop fans have taken few European rappers seriously, Probz has already earned a level of underground success and mainstream cred. He's contributed grungy, emotionally potent choruses to everyone from Joe Budden to Lloyd Banks to C-Bo.
He Says: Probz has overcome his fair share of adversity. In 2010, he was shot in Amsterdam but survived, and "Waves" was a bright light among similarly tragic circumstances. "'Waves' was just something I tried, just a promo song," he says. "Someone gave me a guitar for my birthday, because I was always talking about guitars. It opened my eyes. 'Waves' is the first melody that I taught myself to play on the guitar. Then I lost my house…I was working on a hip-hop album for like three years, when my house burned down and I lost everything. The music that I had on my laptop was the only thing that I had left. That and a box of papers and the jeans that I had on. Then I went on this TV program, I played 'Waves.' Just to see how people would respond to it. I played the song, went outside, smoked a cig, looked on iTunes and it went Number One. That's when I knew things were going to change, because I didn't have anything left."
Hear for Yourself: "Waves" is already starting to pop up in the States; if it does cross over, you won't be able to escape it. Though, if you want to hear his more hip-hop side, hunt down his free 2013 album The Treatment. By David Drake