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2019 in music: gal-dem’s ones to watch

31 Jan 2019

Image via YouTube

January is at an end, and the lists telling you which artists you need to know this year have hit – but let us have one last say, because there’s a whole load of WoC talent coming through that you really should know about. Soul, rap, R&B, experimental, pop and more, in no particular order here are gal-dem’s choice music acts for 2019.


This east Londoner has a truly sublime voice, and has been putting out some of the finest UK R&B and soul tracks in recent memory – ‘Stranded Love’ is just something else, and First Signs of Me is a gorgeous debut  EP. She just put out a stunning track with Ghetts and Wretch 32, and we’re so ready for whatever’s coming next.



There’s no higher praise we can give duendita than gal-dem’s video editor Daisy Ifama did earlier this year – “I felt a connection to every line in a way that I haven’t felt since Solange’s A Seat at the Table”, she wrote in an interview with the Queens artist earlier this month. And that about sums her up: this is powerful, heavenly music, topped with a voice that plumes out like a sweet, rich wine.



Glitchy and thrilling, we’re so here for the experimentalism of this south-east Londoner – she blends pretty much every genre imaginable on tracks like ‘Everytime’ and ‘Matter Of Fact / Not That Easy’ along with producer Haich. If you want to go between rap and dissonant electronic and pop and R&B and dubby dance heat, you need to get into Elheist. 



One of our faves from last year, the Londoner’s Nature of the Beast project was rich and soulful and beautifully open with its emotions. Blending pared down hip-hop beats and silky smooth vocals, all with bright and dazzling visuals, she deserves all your love and attention in 2019.



This Jamaican teen is making sensational reggae-tinged tunes, brimming with youthful exuberance, power and politics. While ‘Toast’ brought the initial heat – her latest track ‘Throne’ is dubby and glorious, with the video featuring her effortlessly spitting bars while sat on the roof of a moving taxi in infamous Kingston traffic. And though it’s early doors, she has already toured with Chronixx last year here in the UK and has an EP called Rapture coming soon to streaming services near you. Get to know.



With her debut release ‘nina’, anaïs evoked the spirit of Nina Simone and sang of her liberation, accompanied by a breathtaking signature Campbell Addy visual. Ever since, she has continued to release consistently spine-tingling soul music that is both intimate and ambitious. Born in France – of Senegalese heritage – but living in Dublin, California, Dakar and New York during her adolescence, on her debut full length project darkness at play, her music soars as a compelling fusion of her globe-spanning influences.


Arlo Parks

Tipping someone on the basis of one song would be a little dramatic if it weren’t for just how incredibly good this south-west Londoner’s debut track is. ‘Cola’ by the 18-year-old is smooth and sweet and sad (and kind of gives low-key Syd vibes), setting the scene for some excellent artistry ahead – in fact in the past 24 hours she’s put out a second track, ‘Super Sad Generation’, which fully certifies her place here.



Recently named as one of NTS’ Work In Progress acts for 2019, Azadi.MP3 makes beguiling and strange electronic music cut with breathy, choral words. Exploring the intersections of a background steeped in London and Iranian culture, both sonically and visually, what she does is mesmerising – and with an EP on the way, you shouldn’t sleep on her.


Jamilah Barry

This Leeds artist put out her debut full-length project, Salix Babylonica, last summer, and it simmers with slow-burning R&B atmosphere and ambition. Her voice is like silk, and sure she was technically someone you should’ve been watching last year but this is just a note to fully pay attention in 2019.


Lexie Liu

About to drop an EP, Lexie Liu’s getting hyped as China’s next breakthrough popstar. Part of the 88rising powerhouse, she makes delicate, futuristic, multilingual music that’s beguiling and beautiful.


Rachel Chinouriri

The Croydon singer-songwriter blessed us with a special performance on our Reprezent show to start off the year, a reminder of her mesmerising yet early-stage lovesong catalogue. Full of heartbreaking candour delivered through a soft, powerful voice (with an incredible falsetto), her music is undeniably magic.



This classically-trained teenager has had her compositions played by the New York Philharmonic, but now she’s on the rap train. She only has two songs out right now – but on the basis of the jittering melodic rap of ‘I’m Safe’ and the deft delivery over squelchy synths on ‘Might Be’, she’s got us very excited.