Artists to watch for in 2020
A new decade is upon us, and with it comes a refreshing energy that sees us all setting our goals, intentions and visions for the future. Compounding upon some of that new decade energy, here at NBGA we’ve chosen to highlight a group of creatives and musical visionaries who are collectively using the momentum garnered from the previous decade to push the boundaries of their respective genres into the future. Together, bringing an interesting new sound for a new generation of music fans and resolvedly setting the tune for the decade in music ahead. Allow us to introduce our 2020 visionaries, our top 20 artists to watch out for in 2020.
Lous And The Yakuza
Our first visionary to watch out for in 2020, is none other than Lous And The Yakuza. Bursting onto the international scene in the latter half of 2019 with singles “Dilemme” and “Tout Est Gore, the Columbia Records signee’s debut album “Gore” has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated record releases in new music for the new year.
Positioning herself in a lane that has yet to be explored, the Congo-Rwandan raised artiste is bringing her unique perspective and sonic influences together with contemporary hip-hop. Furthermore, being a frequent collaborator of mammoth Spanish producer El Guincho (Rosalia, J Balvin), there’s no doubt we’ll be tuning into many more idiosyncratic sounds courtesy of this talented 23-year-old in the near future.
“I want to tell the truth, I want to be real, and I want people to understand the reality of a young black woman living in Europe.” – Lous And The Yakuza
Lord Apex has been bubbling on the scene since late 2016, creating laid-back contemplative stoner music for a new generation of hip-hop heads. Citing Madvillain and Wu Tang Clan as some of his biggest influences, and with every new track showcasing his smooth flows and incredible lyrical proficiencies, it’s safe to say Lord Apex will be rising from the underground and permeating our airwaves in 2020; and into the future. Check out his track “Sunny Daze” to gain some insight into the world of the burgeoning London rapper.
“I think my sound embodies counter culture” – Lord Apex
Ama Lou has had a brilliant end to the decade, and the future looks bright for this young Stoke Newington local. Her distinct vocal helped her break onto the scene with her “DDD” short film last year, not only this, she’s already been putting in work this decade releasing her visuals for the single “We Tried” off of her sophomore EP “Ama Who?” earlier this January. An ever-growing staple in the UK R&B scene, here at NBGA we think the best is yet to come from this budding superstar.
“I believe I have contributions to make and a platform from which I can speak on things I believe in or believe against.” – Ama Lou
Since releasing his debut single “Ugotme” in 2017, self-taught musician Omar Apollo has been leaving unforgettable impressions all over the popular contemporary music space. Hailing from a small town in Indiana, in just two years he’s released two groundbreaking EP’s (2018’s Stereo and 2019’s Friends) and is now well on his way to becoming a figurehead in the mainstream pop scene.
A true D-I-Y artist with an impressive work ethic, we believe Apollo’s funky sounds will be taking over the world in no time! Check out the video for Apollo’s latest single “Kickback” to get a glimpse into the 22-year-olds smooth R&B sound and naturally endearing charm.
“For me, making music is a spiritual thing […], it’s your subconscious feelings coming out of you.” – Omar Apollo
BRIT School Alumni Rachel Chinouriri’s voice is so distinct and affecting, we’re sure it could move mountains and part seas. It’s not hard to believe that the 20-year-old songstress is on the edge of something big, and here at NBGA we think it’s going to be a massive year for this rising star!
Her multifaceted indie sound showcases her impressive sonic proficiencies, allowing her to experiment with complex melodies and moods that accent her adept songwriting beautifully. It’s no doubt that Chinouriri will be a household name by the turn of the next decade, but for now we’re merely excited to see what she’s got hiding under her creative hat in 2020!
“People should know that I wear my heart on my sleeve.” – Rachel Chinouriri
Last year, 99 Neighbour’s release of their debut album “Television” not only put them on the map, but further caught the ears of industry giants Warner Records; with whom they inked a deal. Impressively, this eight-member-strong rap collective out of Vermont (US) have managed to garner an incredibly loyal fanbase in no time, and have systematically been likened to those other successful rap collectives who came before them and shaped the contemporary idea of what a rap group can or can’t be for a new generation; namely, OFWGKTA & Brockhampton.
