Nigerian Hometown Hero Omah Lay’s career arc moves from scrappy teen blending Highlife and hip-hop to beloved Afropop act totalling over 370 million streams on Audiomack. His debut album Boy Alone features his international crossover with Justin Bieber, but doesn’t rest on its success. Instead, Omah pushes himself to create sultry jams where he meshes in with dynamic productions. It’s the most clear he’s ever sounded. “I’m a person that deals with writer’s block a lot. One of the things that gets me back on track is actually staying off [social media],” Omah shared with us during his 2020 #UpNow interview.
Yo Gotti, Moneybagg Yo & CMG The Label — Gangsta Art
Yo Gotti’s business mind and hustle have turned his label CMG into a breeding ground for some of rap’s most fearsome artists—Mozzy, EST Gee, 42 Dugg, and most recently GloRilla. On Gangsta Art, he assembles his signees for over an hour’s worth of pure bars, street tales, and passionate deliveries. A decade-long effort, CMG personifies perseverance. The album serves as a who’s who of the next generation of rappers who sound like the actually give a fuck when they spit. “Everyone on the team plays a part in the win, that’s why it’s called Collective Music Group,” Gotti told Billboard.
Steve Lacy — Gemini Rights
Steve Lacy made it big off iPhone beats for generational artists and for his incredible playing in R&B band The Internet. His solo work was at times uneven, but with sophomore album Gemini Rights, it sounds like Lacy has found himself as a musician, and found his place in the world after a breakup. In making this album, he opted for a studio setting, to stop engineering himself on his laptop, and brought in more collaborators. Gemini Rights is fuller, bursting with colors and sticky lines like “Allow me to let go of you” from “Helmet.”
Lil Silva — Yesterday Is Heavy
UK producer Lil Silva spent close to 10 years crafting his debut album, Yesterday Is Heavy. Racking up credits on songs by Adele and Mark Ronson, Silva’s contributions to the UK club scene run even deeper than his pop placements. Yesterday Is Heavy is a celebration of presentness, rooted in the various influences Silva’s picked up across his decade-long career—reggae, bashment, pop, funk, and more. Features include Charlotte Day Wilson, Skiifall, Ghetts, BADBADNOTGOOD, and others.
Jordan Sandhu — FAME
Singer and actor Jordan Sandhu has spent the last half-decade becoming a leading voice in Punjabi music. His new EP FAME is his first to be released under his own label. These five songs are packed with energy and the hustling spirit of a longstanding entertainment veteran. Sandhu’s focused vocals on “Balcony,” paired with some syrupy layering and trap drums, speak for the EP at large.