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gal-dem

AN ONLINE AND PRINT PUBLICATION COMMITTED TO SHARING PERSPECTIVES FROM WOMEN AND NON-BINARY PEOPLE OF COLOUR

Ones to watch: gal-dem’s 20 music acts for 2020

With 2020 underway, we thought we’d round up some of the artists we’re excited to hear more from this year.

Credits: Lous and the Yakuza screenshot

Okay, sure, it’s February, and everyone else did their “ones to watch” in January. But why should that mean we can’t share some of the artists we’re excited about?

There’s so much talent coming from across the globe and even whittling it down to 20 names was hard. As with last year, we looked across genres and countries to find some faves – some you’ll already know, but hopefully, some will be a happy new discovery for your ears. Without further rambling, in alphabetical order, here are 20 acts who we are gassed to hear more from over the next year.

Aadae

This South Londoner’s got Nigerian roots, and that shines through in her songs – this is twinkling, uplifting pop filled with an urgency and euphoria that makes you want to dance. It looks like her debut album is lined-up this year, so keep an eye out.

Aaliyah Espirit

This soulful vocalist based between Manchester and Bristol has been mentored as part of Brownswood’s tastemaking Future Bubblers series, and her cosmic take on pop music blends cosmic sounds is forward-facing and fascinating.

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Anz

Okay honestly, Anz makes music that slaps. DJ Mag described the Manchester producer’s tracks as being like “rogue fireworks” and honestly, we can’t think of a better way of describing the bright, sparkly and surprising melding of sonics. Her Invitation 2 Dance EP dropped last year and is straight heat, the aim this year is to catch her in the club.

Beabadoobee

You’ve probably spotted her already – she was on the BBC Sound of list, as well as being one of the BRITs Critics’ Choice nominees. Beabadoobee makes sweet and nostalgic guitar pop that sounds like a high school romcom and we are so ready to hear what the year brings for the Filipino-British artist.

Blessed

A South-East London duo leaning into sugary R&B nostalgia – occasionally with a lil’ nod to the summery brightness of dancehall and Afrobeats. They put out an EP last year, and we’re so ready to hear more.

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Breakup Haircut

This London band make scuzzy and melodic punk and their EP last year, What did you expect? I got it off the internet! was full of delicious basslines and angsty vocals.

Bvndit

Odds are there’s gonna be a lot of K-Pop groups continuing to break the West, and this girl group has some bangers (and some killer dance moves).

Denise Chaila

Over the last couple years this spoken word artist/rapper who was born in Zambia and raised in Limerick has been raising the bar in Ireland’s rap scene (though this track rolls its eyes at the concept of “Irish rap” and “female rap”). She’s got bars – check out her moving spoken-word track ‘Dual Citizenship’ that interrogates the question, “Where are you from, originally?”.

ELSZ

This Brooklyn-based Australian/Sri Lankan artist plays harp topped with a voice like silk – they make gorgeous, gossamer-soft music, and they’re currently recording their debut album.

FFSYTHO

A fierce MC from Northampton, she’s got some thrilling tracks and freestyles. She’s super open about her sexuality, with excellent bars like “Cindy kissed Barbie and Ken got replaced” – in fact, she’s got a gift for keeping things lyrical and hilarious – “Spit game so hard that I’m wiping the side of my mouth when I’m done”. We hope she continues to bring the heat this year.

Hope Tala

This West Londoner makes soft, emotive jams imbued with a lilt of bossa nova – last year’s Sensitive Soul EP was a dream (Hope has worked with Raveena before, which should give you an idea of the kind of luxe, magic tenderness her music is brimming with).

Juice Menace

A Cardiff MC who’s been on the mic since she was 17, Juice Menace has got assured, charismatic delivery over cold beats.

Kaash Paige

This 18-year-old from Texas looks set for a huge year. ‘Love Songs’ was gorgeous, and her EP Parked Car Convos dropped in December, showcasing a proclivity for delicate, intimate pop-R&B songs.

Lady Donli

One of the big names in the Lagos Alté scene, Lady Donli’s music is explosive, colourful and euphoric. Her debut album Enjoy Your Life dropped last year, and this year looks set to put her on the map even more.

Lady Lykez

She’s been around for years of course, but given she put out a banging EP – Muhammad Ali – on Hyperdub last year produced by Scratchclart and full of sexy bashment energy, we are ready to see what Lady Lykez has got in store for us this year. 

Lous and the Yakuza

Serving up deliciously melodic (French) rap that melds soft pianos and glitchy trap, Lous grew up between Rwanda and Congo with her parents before heading to Belgium to try make a name for herself. Her album is set to drop in June, and it’s going to be special.

Majur

From Brazil, they have a soaring voice and make entrancing pop songs. As non-English language music continues to climb into UK and US consciousness, it’d be nice to see the soft, bossa nova bops of Majur appreciated beyond their home country.

Ojerime

Of course, we’ve been backing Ojerime for a while, but following a career pause (she suffered a mental breakdown), the South London artist is back with her glossy, dusky, gorgeous R&B. With a new EP lined up this year, we’re really excited for more. 

Shenseea

The rising princess of the dancehall looks set for another huge year (she signed to behemoth label Interscope in 2019). She’s collaborated with Tyga, Swae Lee and (of course) Nailah Blackman, bring on the carnival heat all year around.

Shygirl

If strange, brash and sexy electronic pop music is your thing, you need to check Shygirl. The south-east Londoner has been big in the underground the past couple years – in 2020 she looks set to shine even brighter.

Listen to all our 2020 ones to watch here:

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