Best New Artists

This month's roundup of new rising talent including Ben Reilly, Civ Pierre, Jim Legxacy, Wovvoka, Eddington Again, JELEEL!, Hamond, and Spider

BNA Lead image march 2022

Image by Sho Hanafusa

BNA Lead image march 2022

Every month, we round up some of our favorite new music discoveries. Look back at all of our Best New Artists here and keep up with them all on the Best New Artists playlists on Spotify and Apple.

Ben Reilly

Ben Reilly press photo BNA march

Sometimes it seems like almost all new music falls into one of two categories: songs that make you think or songs that help you turn off your brain. New York-raised, Atlanta-based rapper Ben Reilly simultaneously exists in both worlds. His debut album FREELANCE delivers sticky one-liners with deeper meaning, heavy beats with jazzy roots, and instantaneous hooks sprinkled throughout a heady concept project. 

Ben Reilly’s music can work on an app like TikTok, where 15-second, out-of-context snippets rule. In fact, a clip he shared highlighting his song “Maytag” has millions of views on there. That’s great for the purpose of rallying a burst of awareness and buzz, but even better: his album is packed with depth and musicality that rewards multiple listens. 

As a child, Reilly—whose real name is Nahree—was a student of lyricists like Nas and Rakim, and he was fascinated by comic books with Easter eggs and hidden substance. “I love when I read a story and there’s something that was all the way in the beginning that comes back at the end,” he told us earlier this month. “It’s like, damn, if you really paid attention, you would’ve caught that. I like shit like that, so I apply that to my music.”

But even if you’re not the kind of listener that wants to study the ins and outs of a concept album, no worries. Songs like “Maytag,” “Townhouse,” and “She Likes My… Deep Pockets” provide plenty of bars, hooks, and melodies that yield instant returns and require zero effort. Just know that when the excitement around your favorite snippet wears off, there’s plenty more to explore.—Jacob Moore

Read our full interview with Ben Reilly here.

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Wovvoka press photo march bna

The music Wovvoka has released so far makes an impact in short, sharp bursts like a bolt of lightning slashing across the night sky. The beats are skeletal and bass-heavy, the energy of the rapping is always on ten, and the music videos are memorable. Wovvoka is a recent high school graduate who grew up in Lebanon, IL, a town with a population of less than 5,000 people. She only recently started taking music seriously, and it’s already paying off.

“Life in Lebanon is mostly filled with peace and quiet,” she tells us. “Though it is not a place where you must look over your shoulders, there’s a lot of favoritism in this area that if you don’t live here you wouldn’t understand. It’s a place where everyone knows every business, street, and face. A place so small that my high school didn’t have a football team, so we’d have to travel to other schools to watch games. I feel like living in Lebanon is the reason I am the person I am today, so I am grateful for that.”

With mostly country music being played in school, Wovvoka’s musical education came through her older brothers and exploring platforms like YouTube. “I started poetry before rap music when I was around 16,” she explains. “Once I started, I knew I wanted to create music. I studied other artists, but I didn’t start recording until 2019 and never took it too seriously until I released ‘Right Foot.’ [in early 2021]”

That song made its way to the right ears, and Wovvoka partnered with Wolf + Rothstein, the management company, label, and creative agency founded by Donald Glover, Wolf Taylor, and, Fam Rothstein, last year. She says, “By their words, they just loved my sound starting from the ‘Right Foot’ music video and I’m happy to say I started my music career off with such good people because a lot of artists can’t say that. We all work as a team and that’ll always take you further. Something I am learning is to just enjoy the ride because it’ll always work if you keep your hunger behind it.”

Although the music Wovvoka has released so far has been rap, her taste is wide-ranging, with James Brown and M83 cited as her biggest influences. It feels as if we’re just starting to get a peek at the creativity and artistry of this rising talent and much more is planned for 2022. “My actions always speak louder than my words, so I won’t say too much but just know it’s only the beginning and the beginning has barely begun,” Wovvoka says.—Alex Gardner

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Hamond press photo bna

So many of us grew up on a mixed regimen of genres. We all go through phases, and we all dabble in different scenes and styles as we’re discovering our own palate for music. Houston-raised artist, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Hamond is no exception. The difference is that Hamond went deeper than your average fan or aspiring artist. Instead of haphazardly cobbling together a concoction of surface-level inspiration, he studied the artists and sounds he liked and formulated ways to blend it all into a reflection of his own taste.

