Read our five-point guide on the best new sounds from the periphery.
From Lil Yachty-esque flex-rap to cinematic RnB, high-impact punk from Bogotá to bedroom-borne quirkpop coming out of the Netherlands, here’s our heads up on the artists you should get on your radar.
Bushwick rapper Orrin has enjoyed moderate success with a clutch of Soundcloud loosies that could be grouped with the kind of flex-rap associated with Lil Yachty and Playboi Carti. His latest track Switch might have all the lyrical hallmarks of conventional IG-era braggadocio, but there’s a paranoia and anxiety laced within which paints a different picture. His Bad Dreams EP, which dropped last year, sounds like what you’d hope to hear if King Krule got in the studio with Lil Pump. Keep your eyes peeled for Orrin’s debut album in 2018.
Lil Yachty / Travis Scott
Clara La San
Clara La San has been primed for a breakthrough for a minute now. A member of the increasingly international Gang Fatale collective, the Manchester singer-songwriter and producer collaborated with Mssngno on last year’s XL-released Fones EP. Now, with the release of her debut mixtape Good Mourning, the secret is well and truly out. Featuring additional production from Jam City, the tape perfects her Soundcloud RnB template that, despite its modest bedroom-borne origins, packs an almost cinematic heft. What’s more, for all the scorched-earth sonics and soporific vocals, La San delivers something that precious few do: the tunes bang.
Kelela / Tinashe
Some writers have framed Bogotá’s burgeoning punk scene in the context of the conflict which has existed in Colombia for over half a century. Though the music of Dead Hero, a punk outfit from the capital who released the brilliant La Vida Continua LP in November 2015, oozes with an optimistic resolution. Their lyrics are performed in Spanish but delivered with a high-impact, untidy performance style. Singer Paula Suarez holds their sucker-punch sound together with bold, dauntless vocals which pierce through language barriers. Watch out for more action.
METZ / Priests
British DJ and producer Mina is from Leeds and based in London, but her music is decidedly international. Inspired by her travels in Ghana – where she linked up with superlative local MCs and producers Bryte, Gafacci and Cratus – and brimming with dancehall, Afropop and UK funky. Mina’s got an ear for melody and a knack for brilliant beatmaking (check out Ringtone Riddim feat. Gafacci) for the best use of a Nokia-inspired theme we’ve heard in a while), and a host of excellent featured artists, from the fast-paced Spanish rap of Nané to the exuberant and effortless pleasure of Ghanian artist Bryte. Here’s someone who’ll take you places.
Murlo / Lorenzo BITW
Naaz’s quirkpop soars with the carefree optimism of a teenager with a bright future. Something of a rising star in the Netherlands, the 19-year-old is turning heads with a string of videos celebrating diversity, and her track Words has racked up six million plays on Spotify. But it hasn’t always been this breezy for Naaz. As a Kurdish teen in Holland, Naaz gives bedroom pop a new meaning – her catchy hooks were originally conceived in secret from her family who didn’t see stability in her pursuit of music. According to Naaz, they came around after she collaborated with Kurdish artist Arjan Bedawi to “create awareness about the Kurdish situation”, and she’s been flying ever since, turning personal conflict into bursts of emotive sound.
Mabel / Kehlani