The best music is the kind that is innovative and pushes boundaries, something Jelani Blackman loves doing. The West Londoner blends rap, R&B and spoken word into an interesting new genre and his critically acclaimed debut EP 1-4 has left fans hungry for more music, which fortunately is due to be released in the near future. Jelani learnt to play saxophone at the age of nine and still uses this talent on his records; he also enjoys working with classically trained musicians to add to his unique sound.
The British singer songwriter’s musical career took off after featuring on Jonas Blue’s hit track By Your Side as well as Jax Jones’ popular track You Don’t Know Me in 2016. In 2017, Raye played her first headline gig to enthusiastic crowds at XOYO and was even shortlisted for BBC Music Sound Of award, where she secured third place. All in all, 2017 has been a huge year for Raye and no doubt 2018 will promise great things too.
Ben Coyle-Larner is actually the Londoner’s full name, but growing up with dyslexia meant that Ben would frequently mix the letters up so Loyle Carner eventually stuck. The emerging hip-hop artist has an eloquent and confessional style to his music which ties in with his passion for poetry, which he’s loved since he was a young boy. Carner’s debut album Yesterday’s Gone was nominated for the 2017 Mercury Prize. This is no doubt just the start of Carner’s exciting musical career.
Liv Dawson’s musical inspirations include the likes of Beyoncé and Amy Winehouse, which is unsurprising considering her vocals have a soulful, R&B sound. Liv’s debut single Tapestry showcased a more modern take on R&B; she’s also released two songs this year Painkiller and Searching and has even secured some studio time with successful record producers Tobias Jesso Jr and Jimmy Napes.
You may recognise Ella Mai from her appearance on the X Factor as part of the girl group Arize. The talented 23 year-old has a bass-heavy yet polished R&B sound and being signed to DJ Mustard (who has worked with A-listers including the likes Rhianna and Tyga), we’d expect nothing less than exceptional music. Ella was born in South West London and moved to New York at the age of 12, but soon returned to her home city after graduating from high school. She’s already got three EPs to her name, proving that she’s one to watch over the coming months.
Bonzai’s colourful music combines hip-hop, techno, grime and dancehall into an original new sound. The Irish vocalist now lives in London and has even caught the attention of Australian record producer Flume, who invited her to support his European tour.
The poetic Flohio has something extremely charismatic about her; perhaps her comfortable, laid-back style gives her an edge over other East London artists but there’s something undeniably unique about her transcendent rhymes. Her music is hard to categorise, making her sound innovative and pushing boundaries. The alternative rapper released her first EP in 2016 which went down a storm with fans, proving she’s definitely one to watch over the coming months.
George’s captivating sound and poetic songwriting is somewhat reminiscent of Bon Iver and Jeff Buckley. 2016 marked a huge year in George’s musical venture as he played at festivals across the UK including Latitude and Live at Leeds. Now signed with Yucatan records, George’s gigs and tours have continued. This year, he has graced the stages at top London venues including Shoreditch’s Boxpark.
If you’ve been paying attention to the London music scene this year, you may recognise the name Stefflon Don from the track Hurtin Me with US rapper French Montana. The Birmingham-born rapper now lives in London, but interestingly she’s also fluent in Dutch from living in Holland for nine years. The rising star is heavily influenced by Jamaican culture (where her parents are from). Stefflon Don first appeared on Wretch 32’s track Six Words back in 2015 and since then her career has gone from strength to strength; she has allegedly been recording with Canadian superstar Drake. Watch this space.
If you’re a fan of Stormzy and Giggs then keep your eyes (and ears) open for A2, a London hip-hop artist with an alternative raw sound – setting him apart from his contemporaries and making him all the more interesting to watch.