Staff Picks: Favorite New Artists

Talinwya

Talinwya is a rapper from Huntington Beach, California who dropped the pigskin and picked up the mic and has found success. The former collegiate athlete has been finding his footing and building a name in the underground rap community as of late. Talinwya isn’t the only rapper in the family, his twin brother Kelewya raps and also produces a large part of Talin’s music. The lazy comparison would be to say that Talinwya is a disciple of Yeat. If you listen to his recent project “Birdman” you realize that it’s more to his music than that. What separates Talinwya from a majority of his underground rap counterparts is that he actually is rapping with purpose. It’s more than just a mysterious facade, hard hitting production, and a edgy aesthetic. Talinwya is able to make entertaining music while not wasting a bar, which is a rarity from rappers in his class today.

Dina Ayada

Dina Ayada is a product of how global the internet has made rap music over the past couple years. The Belgian artist with Moroccan roots has been on a rapid rise for the first 3 quarters of 2023 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. When diving into her catalog you quickly realize Dina has all the tools and attributes to succeed. You see the versatility, the ability to create and build out records in different soundscapes. She also showcases the patience and persistence in finding and honing her sound. Dina’s On The Radar Freestyle and records such as “Games” and “Popular” are some of the highlights from this year that new listeners need to visit when trying out her music.

words by Jarred Howard

Hardrock

Hardrock’s rise to underground stardom isn’t just enigmatic, it’s shrouded in “darkness.” While whispers of his year-long hiatus circled his involvement in the military (which he reportedly exited due to help from Ian Connor), the Atlanta up-and-comer’s prominence is now undeniable, displaying he is a true 1of1 talent on his new 16-track project. Unorthodox and brooding, Hardrock’s affinity for melding edgy anthems and alternative cuts has reached fever pitch on 1of1 — highlighted by its experimental beat selection. His proximity to Playboi Carti‘s label Opium seems more apparent than ever — and with a nod from F1LTHY and artist Matthew Williams stemming from his appearance on the ALYX runway — Hardrock’s affiliation with 00 seems to peek through with baby voice, Carti-esque flows on “darkness.” It feels all too familiar of the first-listen feelings Whole Lotta Red brought forth. Previous breakout hits like “Feel Alive,” “juh cant” “Hardcore Drugs,” “God’s Hands” and 1of1‘s de facto single “bleh” (which currently sits at over 2 million streams on Spotify) offered just a glimpse into his expansive depth, imminently taking a left turn from the current crop of new wave players. Following the handful of projects he dropped in 2022 (SLATTYDON, Next!, Slimy Stuff, and 808 Speaker Knockerz), 1OF1 marks Hardrock’s first full-length venture of 2023 — and with it, bolstering his position at the forefront of the fresh underground. On the road to unlocking his full potential, it’s clear that Hardrock is as unparalleled as the album’s title suggests.

words by Jon Barlas

Fimiguerrero

East London’s Fimiguerrero has been making some serious noise this year. We’ve seen a massive outpouring of talent from the UK, but very few stand out from the crowd quite like Fimiguerrero. With some solid collaborations under his belt with Lancey Foux, Dom Corleo, and production from BNYX the signs are all pointing to 2023 being a breakout year for this international superstar in the making. Already releasing two stellar albums this year, for a relatively new artist Fimiguerrero already has a more than impressive catalog under his belt. His beat selection is incredible, every song on BLACK and the recently released IMMIGRANT are all flawless. If you’re a fan of UK rappers that don’t necessarily fit into a traditional box than Fimiguererro is definitely one to have on your radar. I highly recommend listening to both albums he’s released this year, the standout track that has been on repeat for me is “school dinner” which was the lead single off IMMIGRANT. Breaking into the US for any British artist has proven to be a difficult task, with some outstanding co-sign’s there’s no doubt Fimigurerro will have a large impact across the world in the not so distant future.

Chow Lee

Chow Lee first came on my radar with his sensational project 2 SLIZZY 2 SEXY in collaboration with Cash Cobain last year. It quickly became the soundtrack to my summer and I have been eagerly awaiting a full length solo project from Chow Bella. He recently released HOURS AFTER THE CLUB, an impressive mixtape that features all the elements of ‘sexy’ drill that he helped popularize. Taking the drill drum patterns and laying over toxic verses, the contents of which you would expect to hear outside of any night club as the evening comes to a close. Chow Lee perfectly builds on the club drill sound we’ve come to love, but makes it fresh and something completely unique to himself. I personally am surprised he has not already rose the ranks to being one of the most popular artists out of New York as his music perfectly encapsulates what late summer nights in the city feel like. Definitely spend some time listening to his new project HOURS AFTER THE CLUB, the personal standout for me is “no hesi!”.

words by Brodie Harvey

Leon Thomas

While it would be virtually impossible to find anyone within the R&B community that is still sleeping on the child actor turned rising R&B star, Leon Thomas, we can always make space on the site to give flowers to an artist who already receives them in excess. After a momentous end to his 2022 with the release of his head-turning, slowburn single, “Breaking Point”, the new year has brought us even more gems from the New Yorker. With records like “Crash & Burn” or his Spotify Singles collab with CoCo Jones where they put their own spin on “Until The End Of Time”, Leon Thomas has left us all on the edge of our seats in anticipation of what could come next.

