Manchester has always had an incredibly strong musical heritage, yet the volume of brilliant artists and music coming out of the city in the last few years feels to me like something we’ll be looking back on in years to come as a real movement.
The likes of IAMDDB, Children of Zeus, Shotty Horroh and Bugzy Malone are prime examples of local artists making huge strides on a global scale, and yet they are far from a ‘golden-generation’ anomaly, with a real wave of musical talent and innovation continuing to flow out of Manchester.
Here are some local artists to watch out for in 2019.
Not exactly Nostradamus with this one, considering he has already very much blown up, but rapper Aitch’s rise over the last year has been stratospheric. When he put out music video Straight Rhymez on his own YouTube channel, he said he “expected about 30k views”, yet within six months has already clocked up over 5 million. Since then, he’s continued to follow in the footsteps of Bugzy by catching the attention of the whole scene with his seemingly effortless and inimitably Mancunion brand of grime. Expect huge things for 2019.
[ K S R ]
[ K S R ] is the youngest on the list at just 20, and yet has been one of the most stand out breakthrough artists of 2018. With an incredible soulful voice, his features and releases in the last year has seen him rapidly gain a lot of attention and fans in the process. Perhaps none more so than Children Of Zeus who, alongside having him as support on their recent tour and featured on their acclaimed debut album, have described [ K S R ] as ‘the future’. Listen to him sing for 5 seconds and you’ll see exactly why.
As with Aitch, Layfullstop won’t exactly be a revelation as one to watch as she has been on a steady rise for the last couple of years, but 2019 seems like a point where she could and should blow up to an even wider audience. Nominated in last year’s City Life awards for best breakthrough act, Lay is an exceptionally unique artist with genuinely no limits as to how far she could go. Her excellent release Colour Reaction this year is a taste for a lot more to come in 2019.
There aren’t many artists around anywhere as diversely talented with just music in the broadest sense. Rapper, singer, producer, guitarist, composer, Blind MIC could probably knock out a trap song on a Lute if you had one to hand. His latest single and video ‘Like Me’ is a shining example of a lot of these talents on a single track. Over the next year, he has an 11-track jazz album produced by Zed Bias featuring IAMDDB, a rock EP with Metrodome called ‘Slim Morrison’, a dance EP titled ‘Dance Music For People Who Don’t Go Out’ and a load of other stuff coming out that I can’t even begin to fit into my word count.
Comprising of MC Ghost One and producer Dr G, Seven Spherez are a hugely talented, no nonsense beats and bars hip hop duo who have worked with an extensive list of US legends, including Mobb Deep, Royce Da 5’9″, Joel Ortiz, Chris Rivers, Merkules and loads more. Both have been established around the scene for a while, but Seven Spherez have been rapidly growing pace, releasing banger after banger with no less than three albums in the last year or so alone. Their latest is ‘Boombap & Baseball Bats’, and there is plenty more in the pipeline, including more high-profile collaborations following their recent appearance on Canibus’ latest album.
Another artist who would be difficult to pinpoint to any particular style or genre, Berry Blacc is coming off the back of a big year following the release of his solo project ‘From Maia’, and his place front and centre as one of the next wave of rappers and singers working with Manchester institution, The Mouse Outfit, for their last album ‘Jagged Toothed Crook’, and subsequent tours. 2019 will be bringing more releases and videos both solo, and with The Mouse Outfit, as well as the launch of a hip hop / neo-soul YouTube channel.
A singer, presenter and DJ, Katbrownsugar has been featured on a variety of platforms including BBC 1Xtra and the Mobo Awards and was recently awarded Rising Star at the 2018 Mixcloud Online Radio Awards. Katbrownsugar’s ‘Pink Trees’ release in late 2017 is an underrated gem, with a series of fantastic soulful tracks, notably ‘Higher’ and ‘Sweet Vibrations’, which you should listen to if you haven’t. Kat currently has another neo soul project on the horizon as Heavenly Dollars alongside Jack Duckham.
Sparkz, Ellis Meade, Dubbul O and Cutterz have already been killing it for years across both their solo work, and other projects like Levelz, The Mouse Outfit and more, but their collaboration as Voodoo Black is one they have been working on in the background, amassing a vault of tracks waiting for the right time to drop. As Voodoo Black, they have a couple of releases, Voodoo Black EP, and Outsauced EP, but this year will see their first full project released on Room2 Records.