Well, that’s pretty much it folks. Bar the odd Christmas-day bonus release (looking at you King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard) the musical year is over once again. Now we turn our gaze to 2018 and the artists that will rule the coming 12 months. There are some obvious contenders, our new cover stars IAMDDB, Not3s and SOPHIE, for example, as well as the likes of Billie Eilish and Khalid, so in an effort to vary things up from the near-identical lists floating around we’ve dug deep to find the artists we think are not only going to blow the fuck up next year but also push music forwards while they do it. View our artists of 2018 below and click through to discover each artist in depth.
S4U make twisted, gothic takes on old school RnB and hip hop. One of the first signees to Lily Allen’s Bank Holiday records they’ve picked up a cult following which looks set to blow into mainstream appeal in 2018.
Political, pioneering and almost impossible to characterise, the music that Ama Lou makes is hard to define but infectious to listen to.
The newest disciple of South London’s soul revival is Elephant and Castle’s Joy Crookes. Half Bengali and half Irish, she says “music was a language growing up for all the different cultures in the house.” So integral were the classics to her development as a child, she can’t remember whether her first album was What’s Going On or London Calling – we’re not sure which is cooler.
Che Lingo (pictured)
Self-proclaimed young wizard, Che Lingo is far more than just your average rapper. Concocting his eclectic lyrical magic with a fresh and futuristic approach to UK hip hop, this Battersea boy has been casting spells over the scene. That’s why he’s included in our artists of 2018.
Celeste Waite, or Celeste as she is known, was blessed with a voice so heavenly, she could reel off the ingredients from the back of a crisp packet, and it would still sound sweeter than anything you have eaten before.
Sounds that effortlessly explore genre – this is the type of music created by XamVolo (real name Sam Folorunsho), a neo-soul singer who blends indie rock, R&B and jazz into a truly modern sonic style. Influenced by the likes of Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, Xam produces his own instrumentals allowing him complete originality as the commander of each track.
After decades of languishing in middle-aged obscurity and being mocked as the preserve of Howard Moon and men that still think trilbies look cool, jazz has been rediscovered by a young, diverse and supremely talented generation of musicians from across the world and right now there’s none cooler than Poppy Ajudha.
Birmingham duo Ash and Lucas, aka Lotto Boyzz, have been steadily pushing what’s been described as ‘Afro bashment’ for a little while now. Whether or not that term is wholly accurate is another question (R&B, gospel, hip hop and myriad Caribbean influences can often be heard). Still, their canny blend of R&B, Afrobeats and Caribbean music should definitely score them a lot of mainstream success in the future.
Ryan Aitchison, aka Mella Dee, was raised on a different kind of Northern soul. Born in South Yorkshire, he discovered the world of warehouse raves, frequenting countless parties around Leeds and Doncaster. In the darkness of those industrial buildings, he was educated on everything from happy hardcore to acid house, soaking up the breadth of British rave culture before eventually turning his interest to American stalwarts like Underground Resistance.
Aged just twenty-five, Ebenezer has managed to carve a niche for himself in the industry, working with Craig David, Rejjie Snow and Ty Dolla $ign all before dropping his debut single. When that single, ‘Cliché’, did arrive it was met with critical applause. Ebenezer seemed to have emerged fully formed with a unique, more open take on the autotuned rap and R&B that’s prospered so well after that last few years.
‘Isn’t it interesting I feel so alive, at the same time I’m ready to die?’ JGrrey sings in the most lackadaisical way, an R&B melody barely skimming a funky beat in ‘Ready 2 Die’. Immediately enigmatic, the singer and songwriter from South London presents an elusive character, one that’s both media shy and set for the stars.
Hak Baker found his freedom in songwriting. A former member of East London’s grime collective Bomb Squad, he picked up a guitar during a short stint in prison, swapped cyphers for songs of cockney freedom, and he’s never looked back.
Fusion came up the old fashioned way; clashing in Jammer’s basement. Grime has had a huge 2017, and the genre has changed a lot over the years, however, it’s reassuring to know that an MC can still earn their spot by battling it out at Lord of the Mics.
Friends with Tom Misch and every other south London jazzy type you could care to name, Carmody is set to ride London’s jazz renaissance to mainstream success come 2018.
Friend of Mura Masa and wunderkind in her own right, Bonzai has already done a good job of establishing herself as one to watch this year. 2018 looks set to be the year she takes her hyperactive R&B to the next level.
Rex Orange County
Ok, so there are actually 16 names on this list but we had to include this one, as no one has had a better year than Rex Orange County. He had not one but two guest appearances on Tyler, the Creator’s latest album, appeared on stage with Skepta at the Mercury prize ceremony and teamed up with Frank Ocean. 2018 will be stratospheric.
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