Here at NBGA we think 99 Neighbours will transcend the ‘modern rap collective’ box they’ve almost been shoved into, continuing to push boundaries and create music from a completely new and unique perspective. Their talent is undeniable, and as a collective they accent each others personalities and musical styles beautifully. Who’s to tell what we’ll be hearing from this talented group in the near future? All we know is that if their debut album is anything to go by, surely it’ll be pretty fire.
“At first, it was a challenge to create a cohesive product, especially with so many artists and sounds involved. But then we realised, the cohesion is built from the character of the group, which never change[s] throughout the whole creative process.” – 99 Neighbours
Washington D.C. native Baby Rose spent the most part of her 2019 touring with the likes of Ari Lennox and Snoh Aalegra; showcasing her raw-talent across the US and Europe alike. Her deep alto vocal and moving neo-soul sound prove the centrepiece for her budding stardom, and with a beautiful debut album (To Myself) under her belt already, it’s safe to say the 25-year-old songstresses career is only on it’s first inning. Check out her spell-binding track “Mortal” to get yourself caught up on all things Baby Rose before she blows beyond the stratosphere!
“I want to find myself in a perpetual state of evenness and peace. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s my idea of success.” – Baby Rose
Bakar is a Camden-raised lad with a rockstar attitude. Just two years ago he released his debut full length “Badkid” (2018) to critical acclaim and co-signs from Skepta and Elton John. This decade, we’ll surely see his multifaceted genre-bending sound on stages the world around.
Citing artists from Foals to Madlib, in amongst a plethora of other musical influences he’s drawn upon to elucidate his own sound thus far, there’s just no telling where Bakar will take us next sonically. Encompassing, this happens to be the reason we’re so excited to hear what the multifaceted artist has been cooking up for 2020!
If you’re not yet caught up on all things Bakar, be sure to watch the visuals for his smooth-indie ballad “Hell N Back” from his 2019 EP “Will You Be My Yellow”, for a glimpse of what we can expect from the talented musician in the near future.
“I think kids coming up now will just make what they want to make. If I can help push things forward, then that’s amazing.” – Bakar
There is no other contemporary artist that carries an aura and charisma as spellbinding as Greentea Peng’s – she’s absolutely in a league of her own. The talented songstress continually breathes life into musical compositions with her lyrical prowess and ever-growing positive vibrations. It’s for this reason she’s become a staple of the UK’s underground Neo-soul scene of late, often singing and soliloquising about life’s taboo’s from drugs, to spirituality, to love and all the latter.Having released her groundbreaking sophomore EP “Rising” at the closing of 2019, there’s a bubbling anticipation to see what this enchanting songstress has to offer musically in the new decade!
“It doesn’t get lighter, it just gets easier to carry” – Greentea Peng
NiNE8 Collective are forging a new movement for youth worldwide. In a similar vein to the way Jaden Smith’s MSFTS Collective encouraged young people to stand up and demand their voices be heard, NiNE8 Collective’s ethos places much focus on collaboration amongst young people proving the best way to produce timeless art and brilliant ideas.
Comprised of members Lava La Rue, Mac Wetha and Biig Piig, MC Niall Williams, KXRN, Bone Slim, L!BAAN, Nayana IZ and LorenzoRS. The collective has grown from strength to strength since forming, and now predominantly release alternative, lo-fi hip-hop jams with immense radio-play potential for their burgeoning fanbase both on and offline. It’s super inspiring to see a youth collective so dedicated towards taking charge of their own artistic proficiencies, further using their talents to catapult themselves towards self-made success. It’s for this reason, here at NBGA, we believe we haven’t heard the best from NiNE8 just yet.
