FORGET THE NME 100, THESE ARE THE 10 ARTISTS YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO IN 2021. IN SUCH A DISPOSABLE, DIGITAL AGE, IT IS DIFFICULT TO PREDICT WHO WILL BE MAKING THE MUSIC THAT STAYS WITH US IN YEARS TO COME, BUT EVERYONE ON THIS LIST WE KNOW HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SHAPE THE COMING ANNUM. FROM NUANCED NEO SOUL TO VISCERAL TRAP VIA INDIE RAP AND IRISH HIPHOP, HOPEFULLY THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERY RAP FAN TO ENJOY ON THIS LIST.
LET’S GET STUCK IN…
Not many artists can boast a Skepta cosign. So, when BXKS woke up one morning to a tweet from Mr Adenuga, you could imagine she was pretty gassed. Since then, the Luton emcee has patterned us with two potent singles and a spot on Capo Lee’s ‘Why Not, Pt. 3’. Packed In!, with its nostalgic tones, instantly stood out as one of 2020’s best singles and we finally got a video for it in November, which you can watch below.
Namani’s debut EP, The Sommer Pack, fittingly soundtracked our summer this year. Packed with millenial references and radiant beats, the project was a breath of fresh air amidst a pretty forbidding year. The artist’s creative dexterity spans further than his music, with several great acting displays in his music videos with LAUZZA. Expect big things from himself, CMillano, Kwes E and all the escape plan lot in 2021. Read out interview with Namani here.
Brighton trio Nokia Mansion had a suspiciously quiet 2020, which is why we have a hunch they are going be busy this year. Making a name for themselves on the South-East coast through rowdy live sets, the wordsmith’s conspicuous sound has won them fans in the calibre of Lee Scott and Chlobocop. The latter of whom they collaborated with last year, and you can listen to below.
North London Neo-soulstress BaggE first pricked our ears up when we listenined to Verbz’ Pathways project. Since then, she’s released singles with Danny Sanchez and Osquello, both of which featured on last year’s ‘What About Summer?’ EP. With her career still in its infancy, who knows what 2021 will bring BaggE; we, however, will be here eagerly waiting to find out.
Nigerian born, Dublin raised Archy Moor is turning heads with serene, jazz infused hiphop singles. OG, Rejovich era Rejjie Snow would be a fair comparison to make, but Moor’s work feels notably more conscious than his Irish confidant. Remember Me, which the rapper blessed us with in December, tells us that he has plenty more to say in 2021.
Another lad to emerge from the pebbled beaches of Brighton recently is Renelle893. Although he isn’t originally from Sussex’s shorelines, the rapper is well loved over there and it’s easy to see why. His rap house, which you can watch below, is one of our favourites on Honey JD’s infamous Loudhouse YouTube channel. Donning an Henry-era Arsenal top, Renelle chops his flow around the spacious instrumental - a fixture that seemed even more natural to him on 'Everything Is Temporary'; an EP that came out last year
It’s not often you come across artists who can literally do it all; Kayowa is a rare example in this sense. The 21-year-old writes all her own lyrics and often still has time to lay down the beats and master her tunes too. ‘Ridin’’, which came off the song-stresses' King K mixtape, is an infectious soul-trap heater. The whole project is well worth a listen, and we reckon she has plenty more to share in the coming months.
CARLA’S self-titled, debut EP provided some much needed relaxation for us in 2020s unprecedented months. The south-west Londoner’s bedroom soul is both captivating and soothing, and personifies the essence of DIY music. ‘Days Like This’, with Chuck Enzo, was our favourite cut off Group Bracil’s debut mixtape, but CARLA is much more than a vocalist. The multi-instrumentalist incorporates her flute and violin playing throughout her music too.
You cannot help but think Scuti’s career is about to take off astronomically. Fittingly named after the biggest star in the universe, UY Scuti, she recently featured on Oscar #WORLDPEACE’S ‘HIS AND HERS’ EP. Although her roots are embedded in rap music, last year’s GUAP performance showed she has the ability to spread her suave over a multiplicity of genres. ‘This Is Skoo’ was one of our favourite EPs of the year too… SKOOWUP.
Hailing from Hull, Downtown Kayoto’s music is anomalous in comparison to many British wordsmiths currently making waves. Melding the catchiness of a ballad with the energy of alternative rap, it is very hard, if not impossible, to truly box him in. Fair comparisons could be made to Kevin Abstract, Goldlink and Frank Ocean; we did an interview with the artist back in the first lockdown, which you can read here.