The new year is always a marker of change on a micro and macro level—personally and globally if you’re not an econ fan—making room for what’s to come and letting go of what no longer serves you. As music stans, our version of new years resolutions is discovering new artists that aren’t mainstream yet but have the potential to be and adding them to our regular rotation. It’s the type of artists you want to follow on the streaming platform of your choice as each new release shows more promise and 2022 might be the year they blow up. From UK sensation pinkpantheress and trip hop’s Kiah Victoria to DIY boy band LAUNDRY DAY and Atlanta rapper 2FeetBino, these are the hidden gems on our radar and playlists for the new year.
Silky and tender vocalist Emanuel will guide you through an R&B healing journey throughout 2022 if you let him. Emanuel’s debut EP Alt Therapy Session 1: Disillusion was nominated for a Juno Award in 2021. If you’re a sucker for spiritual piano chords and songs about relationships and intimacy, Emanuel is someone to keep on your radar. Miguel and ODIE fans alike will swoon.
Toronto’s favourite falsetto (unironically – it’s actually the best) is fresh off collaborations with the likes of k-pop superstar BamBam, Bryson Tiller as well as producers WondaGurl and My Best Friend Jacob. A quiet 2021 of self-releases has paved the way for an explosive 2022 and we can’t wait to “cry our eyes out”.
Atlanta-based rapper 2FeetBino has been putting out hits since his standout single” No Freestyle” featuring Young Nudy was released in 2018. His airy flows and melodic beats juxtaposed with the harsh realities he speaks on have made him a stand-out amongst a heavily saturated hip-hop market. His ability to collaborate with artists like Young Nudy and deliver hard-hitting trap verses but also produce slower melodic flows like “Show Me Love” keeps you guessing and makes him an artist to watch.
Sad Night Dynamite
This Glastonbury-raised duo made of Josh Gracean and Archie Blagden has already made waves with their genre-bending sound attracting the attention of The Gorillaz and FKA Twigs. Their self-titled debut album mixes hip-hop, Britpop, punk, electronica, and more. Let their music pull you out of real-life and on a journey through the many dimensions of their “dark and sexy” sound.
The Indiana Drones
Fronted by Billy Raffoul and JJ Wilde collaborator, Justin Zuccato the multi-hyphenate creator is the voice behind the next great sound of contemporary rock. It feels as if Harry Styles grew up on a steady supply of Green Day and mustard-70’s Polaroid heat. From behind the booth to front and center, 2022 is the year of The Indiana Drones.
ROMderful—formerly known as ROM, who amassed 33k followers on SoundCloud in his early days—is a multi-talented DJ, producer, singer, and instrumentalist. Heavily influenced by musical brilliance Pharrell, he produces his own music and is all about creative diversification. There isn’t an area in the music industry that ROMderful couldn’t seamlessly integrate into.
Pinkpantheress is the breakout artist you’ve definitely heard on TikTok, one of the artists to dominate the platform this year with her viral songs “Break It Off” and “Just For Me.” She’s captured the attention of the internet with her alternative pop sound that feels effervescent and her relatable emo-melodies. Besides Central Cee remixing “Just For Me,” she released her debut mixtape to hell with it, if you haven’t already dive in and get ready to be addicted.
Feels like a thousand miles screaming in sweet fluorescent unison. Equal parts Beatles meet Tame Impala, Jason Wade and Steve Stoute take you on a golden hug headphone journey through what feels like the best day of your life.
R&B melodies meet avant-garde love songs; enter Tirzah, the artist responsible for enchanting pop-adjacent sounds. Her granular synth whistles and abstract lyricism will have you mesmerized and wishing you could actually build a home and live in her music. Don’t be shy, become spellbound by Tirzah.
Hailing from New York, Laundry Day is a band made of five members—Sawyer Nunes, Etai Abramovich, Jude Ciulla, Henry Weingartner, and Henry Pearl. The group takes a DIY approach to making raw and authentic music that is not what you expect when you hear “boy band.” Their latest single “Worry About Yourself” morphs from outsider R&B to psych-pop, perfectly displaying their ever-changing and dynamic sound. They’ve already toured with Clairo, BROCKHAMPTON’s Romil Hemnani is a friend and collaborator of theirs, and have big plans for 2022.
“Lucky like a four-leaf clover. I’m in love with my best friend” joan is the anthemic soundtrack to the main character vibes you’ve earned strutting into 2022. Drawing on the melodic elements and hooks of early aughts classics like MKTO and McCartney. The Photo Finish and 20xx collaborators are on a seemingly deft trajectory; up.
