Mixtape Madness’ 2023 Artists On Repeat…
15 Feb 2023
Contributions by Hiba Hassan, Afoma Andrea, Harvey Marwood, Jesse Williams, Joe Simpson, Hollie-May, Lauren Gordon and Tom Atkinson
As the year progresses, our ear for new music adapts with each new artist we find. The conversation of washed-out music and the ‘struggle’ to find new sounds has been a perception for the last few years. But we are in a position now, in the UK and globally, where the escalation of new genres, new artists and producers has skyrocketed, and our playlists are as fresh as ever.
Here are some of our artists on repeat this year…
Key song: Shot Caller
TS Lagga is by far one of the most exciting talents to emerge from the scene in recent times. The younger brother to Pa Salieu and J Hus, the rapper has cemented his place as the next rising star. Effortlessly gliding on gritty Drill productions like ‘Slide’ and ‘On Us, it’s easy to forget that the rhymer is just 15 years old! Honestly, just take a listen to his critically acclaimed tape, ‘Lagga Szn’ and you’ll quickly realise that we are dealing with a future UK great. I’m predicting big things for the youngster this year, I’ve got my eye on him.
By Afoma Andrea
Key song: Us Against the World
Hailing from South London, Strandz is steadily accelerating the broadcast of his refreshing new sound within the UK rap scene. Combining his love for 90s hip hop with a diverse range of influences, the innovative talent has shown us his raw and authentic ability to eloquently lyricise his palette of inspiration and creativity, all whilst showcasing his refreshing tone, immaculate delivery and creative innovativeness. Whether it be for relevant reminiscing or laid-back conscious levitation, Strandz has something for all and is an artist we expect to excel this year thoroughly.
Key song: Mad About Bars w/ Kenny Allstar
After breaking onto the scene in 2020 with his debut single ‘Top Floor,’ Lil Macks has refused to look back, becoming one of the most prominent newcomers in the UK music industry. While showing flashes of his potential prior to 2022, it felt like last year the Somali rapper finally cut through, becoming one to watch at home as well as getting love from across Europe. Endowed with an ear for catchy melodies and relatable lyricism, add in his immense consistency dropping hit after hit and it’s not hard to see why so many have earmarked Macks to be up next. After years of perfecting them he is now equipped with an arsenal of silky melodies and is set to make 2023 his biggest year yet.
Key song: On A Glide Pt.2
Flying under the radar for many, Twenny has earned himself a loyal fanbase with co-signs from artists like M Huncho and Central Cee. While he hasn’t released a huge amount, he has a talent for effortlessly gliding on different instrumentals. Having only four tracks on his own YouTube channel, they have all performed above average for an artist that is still very early on in his career. This year would be a good time for him to release consistently and show off what he can do.
By Hiba Hassan
Key song: Love For Da Strip Featuring Teeway
Coming up as part of 98s, in recent years Jimmy has established himself as a solo artist through his no holds barred lyricism and his ear for a beat. Jimmy dropped his debut mixtape ‘Risk It All’ last year – a project that showcased a more multi-faceted artist than what we had heard previously.
There are more reflective moments on the outro track, as well as ‘Dear Mum’, while the East London rapper also taps into darker, unadulterated street talk across the rest of the project. The 98s crew all have a fantastic touch when it comes to the production of their records, as evidenced by V9’s ‘Murk With A Mouth’ and both Unkown T projects to date.
By Joe Simpson
Key song: Cold Room w/ Tweeko
Billy Billions is an East London Drill artist is also known for being a part of the reputable collective ‘98s’ and for his strategic flows and style of rap. Initially landing recognition for the ‘Class of 98s’ tape and his track ‘F*ck Drill’.
In recent years the 98’s have released some of the grittiest drill tracks about, including the one, championing ‘plugged in/ with Fumez the engineer’. The end of 2022 saw the release of the artist’s latest single ‘Too much’ as well as welcoming us into 2023 with a Ground Works Cypher with Digga D, Booter B, Kwengface and more. It will be an interesting year for Billy Billionz as the development of the drill genre continues to evolve. Look out for how certain artists will adapt.
Key song: Mad About Bars
In the game for a few years now, NitoNB is a UK Drill front-runner. Continuously releasing content that gets the people hooked, he is very effective at reading the scene and working his way through the competition. Let’s take it way back to his Mad about Bars 5 years ago, not forgetting to mention is one of the most viewed MAB on the platform, right through to his GRM Daily end of last year (2022). Every year has been a success for the artist, and 2023 is going to be no different. NitoNB is not only one to look out for but the one who will be watched this year.
Key song: Come Outside
I’m really excited for Jaz Karis, she’s on a wicked trajectory at the moment following the release of her EP, Dear Jaz which has some amazing R&B hits like Complicated. Having been a fan of hers for a while, the pride I feel in hearing how her vocals and confidence has grown is crazy and I’m excited for more to come.
