We’ve been obsessed with Korean trap star Keith Ape (FKA Kid Ash) ever since his viral supernova “It Ma G” (below) took over YouTube and catapulted him to underground notoriety. And after storming the VFiles runway at NYFW this season – braids flying, grills reflecting, and his name lit on the back wall in Jean-Michel Basquiat-style typography – our obsession was entirely re-ignited. Despite the shitstorm he's been causing amongst his Atlanta counterparts for imitating their style, we’re keeping a keen eye on where he’s about to land next.
Haven’t heard of Mabel yet? You’ll be hearing her everywhere soon. With her attitude-packed lyrics, silky smooth vocals and throwback TLC style, she is everything you wish you were when you were a teenager. She’s also the daughter of iconic pop queen Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey, and her only track to date “Know Me Better” (below) sounds exactly like the musical love child of them both.
Harlem’s anarchic gospel deviant serpentwithfeet has a voice like an angel and lyrics dripping in desire. Brought up on the sounds of pure church gospel and 90s queen Brandy, SWF’s style fits somewhere in between, with an NYC underground twist. “I listen to at least an hour of Brandy everyday,” he told us earlier this year. “I saw and heard what she did for gay black boys, specifically in Harlem. I saw that kids were doing Brandy runs and mimicking her tone. I call them Boy-Brandys. I’m a Boy-Brandy.”
Arabic, Tokyo-based artist Ta-Ha pulled us in with her zoned-out, EP Taureg Shawty, and now we can’t get enough. With her dreamy layers of auto-tune, codeine-coated production and slow-mo R&B vocal runs, the Internet’s newest DIY girl makes us want to lean back and contemplate. Her latest track “Lil Bit” (below) delves head first into consumerist woes and chasing cash, as she sings: “Yes I been sinnin’ a lil bit, I been grindin’ a lil bit, Be on that cash for a lil bit, I might get broke just a lil bit.” I hear ya!
If you’re into the chilled or minimal, then North London singer/rapper GIRLI probably isn’t for you. With a predication for neon pink eyebrows and an in-your-face attitude that fits somewhere between Brooke Candy and Shampoo, GIRLI’s music is chaotic, uber-hyper and loads of fun. “You could punch a granny in the tooth, you could steal and you could lie,” she drawls in “ASBOys”, a track about lads causing trouble. She also made this completely off-the-wall “radio show” that's definitely worth a listen if you're into Sugababes, Skepta and Spice Girls being played one after the other.
Newham MC J Hus first shook us awake with his afrobeat-grime hit “Dem Boy Paigon” (below) which garnered over 3.1 million YouTube hits overnight and is still being blasted out of car windows. It’s easy to why – the track’s a banger, and with its semi-sung lyrics, lean-n-bop beats and unapologetic 90’s samples, it’s one of the most on-fire creations we’ve heard all year. After dropping a fearless (and incredible) mixtape The 15th Day, and with the ink still wet on a contract with Black Butter Records, we’re watching the space he’s already carved out for himself.
Masked Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 has been around for quite some time, but after her game-changing debut, and a new mixtape that is set to drop any minute now, 2016 looks like the year she’ll set your speakers on fire. “I was not put here to be liked,” she told us in an interview our “Girls Rule the World” issue. “You can say what you want, but I wasn’t born to make you comfortable. I am here to have fun, stir it up and make you uneasy.”
If you needed even more proof that some of the most exciting sounds around right now are coming from South Africa’s underground, then look no further than rising producer and NON Records co-founder ANGEL-HO. From making an Aaliyah classic sound eerie as fuck to crafting electronic gems from twisted, glass-shattering samples, ANGEL-HO's soundcloud is full of freaky aural treasures. If you’re into the likes of Arca, Chino Amobi and Lotic, then this will be one to press play and turn up.
LA singer/producer Hana has had us hooked on her sweetly melodic DIY gems ever since we clocked her on best mate Grimes’ Instagram account and did some serious internet investigating. We’re not the only ones enamoured though. She’s been snapped up to tour with Shamir, Years & Years and Grimes, with Lorde dubbing her glistening synth-pop track “Clay” as “too shimmering and beautiful for words.” After hearing it ourselves, we can’t help but agree.
If the name Bibi Bourelly sounds familiar, that’s because the 20-year-old LA girl penned the most badass song of the year (Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money”, no less) and now she’s getting geared up to unleash her own material into the world, with this month’s bluesy “Ego” (below) being our personal fave. On a side note, she’s worth following on twitter for hilarious 100mph doses of unrestrained thinking-out-loud.
Follow Daisy Jones on Twitter here @daisythejones