There is an exciting growing scene that incorporates a range of music styles including Neo Soul, Jazz, Hip Hop Reggae and Rap. These styles have combined into the soundscape of a new generation of musicians from London and elsewhere. Artists, designers, producers and musicians, are pioneering a DIY spirit, writing their own rules while supporting one another. Their music has an urgency articulating and expressing the issues that confront them every day. Their music has the confidence to express their own inner truths, taking the listener into a new musical space. In this review we have created a playlist of some of our favourite purveyors of this sound.
Biography adaptations from: Spotify / All Music
Smith is singer-songwriter from Walsall. Within a three-year span, Smith appeared on the U.K. indie chart with her moody, MOBO-nominated debut single, “Blue Lights” (2016); she nearly cracked the Top Ten of the U.K. dance chart with “On My Mind” (2017); and after three additional MOBO nominations, she crossed into the Top 40 with the Stormzy-assisted ballad “Let Me Down” (2018). During this time, Smith also contributed to Drake’s More Life playlist and the Kendrick Lamar-guided soundtrack for Black Panther, audience-expanding releases that intensified anticipation for her own Lost & Found (June 2018).In 2018, Smith won the Brit Critics’ Choice Award. In 2019, she was named Best British Female Artist at the 2019 Brit Awards and was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Smith grew up listening to reggae, punk, hip-hop, and R&B, and wrote her first song at the age of 11. She describes being “obsessed” with Amy Winehouse’s 2003 debut album Frank as a teenager and was inspired by the singer’s raw approach to song writing. Smith said her songs are about social issues: “When things are going on in the world, I think it’s important to touch on them, because as a musician, you can make people listen. As soon as people press play, you’ve got their attention.”
Born and raised in Hackney, Mychelle first picked up a guitar aged 10, but put it back down again shortly after, before returning to the instrument at 17, when she quickly began making a name for herself busking around the capital. In 2019 she was spotted by Idris Elba who invited her to his studio to write and sing on his Yardie Mixtape project, the soundtrack to his directorial film debut of the same name.
Fast-rising Hackney singer songwriter Mychelle drops her stunning debut single ‘The Way’
Kali Uchis is a creative director, singer, songwriter, producer, actress, and designer. Growing up between Colombia South America and Northern VA, she learned to play piano & saxophone in a jazz band and fell in love with music. Her debut album, Isolation was released in 2018, with collaborators the Gorillaz, Tyler the Creator, Tame Impala, Thundercat, BBNG. She is a 2021 Grammy award winner with “10%” alongside Kaytranada. Her second album “Sin Miedo” landed her as the only female artist in Billboard’s top ten Latin chart in 2020. Telepatia a single off of Sin Miedo also had the highest debut on billboard for a latin song.
Since 2014, Josh Barry has been touring the world as the lead male vocalist for UK based dance duo Gorgon City, whilst still managing to achieve some notable accomplishments of his own. Having won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Contest 2017, Josh went on to play several shows over the weekend, including John Peel Stage, BBC Introducing and a backstage live BBC3 TV performance. Later that same year he supported Rag N Bone Man on his sold-out tour of the UK and Ireland. Josh also has an incredible Mahogany Session available now.
Since then, Josh has been writing tirelessly to build up a large repertoire of music, that he’ll be releasing consistently over the next few years.
Josh’s unique, modern take on 70’s old school soul, has been compared to Otis Redding meets Jimi Hendrix, with the energy of James Brown. The guitar driven, yet undeniably soulful music, allows Josh’s emotive and often metaphorical song writing, to be the embodiment for what he believes in as a person. The heartfelt passion and message in his music, will surely connect with the wider audience and will allow them to connect with something greater than just a song.
London’s Asha Gold blends silky pop melodies with contemporary R&B production. With only a few singles out, Asha has garnered support from the likes of Colors, The Line of Best Fit and Dummy. She was also the Artist of The Week on the BBC Asian Network, with further spins from Huw Stephens at BBC Radio 1 and Jess Iszatt at London’s Introducing. Asha has been announced as one of the BBC Asian Network’s Future Sounds artists for 2021. A significant milestone for the Londoner.
