Meet the unique non-conforming noisemakers of today who refuse to circumscribe to any particular box, but rather pave a lane for themselves. By expertly merging schools of thought and seamlessly traversing genres, this eclectic mix of artists are challenging the status quo, and not only are the architects of their own identities but of the future of music itself.
This Camden-born newcomer treads a path not commonly chosen by musicians of colour within the UK. The lead vocalist in his band, Bakar continues to break the mould and step out of the stereotype with his distinctive punk rock sound.
Bakar’s rise has been rapid and he has already cemented his identity within the scene, making huge waves with his recently released debut mixtape Badkid which is informed by his main influencer – producer Madlib. The project is a masterful and unique blend of electronic, indie, soulful, and even spoken-word tracks, and is a reminder of the boundless possibilities that open up when you’re not afraid to flip the script.
Possessing inimitable swag and an operatic, otherworldly voice that instantly overpowers your eardrums, Shake’s raw and inspirational lyrics are packed with emotion and profound messages that lay bare her personal struggles.
Born and raised in New Jersey, 070 Shake deservedly elevated to fame when she caught the ear of Kanye who signed her to his and Pusha T’s label G.O.O.D Music. Since then the vocalist has released her Glitter EP, featured on two of West’s tracks on his new album Ye and lent an eerie hook to Pusha’s ‘Santeria’. Her debut album Yellow Girl is currently in the works.
Since his younger years as a former member of the grime collective B.O.M.B Squad, Hak Baker’s sonic palette has seen a genre-switching transformation. Now armed with an acoustic guitar, the folk singer-songwriter crafts enchanting, stripped-back melodies accompanied by Jamie T-esque vocals.
His aptly titled EP Misfits boasts a collection of toned-down, autobiographical reflections and encompasses an air of melancholy stillness, with delicate strings sitting below refined and textured lyrics that offer an unfiltered insight into the artist’s world.
Pete and Bas
Hailing from South London, this UK drill duo has been a surprise addition to the British road-rap scene. Pete and Bas, who are best friends, are both in their 70s and were inspired to make their music by the youngsters around them (Pete’s granddaughter always used to play rap in his car).
At first glance, this seems like a parody, but the more you listen, the less satirical you realise their creations actually are. Injecting the culture with their own slang through hard-as-nails lyrics and even harder beats, the grime grandpas have a faultless flow that would give Giggs a run for his money. Their tracks are being released by the elusive Sindhu World – a music collective which Pete and Bas are members of.
Masego’s music is positioned in a niche that he carved out for himself – a sound he has coined as ‘Trap House Jazz’.
Catching the attention of the masses with the many-layered ‘Tadow’, followed by ‘Navajo’ which premiered on COLORS, Masego’s creations are genre-defying fusions of jazz, soul, hip-hop and sultry RnB. A multi-instrumentalist himself, the Jamaican-American artist has recently released his debut album Lady Lady, which is a hypnotising display of versatility and originality at its finest.
Made up of wordsmith HypeMan Sage and producer Subculture Sounds, this ferociously talented twosome is changing the game and bringing back the much-missed sound of old school UK hip-hop.
With rapid-fire raps, eloquent delivery and thought-provoking lyrical commentary on the state of society, the pair are making hard-hitting music that’s reminiscent of Skinnyman and Foreign Beggars. With an entirely DIY approach to all their releases, their latest EP Niccolo’s Dead showcases the innovative, unapologetic and boundary-pushing force that they are.
At only 20 years old, the London native is already making huge strides. Having opened for Jorja Smith on her April tour this year, she also landed a co-sign by the singer and Drake.
Her debut EP DDD (which stands for Dawn, Day and Dusk) features three silky smooth RnB tracks – ‘Tried Up’, ‘Wrong Lesson’ and ‘Wire’, all written and co-produced by the classically trained vocalist. The project is accompanied by striking visuals for each video that flow together to form a short-film directed by and starring the artist, firmly establishing Ama Lou as a truly multi-faceted creative.
Describing their sound as ‘gully’, lyricist Mumblez and producer 8o8Charmer occupy and indefinable space within the UK hip-hop scene. 8o8INK distinguish themselves from the rest with house style instrumentals, eclectic soundscapes and inventive use of samples that make for an idiosyncratic production style; one you’d be hard done by to find anywhere else on the streets.
Their inaugural album 2013 An Artistic Piece is the perfect example of their individuality, which is emphasised even more through their signature visuals, directed by the third member of their crew, Pure Anubi$. With three more albums under their belt, 8o8INK continue to be a feast for our ears through their ever-evolving stream of rule-bending music.
Photography by Jamie Waters
Words by Anya Angert