Just two weeks ago, we were blessed yet again by Thomas as he unveiled his debut album, “Electric Dusk”, under Ty Dolla $ign’s EZMYN Records and Motown. A body of work that will age like fine wine, the project is full of records that have ruled my rotation over the past couple of weeks. Whether it be “Blue Hundreds” where Thomas displayed debatably his most alternative side yet, the focus track, “Sneak”, or my personal favorite “Slow Down”, Thomas came correct with “Electric Dusk” and delivered one of the most memorable bodies of work of 2023. For that reason among many others, I had zero hesitations when including Thomas as one of my picks for the month of August as he’s left us all with full assurance that the future of r&b is as bright as ever.

 

Tommy Richman

Virginia’s Tommy Richman has left his mark on all of us throughout 2023 and there’s no debating that. A year that’s been highlighted by collabs with BROCKHAMPTON’s Merlyn Wood, New Jersey rapper Trevor Spitta, and a pair of solo singles, any expectations you could’ve had for Richman heading into the year were sure to have been surpassed by now. Currently on the road with Brent Faiyaz as the opener for his “F*ck the World It’s A Wasteland” Tour, Richman recently inked a deal with Faiyaz’s ISO Supremacy and PULSE Recordings – marking an exciting next step for the Woodbridge native who has steadily laid the creative foundation for his artist project over the past few years.

While still a continuation of his past successes, Richman’s new single, “LAST NITE”, feels like a rebirth in some ways. Produced by Jonah Roy, Mannyvelli, and Sparkheem, we hear Richman embrace an alternative r&b bag that we’ve only had glimpses of before, while simulatenously staying true to his gritty, dark sounding sonics that give him that signature Tommy Richman edge that we’ve come to know and love. A blend of so many different worlds, “LAST NITE” impresses in a multitude of ways and the visual (directed by fellow-ISO member, Lonewolf) only solidifies what we already knew about Richman – he is the truth.

words by Joe Upchurch

Chase Shakur

R&B has always had a special place in my rotation, and over the last year or so, few artists have been played more than ATL artist than Chase Shakur. Social media has had an amazing impact on the exposure of talent, and thanks to TikTok I found Chase’s music somewhat early. From his first full project It’ll Be Fine, to his latest it’s not you, it’s me. (released in June), He provides a well-rounded, cloudlike sound that I can’t get enough of. The hard work that goes into making a complete album/tape/EP as good as he has does not get mentioned enough, and the effort is evident. Additionally, his visuals, social presence, and public appearances show just how much this means to him. I’m excited to keep up with the rising star that is Chase Shakur.

words by Jaxon Brown

Sideshow

The Tigrayan rapper Sideshow started the month off with a bang teaming up with abstract-rap powerhouse producer Alexander Spit on their stripped-back and funky offering, JAM. Sideshow’s sound is easily one of the most exciting coming out the underground right now because of his consistent use of one-of-a-kind textures and his ability to comfortably duck back and forth between honest introspection to memorable punchlines just talking his shit. Sideshow wears a nonchalant delivery commanding the spacious mixes throughout the project’s 7 tracks while proudly toting his signature tight and boastful flows over Spit’s characteristically chopped sample production. The project’s unique use of airy textures and deep-cut samples is in line with the duo’s gravitation to experimentation, and their execution on this one leaves us with a great project in a lane of its own. Additionally, Sideshow headlined his first NYC show at the esteemed Elsewhere venue in Brooklyn with support from close collaborators Niontay and El Cousteau – who was the lone feature of the project on the song, El Jew Cristo Negro. Each one of them scorched the stage with energy to a lyric-knowing crowd – a rarity these days – making it a show deserving of a write-up for itself. Sideshow is a unicorn of an artist and has longevity written all over his work, and I’m on the edge of my seat for his next offering.

Flozigg

RnB is a notoriously saturated space of music that’s especially hard to break into for the next generation of artists who look to join its ranks, but Orlando, Florida, has an undeniable star on their hands with producer, songwriter, and on-of-a-kind artist, Flozigg, who’s on a blazing hot streak with the recent release of his newest EP, TANGERINE. Flozigg creates worlds of his own within his detailed tracks that carry a big sound full of smooth production and plenty of earworm melodies paired alongside his mind-bending vocal inflections. He’s easily one of the most refreshing artists out right now, cocktailing a tasteful blend of neo-soul, alternative, and RnB ingredients into a tangibly warm and soulful musical product that is compelling upon every listen across his growing discography. Flozigg exploded onto the scene in 2021 with the release of his EP, Beige, and its beauty immediately resonated with audiences, garnering ample excitement around his name and setting the town for the momentum that has followed. Flozigg recently had a standout feature on Wakai’s track, Collect Calls, off the acclaimed project, Some People Scream, Some People Talk, which was released just a few weeks ago, laying the groundwork for the August run that Flozigg has successfully trekked. If you’re a fan of genre-pushing music with a warm medley of eclectic sounds, Flozigg should be next on your list of artists to tap in with!

words by Jack Kissane