New year, new blood, new music, and new artists to watch.
Veteran artists like Beyonce and Drake ended their year with great albums, but despite their unwavering success, there’s always room for new artists to emerge. GlobalGrind sat down and created a list of 14 artists who have been increasingly on our radar over the past year; Those who we think will be 2014′s fresh faces in music.
From London-based vocalist Sampha, who is featured on Drake’s third studio album, to TDE’s rising stars SZA and Isaiah Rashad, 2014 is looking like a great year for hip-hop and new-aged R&B.
2014 isn’t completely souled out. Brooklyn duo XNY has been tearing up the circuit with their rigorous rock and infectious melodies. There were so many new artists who were in the running, but only 14 hopefuls made the cut.
Find out the 14 artists you should be checking for in 2014 below.
Deemed the first lady of TDE, SZA’s smoky vocals will bait listeners to explore her inner workings off first listen. The self-proclaimed ‘awkward black girl” channels her bereaved teenage years through her music, which translates into a collection of relatable tracks that are dark, yet glittery. SZA’s ability to intertwine deep metaphors with her hypnotic vocals make for a mesmerizing musical experience. Tracks like “Bed,” “Teen Spirit” and “Ice Moon” are notable standouts for the bellowing songstress. Not only will listeners get the chance to see SZA run, but they’ll also experience SZA raw and SZA real. Look out for SZA’s forthcoming Z EP coming in 2014.
Song To Hear: “Teen Spirit”
Is it possible to be R&B, gritty, and intergalactic? If your name is Kelela, then the answer is yes. The DC-bred/LA-based singer/songwriter has managed to capture the mood of ’90s R&B and incorporate new aged sounds of synth-pop and dubstep without creating a contrived collection of poorly assembled music we’ve heard one too many times. Her goal of capturing “Brandy but weirder” is working in her favor, especially with revered tracks like “Enemy” and “Bank Head.” Kelela’s Cut 4 Me mixtape also caught the attention of Solange who featured the DC-native on her Saint Heron compilation album.
Song To Hear: “Enemy”
Chance The Rapper
Before 2013, many hip-hop lovers outside of “The Windy City” didn’t know much about Chance The Rapper. Establishing himself as a new voice in rap, Acid Rap was Chance’s introduction to a different type of Chicago rapper. Filled with charismatic verses, witty rhymes, and soulful melodies, Acid Rap is an exhibition of Chance’s masterful skills as an emcee. With his acclaimed Acid Rap mixtape topping the “best albums” and “best mixtape” lists, Chance The Rapper is bound to flourish in 2014.
Song To Hear: “Smoke Again”
Genre: Indie Rock
Every rock duo has a cute story to compliment their musical mayhem, but Brooklyn-based duo XNY have an incredibly interesting story. Before becoming a duo, vocalist Pam Autuori and percussionist Jacob Schreiber were neighbors in Boston. After hearing Pam tirelessly practicing for other gigs through their thin apartment walls, Jacob began battling her vocals with his drum set. Shortly after, the two would combine their forces and become XNY. XNY recently dropped their sophomore album, Orange, but their vibrant shows around NYC’s hottest music venues have garnered them lots of mainstream attention. Standout records like “Burn Out,” “Rabbit,” and “JAW” may be the key to XNY taking over 2014.
Song To Hear: “Burn Out”
Singer/songwriter Tinashe has been bubbling for some time now. Kicking off her career in a girl group that once opened for Justin Bieber, Tinashe has been tirelessly working on her solo career. After offering up not one, but two new mixtapes in 2012, Tinashe ended 2013 with her latest offering, Black Water. With her new deal with RCA underway, Tinashe’s melodic vocals will be the talk of Tinseltown by the end of 2014. Tinashe’s currently untitled debut album is slated to drop this year.
Song To Hear: “Vulnerable”
Genre: Pop with heavy R&B influences
Minimalist music seems to be the wave of 2014. Portland singer/songwriter Dan Vidmar is the face of pop band Shy Girls. According to a profile with Nylon Magazine, the 26-year-old is balancing his bubbling music career as he maintains his job at an Oregon hospital. Pretty impressive, right? Shy Girls recently released his Timeshare EP which deserves several listens.
