PinkPantheress (who just won the prestigious BBC Sound of 2022 award) was still living in her freshman halls at UAL when her songs started exploding on TikTok. Surrounded by a general sense of mystery (she only recently showed her face in photos and has yet to reveal her real name), she has become a Gen Z icon with her short songs, insightful lyrics and its excerpts of 90s and Y2K hits from artists from Sweet Female Attitude to Linkin Park. During her rapid rise, she has already secured co-signatures from Charli XCX, Grimes and Lizzo, and performed a string of sold-out shows. His debut mixtape “To Hell with It” reached the Top 20 despite clocking in at just 18 minutes.
to listen ‘Just for me‘
With a melodic approach to exercise and an ear for genre-blending beats that emphasize his West London upbringing (from the carnival-ready sounds of reggae and dancehall, to jazz and soul), Central Cee has become one of the UK’s biggest new rappers. Capitalizing on last year’s string of singles, Cench (as he’s also known) earned a string of Mobo nominations in 2021, while his “Wild West” mixtape showed he could easily manage without guests. And after his PinkPantheress “Obsessed with You” sampling and recent collaboration with pop star FKA Twigs, he’ll likely be making noise outside of the exercise scene in 2022.
Listen at ‘day in the life‘
Clubs may have been closed for half the year, but that hasn’t stopped Yung Singh from becoming one of the hottest new names in dance music. After a series of online mixes that captured his rapid mix of UK soundsystem genres (he mixes old and new Punjabi underground tracks with garage, grime, rap and funky classics), his set at the festival Last September’s Dialed In – hosted by Daytimers, a collective of creative South Asian talent including Singh – became one of London’s first post-lockdown clubbing highlights.
to listen The Punjabi Garage Mix for ‘Shuffle ‘n’ Swing‘
Shygirl’s sexually charged lyrics are all flesh and fantasy, delivered over hard steel beats and industrial-grade sub-bass. Already cult after working with avant-pop icons like Arca and the late Sophie, Shygirl crossed the worlds in 2021: her single “Uckers” went viral on TikTok, she performed on a remix of “Sour Candy ” by Lady Gaga and Blackpink and she starred in a Burberry campaign alongside Kendall Jenner. Along the way, she also teamed up with Slowthai for the downright dirty “BDE.”
to listen ‘Freak‘
Fred again.. is no newcomer to the music business: he helped produce around 30% of the UK’s number one singles in 2019 and won Producer of the Year at the 2020 Brits . But after working with everyone from Ed Sheeran to Stormzy, Headie One to Brian Eno, the producer now has solo success in sight. He released his debut album “Actual Life” in 2021, kicking it off with a new live show at All Points East.
to listen ‘Marea (We lost the dance)‘ (feat The Holy Madonna)
India Jordan’s euphoric ‘For You’ seemed destined for the soundtrack of summer festivals after its 2020 release, but with mass events in playtime it has instead become one of the most enduring anthems from Lockdown 1.0. After clubs reopened, the Doncaster-born, Brockley-based DJ and producer saw himself performing on packed dance floors across the country – and just in time for the release of their ‘Watch Out!’ EP, which mixes high-energy club sounds with personal themes of queerness and self-love.
to listen ‘For you‘
Chubby And The Gang
Working-class punk-rock anthems exploring dead-end jobs, inequality and the seedier side of London are what Chubby And The Gang does best. They are veterans of the UK hardcore scene and their 2020 debut album ‘Speed Kills’ has been compared to Dr Feelgood’s amphetamine-laden pub rock, while last year’s ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’ demonstrated their more musical side. Add exuberant live performances to the mix and Chubby… becomes a rare band to cross paths with outside of their DIY community.
to listen ‘All along the road from Uxbridge‘
cktrl has spent years perfecting its expressive experimental sound. Contemporary classical music features prominently in his latest EPs, ‘Robyn’ and ‘Zero’, but the multi-instrumentalist and producer from Lewisham introduces elements of jazz, soul, hip-hop, R&B and electronic music in his sound. He also played a quiet but important role in the black underground creative scene, working with musicians Kelela and Dean Blunt, artist and filmmaker Jenn Nkiru (who cast him for Beyoncé’s film “Black Is King”) and the recently deceased fashion and the deceased designer. polymath Virgil Abloh.
to listen ‘Robyne‘
The best music festivals this year
The rise and fall of London’s most notorious party pub: The Dolphin