Yet again, the realm of R&B, Lo-Fi, Neo-Soul and Alt genres have proven to be bountiful as ever before. As the second year of the 2020s has recently come to a close, there's no doubt that 2023 is expected to continue to enhance these genres further. So in honour of our annual Ones To Watch list, here's a list of 30 artists we believe will continue to enrich us with their discographies and make the 2020s music space one of the most genre-defining moments in history.
In no particular order, this is our Ones to Watch 2023.
1. Montell Fish
Starting the list with Montell Fish, the 24-year-old new-age R&B artist providing soundscapes to haunting wounds. His debut project, JAMIE (2022), confronts the grievous aftermath of a relationship coming to an end. Raw vocals paired with emotive lyricism guide listeners into a realm that doesn't only play with the heartstrings but embraces Fish's talent to effortlessly curate stories with depths of humility, love and loss.
2. Planet Giza
A Montreal trio replenishing the Hip-Hop Jazz subgenre through versatile sounds packaged in timeless instrumentals and funk-infused storytelling. Consisting of Rami B, Tony Stone and DoomX, Planet Giza has already found itself in the pockets of beloved hitmakers such as Kaytranada and GoldLink. Their recent EP, You Don't Understand (2022), continues to showcase their passion for the Funk. What begins with a hip-jerking rhythmic induced number 'Das U' slowly transitions into melodies of ease and cool consonance with 'Slow Dine' and 'Unavailable'.
The Nigerian-American singer-songwriter Ogi allows intrusive thoughts to win within her music. Based in the Los Angeles area, her foundations include singing in a jazzy choir and embracing the sounds of Nina Simone, Mary Mary, Marvin Gaye and T-Pain. Also harnessing her skill as a multi-instrumentalist, Ogi confronts her inner world and embraces her truth with Monologues (2022). Encouraging listeners to find refuge within themselves, feel validated in their experiences and give it a spin!
4. Tariq Disu
Crossing the pond, we champion our very own London-based Tariq Disu. Inspired by the likes of MF Doom, The Nigerian-Ghanaian British-born rapper's discovery of poetry guided him on a path of word appreciation. Enhanced by a slick, snazzy Hip-Hop base, Disu continues to enrich the underground alt Hip-Hop sound within the UK. His capability to bounce in and out flows is unlimited, as his talents in production must be addressed. What is electric and bold, Disu's creativity is merely a reflection of his foundations. His seat at the table is cemented and at the forefront of the genre.
5. Hush Forte
Meet Hush Forte: a South Florida native musician spotlighting a shadowy intimacy intensified through the crossover of rhythms belonging to the soul, alt R&B and Hip-Hop. His self-produced 2021 project Look Closely (2021) reveals sparks of colour and vulnerability as he doesn't shy away from the unconventional. Sonically diverse, Hush Forte isn't devoted to one specific label. His exploration of his artistry aligns with his self-discovery journey: evolving and shifting into longevity that only he can command. So dive deeper into his discography today.
6. Jaz Karis
Since her emergence on the scene, Jaz Karis's contributions to the contemporary UK R&B scene have proven refreshing as she clears her pathway to stardom. Allowing instrumentals to carve out the shapes of her lyrics, Jaz Karis is curating a space guaranteed to be long-lasting within the genre. Carrying an essence of nostalgic rhythm and blues flavours, the South London soulstress wears her heart on her sleeve in her newest EP, Dear Jaz (2022). Accumulating over 1,000,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, there's no doubt those numbers will continue to climb.
Bewitching spectators with viral covers on platforms such as TikTok with warm, gentle-buzz tones, Elmiene doesn't need to do much to catch listeners' attention. The perfect addition to your next wind-down session, Elmiene's music generates a modern reflection of today's Soul sound. 'Why (Spare Me Tears)' and 'Golden' only provide a glimpse of what else he contains in his delicate penmanship. The emergence around 'Golden' during Vigil Ablph's Final LV show resulted in eyes falling on the Oxford singer. Inspired by legends such as D'Angelo and Prince, it's no wonder his artistry already exhibits greatness.
