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May 7, 2020

10 Powerful Emerging Voices in Music

Whether you’re looking to discover new songs, binge cool music videos, or wrap your head around the future of sound, this list of powerful emerging voices in music is a great jumping off point.

Rina Sawayama is having a moment. While the London-based artist has been making music since 2013, the success of her latest singles “XS” and “STFU!” have catapulted her into a new level of obsession. Rina Sawayama is tremendously likeable. It could be because she’s a former fashion model who doesn’t take herself too seriously, or perhaps because she’s managed to navigate pop music with good politics.  Maybe it’s her music pulling on our 90’s pop/r&b heartstrings. We’re still trying to figure it out, but you should too.

Bree Runway has been making music since 2017, but 2020 truly belongs to her.  The UK-based rap genius is everything we need for the future of hip-hop, while still giving us everything we love about the timeless qualities of a Missy Elliot or Lil Kim. There’s a great deal of range in her latest releases. Enjoy relaxing and lighting candles to the sensual sound of “All Night,” shortly after drinking margaritas and busting a move to “APESHIT.”  Bree Runway, we’re here for it. 

The music of Brent Faiyaz is a real kick back and chill. While he has actively been making music since 2014, Faiyaz’s hit single “Rehab (Winter in Paris)” has made its way to countless playlists and thusly, our hearts. His most recent single, “Make It Out,” has all the feels we need for a lazy quarantine Sunday, and if you’re looking to take a dive into his beautiful catalog, it’s a perfect starting point. 

The delicious sounds of Remi Wolf can only be described as electric/pop with soul.  Her music is, quite frankly, addicting.  From the nostalgic keyboard and drum beat on “Woo!” to the dreamy synth and house beat on “Bad Behavior,” Remi Wolf keeps you guessing without fear.  i-D described the “Woo!” music video as, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on acid,” and we must agree.  The sound. The visuals. The instagram. It’s evident that Remi Wolf is here to collide genres, shatter barriers, and risk it all for her art. We’re just excited to watch it all unfold.

Dua Saleh’s journey as both an artist and a person is inspiring. Saleh’s family were refugees in the 1990s, fleeing Sudan and eventually settling in St. Paul, Minnesota.  In early adulthood, she majored in gender, women’s and sexuality studies at Augsburg College, led a walkout from her former high school through the NAACP in protest of the school-to-prison pipeline, and flexed her lyricism as a spoken word artist around the Twin Cities. Saleh identifies as non-binary, and her experiences as a Sudanese-American, poet, activist, and musician, are all beautifully compounded in the rich color of her work.

Ant Clemons has come a long way from working at a Red Lobster in Philadelphia in 2016, but his burgeoning success is so well deserved. Hip-Hop music has been waiting for Ant Clemon’s debut album since he began his gauntlet of memorable features on tracks by Brockhampton, Tyler the Creator, and Benny Blanco two years ago. Released just this past March, HAPPY 2 BE HERE is eight tracks long and features some big hitters, including Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Ty Dolla $ign.

Dream Pop artist Ryan Beatty has an ethereal sound that will make you feel like you’re floating.  After releasing his self-titled EP in 2013, Ryan Beatty all but disappeared, save for a few singles here and there.  Proof that sometimes the best work comes from long incubation periods, his most recent album, Dreaming of David, can only be described as an ethereal masterpiece.  Open that window, feel the breeze, and take a listen.

The next great icon in neo soul music is undoubtedly Joy Crookes. The singer/songwriter’s debut album is due any day now, but don’t worry, there’s a great catalog of singles and EPs to satisfy in the meantime. Crookes’ singing voice is full-bodied, smooth, emotional, and, quite honestly, the kind of greatness that could release an acapella album. Take a listen to “Don’t Let Me Down,” and see if you agree.

Illiterate Light‘s Jeff Gorman and Jake Cochran may not be the last band to pay their bills from organic farming and weed edibles, but they’re probably the first.  The Virginia-based duo has steadily been releasing new singles every month for the better part of the last year, a formula more popular as the internet takes hold of music’s ever-evolving economy. Like any rock band should, Gorman and Cochran have often expressed the deepest connection to their music when performing live and endeavor to “bottle the raw, kinetic energy” of their live shows in their studio recordings.

Bringing the future to the present is London-based electronic artist Igloohost. With an undeniably unique point of view, he takes listeners on a journey that sometimes feels more akin to a soundscape than a song. Igloohost occupies a sub-genre of electronic music called “wonky,” a style often seen as an intelligent response to grime and dubstep.  From computer beeps and blips to beautiful strings and operatic vocals, nothing is off the table for Igloohost. Check out his latest music video, “Amu,” for an introduction to his viceral fantasy world. 


Story by John Mark


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