This month’s slate of Artists To Watch is especially eclectic and positively fire. Follow along as we jump from dynamic British afrobeats and the next rapper about to take over, to an indie band on repeat, real Brazilian sh*t, and more. These are the artists to watch for in May. And this is On The Up.
The Nigerian-born, London rapper came firmly into focus last year on Little Simz’s track “Point And Kill.” But it was on the first single from his upcoming album, “Message In A Hammer,” (with one of the best videos of last year) where we get to witness the menacing, raspy-tongued rapper establishing his piercing singular vision. A dynamic MC, he fuses British rap and afrobeats with a silky vocal delivery that touches newfound forms of R&B. On “Try,” the whole range of his voice — from a fine-grain sandpaper flow to his sweet coo over atmospheric production — is on full display. His debut, Some Nights I Dream of Doors, is due out on May 13th.
While Momma’s third LP (and first since signing with Polyvinyl Records), Household Name, isn’t out until July 1st, the singles that the Brooklyn alt-indie band has released leading up to it oughta be living on repeat in your speakers. Led by Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten, Momma has heavy vibes of The Breeders, with the vocalist pair complementing each other a la Kim and Kelley Deal. They supported Wet Leg on their sold-out tour earlier this year and will be joining Snail Mail for theirs in August. But we can’t say enough about how sticky Momma’s first three singles are. They channel ’90s nostalgia in a decidedly of-the-moment package, like on “Speeding 72” when they sing, “You can catch us around, Listening to “Gold Soundz”. Keep me in your car,” before a harmonic guitar riff takes the melody into space.
Domi & JD Beck
The future is here. Domi & JD Beck are two jazz prodigies signed to Anderson .Paak’s Apeshit label, who are starting to build some serious buzz. They backed Thundercat and Ariana Grande’s version of “Them Changes” at the 2020 Adult Swim Festival, sat in with the legendary Herbie Hancock at the Hollywood Bowl last year, co-wrote Silk Sonic’s “Skate,” and their debut album is due out later this year on Apeshit and Blue Note Records. The 21-year-old Domi plays keys, is French, and sports blonde pigtails that flap in unison with her hypnotic fingers tickling the ivories. At 18, the shaggy-haired JD Beck plays drums like he’s possessed by Gregory Coleman, and puts down some of the most dizzying snare work you’ve ever heard. They just dropped their debut single, “Smile,” which features .Paak, Thundercat, and Mac DeMarco in the hilarious video. The visual is a prime example of how they infuse child-like fun into complete and utter mastery of their instruments and it’s them who will surely continue to spread the gospel of real next-level jazz music to future generations.
In 2019, Brazilian singer and multi-instrumentalist emerged as a unique talent in the shape of the bossanova and tropicalia greats like Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. His debut album, Grandeza, presented gorgeously-woven poetic expressions of love that only Brazilians are capable of articulating. Now he’s signed to Mexican Summer for the June 24th release of Estrela Acessa and the lead single, ”Gostar Do Mundo,” is a globally-minded declaration of otherworldly desire. Alongside a gentle guitar, Brazilian percussion, and female backing singers, he swoons, “Chega mais pra cá, moço lindo desse lugar. Vem me namorar, sabe o mundo vai acabar”. (translation: “Come closer, good looking man from this place. Come nestle up against me, because the world is ending you know.”) This is the stuff right here.
Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) has been notoriously insular in thrusting forward the career of artists from Kendrick Lamar to SZA. But when the venerable hip-hop label announced a new partnership with Capitol Records last month, Doechii was at the center of it. The Tampa rapper is here to usher in the next movement of the TDE roster and she’s come out with a serious bang. The absolutely bonkers (and NSFW) video for “Crazy” feels like it’s floating fiercely over an OG Timbaland beat (it’s actually produced by Kal Banx.) On “Persuasive,” she flashes a silkier side of herself, one that’s indulgent and coyly extravagant. No word yet on an album release, but don’t be sleeping on Doechii.
Doechii is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.