“If you exchange and barter stuff without money with other creatives you can go places.” – NiNE8 Collective
Being a teenager can be pretty difficult at times, and our next visionary Arlo Parks has spent the last few years poeticising the ins-and-outs of teenaged life in the 21st century. Further, canonising her own experiences with adolescence within the gorgeous, jazzy, indie-pop sound she’s created for herself as a method of catharsis from life’s trials and tribulations.
At just 19, Parks is on her way to becoming a massive voice for this generation, particularly due to the relatable way she’s approached elucidating emo youth culture from a completely new and refreshing perspective; re-imagining the genre for a completely new audience. We’re sure to see her selling out shows the world around in the near future, so check out her track “Sophie” to get caught up on all things Arlo Parks!
“I’m going to keep kind of pushing the boundaries of what my music is.” – Arlo Parks
Houston’s Don Toliver first rose to international prominence when he received a co-sign on Travis Scott’s “Astroworld” album, singing the infectious hook for the R&B track “Can’t Say”. Since then, he’s signed to Scott’s label Cactus Jack becoming an official Jackboy, but more than this he’s been putting in work when it comes to cementing himself as a solo artist, singer and songwriter extraordinaire.
Don’s hooks are undeniably infectious, not only this, his dedication towards furthering the Houston sound cannot be overlooked. Here at NBGA we have an inkling that we haven’t even scratched the surface with whats to come from this talented artist – for now we can only thank JACK himself for putting us onto to the budding superstar that is Don Toliver.
“I want people to imagine everything in my music, […] I’m bringing a new culture into the music game.” – Don Toliver
Lolo Zouai has steadily been making a name for herself since she first impressed us with her single “High Highs To Low Lows” back in 2017. Since then the Franco-Algerian R&B songstress has released her debut album of the same title, toured the world, and continues to release banger after banger with her long-time collaborator Stelios Phili (A$AP Ferg, Young Thug).
Lolo’s been blessed in that – although she’s currently a New York native – she hails from an extremely diverse background, growing up between France and America and absorbing all their respective cultural influences as she formed her own artistic identity. The talented singer can slip between languages seamlessly, which she does gloriously across tracks, and has a knack for creating music that translates globally to a wide audience in both Europe and the US.
Over the past couple years she’s perfected her sound and we’re so excited to see whats to come from this talented songstress. Until then, check out her track “Challenge” to get clued into why she’s already one of our faves!
“It’s better to do it your way, than to do it quickly, and then not have it go your way.” – Lolo Zouai
Vegyn is on a mission to re-conceptualise the feature-heavy future of contemporary electronic music. Known most notably for his work with Frank Ocean, Vegyn is rapidly forging a name for himself as a solo artist outside of music he helped compose on the ground-breaking “Blonde” and “Endless”.
Last year, he released his debut album “Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds”, with each track proving that there is no need for lyrical subject matter in electronic music, particularly, when the intention and message is sonically mapped out for the listener, telling the records’ story from start to finish. Take his single “Debold” for example, there is so much emotional matter to be interpreted and explored as a result of the sonic dissonance and skilled experimentation present on the record, it’s safe to say each person who listens will surely take away something different from the affecting composition. We’re so excited to see where Vegyn takes his music next, one thing’s for sure we’ll be following close by wherever it goes!
“I try not to second-guess my intuition. Any time I’d have an idea, I’d try to implement it as quickly as possible, then think about its effectiveness rather than talk myself out of it.” – Vegyn
Audrey first stole our hearts with her viral single “Paper”, a smooth R&B offering centered around the fickle nature of money. So far, the talented songstress has shown no signs of slowing down, releasing her newest single “Comic Sans” in December of 2019.
This decade, we think the Korean-American songstress will take her talents to new heights, showcasing her carefully crafted melodies infused with pop and trap sensibilities, through releasing music that is both abstract and culturally conscious. Already there’s been some ramblings about Audrey settling into her new signing with Sony Arista and beginning work on a debut LP, so keep your eye’s and ears peeled for more music from this multifaceted 20-year-old in 2020!
