The Lynguistic Civilians have claimed the crown once again. Brands that big, that well known, don't just go away. Still, their victory triggered a lot of conversations, most of them about whether a group that's broken up indefinitely should have been eligible. Barring any comebacks, perhaps Seven Days should retire the LC jersey to the stadium rafters in 2018. This time, however, the crown fits -- they were still doing shows to promote a new album in the past year.
The question of who could unseat the Civilians is interesting, though. This is not a talent show, first and foremost. Nor is it some kind of jury-reviewed reality TV show. The Daysies are a democracy, but a small one - there were 9,385 voters in 2017, a little under 2% of Vermont's population. (It is reasonable to assume those voters are primarily from Chittenden County, but that may not be the case.)
Lynguistic Civilians won that vote because they promoted & played constantly, all over New England. Every artist in every genre in Vermont has "all over New England" in their bio, but it usually just means they played in Boston a few times.
What really sets the Civilians apart is the shows they played all over Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in small town corners that only get local cover bands & godawful iPod DJ nights. They'd kill it, they'd sell albums and merch, and they'd come back again later and kill it again, often bringing new acts with them.
So the question here isn't about who can rap. That would be a very different list of finalists. It's not even about making an impact in hop hop, it's about making an impact with the 802, about being the one product everyone has heard of.
We've got a remarkable range of artists tucked away in the Green Mountains making serious contributions and connections worldwide. Few of them are doing much to promote their cause locally. That's not because they're lazy, or even doing anything wrong: they know that their audience is mostly outside the borders of a state this small.
Lynguistic Civilians have always made their Vermont roots a focal point of their music and branding. Consistent marketing pays off -- in fact, I'm betting they could win this again next year, easily.
S.I.N.siZZle has been hustling hard & working smart, Cultural Chemistry is about to get a lot bigger, Bless the Child is a respected BTV institution, and Hank Collins is a young talent with a movement behind him. Those were the other four finalists for 2017 -- and I have no way of knowing how the rest of the vote went. As Ricky Bobby once told us, "IF YOU AIN'T FIRST, YOU'RE LAST."
Hank Collins isn't the only young artist with the skillset to make a lot of noise: Notation is working on new material, Sam & Somba just dropped an extremely impressive EP, and expect to see a lot more from names like Modest, Khaosity and David Chief in the next year. Then there's Jamell Rogers aka "NYT" -- kind of a mystery how he's not famous yet.
Jibba the Gent has been doing tireless work as his own PR firm, racking up interviews, website features and actual radio plays. That, in addition to his relateable music, could pay off big.
Finally, Jarv is an obvious candidate. He's playing constantly, both solo sets and with his party-proven crew Maiden Voyage, and recording constantly, too. He's been on national tours with RA the Rugged Man multiple times now and he's amassing a considerable fanbase, here and far beyond.
There are some big things just off the radar screen. The Aztext are going to drop a new album. Chyse is only going to keep improving and building a local following. Bar None the Best are making a run for the top spot this summer, and that battle plan has only begun with their latest video, "Grind." The whole Street Religion crew have great management, a rabid local fanbase, and a lot of talent under one brand.
Winning over 10,000 locals is a tall order, though. It's worth taking a look at the Lynguistic blueprint and considering how to apply their moves to the next 24 months of your own career, if you want to replace them.
Good luck & happy hunting.