Rapper & singer ENNY is a soulful lyricist with a story to tell. For the past year, the South East Londoner has been focussing on music, developing and refining her craft at Hackney-based collective Root 73. Already gaining industry wide support, ENNY has been making lasting impressions. 2020 has seen the release of her first single ‘He’s Not Into You’ . Following on from the success of her most recent freestyle a remix to Jay Z’s ‘A Million & One Questions’ Enny’s set to become one of the leading voices of the UK’s flourishing rap scene.
Duchess is a 23-year-old South Londoner with a lot of soul. Hailing from Plumstead, this extraordinary young-woman grew up as one of 8 siblings in more locations than she can remember. Sitting somewhere between Jill Scott and Minnie Riperton, but with a distinctly London view-point, her fusion of R&B, soul and hip-hop showcases one of the most naturally gifted vocalists of the last few years.
It’s been seven years since Maverick Sabre first arrived on the UK scene as a fresh-faced Irish (but London born) rapper with a brassy singing voice. Championed by Plan B, his music drew a line between the Irish, American and UK rap scenes he grew up on and the timeless blues and trad Irish music of his family’s heritage. His debut album, Lonely Are The Brave, was a roaring success, arriving at #2 on the UK album charts and going on to sell over 250,000 copies.
Since then he has undergone a bold and inventive evolution as an artist, into a visionary and melodic songwriter capable of telling eternal stories that critique the world around him with a shrewd eye. His new album is dreamy and psychedelic at times, whilst also feeling haunting, gritty and rock inspired. There is nothing he will not turn his mind to, if he feels he has something to say, from the tragedy of Grenfell to the ways in which we place our faith in false icons. Rap may not be his biggest reference point anymore, but his hip-hop upbringing has instilled a passion for making music that is always brutally and unashamedly honest at all times.
“For me,” says Maverick Sabre, “every album is about what I feel at that time, and what I feel needs to be said about society and my own personal life. It’s like a diary entry.”<br>
FARR duo, comprised of LA-based vocalist Roméo and London-based producer Linden Jay, met in May 2016 at a random but fated studio session that would snowball into the beginnings of an incredible new hybrid electronic project. Despite the distance, and with the help of modern technology, they’ve managed to stay connected and write through voice notes and audio messages between studio sessions. The product is a cross pollination of global styles with a modern edge and classic feel and a fearless twist on alternative pop and electronic soul music unlike anything heard today.
George the poet
Born George Mpanga in London’s Caribbean-centric Harlesden area on January 4, 1991, George the Poet is a socially and politically charged spoken word artist, rapper, writer, and public speaker. Mpanga spent his formative years mired in the rap and grime scene, but by the time he had wrapped up his politics, psychology, and sociology studies at Kings College, Cambridge, he had lost his taste for the more excess-laden aspects of the genre. Drawing on his studies, as well as his inner-city upbringing, Mpanga began honing his craft, relying less on hip-hop genre tropes and more on slam poet-kissed social commentary. He issued his debut EP, The Chicken & Egg, in 2013, and in November of 2014 was short-listed for the Critic’s Choice category at the following year’s Brit Awards. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi
The music of LUME is a melting pot of ideas, of sounds, of places. Weaving her way down South from her native Manchester and ending up in Brighton, LUME found a new home in more ways than one. In 2018, LUME dropped her debut EP, Tip of Your Thumb quickly catching the attention of many key supporters and selling out a London headline show. LUME’s sophomore EP, Edge of My Seat followed in 2019, building on the considerable success of her first offering and quickly becoming her most successful, commercial release to date. The title track was picked up by Taylor Swift, who added it to her International Women’s Day Playlist. She has also been championed by the likes of: BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, Line of Best Fit, Clash, Complex, Pigeons and Planes & Mahogany amongst others.