” I don’t remember a time I didn’t want to be in music.” – Audrey
Since Dominic Fike burst onto the scene with his debut single “3 Nights” in 2019, we’ve all been experiencing a case of Fike Fever – with the Florida native’s tracks being played on all the hit radio shows and added to all the top Spotify playlists on a global scale – and not for a lack of good reason!
The talented singer-songwriter began his career as a rapper under the same moniker, but after purposefully re- conceptualising his sonic identity he’s broken through as one of the most sought after pop-acts of 2019. Inking a deal with the prestigious Columbia Records, we’re yet to receive a debut full-length from the burgeoning superstar. Nonetheless, this 23-year-old knows his way around a guitar, and no doubt harnesses the ability to steal hearts with his charming raspy vocal, that’s exactly why here at NBGA we cant wait to hear what he has up his sleeve for 2020.
“I’m not gonna let anyone down, thats for sure” – Dominic Fike
UMI’s jazzy, soulful R’n’B always leaves us feeling lighthearted and uplifted. The talented songstress has steadily been making a name for herself amongst the new faces in contemporary R&B, and her approach is entirely unique as she moves to document the human experience both lyrically and sonically.
Off the back of a brilliant 2019, UMI has shown the world that she is not only inherently a brilliant writer with a diverse palette of influences, but further that she’s tapped into a simplicity of sound that is ultimately so endearing we can’t seem to get enough! Here at NBGA we’re super excited to see where UMI will take us next, both sonically and conceptually, as she grows from strength to strength within her career. Be sure to check out her track “Down To Earth” for a glimpse into UMI’s world.
“I’m realizing as I create more and more music that I don’t put myself in one category, one type of music, or one demographic of people that I try to sing to.” – UMI
Chicago’s Pivot Gang have always been a staple on the scene, and something tells us that they’re coming back in a big way this new decade, having released their first collaborative project in five years (You Can’t Sit With Us) this past year. The rap collective’s members Saba, Joseph Chilliams, MFn Melo, Frsh Waters, DaeDaePIVOT & SqueakPIVOT are all ingenious creatives in their own right, but together they’re so much stronger and bring a youthful, and comforting presence within the rap scene every time they drop a track. Check out their latest release “Mortal Kombat” for a taste of whats to come from this insanely talented rap collective in the near future.
“There’s something to be said of pushing each other in a positive, creative way.” – Pivot Gang
JGrrey make’s honest music for stoners and sad girls, always with fiercely relatable underlying themes and beautifully crafted neo-soul melodies. The London-based creative is constantly looking for the next emotion to flesh out on a tune, being consciously introspective about her personal experiences as a process to fuel her art, she writes simply for catharsis; and it’s always a calming listen.
Here at NBGA, we think JGrrey is set to blow any minute now, and with the release of her latest EP “Ugh”, there’s even brighter prospects on the horizon for this ubiquitous artist. Check out the visual for her song “For Keeps” to experience JGrrey in her element!
“The one thing I can say about my music, is that it’s always honest.” – JGrrey
Master Peace is a rockstar for the new age who characteristically blends his diversified rap and rock proficiencies to bring us a fresh, new and exciting sound that certainly can’t be replicated. His command of the punk and indie genre’s leave much leeway for him to experiment with catchy lyrical matter, and his ability to flesh out unforgettable hooks will surely see him taking over the airwaves into 2020 and beyond.
Not only this, Master Peace’s reluctance to prescribe to the contemporary music industry symptoms of streaming and lethargic marketing techniques sets him apart from other artists coming through today, as he prefers to mosh at his shows and test his newest releases on complete strangers to generate buzz around his music. Always conducting himself in the most authentic manner, we have a feeling there’s much more to be learned about the budding rockstar, and here at NBGA we can’t wait to see him shine!
“One minute, I might sing an indie love song or some surfer rock and then it might transition into chaotic punk and hood raps. You’ll never be able to predict what’s coming next!” – Master Peace
by Tahirah Thomas