When we’re making these lists, it’s always fun to look back on last year’s picks and see how far everyone’s come. 2021’s round-up of artists to watch showcased a great roster, and acts like Arlo Parks, Teezo Touchdown, Tom The Mail Man, Fousheé, Blxst, AG Club, Nilüfer Yanya, 347aidan, and so many others made a powerful impact in their own ways last year.
But the class of 2021 didn’t get the opportunities that most rising artists get. They didn’t get to tour the world, connect with new fans face to face, and win over unfamiliar crowds at festivals. The artists who broke through had to get creative with how they released music, reached fans, and told their stories.
Who knows what 2022 holds—the future is just as uncertain as it was a year ago, but if there’s any silver lining to all of this, it’s that artists had the chance to take some time to really focus on the music and plan their next moves. We’re all missing live shows and the communal events tied to music, but whenever the world opens up again, there’s going to be so much good music to hear, see, and experience out in the wild. There will also be plenty of new acts ready for a proper introduction.
Here are 22 artists to look out for in 2022.
There’s something about Wallice that is at once aspirational and relatable. She writes about tense relationships, self-doubt, and growing pains. “Jazz school dropout at 21 / Disappointed my dad, did it just for fun / Had to choose between being broke and bored / So I cut my losses and I left New York,” she sings on “23,” a song she wrote when she was 22 years old.
But despite the sometimes self-deprecating nature of her lyrics, things are looking up for Wallice. She may have dropped out of school and felt like a failure a year ago, but in 2021 she signed to Dirty Hit (home of The 1975 and Beabadoobee), played the Head In The Clouds festival, and had a Spotify billboard in Times Square. In a short time, she’s also established herself as one of the most consistent artists in the crowded scene of indie pop and rock artists on the come-up. “Punching Bag,” “23,” and her latest release “Wisdom Tooth” are all excellent.
Wallice has a way of commanding a song with her vocal performances. She doesn’t rely on screaming, wailing, or crooning, but her voice has a warm tone that floats above instrumentals with clarity, reserved confidence, and sophisticated yet down-to-earth charm. And she’s proven time and time again that she can write unforgettable melodies. Who needs jazz school?
“It feels like all of last year was leading up to 2022 being the real start of my career,” Wallice says. “I think it’s easy to look at my career so far and think it was just this instant success, but really I’ve been trying to get here since I was 17. I am so grateful for anyone who listens to my music and all the support I’ve gained from my first EP.
“I’m obviously super excited for my first tour, and I’m releasing two more EPs this year. I’m hopefully playing more festivals, and branching out my creative team and working with people some I’ve looked up to for a while now. It’s really exciting to see the Asian women who are doing well in the indie rock/pop scene right now like Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and beabadoobee. My dream is to play a festival or tour in Japan and Europe! I’m very excited for what this next year brings.”—Jacob Moore
Two of 2021’s best non-album releases belonged to Paris Texas, an L.A.-based duo with a vivid musical imagination. BOY ANONYMOUS was the introduction, eight tracks that ranged from melancholic to furious, with howled melodies and John Carpenter references bouncing off huge electric guitars and bass. The hype continued to build with October’s Red Hand Akimbo, an EP that saw the end of the Ditch-Maid universe, and assists from friends like Kenny Beats and Mac DeMarco.
They even crammed in some tour dates between spikes, unveiling a live show as meticulous as the music itself: plastic sheeting wrapped the stage, bloody handprints smeared the walls, and the pit was consistently active. Louie and Felix performed between a circle saw and some tires, had musical cues, and a mid-show costume change—all in all, it was a reminder that these two are not short on ideas or energy. After years of working together, Paris Texas was prepared for this breakout moment.
At this release rate, we’re feeling hopeful about a full-length release from Paris Texas in 2022. Though to be clear, that’s based on nothing more than blind hope—Louie and Felix have been quiet about new music since October, when RHA dropped with no advance warning. “Holding out as long as you can is really fun,” they told DIY in December, “because it lets people interpret the art for what it is at the time. When they want to know something about you, they can just go to your music and that’s where they can be updated about something that’s going on.”—Graham Corrigan
In 2021, EKKSTACY turned 19. He also spent the year putting out his debut album, an explorative endeavor which has now amassed over 24 million Spotify streams, touring all over the world, and becoming far more self-assured as an artist. Alchemizing indie, post punk, synth wave, and alternative influences, EKKSTACY’s fusion of lo-fi production and intimate songwriting makes for an impressive introduction to the Vancouver native. EKKSTACY is more confident and energized than ever.
Above all, listening to EKKSTACY feels therapeutic. Poetic musings navigate love, loss, and spiraling emotions. Taking influence from artists such as Elliott Smith, The Drums, and Bon Iver, EKKSTACY channels his own experiences directly into his music. During high school, he experienced a drug-induced psychosis and, as pressures mounted, learning to create music became a form of catharsis. Maturing and dealing with emotions through new means, his discography has since become less dark but is fueled by the same emotive narrative as he combines the nostalgic and modern into his own cohesive sound.
