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John Marshall

Five on it: from ‘Black Hole’ to BRITs Rising Star, Griff is set to smash 2021

Anointed as this year's BRITs Rising Star, here's why we're all so excited about Griff. Plus new releases from Mykki Blanco and more.

19 Mar 2021

Last week we mentioned how heartening it was that three POC artists – Rina Sawayama, Griff and rapper Pa Salieu – had been named as the three shortlisted nominees for the coveted BRITs Rising Star for 2021. The award sees representatives from across the music industry tip who they think will make the biggest waves in the charts over the next twelve months, with recent winners including Celeste and Jorja Smith.

Transport to the present and upcoming pop star Griff – a gal-dem one to watch – has been declared as this year’s recipient of the gong, a momentous achievement for an artist at the mere age of 20 who has only been releasing music since 2019. “In my head I’m still screaming from the phone call when I found out,” the Hertfordshire talent told the Guardian. “It’s honestly such a miracle: how on earth did we manage to win a Brit and break through during a pandemic?”

Her CV is looking pretty impressive, having already been shortlisted for BBC’s Sound of 2021 (Pa Salieu won) and named on Radio 1’s Brit List, as well as releasing the v emotional ‘Love is a Compass’ for Disney’s Christmas ad. Next week, she makes not one, but two transatlantic TV appearances, performing on Late Night with Seth Meyers and the new, solitary-focused reimagining of a Covid-19-era Later… With Jools Holland which will introduce her to an even wider audience. And as we all know, you’ve made it when you get on Jools Holland, nevermind nabbing a co-sign by one Tay Tay

If there was ever any doubt about the potential of the Jamaican and Chinese singer-songwriter, that was erased with the release of her dark, yet addictive, pop anthem ‘Black Hole’ (a song that wouldn’t go amiss in Taylor Swift’s own back-catalogue). It’s the crossover moment every new talent dreams of, and while its chart success was underbaked, the subsequent rise in Griff’s profile is set to do the single wonders. 

But what is it about Griff that is causing such a stir? Well apart from her sugary vocal tone and slick pop melodies, the lyrics of ‘1,000,000 X Better’ and ‘Good Stuff’ are as earnest and relatable as her performance; it is the notion of having the private innards of your journal relayed back to you with far more composure than you yourself can muster while in the throes of your heartache. With her mixtape, One Foot In Front of the Other, set to drop on 11 June, we can expect to be ugly crying to many a bittersweet ballad before the summer is out.

Mykki Blanco – ‘Free Ride’

Debuted as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1, ‘Free Ride’ is Mykki Blanco’s first solo release in a hefty five years. Teaming up with Hudson Mohawke and FaltyDL on production duties, the track is a blissfully bright ode to the earnest pursuit of love.

Rochelle Jordan – ‘NEXT 2 YOU’

Plucked from her upcoming third album Play With The Changes, Rochelle Jordan’s ‘NEXT 2 YOU’ is a pulsating club banger of grand proportions. The beats are big, the synths are rich and 90s-infused, while the hook is made for flipping shapes on the dancefloor. Pretty slick.

Laura Mvula – ‘Church Girl’

OK, so we’ve pit-stopped in the 1990s only to throw it back to the 1980s with Laura Mvula’s new cut ‘Church Girl’. If you love a bit of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’-era Whitney, then this is a bit of you; the bouncy pop and glacial synths on show here see Laura celebrate finding her true self.

Pauli the PSM – ‘I Got the Beat’

Can you tell I miss dancing yet? This new one by LA-via-London artist Pauli the PSM exists for the club with its skittish percussion and big, bassy beats. With Pauli stating that with this track they “just wanted to remind people that I’m still a badman on drums”, it makes perfect sense. 

feeo – ‘End Song’

feeo first got my attention with her whimsical debut ‘Yeti’, but her third single ‘End Song’ sees her find a more experimental edge. Undeniably chilled, her silky vocal meanders over trip-hop beats and hazy undercurrents, before the throbbing bass and pulsating synths kick in for an apocalyptic twist.