Song To Hear: “Still Not Falling” or “Under Attack”
Singer/songwriter Stacy Barthe is the mastermind behind some of your favorite pop artists. She’s penned songs for megastars like Miley Cyrus (“Adore You”), Rihanna (“Cheers”), and Katy Perry, but with the release of her P.S. I Love You EP earlier this year, 2014 is up for Stacy’s taking.
Song To Hear: “Before I Knew Me”
He’s worked with artists such as Jessie Ware and SBTRKT, but Sampha’s contributions to Drake’s introspective Nothing Was The Same track ,”Too Much,” has this 24-year-old London boy quickly rising up the rolodex ranks. Sampha’s perfectly imperfect vocals and ability to capture the emotion of his melodies make him an intensely relatable artist. With his subtle background feature on Beyonce’s new self-titled album, it’s pretty clear we’ll be seeing Sampha in 2014 – a lot.
Song To Hear: “Indecision”
Over the past two years, Chicago has had more than its fair share of rising emcees, and Lil Bibby is one of them. He’s been compared to fellow teenage counterpart Chief Keef, but Lil Bibby is more refined and focused. The 19-year-old Chicagoan recently dropped his debut mixtape, Free Crack, and received an official co-sign from Drake. Knowing all eyes are on him, the “How We Move” rapper is vowing to bring another element of Chicago’s musical renaissance to the forefront in 2014.
Song To Hear: “For The Low” or “Change”
Migos became household names when they scored a guest feature from Drake on their breakout hit “Versace.” YRN was undoubtedly the street mixtape of the summer, with the group’s trap-inspired hits like “Bando,” “Rich Than Famous,” and “Hannah Montana.” Between their riddle-like flow and infectious ad-libs, the Georgia trio’s mixtape solidified their spot in the game as the South’s rookies of the year. To keep the momentum going, Migos are gearing up to release YRN 2 which is slated to drop early 2014.
Song To Hear: “Versace” and “Jealousy” (newest hit track)
The Tennessee emcee made headlines when he joined one of the hottest hip-hop labels – Top Dawg Entertainment. Reigning from Chattanooga, Isaiah’s inclusion of soulful instrumentation and his ability to keep the listener wrapped up in his calming riddles make him one of those emcees you can just ride to for hours. As a label, TDE is on fire, and Isaiah Rashad could most definitely be their next hot commodity.
Song To Hear: “Ronnie Drake” & “Shot U Down”
Drawing heavy influences from hip-hop paired with soulful vocals, Swedish rapper/vocalist Mapei is creating a lane of her own. She initially caught the attention of music lover’s back in 2009, but with the release of her Cocoa Butter Diaries EP, she’s returning to the spotlight with tons of new music. Mapei’s currently working on her debut album which is scheduled to be released in 2014 via Downtown Records.
Song To Hear: “Don’t Wait”
He’s been compared to Drake’s close associate The Weeknd one too many times, but Drake’s new artist PARTYNEXTDOOR is not running the same game as his fellow Canadian colleague. His self-titled debut is sexy and hypnotic, yet it boasts minimal beats that aren’t as hypersexual and drug intensive as The Weeknd’s earlier projects. His first offering is a solid performance, and we’re interested to see the direction he’ll take with the OVO team by his side.
Song To Hear: “Make A Mil”
Influenced by R&B artists like SWV, Bobby Brown, New Edition, and oddly Cam’ron and the Dipset family, Canadian singer/songwriter Jessy Lanza offers up a musical adventure on her debut album, Pull My Hair Back. Educated in jazz performance, Jessy captures the essence of jazz’s fundamental characteristics, but adds her own flair by incorporating sweet melodies over R&B-inspired synth tracks. Jessy’s writing ability is clever, but at times her airy soprano vocals come off as distorted, hindering the listener’s ability to internalize the Canadian singer’s sentiment. Jessy’s sometimes distorted vocals may not be for everyone, but she’s definitely worth a listen.
Song To Hear: “Kathy Lee”