Welcome to part 2 of our Ones To Watch in 2014, featuring our favourite new acts for 2014 as well as some slightly more established artists who we think will be instrumental in making 2014 a good year in music. So without further adieu, here are our top picks for 2014 (on two pages FYI):
You might remember us including Ashong in our 2013 list after the runaway success of his Theo Parrish collaboration Flowers, but we’re willing to make an exception in this case. Although Ashong had no intentions to even be a singer before Flowers was recorded, what we’ve heard of the follow-up EP proves it was no fluke. The Special EP is filled with the same warmth and soul of its predecessor and is due out on Which Way Records on 27th January. With sets at Soundwave, Outlook and Dimensions already booked, 2014 will be a year where Ashong adds to the impressive achievements of the previous one.
Cécile McLorin Salvant
You might not yet know the sonorous charm of 23-year-old French-American jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. Born to French and Haitian parents in Miami, Cécile starting singing jazz whilst studying law in Paris. Upon returning to America in 2010 she won the Thelonious Monk vocal competition and in 2013 released her debut album, WomanChild, which is now Grammy-nominated. The 23-year-old virtuoso, whose brilliance can only be comparable with her holy predecessors Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, will be back in the studio this year to continue carrying the torch for contemporary vocal jazz in 2014.
Calling all lovers of Romare and Afro-Future music alike: watch out for Clap! Clap! in 2014, seriously. Longtime jazz musician Cristiano Crisci, also active in electronic circles as producer Digi G’Alessio, coined the moniker Clap! Clap! back in June for his dark and evocative tribal debut EP Gwidingwi Dema. Big-league electronic connoisseurs Black Acre Records are now set to release his follow up EP Tambacounda on Feb 24th. No doubt this will be a giant release for Electronic music in 2014.
Leaders of the new school UK Hip-Hop movement, Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn have been re-energising the genre ever since their debut release PAID TO LST£N back in 2012. The 19-year-olds have now supported UKHH legends Jehst and Skinnyman, not to mention U.S. heavyweights Slum Village on their tour of the UK this year. The Brighton-based duo are set to release their follow up album in the next couple of months and that will certainly be a 2014 highlight for us.
Top Dawg Entertainment’s (TDE) most recent signing Tennessee-native Isaiah Rashad has had an immensely successful 2013 debut in the Hip-Hop scene. Despite the limited amount of material released, his captivating stories and soulful choice of beats have made him one of, if not, the freshest up-and-coming MC out there at the moment. A bigger project (perhaps an album) can be expected in the new year that should further cement him as one of the strongest rappers in the game. Exciting times for all us Hip-Hop junkies.