The year 2022 was a standout one for new musicians. It saw several emerging artists hit new heights: Ayra Starr collaborated with Wizkid and Kelly Rowland, Saucy Santana hopped on a track with Madonna as well as onto magazine covers, and Sam Tompkins’s debut album landed in the top 10. Plus, Doechii, Eliza Rose, and Bloody Civilian soundtracked the year with songs that became some of the biggest hits on TikTok and popped up in major films.
But 2022 also brought breakout moments that no one could have predicted. Ice Spice’s “Munch (Feelin’ U)” catapulted her into the spotlight, where she showed off a masterly knack for memorable lines and the multifaceted capacity of the word “like.” GloRilla’s punchy anthem “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” was followed up with several gravel-toned hits, including a Cardi B feature. Meanwhile, Flo’s debut single “Cardboard Box” and subsequent EP resonated so universally that they’re reportedly being considered as an opening act for Beyoncé, and became the first girl group to land the Rising Star trophy at the Brit Awards.
Elsewhere, near-perfect albums made superstars: Asake’s addictive Mr. Money with the Vibe turned him into the most in-demand Afrobeats artist on the planet; TikTok-dominating tracks by Ghana’s Black Sherif were backed up by a fully realized record, The Villain I Never Was; and Ethel Cain’s deliciously moody Preacher’s Daughter positioned her as Lana Del Rey’s heir apparent.
Below are the nine artists to familiarize yourself with before they blow up in 2023.
Clavish is the crown prince of U.K. rap. Since releasing his EP 2022, he’s steadily climbed the charts, and most recently earned his first top-10 single together with D-Block Europe (their video trended at number one on Youtube for 12 days straight). Co-signed by Drake, having featured on OVO Sound Radio, and since spotted in the studio with Dave and Headie One on separate occasions, Clavish is preparing to drop an increasingly anticipated 28-track mixtape, Rap Game Awful, this month.
The soundtrack to 100,000 TikTok videos, clips of Highlyy’s debut track “Soldier” went viral before it had even been released. Her angelic, addictive song cycles between four languages—Pidgin, Yoruba, English, and French—with the chorus a cover of BNXN’s “Hustle.” Her only song so far, “Soldier,” has been remixed by Tion Wayne and has seen the 18-year-old brought out on stage at an Oxlade gig, where the huge crowd knew every word. The new music she’s teasing? Sounds just as good.
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In 2021, the queen of TikTok put out the fabulously camp “Obsessed” to mixed reviews. Was it shallow trash, or tongue-in-cheek art? Only the follow-up would truly tell. In 2022, a leaked snippet from an upcoming track “2 Die 4” went viral due to a misheard lyric thought to be praising her “pum pum.” (She actually says “boom boom bass,” disappointingly.) All that aside, the clip from the glittering hyper pop track really is to die for, and her debut EP is set for release this year. Following!