Written by Krystal Beez //
Get familiar with these five emerging artists.
1. RAY BLK
Who: Rita Ekwere
Origin: South London, United Kingdom
What she’s about: Ray is taken from her last name, and BLK stands for “Building, Living, Knowing.” Many have dubbed her “the Lauryn Hill of the UK,” and it’s not hard to see why. Born in Nigeria, Ray came to London at the age of four. Many of her songs are influenced by “My Hood” and are about female empowerment. Her lyrics are truthful and brash and sung with such raw, soulful vocals. Listen to any of her tracks, and you can hear how Ray is not only a voice of strength and confidence for herself, but also for those who listen. Her music video for “Chill Out“, which dropped last year, was filmed in Jamaica and features the Gully Queens, a group of LGBT women who have been forced out of their homes. “It put a lot into perspective because every day of their lives is a struggle and a battle to stay alive — yet they were so happy, so full of life,” Ray says of the experience. She recently won the BBC’s Sound of 2017, beating out Nadia Rose and Jorja Smith. If Ray is any indication of what the sound of 2017 is, then this is going to be a great year for music.
File next to: Lion Babe. Lauryn Hill. Jorja Smith.
2. KALI UCHIS
Who: Karly Loaiza
What she’s about: Kali Uchis (born Karly Loaiza) does it all as a singer-songwriter, record producer and music video director hailing from Colombia. Five years ago, she released her self-produced mixtape Drunken Babble, which garnered attention from high-profile rappers like Snoop Dogg and Tyler, the Creator. In 2015, she released Por Vida independently, which includes standouts “Loner” and “Ridin Round” (below). Loaiza never really wanted to be a singer; she wanted to be a director. Just like she sings “I don’t even wanna know ya / I don’t wanna be known” in the chorus of “Loner”, you can sense that she’s more about staying in the background than in the public eye. Influenced by music from the 50’s and 60’s, and by beautiful women who were never taken advantage of, Uchis herself is quite the feminist. Her music is a wonderful blend of pop, soul and surf rock. Last year, she released the Kaytranada-produced track “Only Girl“, featuring Vince Staples and The Internet’s Steve Lacy. I can’t wait to see what Kali Uchis does next.
File next to: SZA. Kelela. The Internet.
Who: Paris Strother, Amber Strother, Anita Bias
Origin: Los Angeles, California
What they’re about: KING are an alternative R&B/soul trio with a unique and distinctive sound that’s drenched in old-school vibes but is also quite futuristic. In fact, the way their harmonies float so perfectly over Paris Strother’ production is the stuff that musical dreams are made of. They write and produce their own music, on their own record label named King Creative. Formed in 2011, it wasn’t long before they began to earn praise from Erykah Badu, Prince and Questlove. Last year, KING released their debut album We Are KING, which was nominated for “Best Urban Contemporary Album” at the Grammy Awards. Impressed yet? Take a listen to their song “The Greatest” below, and you’ll hear why KING are one of the greatest emerging acts out there right now.
File next to: Amel Larrieux. Erykah Badu. Gallant.
Who: Katie Gavin. Josette Maskin. Naomi McPherson.
Origin: Los Angeles, California
What they’re about: This three-piece met in 2013 while attending the University of Southern California. The next year, MUNA self-released their debut EP More Perfect and subsequently signed to RCA Records following its success. Last month, they released their debut full length About U, which is full of beautifully crafted electropop songs. “Crying on the Bathroom Floor” is a glittery jewel of a track. Think Robyn meets HAIM, and soon you’ll be singing along to all of their songs. Check out their first single “I Know a Place” below.
File next to: Robyn. Grace Mitchell. Grouplove.
5. CAMP COPE
Who: Georgia Maq. Sarah Thompson. Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich.
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
What they’re about: Last but not least is another talented trio, this time from the land Down Under, who will satisfy all of your alt-rock and indie-rock needs. Their self-titled debut album came out last year and climbed into the Top 40 of the ARIA Albums Chart. They’ve been quite busy in Australia, performing at major festivals like St. Jerome’s Laneway, covering the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Maps” for Triple J’s “Like a Version” series and launching a campaign that helps stop sexual harassment at concerts. Watch the music video for their defiant and heartfelt tune “Keep Growing” below.
File next to: Gang of Youths. Methyl Ethyl.
Who is your favorite emerging artist? Let us know in the comments section below!