San Francisco native Samaria is an RnB sensation, with vocals reminiscent of SZA and lyrics about love as pointed as Summer Walker. Her latest single “Stuck” effortlessly switches between flows with a melodic sound that’s like the soundtrack of a toxic relationship and the feeling of being stuck in a never-ending cycle. Get in your feelings with Samaria and you’ll find yourself running through her catalogue in no time hoping for more music next year.
Gotts Street Park
As the evolution of tech and culture slowly morphs music into a genreless landscape, we can only continue to hope to hear more from gems like Gotts Street Park. Having already produced for artists such as Kali Uchis and Yellow Days, they are on the trajectory to greatness. Combining sounds of hip-hop, soul, and jazz, this group from Leeds is summoning sounds from over the decades—administering doses of moody and authentic tracks to take you through the next year.
UK artist Nippa is making waves with his RnB music reminiscent of funk, pop, soul, and hip-hop. Even though he makes music for a genre with a long-standing history of love songs, he describes himself as a “jiggy lover-boy thug” because he can get in his feelings but at the end of the day he’s from the ends (Tottenham) adding some toughness to his sound. Better described as trap RnB, he’s a refreshing sound from the UK and his music will walk you through his emotions, get you in your feeling, pull you out, and draw you back in.
Gavin Turek has been riding the new-disco wave, inspired by music icons Tina Turner and Grace Jones—she was dubbed “LA’s Disco Queen of the Moment” by Revolt TV for a reason. Her debut album MADAME GOLD released in 2021 is full of shimmery, soulful hypnotic bops; carving out a bright path for future eclectic and cathartic grooves we are waiting (im)patiently for.
Emerging from New York—a wellspring of impressive talent—Kiah Victoria is harmonizing her lustrous vocals with synthetic textures of trip-hop. Her song “Ornament” has had us in a chokehold since 2018. Tap into Kiah Victoria’s come-up so that a year from now you can obnoxiously slip into conversation that you’ve been “listening to her way before she went mainstream”.
Toronto-based band GOODBADUGLY made up of Isiah Peck, Malachi, and Reeko Rieffe has come together to form a musical powerhouse creating alternative R&B music. Each member has a background in music, receiving recognition from OVO radio, Flow 93.5, and more but it was when mutual friends brought them all together in the studio that things clicked. Their debut single “Would You Mind” gives you a look into their smooth and seductive sound inspired by the nostalgia of RnB’s golden era of bands. It’s just the beginning as the group is poised to mesmerize listeners with more music in 2022.
Boasting psychedelic R&B, Cruza is asserting themselves to a position of prominence. The group blends soulful vocals, hazy melodies, and poignant lyricism that is relatable for anyone else grappling with feelings of uncertainty as they navigate through young adulthood. Following in the footsteps of like-sounded artists King Krule and Blood Orange, we have no doubt they will garner well-deserved attention in 2022.
Canadian rapper 404vincent turns trials into triumphs with his Tyler, the Creator, and Frank Ocean-influenced songs merging hip-hop and RnB for music with substance. His latest video for “Pisces/Exposure” starts with “Pisces” in Toronto and transitions to “Exposure” in L.A.—where he now resides. Both songs and the visual let listeners into his life with the ups and downs of his career and relationship. He’s already been featured on Spotify’s Hip-Hop Central and Northern Bars playlists and is a must-listen for hip-hop fans everywhere.
Developing his soulful imprint, Pale Jay is a multidisciplinary artist who describes his sound as “dustry and raw”. Inspired by the likes of Shuggie Otis, Pale Jay’s music is deeply moving and vibrant, showcasing his falsetto over serene beats and strings. Though his music sounds timeless, you’ll want to get a taste in 2022.
The Somali-Canadian singer Amaal Nuux draws from her Somali heritage, a country known for its poets, and uses her music to explore life’s intimate relationships. The Juno-nominated artist blends smooth RnB with ethereal vocals and her latest EP Milly focuses on the sexual empowerment of a young woman prospering in confidence and an assured sense of identity. Her music will no doubt evoke emotion and help listeners find strength in vulnerability.
a l l i e
In 2021, a l l i e gave us the immersive audio experience of a trip through her spirit, that is Tabula Rasa. Like many of us, she describes music and sound as “predominant healing elements in her life.” And after the last turbulent couple of years, we could all use a little more of a l l i e.
Like what you saw? Here’s more:
Unpacking 2021: The Best Moments In Music
21 Music Videos We Loved in 2021
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