Nigerian singers Ruger, TeeZee,Ayra Starr, and South African rapper Focalistic have all been listed in Vogue UK’s list of musicians to watch for in 2022.
This week, the publication put out a list of must-know musicians who “we’ll be hearing a lot more from over the next 12 months.” These artists were grouped into several fields, such as the Class of TikTok, African Giants, Alternative/R&B Pioneers, Popstars and Rockstars, and Rap Prodigies.
The publication wrote in a statement:
2021 was a memorable year for new musicians who burst onto the scene, ruled TikTok, and immediately dominated the conversation — artists like Olivia Rodrigo, PinkPantheress, and ArrDee who rose to fame with tracks released at its very start. It’s a reminder that the biggest star of 2022 may not even have recorded a song yet.
Vogue UK wrote; describing the music stars in the African Giants category, a list dominated by Nigerians:
Class of TikTok
The app remains one of the most explosive ways for new musicians to get noticed – and a crucial tool for many of the buzziest superstars working today.
Are you even online if you haven’t had “I ain’t never been with a baddie” stuck in your head at night? The mind behind the “Own Brand Freestyle” verse that soundtracks over 6 million TikToks – not to mention an electrifying live performer with magnetic flow – the 21-year-old Londoner is just getting started.
Carrying the internet on his back with a natural charisma that has inspired countless memes, Florida-born Saucy Santana needs no introduction. Since the release of his debut album in December, several of his catchy songs have entered the cultural lexicon. Get ready to hear much more of the 28-year-old material gworl.
That “talking to the moon” sound on TikTok? The uncredited singer sampled is 24-year-old Sam Tompkins. With his blend of pop, R&B, indie rock and a touch of rap, Tompkins caught Justin Bieber’s attention, who said his “favourite new song” was by the Brighton busker. They were spotted in the studio together in LA, so expect more hits to follow.
Catapulted to stardom with a Charli D’Amelio TikTok that got 85 million views, Kent-born Mimi Webb won hearts with her lovesick anthems. By becoming the first woman since Dua Lipa in 2017 to have two singles in the Top 20 before releasing her first album, the 21-year-old has proven herself a force to be reckoned with.
Nigeria continues to dominate global airwaves with excellent afropop and thealtéscene is still one of the most exciting musical movements, fostering talent like Vogue favouritesAmaarae, Tems, andDeto Black. Meanwhile, South African amapiano has caught fire around the world.
In just one year, Ruger has had a seismic impact with his single “Bounce”, which amassed 22 million views and topped the Nigeria charts on Apple Music. With unforgettable songs and his unique look – pink cropped hair and an eye patch – he’ll soon be impossible to miss.
Over hypnotic amapiano beats, South African rapper Focalistic spits entrancing, melodic flows. His hit “Ke Star” with buzzy producer Virgo Deep led Davido to collaborate on two songs, creating a crossover of irresistible sounds from the continent.
Nineteen-year-old Ayra Starr started exceptionally strong last year, releasing debut projects that were flawlessly conceived and beautifully sung.
The godfather of the alté scene in Nigeria, TeeZee helped pioneer the genre and created a platform for the country’s youth through the groundbreaking Native magazine. Having released more excellent singles last year, he continues to be a beacon of the country’s creativity.
SomaDina only has a handful of releases to her name but her latest experiments with pop-punk and rap collaborations with fellow rising star SGaWD are addictive earworms. A talented singer who has performed with Lady Donli, Davido and Amaarae, the young artist is one to watch.
R&B continues to be one of the most exciting spaces for alternative stars bending and expanding its perimeters, and artists who have perfected a more classic sound.
A sensitive crooner for Gen Z, every one of Kamal.’s sad boy songs are poignant and memorable. He has found fans in Billie Eilish and Dave, with the latter collaborating with the 19-year-old Londoner on a single last year.
Florida-born Muni Long had an incredibly successful career as a songwriter, penning songs for Mariah Carey, Rihanna, and Madonna. Two projects released last year, including current viral hit “Hrs And Hrs”, prove she can do the same for herself.
Bellah’s voice is akin to a Disney princess’s, with a glass-slipper clarity to her tone. Blending R&B and Afrobeats, last year she opened Tems’s sold-out London shows and got nominated for a MOBO, joining Enny on the award show’s stage to perform her biggest hit.
Tora-i creates goosebump-raising, ethereal R&B tracks, with a voice able to transport listeners to new worlds. Now also signed to the Kate Moss Agency as a model, we’re sure to be seeing a lot more of the 21-year-old.
Amaria BB makes excellent trap and R&B, but it’s her dancehall that stands out in the UK scene. After her sultry hit “Slow Motion”, another rising dancehall star, Skillibeng, joined her on her next track.
Rap continues to trend towards the more melodic and sensitive. At the same time, a crop of women go harder than ever.
Kenya-born, Minnesota-raised KayCyy is Ye’s latest protege, signed to new label YZY SND and having studied for over a year under his wing, with writing credits on the Grammy-nominated Donda. He has also written for Lil Wayne and worked with Justin Bieber. This year, we can expect to see the 24-year-old take flight.
Alternating between folk-rap and synthy trap on tracks produced by Joy Orbison, cityboymoe compellingly raps and croons over gentle beats. Last year, the North Londoner also lent his vocals to two songs on Mustafa’s moving debut album When Smoke Rises.
With only a string of singles, masked British-Somali rapper wewantwraiths has quickly become a sensation, amassing millions of views and streams with his high-octane, catchy take on trap-wave.
Starting last year all guns blazing with viral song “Beating Down Yo Block”, 20-year-old Houston rapper Monaleo has yet to take her foot off the pedal, producing a string of fiery, unforgettable tracks.
With his lyrical cultural critiques and creative videos, Walthamstow rapper Jeshi has supported Slowthai on tour and soundtracked Chanel shows.
Popstars & Rockstars
Rock and pop turn increasingly light and playful – and become trickier to define.
Even before having released their first LP, Korean girl group STAYC have captured hearts and cultivated a fandom. Their sugary pop tracks have already garnered millions of streams and video views.
Millie Go Lightly
Since London singer Millie Go Lightly seemed to be plucked out of the ether to lend her angelic vocals to two songs on Young Thug’s Beautiful Thugger Girls in 2017, the 26-year-old has become the rap world’s favourite pop-country vocalist. She has featured on songs with Lil Keed, Jack Harlow, AJ Tracey and SahBabii, and released more solo music last year.
The rising artist all of your favourite Gen Z musicians are obsessed with, Dora Jar’s gorgeously idiosyncratic indie rock has been shared by Billie Eilish, and praised by Wolf Alice and Conan Gray.