Amongst a wave of Malaysian artists on their way to international prominence, Alex Bong is one to watch. Under the moniker Alextbh, the 22-year-old’s sound infuses R&B with a slick pop energy, especially evident in his latest single, ‘walls’; the track is a continuation of his previous single, ‘still mine’, reminiscing on love, loss, and longing. Using his platform to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community, the self-taught artist continues to capture the attention of many.
Danish trio CHINAH’s experimental R&B sound is delivered with artistic minimalism on their debut LP. Fine Glindvad, Simon Kjær and Simon Andersson originally formed in 2014 as a folk outfit before branching out and making waves with a number of dark synth-pop hits, drawing inspiration from off-kilter duo Smerz. Throughout the creative process behind “ANYONE”, lead singer Glindvad took the unorthodox approach of both writing and recording her vocals whilst fully horizontal on a sofa, capturing the natural fluidity and reflective intimacy that provides the essence of the album.
French duo Terrenoire take their name from the Saint-Etienne district in which they grew up. On their debut EP, the duo bewitchingly tells the story of their odyssey to the capital, “the City” as they call it, alongside the irrepressible attraction that brings them back to their hometown. The two brothers Raphaël and Théo chase their utopian “Black Paradiso”, as they elegantly explore their childhood through surreal poesy and moving productions between electronic hip-hop and French chanson.
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Amidst the growing popularity of the dark, late-night sound in the Philippines’ emergent scene, Alisson Shore’s blissful falsetto and sweet harmonies stand out amongst the crowd. A producer/singer songwriter in Manila, he identifies his style to be a mix of lo-fi R&B and futuristic pop, reflective of a blend of influences into which latest single ‘Watercolor’ fits perfectly. Shore uses his vivid songwriting ability to tell a tale of failed relationships and bad chemistry, using a painting motif to explore the “symbolism of two non-identical colors that when blended in, no matter how hard we mix or add/lessen, it just doesn’t seem to look or blend well.”
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Kumail is a musician from Mumbai, India with an experimental electronic sound. His music stems from a myriad of influences, particularly jazz and hip-hop, while exploring more ethereal regions through heavily manipulated live recordings with atmospheric synths, meticulously panned rhythm sections and vocals forming the fundamental characteristics of his live performances. His album ‘From You To Blue’ was released in March 2017 on Knowmad Records. The project is about the end of relationships; addressing these experiences was something Kumail had never done before, giving birth to a new sound through his inner exploration.
Of Danish-Tunisian descent, Elias Boussnina serves a fresh, charismatic take on R&B. His latest single ‘Candy’ pulses with euphoric energy and everyday poetic tales of being young, insecure and in love. Written and co-produced by Elias himself, with co-production from Louis Winding, Boussnina’s raspy, piercing vocal and relatable lyricism make the track stand out. With ‘Candy’ and the release of his preceding two singles ‘5:30’ and ‘Lost Ones’ Boussnina has painted a distinctive universe that creates his own artistic territory and singles him out as a promising creative force within the Scandinavian scene.
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In a scene where hype can build and fall dangerously quickly, A2 is an artist who has been slowly burning away, honing his sound and building a dedicated following over the last six years. After the success of his 2017 debut full length album ‘Blue’, the south London artist returns with a brand new 5-track EP that takes on a warmer shade; the rapper sets the tone from opener “Flex Luthor”, as his distinctive croaky flows ride soaring RnB-infused trap production with celestial synths and pads creating an uplifting atmosphere. Standout track “Flair” sees him link up with Octavian, Suspect and Yxng Bane for an irresistible banger, underlining his status amongst the UK’s upper echelon of elite artists who are pushing the culture forward.
Molly Hammar’s debut EP fulfils her dream of making soulful R&B music. ‘Sex’ is an uncensored settlement with the shame around female sexuality; a 6 track EP about freedom and liberty, filled with anthems to deconstruct the social taboo around talking about the female body and sensual pleasure. Hammar’s voice is as smooth as silk as she sings about relatable themes of independence and that empowerment; ”I don’t need a man, I need a hand.”
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Sage’s songwriting prowess wields the power of her skilful instrumentalism. Whether leading jazz-driven ballads or adding an artfully minimalistic touch to electronically-infused tracks, her music bridges the gap between the indie and mainstream cultures of Kenya’s diverse scene. Produced by her longterm partner Dillie, “Watching You” is a soulful blend of timeless melodic RnB and down-tempo trap that emphases the strength of her harmonised vocals, ahead of a delightfully unexpected twist.
Sidharth Ezhilan writes genre-defying electronic music as Ezzyland. Starting off as a committed fan of hip-hop before discovering electronic music through Soundcloud, his music reflects his broad range of influences; though fluid in form, the core precise note selection drives the narrative with an emphasis on melody and a full sound run through experimental downtempo motifs. With his latest release ‘Kryptonite’, the Chennai-based musician creates a compact but satisfying piece, with hedonistic, melancholic lyricism marking his first attempt on vocals. His experimental approach, fusing hip-hop and electronic music with an organic groove, leads to the creation of an evolutionary sound and makes Ezzyland a definite artist to watch.
