Some of the LAFV team were at the Erykah vs Everthang 2017 AD show at the Hammersmith Apollo and were blessed with one of the most captivating performances that we’re likely to see for a while. A true master of her craft, Badu is the epitome of feminine pride. With such a polarising, trance inducing performance still fresh in mind it only makes sense to pose the question: Whose next to the throne? Which female artists are making music that’s able to communicate with the masses, yet refined enough to be considered modern classics? Below I’ve compiled a list of the up and coming female songstresses with a bright, present and promising future. Check it out:
Gabi Wilson, also known as H.E.R. is a mysterious RnB & Soul singer who prides herself on anonymity when delivering her music. Not as comfortable in the limelight as her contemporaries on this list but just as talented, H.E.R. is the kind of artist that only comes around every half decade or so (it would seem). There’s definitely a space for artists that would much rather focus solely on the music than take to the eager hand of fame and revel in the limelight of ones own success. The Weeknd did it, when he first burst onto the scene in 2011 with his 3-peat of projects – now packaged as The Trilogy. Frank did it when he rose to collective consciousness in the same year with Nostalgia Ultra. A faceless singer, with a powerful message about life as a 20 something in the early 21st century. Cerebral and considered in her approach, H.E.R. focuses on delivering projects to last five or ten years, as opposed to a rinse’n’dash type project – that we’ve come all to accustomed to accepting these days. With concept heavy content, a unique tone and unapologetic approach to tackling complex concepts like insecurity, break-ups, love and hate, she’s in a rare category of artists with the multitude of talents that has the potential to age more like wine than milk.
H.E.R.’s first two projects have garnered her a quick taste of critical acclaim and rave reviews with her slow, conscious, considered and melodic technique of producing her songs. H.E.R. Vol.1 is a great EP, and Vol.2 – released last month – was even better and more mature, which probably leads H.E.R. to a difficult crossroads in her very infant career. With fans becoming more and more impatient for their favourite artist’s work, will she stick to all she’s been known as – the elusive soul singer H.E.R.- or does she step into the limelight like The Weeknd did, and experiment with her sound.
She’s got a voice that is so unique, you could arguably slot her in any genre of music, and she’d likely take to it like Al Pacino to gangsta movies but is that the right move for her? I guess it remains to be seen but until then, we should appreciate what we have now as with talent like hers quickly siphoned by pop music and mainstream culture, she may not stay so secretive for much longer.
Notable Projects: H.E.R. Vol.1 & H.E.R. Vol.2
Standout tracks: Wait For It, Facts, Pigment, Say It Again, Still Down, Changes.
I don’t think many artists made as much of a splash, in 2016, as Solange Knowles did. In October of 2016 she presented to the world, most people’s best album of that year, A Seat at the Table. Since then she’s been touring to promote the album, at festivals like Primavera Sound and Glastonbury, and with messages and themes so appropriate to the times we currently find ourselves in, we can only support such a relentless work ethic. Her similarities with Ms Badu lay in her apparent level of higher consciousness and conceptual selection. Choosing to tackle topics like race, female identity and black consciousness, Solange’s already many peoples favourite new artist…except she’s definitely not new.
Solange has been making music since as early as 2002, and even released an EP – True – back in 2012 with help and inspiration from Blood Orange aka Devonte Hynes. Since the very start it’s seemed like Solange has been trying to refine her skills and delivery to maximise her potential and talent. With A Seat at the Table, she succeeded.
Along with album comes a compelling and awe-inspiring performances that help to vividly paint the picture that each song tries to present. Her staging and performance value are inspiring. Solange with a nack for identifying the little nuances that distinguish great from okay. I’m sure she doesn’t do it all alone, but artists seldom do these days, and it doesn’t detract from how well she carries herself and her music. If she uses her last album as a propeller for future endeavours, Ms Knowles will be on her way to shifting the culture forward. Before when you heard the name Solange Knowles you would be forgiven for immediately casting your memory to the time her and Jay-Z fought in an elevator. Now when you hear the name Solange Knowles you’re instantly captivated and eager to hear what moves she’s making, who she’s working with and when is the next opportunity I’ll have to see her perform live.
Notable Projects: True, A Seat at the Table
Standout Tracks: T.O.N.Y., Losing You, Don’t Touch My Hair, Cranes in the Sky, F.U.B.U, Junie.
Syd the Kid, of The Internet, is next on the list. Some would probably class her as the odd-one-out of this list, but her place on the list is as warranted as anyone else featured. It’s the power of Syd’s message and delivery that makes her so interesting and admirable. Never one to shy away from her sexuality, Syd’s approach to her musical output is refreshing, inspiring and, unfortunately, not as commonplace as it should be. Referring to partners as ‘girl’, ‘her’ and ‘she’, Syd has no problem in expressing her sexuality unapologetically which is where her similarity with Ms Badu come into play.
From her work with her RnB and Soul supergroup The Internet, to her solo work just as Syd, she manages to effortlessly weave her own personal identity into everything that she’s done thus far. Songs like ‘Girl’, ‘Just Sayin/I Tried’ and ‘Get Away’ from the Grammy nominated 2015 album Ego Death, perfectly depict the way in which she has chosen to ignore the traditional outlook on sexuality in mainstream music – much like her long time friend Frank Ocean. Syd is willing to push the culture forward to one that accepts everyone, no matter their sexual inclinations, which over time will allow her to be viewed as a pioneer.
To her, she’s probably just making music but to the trained ear you can only appreciate the bravery it takes to not only be true to ones self when making music but true to the fans that follow on her every word. It’s difficult to think that even in 2017, we’re not in a position where artist and people, in general, can be wholeheartedly honest about their stance on sexuality. Fear of backlash, lack in sales or acceptance all hamper the process of making truly honest music but artists like Syd, much like Erykah before her, are able to communicate their message and still accumulate commercial success at the same time.
Notable Projects: Purple Naked Ladies (with The Internet), Feel Good (with The Internet), Ego Death (with The Internet), Fin.
Standout Tracks: Girl, Just Sayin’/I Tried, Something’s Missing, Know, Smile More, Insecurities .
Last but not least we have TDE’s first lady, SZA. With label mates such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock, SZA stepped into the public consciousness with huge expectations. Expectations that she has since met and exceed with her latest offering Ctrl. An artists first album is usually their hardest to make and easiest to get wrong. With the demand for good quality content, expert production and replayability all common demands of impatient fans, SZA could quite easily have conformed to what would ‘sell’ or what the masses would ‘want’. Instead she gave the masses what they needed. Like the other talented ladies on this list, SZA has no problem in discussing the nitty gritty things in her music that many a superficial artist would not have the ability or bravery to explore in their music.
If there was one song that best represents SZA and the overarching message of her music it would be ‘The Weekend’. Clear conceptually, yet the topics that she discuss are clearly complex. In The Weekend, for example, SZA dives head first into the topic of sidechicks and specifically being someones sidechick. A topic seldom touched open by the masses, but a prevalent and serious issue all the same – especially in a time of social media, instant messaging and max visibility, where it is virtually impossible to get away with such activities. That isn’t to say it doesn’t go on, and it isn’t to say that the often vilified ‘sidechick’ doesn’t have a perspective on the situation. And therein lays the beauty of SZA and her music. A woman who is strong enough to discuss such candid experiences through her music is one that’s likely to resonate with fans and develop a more consistent, committed following….much like Ms Badu.
Notable Projects: Z, Ctrl.
Standout Tracks: Child’s Play, Ur, Sweet November, The Weekend, Broken Clocks, 20 Something.