Key Song: Babylon Raid with Mungo’s Hi Fi FT Max Romeo
Bringing a variety of musical styles, there is plenty of talent in the bones of Eva Lazarus. Whether on the smooth celebration of self-love on ‘How Am I Looking?’ or the soulful ‘I’m On My Way,’ she knows how to match a vibe. She also knows when it’s the time to hit the high notes, and when it’s time to come over with some fiery flows. Her first solo album ‘Brandy Kisses’ highlighted her abilities as a singer, rapper, and songwriter, and you can expect more top-class music to come from Eva Lazarus.
By Tom Atkinson
Key Song: Eye Tell (!)
Refreshing, exemplary, ingenious – just three words to describe that of South London native Jim Legxacy, whose productional and vocal conceptualisations have grasped the attention of many over the past year. Combining layers of raw instrument, crispy percs and underlying melodies with an exceptionally unique, delicate and powerful vocal, the self-produced talent boasts great aptitude amongst an emotionally charged discography; one of the frontrunners showcasing the new wave of musicality within the UK scene.
Key song: Pressure
Dexter is an artist that we will all be getting more familiar with in 2023. Initially catching interest with a number of self-uploads all recorded on just on her iPhone, the south-London songstress’ breezy introspective style is not only highly palatable but also feels truly sincere. Possessing the masterful ability to translate her experiences into her lyrics and visual presentations, dexter really does capture what it feels like to be a youth in all its shame and glory. Building off her well received EP, ‘Fortune Cookie’ which saw her begin to add new elements to her soundscape, dexter is certainly one to watch out for this year.
Key song – Number One Candidate
North London Newcomer, Antslive has blown the socks of us music lovers with his latest hit ‘Number one Candidate’ from his debut mixtape Just a matter of time. First, let’s talk visuals.. if you are one of the few who are yet to be blessed with the accompanied music video, get ready as you are in for a treat!
Not a green screen in sight, performing his own stunts, whilst presenting us with his lyrical genius he rides horseback through the Italian alps. It is refreshing to see new and inventive talent along with creativity and the strive to be something different. It keeps the music scene as exciting as it is. Looking back at his past hits he is very much staying true to himself and his art, Brown Liquor is another track I would highly recommend.
Key song: Same Team Featuring Reek0
Hailing from West London, Bawo has already made waves this year after dropping the 7 track EP ‘Legitimate Cause’. The rapper is comfortable on any BPM and is able to harness the power of melody within his flows, as evidenced on tracks like ‘Figured Out’, and ‘Grace Is Calling’. After his breakout hit ‘It Starts With A Text’ in 2021, Bawo has matured as an artist and his collaborations with the likes of ayrtn and Oscar #Worldpeace show that he is tapped in to the
Alternative Hip-Hop scene in this country which continues to extend its influence on the mainstream. If his latest project is anything to go by, Bawo looks set to follow in the footsteps of Knucks by dominating the Alternative UK Rap space for years to come after carving out his own niche within the genre.
By Joe Simpson
Key song: Cherry Wine
I thank Stormzy for introducing me to Debbie but I’m ashamed I didn’t find her sooner. Raw vocals blend beautifully with melodies that seem like their custom-made for her voice. Silky smooth is the way forward this year and I think Debbie is going to be the one to bring it in 2023 as she takes the spotlight.
Key Song: Creepin‘
Coming at you with the energy and hard-hitting lyrics, JUICE MENACE certainly made waves in 2022. Whether on the House-inspired cut ‘Creepin’ or the loud-Trap beats of ‘Run It Up,’ she knows how to ride many vibes with a variety of deliveries. The CDF CEO has already started off the year right with ‘Pink Notes,’ and having released an EP last year, surely a full body of work is on the way from JUICE MENACE.
By Tom Atkinson
Key song: NW10
Cityboymoe exemplifies London and much like the UK’s capital his sonic stylings are the amalgamation of a melting pot of cultures, genres and social influences. Forging his own signature take on RnB, his airy vocal melodies are grounded by his gritty yet poetic storytelling. You can’t help but appreciate his capacity to deliver the hectic realities of growing up in NW10 in a smooth lo-fi package. Not to say he can’t switch it up, take for instance his head bopper ‘Might be,’ with Gdup and Stay Flee Get Lizzy. After teasing us with singles for some time now, 2023 feels like the year we will finally get blessed with a body of work from CBM and start to see what he’s really capable of.
Key song: The Calm
Proph, a talented producer who makes his own beats, the Thornton Heath native also possesses an incredible pen game. Still, in the infancy of his career, Proph has shown his ability for storytelling on tracks like ‘The Calm’ or ‘High Horse’, whilst also being able to mix it up with more bouncy cuts such as ‘Roadside’ and ‘Baby Boy’. Very few artists have the dual threat of production and lyricism that Proph possesses, making him such a unique and intriguing talent. With a debut self-produced EP expected this year, Proph has the potential to be one of the true greats within the scene if he can utilise his abilities correctly.