Gemini Candid is a mysterious character, raised in South West London. He has seen all aspects of London life growing up and music is a platform to share his thoughts and opinions of modern day politics and the society we live in.
His musical talents were nurtured from the age of 9 in his family church. He also plays the drums and piano.
Influences include artists such as; J Cole, Anderson Paak, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, JAY-Z, Dave, Skepta, Kaytranada, Loyle Carner, Tyler The Creator, The Notorious B.I.G, 2 Pac, Masego, Yussef Dayes, Alfa Mist, Nas, Wretch 32, Kojey Radical, Stormzy and many more.
Millie Mountain is a Singer/songwriter, model and poet from South London, Brixton.
Fiery and confident from birth, 21 years old, Millie was born in Aberystwyth, Wales then moved over to South London as a baby. She has an eclectic sound, singing truths about her own internal traumas and telling stories about people from a first person narrative.
From song writing to poetry and being a lover of reading since a young age, she ties it all together and does what she knows best. She clearly expresses herself through word play that has a certain ambiguity.
Millie has carefully crafted a unique sound and style of her own that provides the listener with waves of soul and jazz. There is considerable versatility in what she does exploring these and other musical styles. Having been featured in magazines such as Wordplay and Abstract Stylist, played on radio stations across the UK and taken part in interviews for podcasts with listeners in the USA, Millie is expanding her international fan base. Already there are 9.3K monthly listeners on Spotify
Her Debut EP ‘Blurred Out Faces’ was released in December 2020, reaching over 16,000 streams having been featured in some big editorial playlists.
Millie released her first single ‘Sleeping On My Own’ which received great feedback and it was streamed in 18 different countries. ‘Find A Way Forward’ was released at the end of November, which was soon followed by a music video shot in Sicily. ‘Blurred Out Faces’ was produced by Gemini Candid in South London, with Millie co-producing and writing all the tracks.
Her recent collaboration track with The Mouse Outfit and Gemini Candid reached over 100,000 streams on Spotify. This has cemented their reputation, providing them both with the recognition they deserve in Manchester and around the world.
South London multi-instrumentalist Tom Misch fuses low-slung hip-hop beats, glittering disco, and noodling jazz instrumentation. A frequent collaborator, his DIY approach has built a fanbase of 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Joint album with Yussef Dayes “What Kinda Music” out now on Beyond The Groove / Blue Note Records.
If the future is female, then it has already started. Diana De Brito is the epitome of a new generation of female artists – young, talented and self-confident. In her music, the 22-year-old daughter of an Angolan musician combines timeless soul and jazz in the tradition of Nat King Cole and Erykah Badu with modern trap and R’n’B. She calls it Urban Jazz, some would say it is Neo Soul – it’s all true, because IAMDDB is anything but one-dimensional. Diana grew up under the influence of the late great Bob Marley. She says he has shaped her like no other and made sure that her ears are always awake with a conscious message. At the age of seven, she started writing songs, then seriously producing music in 2015, after immersing herself in Angolan jazz for half a year. DDBs lyrics are about love, about everyday experiences and above all about empowerment – the art of being yourself and acting for yourself. It’s about full creative control – from the music, through to the lyrics, and music videos, the young enigma has earned the right not to pretend. In 2016, she released her first EP Waeveybby, Vol 1 with the two successors Vibe Vol 2 and Hoodrich Vol 3 featuring hits such as Pause and Shade resulting in her being named one of the BBCs “Sounds of 2018”. Flightmode Vol 4 and Swervvvv5 are the next installments of the five volume EP series before the onset of her debut album.
Think of NiNE8 as the U.K alt hip hop version of avengers assemble. between Biig Piig, Lava La Rue, Bone Slim, Nayana IZ, LORENZORSV, L!BAAN, Nige, KxRN and Mac Wetha this group shows a crossover of what happens when you put all these underground UK artists with rising solo careers in a tiny hotboxed bedroom studio together to form a supergroup. Yet, instead of fighting intergalactic warlords, the collective let the listener take in their scrapbook of inner city perspectives as if one were a member of the circle.