In this new monthly column, we’re taking a look at five artists who are steadily rising and positively need to be on your radar this month. Our February picks are from across the musical spectrum, touching on hip-hop, pop, soul, jazz and R&B from all across the globe. These are artists who made their presence felt in January, have more in store in February, and genuinely merit your attention.
A welcome Indian-American voice in R&B and pop, Raveena recently announced her major label debut, Asha’s Awakening, out February 11th. Whereas 2019’s Lucid, saw her sweet voice shining over shimmering, sugary bedroom R&B, she’s exploring new artistic horizons in pop on the new release. She further embraces her roots on “Rush,” a cinematic Bollywood-inspired song that came to her on a psychedelic acid trip through a museum. On the sexy “Secret,” she’s joined by Vince Staples for a provocative turn, on a tabla and sitar-soaked beat. And all her accompanying visuals have been can’t miss as well.
Chances are you’ve likely heard Bakar’s hit “Hell N Back,” with it’s jazzy upbeat soul swing that’s tailor-made for the happy-go-lucky moments of the Euphoria generation. The Camden native said he’s “always wanted to be an alternative for the Black kids who don’t fit in,” and his approachable and uniquely energetic tunes have cross-cultural appeal no doubt. Speaking of Euphoria, Dominic Fike even collaborated with Bakar on the wistful “Stop Selling Her Drugs,” but it’s his latest output that hint at the bright road ahead for him. There’s the anthemic, “The Mission,” the reflective “Build Me A Way,” and the hopeful latest offering, “NW3,” that show the promise of his upcoming debut album, Nobody’s Home, out February 25th.
Atlanta’s Nicole Wray is living a new life. In the late ’90s she was discovered by Missy Elliott (as “Nicole”) and scored a modest hit with the Elliott-featured sumptuous R&B jam “Make It Hot.” But life is anything but linear, especially in the music industry, and she is now re-born as Lady Wray. On her latest album, Piece Of Me, Lady Wray is a muse of sorts for the dynamic canvases laid down by retro soul producer Leon Michels (El Michels Affair, The Carters) and it’s one of the coolest, purest expressions of soul music you’ll hear this year. “Through It All” is uplifting soul nostalgia perfection and “Come On In” is tinged with gospel a lean that lets Wray’s booming voice soar. She performed the latter on Colbert last week and it sure as hell felt like the full circle moment she’s worked towards for over 20 years.
Central Cee is poised to be the next big UK rapper in the shape of Dave and AJ Tracey. This past November, the West Londoner got a major look, hopping on FKA Twigs’ “Measure Of A Man,” for the film The King’s Man. His breakthrough track, “A Day In The Life,” got a shout out from Big Sean when it first dropped in 2020 and now he’s high up on the newly announced lineup of the Parklife festival. His style has morphed from grime to drill as he spells out his rise in the ranks. “Take that risk and go independent, I just turned down six figures /
On the phone you was loud, now we’re in real life and you’re soundin’ timid,” he spits over drill bass and East Asian strings on “Pinging (6 Figures).” He’s been building a steady catalog, including 2021’s excellent Wild West mixtape as he continues to drop tracks from the upcoming 23 tape, out February 25th.
LA jazz and R&B trio Moonchild make distinctly warm and embracing tunes, led by Amber Navran’s angelic voice. They’ve been able to break through artsy jazz circles through collaborations with Robert Glasper and Rapsody in the past, and now have a stacked slate of guests on their upcoming album, Starfruit, out February 11th. On “Tell Him,” Navran and Lalah Hathaway dazzle on a beat awash with breezy bass, keys, and synths. Theirs is music to fall in love with, fall in love to, and make love alongside. Beyond Hathaway, the new album features Rapsody on the boom bap jazz of “The Love I Need,” plus Alex Isley, Tank & The Bangas, Ill Camille, and more.
Some of the artists mentioned here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.