2021 was a triumphant year for British music. The likes of Little Simz, and Ghetts provided particularly potent moments, as the country limped through lockdowns, shed tears over our (lack of) sporting prowess, and ridiculed the government’s dumbfounding hypocrisy. There is, however, already a different feeling about this annum. With the current security of tours, festivals, and club nights, 2022, for up-and-coming artists, is there for the taking, so we wanted to shed light on some names that we are backing to make big waves over the next 12 months.
Compared to last year’s selection, this list is a lot more lyrically eclectic. As the scene becomes more saturated, artists are embodying a range of genres to back their poetic capabilities, and it's creating an intriguing melting pot of sounds. Here’s a handful of people you should be keeping a firm eye on in 2022.
Peckham-born Sam Akpro sent signals through the blog-sphere last year with his ‘Drift EP’. Released on Fair Youth records, which hosts the likes of Finn Foxell and NewDad, the project honors haunting guitar licks, wandering percussion, and Akpro’s assortment of cadence. ‘Cove’, with its whimsical melody and poignant lyricism, stands out, but certainly sits in good company surrounded by the EP’s other tracks.
For fans of: Bakar, King Krule and Yeek
Could we see new Nega Brandon in 2022? We thoroughly hope so. The wordsmith has been quiet on the music front lately, but 2020’s ‘Plaster’ EP generated a lot of interest on our behalf, and after a slew of features since, we might get something more substantial this year. Appearing on tracks alongside fellow lyrical confidants Brian Nasty, Osquello and Niko B shows the musical clout he carries on his shoulders, and with appearances on Victory Lap's Balamii show in 2021, it's clear his days on the mic are far from over.
For fans of: Loyle Carner, Manik MC
BAD WITH PHONES
BWPs’ cosmic, indie-tinged hip-hop will take you away to spiritual realms upon listening. Hints of folk, trap, and r&b also weave their way into the artist’s palette, which makes for a completely genre-defying experience. Last year’s ‘Marinade’ EP lyrically depicts life’s turbulence in an alluring way, with the hacker-turned-musician spreading his nasal tones over a multitude of musical styles. The bass-line in ‘Monica’, which is probably our favourite track, is nothing short of contagious, and a perfect soundtrack to 2022’s colder months.
For fans of: Yves Tumor and Dean Blunt
Bedroom drill anyone? Well, this is exactly the sound Ledbyher is pioneering at the moment, blending indie sensitivities with sliding 808s and devilish kick drums. With only a string of singles to their name, we reckon the songstress will have a more substantial body of work in the mix for 2022. Ledbyher’s visuals are also well worth checking out and highlight the bedroom pop influence running throughout her tracks.
For fans of: Chlobocop and NayanaIZ
Listening to Dexter is like taking that first sip of tea for the day. Pure bliss. Her honeyed voice and floaty guitar riffs combine in a meditative fashion, putting you in a space of tranquility. The multi-faceted artist released some statement singles last year, most notably Paper Cup and Blue Skies, so we are hoping for similar heights in 2022. Watch her Bone Soda live session below, where she performs in front of artwork from Nigerian skater/artist Slawn.
For fans of: Mac Demarco, Puma Blue and Noname
Many will have heard Riley’s smooth croons on Anz’s ‘You Could Be’ last year - a track that defined British festival season and continues to defy Spotify’s algorithm. Saying this, we are still not bored of it, nor the debut tape she released earlier that year. Championed by the likes of Benji B and Jamz Supernova, Riley’s genre repelling sound makes her hard to pin down. Inflections of jazz, jungle and UKG imbue the discography, which we cannot wait for her to add to in 2022.
For fans of: Greentea Peng, Nubya Garcia and John Glacier
Anyone on the radar of Joy Orbison is always going to interest us, and Cityboymoe’s two-part collaboration with him was certainly a musical highlight of 2021. It is a testament to the South Londoner’s versatility that he can hop on multiple production styles and still harvest a sound authentic to him. Possessing a tone of sincerity, Moe’s social depictions remain a poignant reminder of the inner-city struggles experienced by many growing up in the capital. We hope to hear more from him in the coming months.
For fans of: Rushy and Skiifall
We’ve only just come across Deela, but her taste for frantic snares and liquid melodies instantly won us over. ‘GET A GRIP’ is certainly an earworm, championing the rapper’s snappy lyricism and taste for a catchy hook, but the fervent nature of TALKIN SHIT really solidified herself as a must to include on this list. With a mixtape already to their name, who knows what 2022 will bring for Deela, but we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground to let you all know.
For fans of: Hook and Bootychaain
At the latter end of 2021, Theodor Black was back on our radar with ‘Loop’: an ambient trap number riddled with dissonant cadence and savvy flow switches. This proceeded the genre beclouding ‘Garçon’ - a seven-song project merging hip-hop sensibilities from both the old and new school ends of the spectrum. Black definitely has the talent to break from England’s saturated rap scene, and this year could provide the platform for him to do so.
For fans of: Goya Gumbani and Ghostpoet
Words Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)