8. Jamilah Barry
A starlight who consistently expands her vocals in countless capacities, Jamilah Barry will take the new year with both hands and leave us spellbound. Her recent performance of 'If the Love Goes' on A COLORS SHOW begins with haunting, honeyed-ample tones.
What soon followed was vibrant, seasoned euphony produced by P2J (Beyoncé, Stormzy, Doja Cat, Burna Boy and Tems). Raised in London and Leeds, Barry's palette consists of hues of R&B, Soul, Jazz and Guinean music that filled her family home. Independent artist, Jamilah Barry effortlessly continues to put forward tracks worth the listen every time.
9. Fana Hues
Fana Hues's 'floral + fans' is the soundscape voicing the confessions of the awkward, funky belle. The Californian songbird orchestrates a dream field immersed in silken shades. Strings scales partnered with enthral synths, Hues's puts forward a fantasy dimension where heartbreak is the sweet nectar needed to remind you why pouring into yourself before anyone else will always be wise words to live by. The groovy record is an excellent introduction to a brilliant example of conceptual projects exploring well-visited themes of self-love, heartache and the journey between it all.
Finding refuge in the world of poetry, Mamadou. has mastered the art of oral storytelling and music. Becoming a "historian [for] a community misunderstood". The Harlem-Malian's gift to reveal narratives in a compelling form results in distinctive atmospherics suffused with emotional vulnerability. Mamadou's YOU. (2022) illustrates intentions of being one of the best storytelling within the alternative space and is already a worthy contender. Layered in gloomy, electro-sonics invites self-healing.
Hanani redefines as he spins modern wistful classics. The Nigerian-Texan plucks strings of inspirations from the creative minds of The Fugees, Coldplay, Cheif Keef and Kid Cudi, moulding rhythmic transitions between singing and rap. Inspiring a new generation of listeners, Hanani centres his individuality to fuel discography.
12. Meron T
Meet Meron T, a vocalist and singer-songwriter repping South London. Bumping mellow Hip-Hop beats, Meron T's insertion within the UK's alt scene invites a homeliness element to each production she touches. Her recent collaboration (with Amsterdam-based ISHA) mirrors Meron T's ability to soothe listeners into a flowery euphoria. Merging R&B, Neo Jazz and Soul, Meron T brings forward a flavourful experience with every listen.
One of the youngest contributors to this list, Flowerovlove is a 17-year-old blaze redefining lo-fi indie punk for the next generation. Being an advocate of self-growth and blossoming into your true authentic self, flowerovlove provides affirming, soothing tunes to remind you of the importance of embracing the journey of life and what it has to offer. A Mosh Pit in the Clouds parallels the young starlight's confidence while living life to its fullest. Live in joy and check out flowerovlove today.
14. Noah Guy
With lyrics sketching out his reality, Noah Guy uses his tender vocals to confront the entwined complexities life often offers. Exploring themes such as love, loneliness, and weighted emotions that can't entirely be explained, Guy's laid-back demeanour adds a coolness to his soul-pop sound. In an interview with 10K [Projects], the Los Angeles singer-songwriter sprinkles silver linings within his music. "I like to leave a little glimmer of hope in my music," he says, "where it's like, maybe things will turn out alright." A visual artist who uses music videos to share the inner wonders in his mind, Noah Guy's music videos often illustrate words that have already been shared. Undoubtedly, what he comes up with in 2023 will continue to exude beyond his crafted lane.
Next up, we have Liv.e, a personified love letter to the new-age Neo-Soul of today. Mixing and bonding the sounds of R&B, Soul, Jazz and Hip Hop, Liv.e conjures Hershey-kissed, tribal hip-rocking lullabies. Her latest single 'Wild Animals' oozes this essence from start to finish. The Dallas-bred and LA-based soulstress serenades hazy instrumentals provoking ripe admiration for something so fresh that instantly sounds like classics of yesteryears.
