Even though 2020 was a tough year, there were some great moments. Artists did not let the global pandemic stop them from releasing eye- catching videos and superb projects. Young T & Bugsey’s single Don’t Rush, became a viral challenge, pushing their single into the Top 20 on the UK Official Charts. With the achievements of UK artists in the past year, 2021 is looking very promising. Here is a list of 8 artists to watch out for this year.
The first UK artist to watch out for in 2021 is Odeal. This multi-genre artist from South East London has made his mark on the scene over the past two years. He gained attention with the release of his single On & On featuring drill rapper Abra Cadabra. The lead single from his 2020 OVMBR: Roses EP, 24/48 displayed Odeal’s soulful vocals while the visuals told the heartfelt story of the untold parts of a relationship. Odeal’s creative approach and work ethic speaks for itself as he is able to express real emotions through his lyrics.
Dolapo is an R&B artist who has been paving her own way in the music industry. Working her way up in the industry as a backup singer and notable songwriter, Dolapo has co-written for the likes of MoStack, Tion Wayne, ZieZie and Young T & Bugsey. Her debut single Blink of an Eye confirmed her undeniable talent and her effortless sultry vocals. Since then, Dolapo continues to hold her own on every record and collaboration- especially on Something New featuring Hardy Caprio, which has become her biggest single to date surpassing five million streams on Spotify. Something New became the lead single off her 2019 EP A Short Love Story. Dolapo has started 2021 on a high as she has already released her first single of year Interest featuring Ms Banks and Oxlade.
To some, Curtis J emerged on the scene at the end of last year when the snippet of his highly anticipated single Check Your Balance went viral on Twitter. This Afroswing artist has been under the radar with his last two releases Do Me I Do You and For Me. Having previously collaborated with Darkoo on the song Gas Station, Curtis J’s potential is unmatched. Check Your Balance featuring Tomie Boy marks an impressive start to 2021, gaining over 200,000 views-on his own YouTube Channel- in 12 days.
Soulful Rapper & Singer Enny only released her debut single He’s Not into You in April last year following the success of her Instagram cover to Jay Z’s A Million and One Questions. Her follow up single Peng Black Girls featuring Amia Brave gained nationwide attention, garnering 1.4 million views on her YouTube channel in two months. Both the song and accompanying visuals became a powerful and uplifting love letter to Black British women. This delightful collaboration caught the attention of contemporary R&B/Pop singer Jorja Smith who featured on the remix. The remix premiered on the COLOURS Show.
KEYS THE PRINCE
Keys the Prince is a rapper and Hip-Hop artist who blends Soul, R&B and gospel sounds in such an appealing way. His first single Blessed was released 2017 however, his self- produced 2019 single Peter Petrelli gained him critical acclaim. Last year, Keys released his first body of work titled Nothing Else Matters, along with a music video for the lead single Nothing– which premiered on Complex. The song is about achieving greatness and not letting anything stop you. It is clear that Keys puts a lot of thought into his visuals, as the music video shows the complex life of a black man living in the UK, dealing with institutional racism and police brutality. He was featured the viral single Owner and also performed at the virtual Wireless Festival last year.
2020 was a very strong year for Ivorian Doll. After a drama-filled 2019, Ivorian Doll stepped into 2020 addressing all her controversy in her viral single Rumours. She utilised every rumour to her advantage, owning every situation she was in through her fiery lyrics and expression. Her 2020 run continued with the hard-hitting single Body Bag, letting everyone know that she is not to be played with. Her fiery GRM daily duppy solidified her place in the industry. With a string of singles and collaborations in her belt, Ivorian Doll is not going anywhere anytime soon.
BBC Sound of 2021 winner Pa Salieu was one of the most notable breakthrough artists of 2020. His single Frontline started to build his buzz early last year. Throughout the year, he went from strength to strength, collaborating with the likes of SL on Hit the Block and Backroad Gee on the popular single My Family. Pa’s viewpoint on life is very unique as he spent some years in The Gambia before moving to Coventry at the age of 8 and this comes across in his song writing. Pa’s debut mixtape Send Them to Coventry was released at the end of last year to critical acclaim. When it comes to storytelling, Pa’s hard-hitting lyrics and smart wordplay helps him narrate stories about life (friendship, family and racism) and death (violence and loss)- which he has experienced.
90’s inspired Singer and Rapper R.A.E (Raising Above Everything) is an artist you cannot predict. Her smooth yet subtle blend of R&B and Hip Hop along with easy melodies and witty lyrics keeps you on your toes. R.A.E has the ability to create feel good songs for her audience, with her fresh but nostalgic sound. Throughout 2020, she released a string of catchy, feel-good singles such as Pretty Bop, Summer Love and The Coolest, ending the year with the Listen Up EP. Her talent did not go unnoticed last year as she won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition with her catchy single Damn Jermaine. One of her prizes was a slot on a main stage at Glastonbury 2021, however the festival has been cancelled once again due to COVID-19 concerns. Hopefully, she will take the stage at Glastonbury 2022.