We’re positively hyped for our March round-up of artists to watch. This column looks at artists from across the cultural spectrum that are rising in unique ways. And this month, we’re jumping from indie pop to electro soul, to Chicago R&B and a rapper on the tip of The Weeknd’s tongue. Check it out.
You might’ve already heard the commanding Korean-American vocalist on “Push” from Slowthai’s album Tyron, or perhaps you peeped last year’s sneaky excellent Where Have All The Flowers Gone? EP. Now Deb Never just dropped her first new tune of the year, “Crutches,” a hopeful, happy-go-lucky indie-electro pop jam about embracing your individuality and channeling your inner-drive. “No matter what they say ya, better hold your head up. No way out,” the now LA-based Never sings on the anthemic track over a shower of effects, strings and thunderous drum and bass that invite you to express yourself.
When The Weeknd was celebrating his birthday in Vegas earlier this month, a clip surfaced of him singing along to Yeat’s “Get Busy.” The track, with its syrup-soaked video game beat, features the now-viral lyric “This song already was turnt but here’s a bell,” followed by clanging church bells. Portland-raised and now LA-based, Yeat’s career was born from SoundCloud, and then blew up on TikTok with tracks like “Sorry Bout That” and “Money Twërk.” His latest album, 2 Alivë, came out on February 18th and features appearances from Young Thug (on the melodic drums and bells of “Öutside”) and Gunna (on the woozy keys-driven “Rackz Got Më.) Unsurprisingly, the album’s LA listening party prompted a shutdown for crowd control issues illustrating that the hype is real. Now signed to Field Trip/Geffen, all the elements for a continued breakout are here.
On both Classical Notions of Happiness and Something To Say To You, Jordana’s first two releases, we were introduced to a witty songwriter, with an intrinsic knack for cynical, tongue-in-cheek indie pop. Now the 21-year-old has announced her proper debut studio album, Face The Wall, (out May 20th on Grand Jury) and she’s armed with an even sharper pop music knife. “Catch My Drift” is a catchy, glitzy jam with buoyant vocals that she says is “about going back and forth with your feelings for someone when they make you question whether they are even reciprocated.”
When we highlighted Khazali’s track “Passion Controller” last month, we called it “a good fit for both the dance floor and the afterparty.” And the deeper I dive into the UK electro-soul singer’s catalog, the more he feels like a worthy star student of Sampha and Sbtrkt’s breed of vocal productions. But there’s a far more rhythmic step from Khazali and his second EP, The Rush, is made up of pieces of his dream journals expressed in the sonic universe of the romantically-woven characters he’s created. His latest jam, “Dance In The Rain,” is a liquid groove that further builds the anticipation for the release of The Rush, out March 11th via Kitsuné Musique.
A Chicago native of Guatemalan and Venezuelan descent, Kaina’s take on R&B celebrates love, lineage, and heritage. The silky-voiced singer recently signed with City Slang and her latest two singles, “Casita” and “Apple,” were both co-written and co-produced with fellow Chicagoan Sen Morimoto. “Casita” is a bi-lingual ode to being with family and friends in simpler times, with Kaina singing “I’ve always dreamt about a place, big enough for us all to stay, so that we could be together.” While “Apple,” with a video that links it to a linear story that begins to unfold on “Casita” — has an upbeat swing over Morimoto’s guitar and Kaina’s layered vocals. She’ll be joining Helado Negro on tour in May and we’ll be keeping tabs on more heat from Kaina no doubt.