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21 for ’21: NN artists to break through

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Debe by Alex Potton

Debe photo by Alex Potton

There’s no doubting the difficulties 2020 presented for new NN music artists to further their careers. But with better times surely ahead here are 21 artists New Boots thinks are suited to taking it to the next level in 2021.

There’s no doubting the importance and centrality of urban music to the pop landscape, and that’s no different in Northants. Half of this list contains rap, grime, R&B, and dancehall artists.
FFSYTHO has already had big exposure via BBC Radio 1Xtra, and has amassed an online army hanging off her every word. She will shine bright this year. Section6 x pastelparty are a duo who have wowed the grassroots venues of Northampton in 2020, and their online listenership has skyrocketed since they debuted at the start of last year.

Debe has a great team behind him already, and his string of 2020 singles showcased a real talent in the slowthai mould, with excellent visuals and storytelling. Krankhead aka Mio Flux and Patchy The Rockstar are serious about their craft and both hugely talented; it’s hard to seem them fail. Napps is one of the stand-outs at the Lay It Down open mics, and now is his time to take the next step. Dreadz is much loved locally, and his ability to look good and two-step in music videos will only help his cause.

Great Adamz mixes dancehall and beats alongside affirmative lyrics, becoming a YouTube and Instagram favourite along the way. Benji Brown is only one single deep, but being part of the Northampton Brown family music dynasty means he’s one step ahead already.

Romaa has a very upfront, radio friendly R&B sound which gives him a fighting chance of success. J Carlyle is another dancehall player, with a smooth sound and great image to see things happen very quickly. Basketball-playing student Li-Likeisaid finds time for a stream of great singles that his large online following seem to be lapping up. Finally young R&B/pop singer LJ has the full package to take playlists and radio by storm very soon.

In the world of dance the lack of nightclubs isn’t helpful for the time being, but such things will change, and these three certainly have what it takes. Kid Distance is still in her teens, but owned 2020 with house banger after house banger which travelled far and wide. Alfie Cridland from Desborough was an underground DJ 12 months ago; now a multi-million streaming artiste with his first two singles! And who could forget D&B don AON, who finally put out some digital recordings this year and displayed to all and sundry why he’s so revered within the NN postcodes.

As for singer-songwriters, here’s three names already on a lot of lips. Maddox Jones only debuted last summer with his ‘Headspace’ EP, but has been written about quite a lot already, and listened to all over the globe. Kailan Price rebooted as bloody/bath for 2020, and became a downtempo playlist favourite immediately. With a live show in the works things can only go upward for him. And of course Anna Mae Kelly came outta the Kettering area with a bang, Just 17, but with a fully-formed set of pop nuggets to bowl everyone over, it won’t be long before the rest of the world catches up.

Can rock bands break though in 2021 if gig opportunities are limited? It’s a tricky one to answer here in January. But if anyone NN-wise can do it it’s probably one of these three. Phantom Isle have slow-burned for a couple of years now, but 2020 saw a development in sound, and with it a renewed vigour. With great songwriting chops and smart arrangements they should be thereabouts. Tragic are the coming-of-age band who blast out Nirvana-esque punk treatise on NN life. Plus: they are one of our best live bands. And Garden have definitely come of age; taking their moody indie to another level with a string of 2020 songs recorded at The Lodge. Annie Mac support will do them no harm as things roll forward.

Below is the full list of artists as a Spotify playlist. Give the NN Playlist a follow whilst you’re over there too, cheers.

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