“Wi likkle but wi tallawah!” is a common phrase said in and amongst Jamaicans meaning, despite the country’s size, its people make up for it in spirit, energy and pride. Ultimately, we are not to be underestimated, and this is doubly so for the talent borne from our shores. It’s no secret that all eyes and ears have stayed on Jamaica. Its food, fashion and its music have been sampled and people have attempted to recreate what can only be found, made, and produced on the island—but now, more than ever, people are looking towards Jamaica and asking: What is next?
With Popcaan’s staging of his (hopefully) inaugural Unruly Fest that concluded with him being signed to OVO, a recent overwhelmingly impressive homecoming show by reggae superstar Buju Banton, and the infectious sounds of newcomer Koffee sweeping airwaves across the globe, the land of wood and water is continuing to be the home to some of the most exciting music and sounds. The good thing is that Jamaica has never been short of talent. The island’s emerging crop of artists are making an assortment of addictive dancehall, soul-baring reggae or disregarding completely what people expect them to make by fusing genres together to produce genre-bending, boundaryless records.
If you haven’t been keeping up to di times with who they are, take a page out of Bob Marley’s songbook and, “don’t worry”. Here’s a roundup of 10 of the next artists who are leading the pack, some even having a strong possibility to buss weh!
If you listened to reggae artist Koffee’s latest EP, Rapture, then you for sure heard the enchanting voice of Jane Macgizmo on “Blazin“, but that’s not all she’s known for! The multifaceted singer, songwriter, designer and photographer, hailing from the outskirts of Mandeville, has been immersed in the arts, having attended Sybil’s Music School and later Northern Caribbean University for film production. Though Macgizmo has only liberated a few singles, her latest being the infectiously hypnotizing “One Away”, this gifted artist inspires hope for tomorrow.
It’s very easy to get lost in the soulful vibes of Sevana, and you should, because she’s incredibly talented. An artist under Protoje’s collective , Sevana’s rise to fame was propelled by her appearance on the Jamaican talent show, Digicel Rising Star, in 2008, where she didn’t win, but was one of the show’s top finalists. Since that time, the Savanna-la-Mar native has released a steady flow of singles and features, including her 2016 self-titled EP, and has been doing live performances all across the globe. Her melodic mashup of reggae, soul, and R&B is highly infectious.
Tessellated joined forces with Amindi K. Fro$t and Valleyz to produce 2017’s summer anthem “Pine and Ginger“. His genre-defying music blends the stylings of reggae, jazz, R&B and soul to fuse a truly unique sound. Having worked with infamous dancehall producer Rvssian and emerging talent Krs to produce a refixed “Beach Front Riddim”, they created “Hallucinate”—while Tessellated’s latest single, “Freeza”, saw him team up with dancehall stars Shenseea and Zac Jone$. He’s on their radars and he should be on yours.
Lila Iké, labelmate of both Sevana and Protoje, is reminding you about everything you love about reggae. Hailing from the hills of Manchester (in Jamaica), her love for music grew exponentially while attending Manchester High School. Highly skilled at spitting fire freestyles as she is at singing, Lila Iké has flirted with dub in her third and latest single “Second Chance”, and her debut reggae single “Biggest Fan“. Though she hasn’t released a full body of work as yet, Lila Iké has been garnering a bigger fanbase from her local and international performances.
Dee Dré is an emerging dancehall musician hailing from the streets of Kingston. An affiliate of dancehall behemoth’s Aidonia’s Fourth Genna collective, Dee Dré poetically transcribes the hardships and celebrations of his life atop dancehall riddims to create records that are both relatable and catchy.
It’s only right Naomi Cowan steps full-force into music. With her parents being renowned gospel singers Carlene Davis and Tommy Cowan, the singer/songwriter’s love for music started at home and she’s channeled that love into her recently released mixtape, Paradise Plum. Naomi’s combined love for songwriting, which showcases her soul-baring lyricism, shines through and has brought her many accolades. Though her career is still in its infancy, she entered The Foundation Radio Network (New York) Reggae Charts and was able to perform at one of JA’s largest music events, Reggae Sumfest. Watch Miss Cowan’s star rise.
Royal Blu‘s intoxicatingly refreshing and conscious approach to creating reggae makes him an artist that you should definitely indulge in if you haven’t already. He’s been on a plethora of features—including my favourite, “NTN“, with fellow Jamaican artist and producer iotosh—in addition to releasing his own records, which includes Sing With God, a 2017 joint project with the German producer Foresta. Get to know!
A rising name in dancehall, NeeQah is steadily making her way to the top. Her breakout song “Ms. Melanin”, along with the 300K-directed visual featuring Charly Black, has been garnering attention for its message promoting Black women of all shades to embrace their melanin. Her raw and uncompromising lyrics, which liken that of City Girls and Megan Thee Stallion, have allowed her to be a standout and promising act amongst the new crop of Jamaica’s dancehall acts.
He’s a musician, producer and artist whose combined affinity for dancehall, trap and hip-hop is the thread which weaves his music together. iotosh is a talented artist who continues to redefine expectations when people hear the words “Jamaican Music”. His production credits are equally as impressive as his wordplay, showcasing how wide his musical breadth is.
Blvk H3ro‘s music is full of good vibes and if he’s not already on your playlist, be sure to add him—another artist trying to take reggae to another level, though he raps and does dancehall as well. Because of this, his talents have brought him to many stages, including 1Xtra and popular Jamaican podcast, The Fix. Blvk H3ro is destined for big things.