DOPE SAINT JUDE
Described by industry insiders as the South African M.I.A, Saint Jude is flying the flag for female rappers in her country. The scatty, unpredictable production of tunes like ‘Grrrl Like’ is an instant vibe, and hones her Cape Town swagger perfectly. After two EPs last year, we can only hope that there is more to come this annum; she would also slip so naturally onto a Major Lazer hit. Diplo, what are you waiting for?
Much like the cultural diversity Birmingham offers, its music is rich in variety. The midlands scene has given us some true originals, whether that is the urban poetry of Mike Skinner, the luscious voice of Jorja Smith, or the self-indulgent bars of Jaykae, there is an artist for everyone in brummy. Next to take the step up, are the Blue Room Mafia, who’s abrasive blends of drill, HipHop and trap has been making waves for a good few years now. Their 2017 EP ‘Blue inc’ mixes Lauren Ralph’s borderline psychedelic production, see ‘Bad B’, with the effortless flows of Kojay, Qam, Pshay, Ninioh and H1. They embody everything that is so admirable about UK music at the moment, meaning they could be set for a big year.
Ireland is the place to be a musician right now, the artistic bounce back from their 20th century recession has instigated the creation of some incredible new punk and grime. ‘KOJAQUE’ however, could easily follow in the footsteps of rappers in the calibre of Rejjie Snow, if he carries on making the lofi sensual hits that ‘Deli Daydreams’ was packed with. Unlike other artists, (real name) Kevin Smith prides himself in his experimental stance, switching between synth and acoustic sounds in a beatiful manor. He’s off to SXSW later this year; an absolute breeding ground for new talent, so get in on Ireland’s next biggest act before he blows.
LISTEN: Last Pint
‘Master of Inane Convention’ said in an interview with NME that he wanted to be the ‘Kate Bush of grime’; he has a long way to go, but his ambition is sure to take him somewhere. His 2018 release ‘Heaven is Black’ relished in attempting to modernise trap, addressing race and sexuality in a positive way. 'Afropunk Atlanta' is definitely a stand out cut of his, harnessing a blistering beat to his deep flow.
With the likes of Mac Demarco, Pond and Tame Impala creating a strong scene of psychedelia, it is only natural that new acts will start to disperse into the mainstream. This duo provided some of 2018s most laidback cuts; I never thought I could enjoy the duet of an ex-Mathematician and Painter, but the quivering vocals and twangy riffs are too much to handle.
With his debut LP coming out later this month, the enigmatic Londoner has developed his raw, psychedelic hip hop completely on his own accord. Tunes like ‘M.G.H.O.T’ have a distinctive tone of 90s Tricky; the Bristol scene influence injecting that extra dynamic to Disu’s music that differentiates him from his peers. With vocals not too dissimilar to Ghost Poet, but more industrial, restless beats than the fellow Londoner, his music matches the tones of artists like ‘Gaika’, but more distinctively urban.
A frequent collaborator of Finn Foxell, P-rallel’s house infused hip hop tampers with spacey electronic loops and soothing rap. He lays in the middle of a spectrum with Disclosure at one end and JD. Reid at the other; the sheer variation in immaculate beats this producer conjures up is phenomenal. He’s making a name for himself with his Parallel Theory show on NTS too, proving his ability as a DJ is as admirable as his beat making; this is someone you should definitely keep an eye on in 2019.
LISTEN: SAY NOW
This producer had a very successful 2018, guesting on a whole host of tunes in the underground rap scene, whilst releasing some well received mixes on NTS radio. His ability to nurture elements of old school hip hop and weave it into his modernised rap makes him frighteningly versatile. On his Harlem Spartans rework, he sees himself embedding the drill group in an illustrious list of instrumentation, completely flipping their sound on its head. Hopefully he will have the chance to work with some fairly prestigious names in the game next year, in an attempt to broaden his sound even further and rival some of the most established of producers.
LISTEN: Banter on me flip
A meld of everything from deep house, to R&B and avant gard hiphop, Jadu Heart have found a unique voice within a highly saturated electronic scene. The enigma surrounding their masks and music makes them all the more fascinating, as well as the appraisal from big names like Mura Masa. They could be set for a big year if they continue the high standards of singles like ‘U Never Call Me’ and ‘I’m A Kid’, both funky synth pop belters in their own right.
LISTEN: I'm a kid
Brother of Kaytranada, do I really need to say anymore to entice you?, the Canadian vocalist killed 2018 with his single releases. Obvious parallels could be made with him and artists like Goldlink and bLaCk PaRtY, but he offers a groovier sound - one that would slip straight into the 80s. If a pair of Farah flares was a song, it would be his Kaytranada edited ‘Come Inside’, which prides itself in the deep, funky house vibes it produces. Vibrant tones and scintillating rhymes simply sum up Phelps and his tunes, have a listen below.