16. Yazmin Lacey
Yazmin Lacey's story is an example of what pursued destinies involve. Carrying roots from her already musically-induced family, Lacey's music path emerged after a drunken night at a bar in Nottingham. Doing her good deeds during the day working at a children's charity, at night, she soon fostered a repetition as one of the most exciting voices to come out of the UK scene. 'Bad Company' and 'Pieces' are just glimpses of what to expect from her debut album, 'Voice Notes', which will be released on March 3rd 2023. Written in two years, 'Voice Notes' is an audible reveal of her journals. Where Neo-Jazz meets Soul-feeding tunes, 'Voice Notes' should easily be explored in 2023.
17. Yaya Bey
Raw. Honest. Beautiful. Yaya Bey's 2022 was only the tip of what she has to offer. Remember Your North Star is an open conversation of a Black Woman seeking connection while swirling in pain and lust. Following her breakthrough EP, Madison Tapes and 'The Things I Can't Take With Me', Yaya Bey reflects through honest monologues on purpose and the bittersweetness of looking within herself to find the most desired answers. The 18-track sonnets centre on Black Womanhood and the opponents She often faces in a misogynistic world. Produced by Bey herself, like the rest of her discography, she doesn't hide away from her truth, encouraging others with similar features and stories to do the same.
Enticing this shortlist with some R&B Soul Dance and Electronics is where you find Baely. With seamless, intoxicating synths and rich vocals finds himself centre stage at the Royal Albert Hall for BBC Proms and the Royal Festival Hall for Meltdown. It's almost guaranteed that BAELY's name will soon reign as a cherished voice to emerge within the scene.
19. Latanya Alberto
Using her lyrics to define her artistic vision, Latanya Alberto is a multidisciplinary musician fusing genres to mould melodies which best advocates her every day. Mellow, unique soulful sounds tend to form different shapes depending on the story she decides to share. Only singing words with meaning, Alberto travels through themes of racial trauma, love, empowerment and reflections on learnt lessons. Partnered with breathtaking visualisations, they evoke thought and excitement about what else lingers inside her treasure chest.
20. Elli Ingram
Brighton native Elli Ingram's smokey delivery makes her a refreshing vocal discovery. Ingram's influences possess traces of Any Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Angie Stone; she is a youthful mixture of Neo-Soul and Jazz. Her smokey tones emerged after her viral rendition of Kendrick Lamar's 'Poetic Justice'. Fast forward to her recent release, 'No Plan B' continues to highlight her unique voice as she reveals she is to give her all in her artistry. There needs to be a backup plan. And honestly, she doesn't need one.
Venna: a satiny-saxophonist / producer responsible for rewiring the strains of UK rap. Where jazz meets rap, Afrobeats and drill, Venna's reputation as an emerging instrumentalist to stardom has already proven to be a phenomenon. Already working with the likes of Burna Boy's Grammy-winning album 'Twice As Tall' for 'Alarm Clock'. He's featured on tracks with Wizkid ('Starboy') and Beyonce ('Ja Ara E'). The release of VENOLOGY has proven to be a worthy supplier to the constantly growing scene in the UK. Travelling waters through his recent project has resulted in JVCK JAMES and Knucks catching the ears across the pond. Dazed baselines and the jazzy-sax are welcomed elements to today's music production as we can ensure a Venna production is worth the listen every time.
22. [ K S R ]
[ K S R ] is the love child of Hip-Soul and R&B. His musical artistry began at the Manchester United Foundation Choir. By 17, the young artist caught the songwriting bug and has been enticing us with melodies ever since. His unique approach to vulnerability leaves us excited to suspect a potential project may be on the horizon. 'bittersweet' and 'warmer on wednesday' captivates his skillfulness to dance outside the lines while defining the R&B realm outside London.
23. Christian Kuria
Critically acclaimed vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Christian Kuria's talents are fruitful as they expand to a sophisticated abyss. The San Francisco native first emerged in 2016 as a guitarist for R&B and Hip Hop. It was only a short time before he began composing original music of his own. His journey so far finds him amongst Alex Isley, Braxton Cook and Thuy. His celestial vocal range creates dream-state remedies that will transport you to a dimension much softer than this one.
