The UK's musical landscape has never felt so expansive -- or difficult to predict. And yet here we are! Giving it our best shot. Below, in no particular order, you'll find 10 artists worth keeping an eye and an ear on for the new year...
For fans of: IAMDDB; Kojey Radical; Children of Zeus
A rising talent among Manchester's embarrassment of musical riches is LayFullstop. Peddling jazzy, soul-infused hip hop with a springy vocal style, she's already shared stages with the likes of Akala and Bilal, and built up a strong following across Europe too. This year's Cherries EP saw her expand her sound palette. Whether weaving her voice around the sparse percussion of 23, ad-libbing harmonies over PMT's heavy-plucked bassline, or juggling punchlines on the title track, the resounding impression is an irresistible one.
Starter pack: Cherries; PMT; Eyes, Closed
For fans of: Davido; Mr. Eazi; Kwamz
Kida Kudz' springy vocals are the kind of instantly-recognisable asset that most artists (and label bosses) dream of -- so it's perhaps little surprise that he's in such high demand with the cream of the industry crop. He's been in the studio with everyone from Burna Boy to Kojo Funds, Geko and Octavian, as well as having grime scene godfather Wiley jump on for a verse on 2019's party bop Bounce. But it's on his solo Afrobeats-meets-trap material that he's beginning to truly shine, as the likes of Moonwalk attest to.
Starter pack: Moonwalk; Jiggy Bop; Again
For fans of: RP Boo; L U C Y; Fracture
The speed of Sherelle's rise to power is matched only by the music she plays. Having built up a dedicated footworker following at Brixton-based radio station Reprezent, she stepped up to the decks at Boiler Room to deliver one of the most explosive sets the streamer has hosted in years. Sherelle has since been picked up by BBC Radio 1 for a six-month residency, and established her own Hooversound label alongside fellow Reprezent mainstay Naina -- both platforms she'll use to further spread the gospel of 160 beats-per-minute and beyond.
Starter pack: Catch Sherelle every second Monday of the month on Radio 1
For fans of: J Hus; Jay1; NSG
Barely into his 20s, the Coventry MC has already drawn comparisons with J Hus and caught the ears of tastemakers at Mixtape Madness and BBC Radio 1Xtra. He slides between registers effortlessly: switching from staccato rap to silky sing-song in the space of 16 bars. More recently, he's linked up with producer Coolie (responsible for fellow Coventry MC Jay1's breakout hit, Your Mrs) on moody banger Dem A Lie.
Starter pack: Dem A Lie; Like Tu Danz; Never Had
For fans of: Dr. Rubinstein; Sybil; Donato Dozzy
Paris-born GiGi FM quickly became a South London scene staple a few years back, working dancefloors at local venues like Rye Wax with high energy, atmospheric sets that traverse everything from slamming techno to trap. Lately, though, she’s hit the accelerator. With a Boiler Room European tour, new NTS residency, and gigs up and down the country under her belt in recent months, the future’s looking busy and bright for this fast-rising selector.
Starter pack: Catch GiGi FM every month on NTS
For fans of: Ella Mai; Jorja Smith; Mahalia
Riding the crest of a new wave of UK R&B talent, Miraa May is as well known for her smooth delivery and deeply personal writing as she is her sparky personality. Raised in Tottenham, she draws influence from her locale's melting pot of musical identities. This year, she's released a steady stream of sultry pop records, as well as lending her chopped vocals to skippy garage remixes, and heading out to Jamaica for writing sessions with Mixpak's Dre Skull.
Starter pack: Angles; Nobody; I Don't Want Ya
For fans of: KOKOROKO; Joe Armon-Jones; Maisha
Shirley Tetteh will already be known to aficionados of the UK's blooming homegrown jazz scene -- she's leant her skills as a guitarist to seven-piece collective Nérija and Brownswood signees Maisha, as well as the Mercury-nominated Seed Ensemble -- but this year saw the Londoner push her solo songwriting talents to the fore under the Nardeydey moniker. She introduced her new venture with a clutch of artful pop records that paired the six strings of her guitar with a saccharine singing voice and deft lyrical touch. And left her fans on tenterhooks for more.
Starter pack: Speedial; FreeFalling; Dreamin
For fans of: Demarco; Popcaan; Alicai Harley
Having caused ripples back in 2016 with a batch of melodic street anthems, the Lewisham youngster took time to hone his craft and adjust his focus to incorporate a heavier dancehall lean. The result -- audible on sweet boy singalongs like Star Girl and Slow Down -- is pure, glossy, R&B-tinged island sounds. And when Popcaan, the crown prince of Portmore, came to headline Wembley earlier this year, it was IQ that he picked out to open for him.
Starter pack: Star Girl; Righteous; Tell A Paigon Try
For fans of: Young Echo; Smith & Mighty; Giant Swan
If you like your music dubbed-out and drenched in warm, syrupy basslines, then Sunun is for you. A mainstay of Bristol's experimental club scene (and a recent tip from fellow break-outs Giant Swan), Sunun plies a trade that sits somewhere between foundational dub engineering, soundsystem homage, and trippy new age ambience. Heavyweight music with the lightness of a blissed-out meditational drift.
Starter pack: Ishe Roots; Msg Inna Stab; Away
Bala Bala Boyz
For fans of: DJ Lag; Bryte; Nguzunguzu
Bala Bala Boyz' rotating lineup currently consists of Chef Kalinga, Moj Zyo, OT (Orz Trinity), and King Bala, with members hailing from London's four corners. They spit a blend of English and Congolese Lingala lyrics -- a combination they call 'Linglish' -- which has been deployed to infectious effect across two mixtapes and, at the beginning of this year, a percussive, club-ready collection on Ahadadream and SNØW's More Time Records.
Starter pack: Mafuta; Baza Ba Skivere; Sieta