Just as there is always a slew of prestige albums to look forward to, every new year is guaranteed to present to the world a crop of fresh, invigorating talent to get to know. And 2019 is no exception; there is already a wealth of promising young new artists breaking out in their respective scenes. The challenge was not finding a crew of ones to watch, but in whittling down a list of a mere 10.
And yet, we persevered. The following group of 10 artists are ones we’ve slowly gotten to know over the past year, and we feel confident all of them are set to make 2019 the year in which they fully blossom. From A$AP Mob-affiliate Chynna to startlingly original MC JPEGMAFIA to one of 88rising’s brightest stars Lexie Liu, these are the new artists that Highsnobiety has its eyes on this year.
We have officially entered 20ninescene and there’s never been a better time for Bay Faction to take the spotlight. Comprised of a trio of Berklee College of Music grads, the band’s 2018 debut album Florida Guilt is a blend of emo, jazz, and rock that smoothly goes down the hatch and leaves a cozy feeling to comfort you through bouts of sadness. By the time you’re finished listening, it’ll feel like a huge release of inner turmoil.
There’s little doubt that a rapper mentored by the A$AP Mob crew would be anything less than stellar, and Chynna exemplifies this notion. “$ (dough)” was one of our favorite tracks from last year, but it’s but one of many flawless additions to her impressive catalog. With an EP set to drop imminently, Chynna’s 2019 is already looking bright.
Indie-folk music is not something that anyone would have predicted Father to get on board with, but it’s easy to see why he would want someone with a voice like Faye Webster to make her mark as a member of Awful Records. Even though there’s a glimmer of sadness behind most of her tunes, the Atlanta native incorporates a hip-hop twist to her Americana-esque songs. Her latest single “Kingston” is somewhat reminiscent of an early Angel Olsen, and the best it yet to come from her debut album, expected to arrive this spring.
Talk about fierce. Flohio is one of the most engaging (and simply, badass) rappers emerging out of the UK right now. A string of excellent singles arrived last year, including a truly phenomenal link-up with the legendary Clams Casino. Even in a scene stuffed with talent, Flohio has managed to stand out from the pack with preternatural ease.
Gus Dapperton is as independent as an indie artist can come in this era, doing literally everything himself when it comes to writing, recording, and producing his music. The New Yorker only has two EPs to his name, Yellow and Such and You Think You’re a Comic!, but the appeal to his finger lickin’ good hits can’t be denied. On top of that, the accompanying visuals are full-on cinematic productions – Florida Project star Bria Vinaite recently played a prominent role in his video for “World Class Cinema.” Not only will he keep you on the edge of your seat, but his tunes will have you toe-tapping and thigh-slapping to the beat non-stop.
Jimothy (fka Jimothy Lacoste) occupies that sweet spot of viral musicians who deftly balance being a troll and being the crafter of seriously excellent tunes. Few can do both, but Jimothy has the range. “Fashion,” a track we named one of the best of 2018, melds laugh out loud lyrics with irresistibly catchy pop hooks. We’re beyond whether he’s a joke or not, who cares when the work is just this good?
Of all the records criminally slept-on last year, JPEGMAFIA’s Veteran takes the cake for being the very best of the overlooked. The Baltimore MC is the full package: incisive lyrics, off-kilter flows, and jarring beats coalescing into a dazzling whole. He’s got big moves ahead in 2019 in both his solo work and a slew upcoming guest features that already have us salivating.
20gayteen was a special moment amid so much of the mess that happened around the globe. Mikaela Straus has practically been groomed to take over the music world with training as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, but choosing to do it all on her own terms has been paying off tremendously. The Make My Bed EP is a solid introduction to the gifts she has to offer, and her latest single “Pussy Is God” serves as the ultimate (queer) women’s empowerment anthem.
They’ve only been around for the past couple years, but the label 88rising have quickly established themselves as arbiters of exceptional taste and talent. It goes without saying, then, that Lexie Liu seems destined to join the ranks of the label’s best. Already a massive star in her native China, the artist has a burgeoning catalog of slick pop hits and a seriously enviable sense of style.
Attention surrounding this mysterious pop project began back in 2016 when their breakout single “Three Strikes” was featured in a commercial for Kylie Cosmetics. Luckily for all of us, Kylie Jenner is not the voice behind these addictive bops that are often politically-charged as they comment on issues like women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, substance abuse, and more. With all of that momentum building, the duo (revealed as Lisa Terror and David Singer-Vine) dropped a trilogy of EPs through 2017. This week, they’re finally putting out their debut album titled Unfortunately, Terror Jr, and you’ll probably choke on all the juice.
Stay tuned for more from these artists as we check in with them throughout 2019.
- Words: Jake Indiana & Sydney Gore