2021: Complex UK’s Highlights From The World Of Music Journalism

And so ends another strange year on planet Earth. Last time we ran this column, we lamented the pause on live music and the sudden readjustments artists were...


And so ends another strange year on planet Earth. When we ran this column last year, we lamented the pause on live music and the very sudden readjustments musicians were having to make as they frantically tried to monetise live-streaming and try to keep their heads above water. Covid strain Omicron B notwithstanding, we appear to be probably/possibly/maybe out of the woods... Sort of.

Live music is back with a bang and the music itself has somehow gotten even better. Suffice to say, those of us who scratch a living writing about music have had a lot to talk about. It was a time of our own homegrown stars rising up, snatching crowns and achieving generational greatness. Adele, of course, dominated with 30, but just as worthy of premiership status are Dave, Ghetts, Little Simz, Arlo Parks, Cleo Sol and Children Of Zeus, as well as newer stars like ENNY, Knucks, KAM-BU and BERWYN shaking up their respective scenes, shattering genre boundaries and generally making the world of UK music more thrilling than ever.

Sadly, as well as welcoming new greats, we also said goodbye to some others, including the untimely passing of rap icons DMX and Biz Markie, and music/fashion powerhouse Virgil Abloh. And, as always, there have been plenty of discussions dominating the timeline—from major labels choking vinyl pressing plants to streaming platforms dictating our listening habits and, sadly, the unimaginable horror of Astroworld where 10 audience members tragically lost their lives. As ever, it’s only through honest and responsible reporting that we can do these conversations justice.

With that in mind, here are some of the best pieces of music journalism that dropped in 2021, chosen by the Complex UK music team (and extended family).

Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson, EIC

joseph jp patterson editor in chief complex uk

Santan Dave: Rap’s Prodigal Son Returns

By Ciaran Thapar, British GQ

July 6, 2021 

Breaking Down The Many Indignities Of Ed Sheeran’s UK Drill Video

By Alphonse Pierre, Pitchfork

Aug. 20, 2021

Doing A Madness: ENNY Is The Inspirational Artist UK Rap Needs

By Chanté Joseph, Mixmag

Aug. 21, 2021 

Is UK Rap Lacking Artist Development?

By Yemi Abiade, TRENCH Magazine

Oct. 7, 2021

Adele: What The World Is Waiting For

By Candice Carty-Williams, The FACE

Nov. 18, 2021


James Keith, Staff Writer

james keith contributing editor

UK Funky Isn’t Back — It Never Left

By Sam Davies, DJ Mag

Jan. 19, 2021

A Man Named Earl

By Craig Jenkins, Vulture

April 12, 2021 

Karen Nyame KG: “I Tell My Story To Highlight How Progressive The Music Industry Has Become”

By Tice Cin, Mixmag

July 8, 2021 

Behind The Beat: How 03 Greedo & Ron-Ron Changed West Coast Rap With “Rude”

By Thomas Hobbs, OkayPlayer

Aug. 24, 2021

Little Simz Cover Story

By Natty Kasambala, PORT Magazine

Oct. 15, 2021

Yemi Abiade, Contributor

yemi abiade

Sons Of Kemet Are Moving On Up

By Hugh Morris, TRENCH Magazine

Jun 3, 2021

Def Jam: How A New British Imprint Of The Iconic Rap Label Poached Stormzy

By Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson, The Guardian

Jun 18, 2021 

Wizkid: The King Of Afropop

By Edwin Stats Houghton, GQ

Sept. 15, 2021 

Jesy Nelson’s Blackfishing Controversy Was Preventable. Both She And Her Team Are Responsible.

By Nicolas-Tyrell Scott, iNews

Oct. 15, 2021

‘Dancing Kept Me Sane’: How Black British Youth Found A Home In Northern Soul

By Lanre Bakare, The Guardian

Nov. 26, 2021


Chantelle Fiddy, Contributor

chantelle fiddy complex uk contributor

Is The UK Albums Chart Fair? 

By Will Pritchard, The FACE

March 12, 2021  

Genre Is Disappearing. What Comes Next?

By Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker

March 15, 2021  

Inside The Dirty Business Of Hit Songwriting

By Jim Aswad, Variety

April 7, 2021

Sinead O’Connor: “I’ll Always Be A Bit Crazy, But That’s OK” 

By Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian 

May 29, 2021

Lady Leshurr: ‘Home’ Cover Story

By Chanté Joseph, TRENCH Magazine

Aug. 16, 2021 


Jesse Bernard, Contributor

jesse bernard jesse bernard jesse bernard

‘Hip Hop Uncovered’ Tells The Story Of The Feared ‘Haitian Jack’

By Justin Charity, The Undefeated 

Feb. 12, 2021

Freddie Gibbs Is Conquering Hip-Hop On His Own Terms

By Nicolas-Scott Tyrell, Mixmag

April 6, 2021

How DMX Found God

By Clover Hope, Pitchfork

April 13, 2021

Inside The World Of Brazilian Grime 

By Sam Davies, DJ Mag

Aug. 11, 2021

 “Take Ownership And Command Respect”: Sherelle Is Leading A Paradigm Shift In Dance Music

By Seb Wheeler, Mixmag

Oct. 18, 2021 


Robert Kazandjian

robert kazandjian robert kazandjian

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