What can i say about this guy’s rise? Shakka had us all gassing in 2012 with the Shakka Crown Affair and his Shakkappelas earning him rave reviews and new fans. If you had caught his YoYo set in 2012 however you knew he had new material waiting to drop that we all eagerly anticipated but what did he go and do first??? He only landed himself on the lead single from Wretch 32′s sophomore Album “Blackout”. Tune was insane and of course Shakka’s performance was insane but what it did was put him on the screens and into households across Britain. Wretch took him everywhere helping him gain the recognition and spotlight he deserved. Off the back of that he joined the Basement Jaxx crew as a vocalist and earned a support slot on another one of 2013′s big achievers Rudimental. He was hitting the big stages and his fan base was growing as was to be expected from someone as infectious as Shaks.
The core fan base was still waiting for new material though and when it did drop BWOY did it drop. “Tribe” is a masterpiece. There is something for everyone in there taking you on a journey to find out and discover just what this man and his sound is about. He regularly describes it as a blend of Coldplay and Bob Marley and its pretty spot on. The musicianship is incredible with synths, snares and cymbals causing explosions in your eardrums throughout whilst baselines drive all the tracks. There are some gorgeous guitar melodies and solos in their to boot and Shakka’s vocals just bring it all together. Tracks like “Strength of an Ox” and “Go Lady” (why are there not videos for these two tunes) are straight up anthems that deserve to be performed on the biggest stages in the country. If he continues at the pace he is going and keeps the quality i have no doubt it will not be too long before that is a reality. He is a shining light and example to all that the scene can create stars who can play the game their way and win you just gotta put that work in and the talent will shine through. He deserves every success and i am certain he has not peaked just yet. Shakka with two Ks… the future looks bright sir… onwards and upwards!

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There is no disguising my love of this lady’s art. Tawiah is simply sensational and in my humble opinion the best artist we have in this country and over the next couple of years i hope that more and more people get to appreciate it as she is truly brilliant. She has always been a phenomenal vocalist as is displayed all over this years FreedomDrop mix tape. Its a recording that her fan base had been waiting for and she did not disappoint. For me the clear standout was always “FACes” with its irresistible groove and catchy sing along chorus but other tracks like “Sweet Me” and “SEAlion” showed her superb writing ability. But its not just her own material. Her covers of “Open Your Eyes” and “Candy Rain” were just stunning and showed once again just how brilliant an artist she is taking someone else’s art and making it her own.
What i really loved though was the way she displayed her craft on stage. Starting the year rocking the stage as part of a trio with the geniuses that are Jodie Milner and Ben Jones she held her own not just leading on vocals but also leading on guitar and bass too. It was an awesome sight to watch as she was worked the crowds at the Put Me On It show and her headline performance on our Streetfest Stage. She then moved onto performing on her own with guitar and loop pedal and left crowds mesmerised at the Jazz Cafe and SOUND:CHECK. She is the perfect example of someone who has mastered their art and craft with a finesse that few can rival which is why for me she has been near untouchable in 2013. It is only a matter of time before her name will shine in even brighter lights.

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Incisive dropped his “Where is He” mixtape at the top of the year and spent the first half of the year pushing it out there. It is one of my favourite bodies of work this year. The production is so tight with tracks like “Closer” and the title track “Where is He” just giving you that irresistible urge to bop your head. Tracks like “Role Models” and “Alright” (my personal favourite can’t ignore the horns) contained positive messages alongside quality instrumentals. There have been some great videos too, how he pulled off the Car Show video with Three Incisives i have no idea and lets not talk about his RIDICULOUS instagram videos at the end of the summer. As well as the quality i think thats what helps set him apart his attention to detail. He oversees and leads every video, track and live performance to ensure they are the perfect representation of him and his art. His latest release “Winners” with Damien Marley and Dionne Reid is hopefully a sign of the goodness we can continue to expect from the man in 2014 which will ultimately lead to more success!!!

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At the top of the year Hayley Cassidy dropped her “Stripped” EP and has spent the rest of the year promoting the product and getting her voice, songs and sound out to a wider audience. It’s a product that hasn’t been stripped (no pun intended) or watered down this is straight R&B very well produced, full of stunning harmonies and Hayley’s superb vocals. The EP’s quality have been backed up with a range of live performances with full band, acoustic guitar or keys each time killing it including two performances for us at Rivington StrEet Festival and R7. Alongside the performances there have also been a range of videos which saw her gaining her first plays on BET and launch of her own reality series “Just Hayley” She continues to push boundaries and set herself apart with her incredible work ethic and most importantly quality. 2014 should see her firmly cement herself as the leading R&B vocalist in the country. Can not wait!

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A little Christmas Treat from Jake Isaac with a short performance video of the man with his band in the studio recording “Still”. Gorgeous mellow song with Jake trademark vocal goodness all over the track. A great advert for his “Back To You” EP which if you haven’t got your hands on yet get it now here.

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This Thursday at The Star of Kings see the debut show for emerging talent Salliefoyeh. The singer songwriter performs tracks from her forthcoming EP that she is putting the finishing touches to. Below is a lil taster video to give you an idea of her lovely vocal sound. She performs alongside a full band on the night too which should only add to the quality with support from Franklyn and Santhy. Tickets are still available here go check it out.

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Two things i love to see in artists. Number 1 consistency Number 2 progression. With the drop of his Toby Ep at the top of the month Cynikal continues to show both in abundance. Production qualities on the 4 track free to download EP are high and very polished. Each track has an atmospheric feel to it with great use of guitar rifts, synths and the full kit. The EP is like a building crescendo with the first two tracks setting you up for the standout tracks “Lost” and “Yesterday”. Both tracks have great vocal lines melodies and crossover appeal. Flow and lyrical content are on point as always as Cynikal continues to define his own sound and tone. The EP is definitely a grower and without doubt worth adding to your MP3 collection!

His fan base is growing, quality levels aren’t slipping and his work ethic is stronger then most if he continues on his current path it won’t be long before the big boys deservedly come looking. Progression and consistency. Listen and download below.

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Love it when i get mail from this lady. One of the dopest artist/producers i have come across this year Emmavie rounds off a fantastic 2013 with a taster of what is to come in 2014 a new EP collab project with the ridiculous Alfa Mist. The taster is their reworking of Laura Mvula’s “Sing To The Moon”. Its a lovely arrangement with some sweeting chord cubes and as always Emmavie drops some dope harmony lines with her vocals. These guys without question you need to be keeping your eyes on next year production is just off the hook! LOVE IT!!!

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Very few have not been touched by the recent passing of the greatness that was Nelson Mandela. Many people have put their opinions across and had their say on the man, what he stood for, how he lived his life, what he meant to them few have gather their words together as eloquently and precisely as Musa Okwonga. In two superb pieces Musa puts his views and love of the man across touching on different aspects. One a little more hard hitting the other more heartfelt.
As always with Musa’s work i find it hard not to relate and also feel his emotions wether listening to or reading the words. I can only admire his brilliance! Take both in and stay abreast of Musa’s work here.

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Got put on to this guy a couple of weeks ago and have been listening ever since. Emerging singer/songwriter Jon Kenzie hails from the north west and has been honing his craft performing around the UK and Europe for a few years now. He has a wonderful blend of folk blues and soul that will put a smile on most peoples faces and warm many peoples hearts. This track encompasses all of that and even a little country twang too love the groove of it. Definitely someone to keep your eye 2014 Ben Howard perhaps??? Who knows but this is good stuff enjoy! This is lead track on his new album that you can cop here

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