Like a lot of punk out there at the moment, this band are on a sonic odyssey, playfully manipulating their sound on every song - trying something new and being incredibly enticing whilst doing so. With a string of festival dates in the summer, including the End of the Road fest, it is no surprise they are gaining such a hype around them; they are impossible to truly pin down. With such a vast range of influences, ranging from jazz to experimental rock, it was only natural that such an eclectic mix of sounds would be incorporated to tunes like 'The Dial' and 'I I'. Give em a go below.
LISTEN: Liquid Light
LAVA LA RUE
The Ladbroke Grove living Lava La Rue is becoming increasingly well known for her creative R&B stance, a sound she’s been developing as part of her NINE8 collective. Her ‘Letra’ EP is packed with scintillating vocal tones, experimental production and admirable features; her deeper cuts like, ‘Save You’, are truly mystical, offering an air of nostalgia amidst the layers of production. You don’t find a lot of neosoul artists getting the attention they deserve, so give (real name) Ava Laurel a go.
There’s a strong soul scene airing in London at the moment, and Greentea Peng is up there with the best. Her hazy, harmonic vocals are starting to pick up attention across the industry, and 2019 should see her blowing up. Her truthful lyrics work incredibly well with the vintage, tropical production that features on many of her tracks - which are not only thought provoking, but very catchy too. ‘Loving Kind’ is her most popular example of this; the 24 year old absolutely kills it on this one with her self harmonising tones and gentle rhythms.
2017’s ‘Midnight Express’ EP was one of the year’s best introductory projects from any rapper. It is distinctive in its ability to narrate and depict his life stories in a thought provoking way. However, since it dropped, the mic controller has gone fairly quiet. He recently featured on Rebel Kleff’s ‘Pencil Pushing’ and has gained attention from some of the industries most treasured, most noticeably Loyle Carner. He offers a more fiery, orotund voice than those related to him, which complements the dark and harmonious sound of the EP. He has to release an album of sort this year, the hiphop world needs him back making bangers.
LISTEN: This is livin'
‘Culture for 17’, Louis’ 2017 single release, was an instant underground classic. From the melodic intro to the hypnotic feature from Lava La Rue, it indulged in HipHop’s unique collaborative spirit; Lord Apex absolutely kills his verse, but it is all about Louis Culture on this one. His ability to hop on a beat effortlessly and contribute to choruses so succinctly is very admirable; he aired a new single on NTS the other day, and all I can say is it is an absolute belter. All of this makes him one to keep a heavy eye on this year.
Something For You (S4U) have a sound like smooth butter, the prolonged harmonies of tunes like ’Twice’ puts them on a par with some of R&B’s most treasured talents. Being someone born in the 90s, but incredibly close to the millennial, I could never really say I experienced the 90s of course, but their sound is inherently from this period, whilst nipping at the heels of the aesthetic of a few other decades. Their lyrics and beats are all self-produced, making them all the more intriguing - not many people manage to make a name for themselves in this way anymore. Click play if you rate a bit of Destiny’s Child.
Formed whilst attending the prestigious Uni of Cambridge, it would be easy for an outsider to automatically dismiss this indie outfit as pretentious. However, this would be a very ignorant prejudgement, and they are modestly migrating to new heights in the British Indie scene. Selling out Scala may have seemed like a big deal to the band at the time, but now they’ve moved on to some of London’s most treasured venues, Electric Ballroom being their next visit to the capital. And it’s no surprise to why they’re gaining this level of attention, the anthemic, raw indie is accolade ready, and easily accessible for people with completely contrasting music tastes. If there is a band to be excited about in 2019 it’s Sports Team.
Telling tales of teenage antics in a way that feels like an audible diary, the Essex trio pride themselves in their youthful angst. Tunes in the calibre of ‘Spiked’ narrate situations relatable for anyone of any age. The vivacious execution has become intrinsic to their sound, shoving repetitive baselines straight into your ears and snarling their lyrics powerfully at you. In an era where indie is losing out heavily to its middle class image, it is nice to see these lads staying true to themselves and making some unpretentious bangers.
This woman is incredibly difficult to pin down, which is probably why some of the most prestigious of artists have broken an arm to have her on their songs. Belgian experimental pioneers Soulwax are the most notable, which is odd considering her more minimalistic stance on many of the tracks she has performed under this moniker. However, 'Screen' is a punky ode to the pitfalls of the 21st century; the social media age has become an evident first world problem, and she attacks this in a way only the likes of N.E.R.D or M.I.A could replicate.
Head of the infamous House of Pharaohs, the London MC is arguably as big as the group that made him. ‘Rack Up’ is just one example of the instant jams he has created over the last few years, flirting with drill tendencies but embodying the DIY spirit people like Tyler, The Creator have relished. He has a big career ahead of him, whether he gets the acclaim this year or in the next few - a break feels nigh, for his solo sounds and collective. ’45 with Sam’, a track by 808INK, is one of many examples of the rapper killing a feature too, adding his unique energy to the hiphop bopping beat.
LISTEN: DO OR DIE