As a kid, Hamond had the advantage of access to an older sister with a taste for quality music. “She always had good taste in electronic and alternative music,” Hamond explains. “Once I got the ability to produce on Logic in high school I started producing for rappers and that opened a whole new world. I’ve always gravitated to 7th chords used by my favorite artists/producers like The Neptunes, Broadcast, and Stereolab. There are common things throughout a lot of influences I try to pull from to try to make something new. That’s the main goal”

Now living in Los Angeles, Hamond is gearing up to release his album Pirate Radio, a project that celebrates subcultures and fuses alternative and electronic music in a way that’s sophisticated without being inaccessible. Even if you’re not well-versed in UK garage and don’t know what a 7th chord is, the feeling is transmitted loud and clear. Hamond’s appreciation for analog equipment and dynamic production keep songs like lead single “Angels” interesting, but his natural proclivity to incorporate pop-worthy melodies and sturdy song structure give it a warm, welcoming nature.

On “Angels,” Hamond told The Line Of Best Fit: “It’s about being watched over and protected by people around you, even when things are not perfect. They are the angels. I hope people are reminded of their own version of that when they hear it.”—Jacob Moore

Ed. note: Hamond releases music with No Matter, an independent label founded by P&P employees.

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Civ Pierre

Civ Pierre American Flag press photo

Many up-and-coming artists strive to abandon their anonymity—Civ Pierre embraces his. Elusive and faceless, Civ Pierre’s music becomes his image. 

Born in Compton and raised in the Inland Empire, Civ grew up in a Christian household immersed in the gospel sounds of Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, and Yolanda Adams. Secular music first entered Civ’s life at 8 and he loved everything from The Police to Michael Jackson. This is where his funk, R&B, soul, and rock-meets-rap sound originated. 

Civ Pierre’s music is hard to listen to sitting down. It makes perfect sense that Civ is also a dancer at his core—you can feel that energy breathing into his music. One minute he’s seductively serenading us in “By The Ocean” and the next moment he delivers a fully-fledged howling howl on “The Law.” Civ uses this juxtaposition to his advantage and masterfully showcases both sides of himself, sounding absolutely confident in every syllable. 

Released in four “episodes” of two songs each, Civ’s discography is unique even in format. Issue 3: Where I’m From (Ep. 5) is on the way and the rollout feels like an operatic experience. “Inland Pressure” from the upcoming release highlights exactly what makes Civ an artist we’re excited to watch. 

While he remains a man of mystery, Civ knows even in anonymity he can achieve an identity solely based on his sound. “I know that greatness is on the way for me,” Civ shared with us. “It’s only a matter of time until I can grab attention from millions of people through my music. In the meantime, my next drop is on March 30th, with more music to follow this summer.”—Sabine Adorney

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Eddington Again

Eddington Again press photo BNA

There’s pain in Eddington Again’s euphoria. As if neuron receptors are squinting at the dopamine rush that love has once again sent pummeling their way, asking themselves, will this illusion last? Romantic missteps chronicled in experimental tracks like “Libra” can’t stop the Berlin-based, Inglewood-raised artist from trying.

Innate to their voice is concurrent optimism and remorse. Weathered and pure. It launches skyward from the chest before trailing off—a comet on the time-stopping cloud ballad “Sweet,” its shimmering tail on playful dance grooves “Core 22” and “Petrify.” Whether the drums are hypnotizing or a hyper-speed accelerant, whether the relationship’s crumbling or looking, if only for an instant, like a forever thing, that voice remains magnetic.

“It’s giving peaks and valleys, roots and boots” Ed says of both their music to date and their upcoming album, Naomi9.

