PinkPantheress (who just took home the prestigious BBC Sound of 2022 award) was still living in her first-year halls at UAL when her songs started blowing up on TikTok. Surrounded by a general sense of mystery (she’s only recently shown her face in photos and has yet to reveal her real name), she has become a Gen Z icon with her short songs, relatable lyrics, and samples of ’90s and Y2K hits by artists from Sweet Female Attitude to Linkin Park. During her rapid ascent she’s already earned co-signs from Charli XCX, Grimes and Lizzo, and performed a run of sold-out shows. Her debut mixtape ‘To Hell with It’ hit the Top 20 despite clocking in at just 18 minutes long.
Listen to ‘Just for Me’
With a melodic take on drill and an ear for genre-blending beats that emphasise 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. Capitalising on last year’s run of breakout singles, Cench (as he’s also known) earned a string of Mobo nominations in 2021, while his ‘Wild West’ mixtape showed he could easily hold his own without guest features. And following his PinkPantheress-sampling ‘Obsessed with You’ and a recent collaboration with pop star FKA Twigs, he’ll likely be making noise outside the drill scene in 2022.
Listen to ‘Day in the Life’
Clubs might have been closed for half the year, but that hasn’t stopped Yung Singh from becoming one of dance music’s most hotly tipped new names. Following a string of online mixes that captured his rapid-fire mix of UK sound-system genres (he blends old and new tracks from the Punjabi underground with garage, grime, rap and funky classics), his set at last September’s Dialled In festival – hosted by Daytimers, a collective of South Asian creative talent including Singh – became one of London’s first major post-lockdown clubbing moments.
Listen to 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 a cult fave after working with avant-pop icons like Arca and the late Sophie, Shygirl crossed worlds in 2021: her single ‘Uckers’ went viral on TikTok, she featured on a remix of Lady Gaga and Blackpink’s ‘Sour Candy’ and she starred in a Burberry campaign alongside Kendall Jenner. Along the way, she also teamed up with Slowthai for the frankly filthy ‘BDE’.
Listen to ‘Freak’
Fred again.. is hardly a newcomer to the music biz: he had a hand in producing around 30 percent of the UK’s Number One singles in 2019, and took home a Producer of the Year award at the 2020 Brits. But having worked with everyone from Ed Sheeran to Stormzy, Headie One to Brian Eno, the producer now has solo success in his sights. He released his debut album ‘Actual Life’ in 2021, launching it with a new live show at All Points East.
Listen to ‘Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)’ (feat The Blessed Madonna)
India Jordan’s euphoric ‘For You’ seemed destined to soundtrack summer festival stages following its release in 2020, but with mass events in recess, it instead became one of Lockdown 1.0’s most enduring anthems. After clubs reopened, the Doncaster-born, Brockley-based DJ and producer saw themselves playing to packed dancefloors up and down 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.
Listen to ‘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 do best. They’re veterans of the UK’s hardcore scene and their 2020 debut album ‘Speed Kills’ was compared to the amphetamine-charged pub rock of Dr Feelgood, while last year’s ‘The Mutt’s Nuts’ demonstrated their more musical side. Add rambunctious live shows into the mix and Chubby… are becoming a rare group to cross over outside of their DIY community.
Listen to ‘All Along the Uxbridge Road’
cktrl has spent years honing his expressive experimental sound. Contemporary classical music is a major part of his latest EPs, ‘Robyn’ and ‘Zero’, but the Lewisham multi-instrumentalist and producer introduces elements from jazz, soul, hip hop, R&B and electronic music to his sound. He’s 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 in Beyoncé’s film ‘Black Is King’) and the recently departed fashion and the late creative polymath Virgil Abloh.
Listen to ‘Robyn’
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