london musicians

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Five London Musicians to Look Out For

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Jul. 15 2019, Published 11:29 p.m. ET

In the United States, we are blessed to have a world-renowned music industry that is so elaborate and diverse, we often forget to look outside of our comfort zone to check out the scene across the pond. But when you think about it, London is kind of the culture hub of Europe — more mainstream than Berlin, but in some ways, cooler and more indie than the music scene in the States. Won’t you agree? No? Let us try and convince you. Here are five up-and-coming London female artists to watch out for.

Starting strong with the sensual, talented, and magnetising Jorja Smith:

Having just turned 22 a month ago in June, the young Jorja possesses powerful vocals and versatile songwriting skills that are unparalleled for a musician of her age. But this isn’t exactly news for her — she was first scouted at the age of 15 after uploading videos of herself singing covers on YouTube. Since her official debut in 2016, she has collaborated with big names such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kali Uchis, and Stormzy. One of us over here at Bombshell by Bleu HQ has actually seen her live in London, and this is what the fangirl said:

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“I did not expect her to be so good live — I thought her R&B/Soul sound was nice, but the beat was too slow and soft for my taste. My best friends were quite into her though, so I just kind of tagged along. First of all, she doesn’t just sing well, she sings BETTER than the studio version, and MORE. Ugh-mazing. And secondly, a personal remark… she was very objectively attractive in person. When she came out, my girlfriend couldn’t stop talking about how effortlessly hot Jorja looked; my guy friend on the other hand, made a few weird grunts saying ‘Hmm, don’t mind if I do!’ A bit creepy, but you get what I mean.”

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“I did not expect her to be so good live — I thought her R&B/Soul sound was nice, but the beat was too slow and soft for my taste. My best friends were quite into her though, so I just kind of tagged along. First of all, she doesn’t just sing well, she sings BETTER than the studio version, and MORE. Ugh-mazing. And secondly, a personal remark… she was very objectively attractive in person. When she came out, my girlfriend couldn’t stop talking about how effortlessly hot Jorja looked; my guy friend on the other hand, made a few weird grunts saying ‘Hmm, don’t mind if I do!’ A bit creepy, but you get what I mean.”

Next up, we have another young songstress, Raye:

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Hailing from Croydon in South London, Raye met her current manager when she was just 13 and had since started her journey into songwriting and singing. Today, the 21-year-old Raye has a more electro/dance-pop sound that attracted a wide range of collaborators including Charli XCX, Jonas Blue, and Stefflon Don. As you can see from her list of collaborators, she’s deeply influenced by the UK music scene, telling Hypebae earlier this year:

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“I love that artists from the UK are really leading the way in the music industry right now. I like to look to the UK music scene to influence my work. I think we’re making something really different to what the Americans are producing and that’s really exciting.”

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“I love that artists from the UK are really leading the way in the music industry right now. I like to look to the UK music scene to influence my work. I think we’re making something really different to what the Americans are producing and that’s really exciting.”

Another musical genius straight out of Croydon is Nadia Rose:

Fun fact, she is actually the cousin of Stormzy — the first black British man to headline Glastonbury Festival in 2019. Not only does Nadia Rose seem to be genetically blessed to talented, she is also the ultimate grime/rap voice in support of intersectional feminism:

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“I don’t like the fact that [female MCs] are separated from the guys. Sometimes I feel they like to force the ‘unity’ too much and therefore separate themselves even more. Like, we’re the girls, we stick together. But right now we’re trying to bridge the gap. It’s cool that unity’s there, but also understand that the guys are there and they’re still our competition as well. We need to be drilling all angles.”

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“I don’t like the fact that [female MCs] are separated from the guys. Sometimes I feel they like to force the ‘unity’ too much and therefore separate themselves even more. Like, we’re the girls, we stick together. But right now we’re trying to bridge the gap. It’s cool that unity’s there, but also understand that the guys are there and they’re still our competition as well. We need to be drilling all angles.”

Her latest drop is a song called Airplane Mode, the title symbolic to her tunnel vision when it comes to creating music and the fact that she’s taking AWWFFFF!

Rising also from South London is Ray BLK, the first unsigned artist to win BBC’s Sound in 2017:

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No shade intended to the other musicians mentioned in this article, but Ray BLK has a very intriguing background. At the age of 13, she formed a music group with her school friend MNEK, and now they’re both major rising stars in the UK R&B scene! Ray BLK grew up to get a degree in English literature at Brunel University, penning her dissertation on post-colonial Nigerian literature. Wow, I know. It’s like she’s guaranteed to have substance in her lyrics. Her debut EP Havisham was inspired by — you got it — Miss Havisham‘s story in Charles Dickens Great Expectations.

She has since collaborated with rappers such as Stormzy, Kid Ink, and SG Lewis. In 2018, she was Forbe’s 30 Under 30 in European Entertainment. This year, she headlined Nicki Minaj’s UK tour and was featured on Rudimental’s album, performing alongside Stefflon Don.

Last but not least, the Dalston-based 20-year-old Hamzaa:

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The self-made singer started out on Soundcloud, and cites Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, and Lizzo as her influences. But her growing list of famous fans are even more impressive: the aforementioned Jorja Smith, Ray BLK, and Stormzy. In an interview with Vice, she revealed that her first “sad as f-ck” heartbreak inspired her debut EP, but she’s always been a musical, emotional soul — along with her impressive vocals, her sympathetic and heartfelt music hits home in a whole different way.

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“I know a song can’t take you out of depression but sometimes a song is all you need to get the thought process and conversations rolling.”

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“I know a song can’t take you out of depression but sometimes a song is all you need to get the thought process and conversations rolling.”

Honestly, FEELS.

Of course, there are so many more strong female forces making things happen in the UK music scene, but this is a compact list that we’ve composed of some of the major ones that we love, and we hope you like them too! Let us know what we think in the comments.

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