THE HOT 10// Ten Names In Music You Should [Already] Know in 2012Published by Justin Joseph on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 11:39 am.
There are a slew of new and slept-on artists that are on Centric’s radar, and these artists should be on yours:
10. Elle Varner
“Cause I only wanna give it to you…” sings Elle Varner (pictured above) on her 2011 debut single, “Only Wanna Give It To You” featuring J. Cole. The song was became a top 20 Billboard R&B hit, introducing the curly-haired singer/songwriter to the masses. A BET Music Matters artist—and soon be named Centric Selects artist—the California native is gearing up for her debut album, Perfectly Imperfect, slated for release later this year.
9. Stacy Barthe
Stacy Barthe. She’s not your average looking popular singer, and her talent isn’t average either. Simply put, she’s a star in her own right. The Grammy Award nominated Barthe, has successfully penned songs for the likes of Britney Spears, Kelly Rowland, and Rihanna; but now she’s stepping into the spotlight. Her last three EPs—In The In Between, Sincerely Yours, and The Seven Days Of Christmas—have spawned a slew of buzz-worthy singles including, “Never Did,” “Comfy Little Coffin”, and “Without You” featuring Frank Ocean.
8. Jhené Aiko
Nearly a decade ago, Jhené Aiko—billed as Jhené—had a top ten R&B hit with “L.O.V.E.” Billed as the cousin of T.U.G. labelmate and former B2K member Lil Fizz, she was young, cute, and spunky. Fastforward to 2012, and she’s now a mother (she has a 3 year old daughter with singer Omarion’s younger brother O’Ryan) and touting a new musical sound. Her 2011 alternative R&B mixtape, Sailing Souls, re-introduced her to some, and introduced her to many—even attracting Def Jam Records, who signed her late last year.
7. Emeli Sandé
The UK has soul! Just ask Emeli Sandé. The R&B/soul singer’s latest single “Next To Me” reached number one in Ireland and Scotland, and number two on the UK singles chart. The video for the song has gotten over five million views on YouTube stateside—guess she’s doing something right. Certainly not a newbie, Sandé has enjoyed an accomplished career as a songwriter, writing tunes for a slew of British artists—Leona Lewis, Tinie Tempah, Susan Boyle, and Alesha Dixon.
6. The Weeknd
In two years, the 22 year old performer has managed to attract the praises of BET, MTV, Rolling Stone, and XXL Magazine thanks is large part to rapper and fellow Canadian, Drake. His three mixtapes—House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence—have all been received well, with the latter earning nearly four out of five stars by RollingStone.com.
The music of Erimaj (pictured above) is rooted in jazz, but the music is 100% soulful. Led by drummer and founder Jamire Williams (the band’s name is his first name spelled backwards), the group’s breakout single “Conflict of A Man,” proved they are an underground musical force to be reckoned with.
4. Teedra Moses
Teedra Moses has been on the music scene professionally for nearly a decade. An accomplished songwriter, she has penned songs for the likes of Christina Milian (“Dip It Low), Trina (“Here We Go”), and Mary J. Blige (“So Lady”). Also a singer, Moses has been bubbling on the underground music scene, thanks in large part to her 2004 debut album, Complex Simplicity. Now, nearly eight years later, she is signed to Rick Ross‘ Maybach Music Group and has released what one of the best mixtapes of 2011—Luxurious Undergrind.
3. Luke James
After an amazing showing at the 2012 BET Honors, James proved that he is worth the buzz that he’s garnered for the past few months. He’s written for Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears; and his chiseled physique and model mug has landed him on-screen features in Beyonce’s “Run The World” and Melanie Fiona’s “4am” videos. While many R&B singers rely on gimmicks and amazing producers to elevate questionable (read: non-existent) vocals, James doesn’t have to. Why? Because the boy can sing (sang that is).
The UK has given us many musical jewels—Soul II Soul, Billy Ocean, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius, and now, Daley. With a soulful voice that is a welcomed juxtaposition to his quirky appearance, the singer has gotten a slew of attention, thanks in part to his mixtape, Those Who Wait. The project’s first single, “Alone Together,” features Ambrosius, and has made him a performer to check for in 2012.
1. Robert Glasper
This Texas native and Centric Selects artist (pictured above) has carved out a musical niche that is all his. A Grammy Award nominated jazz pianist and producer, Glasper recently released his fifth album, Black Radio, to rave critical reviews. Touted by Billboard.com as “a multi-talent to be reckoned with,” he has proved that jazz, hip-hop, soul and R&B music can exist in the same place—a sonically intriguing place.
Honorable Mention: Azealia Banks
The foul-mouthed Harlem, NY rapper—rocking a swag indicative of a young Foxy Brown—has taken the European music scene by storm with her quick delivery and bombastic tracks. Her string of releases, including the UK R&B hit, “212,” has attracted attention from a slew of celebrities, including Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who recently invited Banks to perform at his home in Paris.