By Joe Simpson
Key song: SHTUM
Namani, a refreshing addition to my Spotify that I’m hoping will blow and get the recognition he deserves this year. While Complacent is clearly a fan favourite, I think Rent Free and his latest EP 333WORLDIE! show just how much he deserves a top spot in the game and I think 2023 will be the year he gets it.
Key song: Devil’s Enemy with JAE5
Zakhar brings vulnerable lyricism and a melodic delivery to the table, creating a sense of reliability in his words. Having already grabbed the attention of JAE5, he’s making a name for himself in the U.K. scene. While complimenting his craft by going over melancholic production, he’s already made crossover appeal with his feature on Sadie Jean’s TikTok hit ‘WYD Now?’ Having released his first project ‘Scars On My Mind’ last year, expect more from Zakhar in 2023.
Check out Rooted With… Zakhar
By Tom Atkinson
Key Song: 3210
Hailing from Walthamstow in East London, there’s no doubt that Jeshi is one of the most exciting talents to come out of the UK in recent years. Heavily renowned for his lyrical prowess, electric flows and unique beat choices, the rapper shines raw and honest truth on the angles and perspectives captured through the brutally normalised way of living with deprivation in the UK throughout his discography; a fitting spokesperson for those who may struggle to have a voice in modern day society otherwise.
With recent releases exploring hybridisation between elements of electronic music and rap, Jeshi is a creative genius, and certainly one to keep an eye on this year.
Key song: Dark Days Featuring Kojey Radical
One of the most established artists on this list, Che Lingo has already made his mark on the UK scene with three acclaimed projects. His last album, ‘The Worst Generation’, saw Che receive praise for his versatility as an artist, with tracks like ‘Dark Days’ and ‘My Block’ providing hard-hitting social commentary on the experiences of a young black man in modern Britain.
His latest release saw the artist link up with legendary Queen drummer Roger Taylor on ‘My Radio’, perhaps demonstrating that he is due to receive his flowers this year by tapping into a wider audience. Introspective and honest, Che Lingo creates music that looks set to stand the test of time.
By Joe Simpson
Key song: RACKISTAN
Len is a maverick in the truest sense. The south-London rapper continues to be a refreshing addition to the UK music scene, in particular for his willingness to experiment with sounds, constantly pushing himself forward while remaining unmistakably Len. He now sits as one of the leaders of a bubbling underground scene having built a cult following and is primed to be heard on a larger scale. Whether it’s bringing his insatiable energy to the stage or showcasing his fashion acumen with his fit pics, Len has got an undeniable and innate star quality about him. This year, it is only a matter of time until finds himself fixed in the spotlight.
Key Song: Next Up?
Originally from Sierra Leone, Essex-based rapper Mugzz has elevated the UK rap soundsphere in recent times with his dynamic wordplay, charismatic delivery and eccentric persona. Excelling over unique bounce-infused production, the teen has showcased why his name is way up there in the bracket of the best next-up talent; his distinguishable flows and tone alongside his innovative sound direction is a combination that is proving to continuously deliver.
Key song: Been Thinking
Not only does she have the raw talent Tyla presents herself like a rockstar. Fashion Sense, persona and the ability to stick to her own taste. After finding fame through her short videos on TikTok, she took the plunge into the music scene with her first single ‘Getting Late’ currently sitting at 5.2 million views.
The south African artist has also blessed us with a heater to get 2023 started on the right note, ‘Been Thinking’ was released less than 2 weeks ago and has already had an amazing reception from listeners. The accompanied music video is a must-watch, I can only describe it as sexy divine femininity!
By Hollie- May
Key song: PGG Freestyle
If you have never heard of £Monzo then you need to be ashamed of yourself! No seriously, go sit in the corner and rethink your music tastes. This is one artist that needs to be on everyone’s radar. Hailing from South West London, the ‘Nigerian Bad Gyal’ has caught the scene’s attention with her latest heater, ‘PGG Freestyle’. Possessing a laid-back flow with crazy wordplay, the rapper has enlivened UK Female Rap. Receiving co-signs from Ms Banks and Lethal Bizzle, I predict that we’ll see £Monzo in heavy rotation this year.
By Afoma Andrea
Key song: CEO Of The Friendship Group
If there’s one person that deserves a permanent spot on everyone’s playlists this year – it’s Zino Vinci. Hailing from Newham, the rapper has quickly amassed a cult-like following among UK Rap listeners. Possessing an infectious flow that has been likened to a young Dizzee Rascal, Vinci’s unique sound places him in the top tier of 2023 newcomers. With stellar joints like ‘CEO of the friendship’ and ‘Namaste’, his mixing of Old School HipHop with Black British sounds is clever and refreshing. The future is certainly bright for this standout talent.
By Afoma Andrea