24. Flwr Chyld
Another amazing multi-instrumentalist and artist to include in our list is Flwr Chyld. Following our Get to Know interview earlier this year, Southern-Funk specialist continues to authenticate he is indeed one of the forefathers of this style. Cementing himself within this niche genre, luv and chaos (2022) is a colourful execution of falling in and out of love. 'Break Me Down/ Here With You', 'Lucky Me' and 'In Your Arms' are all audible specimens of what his legacy is guaranteed to uphold in the coming years. Being Issa Rae's first signing with Raedio Publishing is proof that his musical journey is only expected to broaden.
25. Otis Kane
An R&B vocalist and producer, Otis Kane found his voice at 10. A music major back in college, his path soon shifted into different lanes when the opportunity to work with Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul, Björk, No Doubt) resulting him dropping out and pursuing something more fulfilling. Through his years of mentorship, Kane built up the necessary connections found him working with Nick Jonas, Wiz Khalifa, and Julia Michaels. 'Free', 'Lost' and 'Someone Like You' is retro soul contributing to R&B's 2022 era. Otis Kane has mastered producing ageless anthems for this 2020s era.
26. Braxton Cook
Braxton Cook is an award-winning Emmy artist who is said to be the most exciting emerging jazz talent. Melding jazz and soul, Cook successfully brought forward his perspective of a defining sound only he can master. Braxton Cook can bend the saxophone, his voice and his instrumentals to his will and already holds the title of a Jazz Prodigy and Jazz Marvel. His 2020 project 'Fire Sign' pays homage to contemporary jazz coming home once more to the urban soul.
Lacing dark rhythmic elements of R&B along with trippy Lo-Fi beats, Samaria pulls heartstrings with every caramelised lyric. An Oakland native, Samaria is easily a product of Aaliyah, Destiny's Child and Justin Timberlake. Her conveyance of dancing raw emotions against fitted instrumentals allows her stories to centre love and heartbreak delicately on the ear. Didn't Start With You (2022) is a work where a breakup takes the limelight. Dissecting a love that's lost its spark, the six-track audible diary possesses comforting, cosy words reassuring listeners that ending cycles can be the very thing that helps evoke inner awakenings.
28. Orion Sun
"Becoming through music", Orion Sun is a field of sun rays, gleaming in her own lane of alternative R&B. With over 2,000,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify, she's already proven to be a voice her generation is paying attention to. Constructing passionate, naked art, the songstress from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approach to the complex paradoxes life has to offer are amorous as a gifted lyricist who doesn't shy away from the intimate spots. Next year will mark her 10th anniversary since her arrival on the scene. Her offerings to this new decade in music are bound to be fruitful and whole.
29. Sasha Keable
A South London serenading siren, Sasha Keable's deep devotion to tapping into the dark fire of her emotions, beckons a catalogue of empathetic ballads. Not afraid to shy away from her sensitivities, Sasha Keable's artistry provides a soul-stirring exposure, whether on stage or the stereo. Her 7-track project 'Intermission' continues to hold weight as she goes beyond the surface of life's challenges of the 20-something. From love to wanting to anchor mental clarity, Keable's poetic pull to shine the light on our shadows is perfect for those who may need solace in 2023's trials and tribulations.
30. Louis Culture
Closing our Ones to Watch 2023 list, we have Louis Culture. A South London member of the Elevation Meditation collective, Louis Culture's music documents the affairs of his friends, peers, and dialogue shared between those spaces. Culture's productions are an artistic body of the Black British experience and are responsible for a sound that defines the UK urban climate. His debut EP, When Life Presents Obstacle (2022), is an open letter to everything that's ever been unsaid. Transitions between narratives of "love, grief, success, ends, depression, pain, being up, being skint, lust, motivation, adolescence, oblivion, perseverance and optimism" Culture aspires to eliminate alienation for those who ever found themselves feeling alone.
A few honourable mentions we’re excited to see more of this year: Destin Conrad, Siah, Malia, Cherise, Kwoli Black, Boy Soda, Shay Lia and more! And, if you're looking for new music to vibe to, we’ve curated a playlist, or rather, a Hit List made up of our favourite songs by our Top 30 to help you start the New Year with the right vibes.