The independent musician has crossed oceans, ejected themselves from questionable deals, worked with producers behind A$AP Rocky hits, and risked stability in hopes of doing their talents justice, in hopes of living enough to have a tale worth telling. Germany, for now, has become home. We expect an incoming debut album to prove the highs and lows all made sense in the end.—Alex Siber

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Jim Legxacy

Jim Legxacy press photo 2022 march

South East London native Jim Legxacy has been causing a stir since his 2019 debut EP Dynasty Program, an alternative project weaving between rock, hip-hop, and R&B. Post-lockdown and several singles later, he returned with Citadel: a 10-track album, almost entirely self-produced, exploring the dualities of masculinity, self-expression, and looking inwards. Amalgamating a mixture of genres, citing influences from MF DOOM to Bon Iver and JPEGMAFIA, Jim Legxacy captures the eclectic sounds and experiences of growing up in London—both its highs and lows.

Over the last few months, his TikTok has become home to a range of addictive short snippets of released/unreleased music, wholesome montages of friends, and, essentially, finding ways to outsmart the app’s algorithm. Whether it be sampling ‘90s R&B in Afrobeats, pop-leaning hooks or emo guitar, Jim Legxacy is quickly connecting with an eager audience via, according to his TikTok bio, “unfinished usb microphone songs.”

As he gears to release “eye tell out” at the end of the month, justified buzz is growing around the UK standout, social media allowing him to transcend the London scene and connect with a broader audience. A sound that feels both innovative and nostalgic, partially a result of its alchemization of influences, Jim Legxacy is quickly establishing himself as a multi-faceted producer and artist to watch. Whilst the younger artist came on to the scene a few years ago, as his sound, lyricism and confidence has grown, ‘22 feels like Jim Legxacy’s year.Rani Boyer

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spider bna march 2022 photo

SPIDER’s story starts in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. Struggling to conform to the expectations of her Nigerian-Catholic household and banned from going to gigs, she dove deep into online music communities and learned about fan stan culture firsthand. Around the age of 16, SPIDER had decided she wanted to be a musician and after graduating high school at 18, she followed her dreams to London to make her mark.

Producing, writing, and recording her own music, SPIDER makes cathartic alt-pop songs that sit a little left of center but boast big hooks and some anthemic songwriting. Taking inspiration from artists like Halsey, Lorde, and M.I.A., SPIDER pulls no punches in her writing and skillfully combines strands from different genres to spin a unique web of sounds. Initially gaining traction on TikTok with a song called “Water Sign” in 2021, SPIDER’s new EP C.O.A is a coherent project with a clear message.

“Activities like drinking and partying are tagged as ‘coming of age’ when white kids do it but demonized when kids of color do it,” notes SPIDER. “We deserve the right to experience our youth and find ourselves. C.O.A is what that felt like for me, and my hope is that other people of color will listen to it, hear a situation they’ve been through, and maybe it’ll become their own coming of age moment.”

C.O.A is out now and SPIDER’s bold moves at a young age are paying off, both for her career and for the new fans she’s gaining every day.—Alex Gardner 

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JELEEL! BNA march press photo

At this point it’s impossible to see anyone do a backflip or rip their shirt and not immediately think of JELEEL! With the body of an MMA star and a high-pitched voice to contrast, JELEEL! is an incomparable brand. But beyond this wild persona, he is making genuinely creative music that challenges the status quo just as much as his unforgettable image does.  

He first started releasing music in 2018 after moving across the country to LA to pursue a career as an artist. Early releases such as “BIG BAD!,” “WARTIME!,” “Hasta La Vida!,” and his project Angel from Heaven cemented JELEEL! as an up-and-comer to watch, but it was only the beginning.

Fast forward to 2021 and JELEEL! released a high energy track called “DIVE IN!” produced by Connie. The song is pure adrenaline with a hard-hitting, electronic hip-hop instrumental that sets up JELEEL! to deliver his characteristic “real raw energy.” At first, the track grew gradually within his core fanbase, but once TikTok latched on, it spread like wildfire. Subsequent singles “JELEEL JUICE!,” “SHOWTIME!,” and “July!” continued his hot streak while displaying his versatility.

After watching his explosive SXSW performance (featuring multiple backflips and stage dives), it’s clear JELEEL! is doing exactly what he was born to do. “Rain On You!” drops on the 31st and there are no signs that this animated artist is slowing down anytime soon.—Tyler Borland

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