Swedish MC Silvana Imam linked up with two of the hottest names in the country’s hip-hop scene, Fricky and Khan-Ji, for a brand new 2-track release. First track ‘4 h’ is a slow, grooving love song; Khan-Ji sings with his distinctive deep, warbled voice ‘4 timmar, jag och du baby’ (‘4 hours, you and I baby’) over a bashment-infused rhythm, as Imam explains her love for her partner and Fricky completes the song with his sweet auto-tuned vocals. The mix between her direct rap delivery with Fricky’s piercing vocals combines again on smooth pop-trap effort ‘Ta Hand Om Dig’ (which means ‘Take Care Of You’), with the duo expressing their responsibility to be there for their loved ones. Imam’s ability to channel true emotions into her music and this collaboration’s careful blend of rap and melody has resulted in a pair of slick late summer jams.
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Following in the lineage of the city’s rich modern musical history, Detroit has introduced another talented mind in Choker. Last year, his self-produced debut album ‘Peak’ received acclaim for uncannily evoking sounds of Frank Ocean, yet still crafting his own individual sound. His follow-up project ‘Honeybloom’ released this month, creates a unique ethereal atmosphere through its experimental approach and depth, with beautifully expressive vocals driving unpredictable, unconventional melodies. Choker is a truly multi-faceted artist dedicated to pushing boundaries while still remaining accessible through his meaningful lyricism.
Performing under the stage name LONER, Lean Ordinario is an independent Filipino artist with an intriguing sound and a promising future. His recent single ‘autopilot’ evokes a darker mood fit for cold nights of solitude, with dreamlike tinkling pianos and sparse percussion taking a different path from his usual indie/neo-punk rock sound. The track builds the excitement for his LP entitled ‘no fidelity’, coming in the near future.
MaMan’s triple-threat ability to sing, rap, and produce with equal strength mark him as one of the most notable talents to come out of Sudan in recent years. Entitled after the year of his birth, his latest album “1991” aptly represents the struggle of a young Sudanese creative fighting their way through the country’s economic and socio-political strife, a scenario that many of the marginalised young generation can relate to. Sonically, “1991” boasts genre-fusing electronic beats and diverse hip-hop flows, running the gamut of emotions as the mood shifts from uplifting positivity to brooding introspection, tied together by dark, swirling production.
A2H is no newcomer. Over the course of a career spanning more than a decade he has already proven his skill and versatility many times over. On ‘Nudes’, the first single off his upcoming album ‘L’Amour’, the rapper shares a melodic, passionate ode to receiving intimate pictures, as stirring strings drive Ohleogan’s moving production.
Sammy & Johnny Bennett hit the Swedish rap scene in spring 2016 when they released the video for the song ”5DF”, and the talk about the two brothers from Gothenburg quickly spread throughout the Scandinavian borders thanks to the duo’s outstanding rhythm and vibe.
Together with local RnB singer Parham Pazooki, they’ve cooked up ’Chans’ – a song about taking a chance on someone you really care for. The twins mix their slick rap flow together with Pazooki’s smooth, intriguing singing voice to create a late-night summer banger.
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Berlin-based, Argentinian producer and feline fanatic Catnapp combines rap, breakbeat, drum and bass and more to create an intense, nostalgic atmosphere. Fat beats are driven by lyrics confessing the deepest childhood memories over huge, compressed pads and synths, resulting in a unique, original sound. ‘No Cover’, her most recent release, is an aggressive two-track EP engendered by feelings of deceit, disappointment and anger. Heavy breaks and broken glasses give ‘No Cover’ an air of invincibility, belligerence and empowerment.
Artigeardit is one of the most exciting young hip-hop acts in Denmark right now, blending old-school hip-hop elements with fresh flows and contemporary narratives to build a distinctly 2018 flavour. He released his debut album ‘VILDEDAGE’ (which translates as ‘WILD DAYS’) in May this year. The project expresses both the melancholy and joy of youth; the heartbreaks, the parties and the hangovers. ‘Værformig’ is a standout track from the project, capturing the essence of the album, incorporating lyrical, poetic elements to a introspective mood.
“Rosa” is a stunning single from Danish duo WIINSTON. It unfolds with all the moody atmosphere of a classic movie, with a blurry, strangely nostalgic feel and a gorgeously sleepy groove. Made up of a pair of longtime friends, producer Alfred Thomas and singer/songwriter Daniel Richards, most of WIINSTON’s music is recorded in Thomas’s tiny apartment. “Rosa” embodies their sound perfectly; a cinematic and nostalgic take on electronic R&B that stirs up intense emotion and captivates the listener with its memorable melody.