“2021 was probably the best year of my life,” he tells us. “I learned that I definitely need to live in Paris one day, I really liked it there when I played there on tour.’’ Preparing to begin a fresh chapter in 2022, EKKSTACY has been working on a new project called Misery that he’s excited to release. Ready for the next phase, he plans to move to LA and to continue to develop his project.—Rani Boyer
With a handful of viral singles, an EP, and a few Cole Bennett-directed music videos released during 2021, SSGKobe’s rise to prominence has been anything but accidental. The young hip-hop prodigy has spent the last few years developing his melodic sound, but since signing to Zack Bia’s record label Field Trip Records, SSGKobe’s spot in the pantheon of modern hip-hop seems all but certain. His knack for rapping and singing certainly make him an artist worth watching, but his ability to craft memorable and refreshing melodies makes SSGKobe an artist worth betting on in 2022.
On KO., SSGKobe’s debut project with Field Trip, the Louisiana artist doesn’t rely on already popular trends or sounds to capture attention. Instead, he broadcasts his natural talent for songwriting over half-a-dozen minimalistic yet carefully-composed songs. His versatility is immediate and palpable—cuts like “Angels’’ and “Capsules” showcase the young artist delivering simultaneously hard-hitting and laid-back performances. Moments like these are juxtaposed against tracks like the hazy and mesmerizing “Condo” and the tender acoustic guitar-laden “why are you scared?” Combine KO. with a handful of songs like “Calabasas” and “thrax”—the latter being a song so viral it has inspired everything from memes to remixes—and you have one hell of a year under your belt.
All of SSGKobe’s 2021 releases beg us to ask what’s next? Will we see the young Louisiana artist take a victory lap or continue his meteoric trajectory? According to SSGKobe, it seems like fans are in luck: “This year, I am focusing on cultivating my sound and finishing up my album,” he notes. “I’m really excited to share my project with my fans in 2022.”—Carter Fife
Londoner Bakar has been impressing us for over four years now, first emerging with scrappy, raucous indie rock songs that cut through the noise with a self-confident swagger and a pent up angst about the realities of life as a young person in London. “It’s grim all day, we’re down in the dungeons / Livin’ in a town of hard times called London / Looking for a job cause your job’s redundant / Fuck it all off and go to the function,” Bakar sung on “Badlands” from his 2018 debut mixtape Badkid.
When we interviewed Bakar that year, he told us, “If people saw me and presumed the kind of music I make, 90% of them would say rap or hip-hop. I could be on every single playlist on Spotify and feel at home there. I don’t see why that can’t be the case for other artists too.” Since then, he’s masterfully demonstrated his versatility and ability to play within different genres while staying true to himself as an artist. He released a streaming monster with jaunty indie rock track “Hell N Back” (122 million plays on Spotify), collaborated with artists like Kenny Beats, BENEE, Lancey Foux, Yeek, and Dominic Fike, and carefully built a catalog of songs and videos with something to say.
Now, it’s time for his official debut album, and Bakar is leveling up again. He announced the album and introduced his new era with “The Mission,” alongside a video directed by Jack Begert (Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, Schoolboy Q). Bakar’s experiences as a first generation immigrant, his Islamic faith, and his future children are all adressed over sweeping production from longtime collaborator Zach Nahome and French artist SebastiAn. “Build Me A Way,” the second single, is a more sparse, stripped back song, ambitious in a different way for a an artist who seems to have a crystal clear vision and a patient approach to sharing his art in a world that is moving faster than ever.—Alex Gardner
PinkPantheress undoubtedly made her mark in 2021. From uploading her first snippets on TikTok to multiple viral moments and the arrival of her debut mixtape 10 months later, the 20-year-old managed to both find her feet and become one of 2021’s most recognizable musicians—all whilst remaining fairly anonymous. After a rapid ascent, the rising UK star is set to have an interesting 2022, eyes now on her across the global stage.
Born in Bath, later moving to South East England and currently residing in London, PinkPantheress has accumulated various influences along the way. One of the most defining moments came at 15 years old, watching Paramore play and realizing that this was what she wanted to do. Now, that’s exactly what she’s making happen.
Weaving through a hybrid of genres, from house to R&B and emo, notable sampling, and earworm songwriting, PinkPantheress has a distinct style that’s only truly developed over the past year. She’s hailed as a Gen Z favorite, and there’s no surprise as to why. Inspired by Lily Allen, the pop punk bands she grew up on, K-Pop, horror films, and Y2K fashion, PinkPantheress manages to combine the familiar with fresh storytelling and perspective.
Whilst PinkPantheress strives to maintain a relatively low profile, to hell with it has been widely celebrated since its release, with the young artist being named BBC Sound of ‘22 (Adele and Haim are amongst the previous winners). The mixtape is the first step in PinkPantheress’s journey—one centered around gradual progression and understanding what works authentically for her. “I want to get more into house, R&B, and stuff like that,” she told us. “Everything has to be a progression as opposed to a giant leap, so I’d like to experiment around with more sounds as opposed o a giant leap, so I’d like to experiment around with more sounds as opposed to just abandoning everything I’ve done already. I think that with every body of work I want to propose something different.”—Rani Boyer
Florida-raised artist Terry Presume is a wild card. “I never approach music with a preconceived idea,” he told us last year, and it shows. Aside from athletic deliveries, a razor-sharp voice, and a clear point of view on life and music, you never know what you’re going to get.
“Act Up,” is a funky pop hit laced with rap verses, “Zaza and Some Runtz” takes that funk into hard-hitting psychedelic territory, and “Don’t Wait Forever” gets spiritual. Presume is a dynamic artist, but everything he releases comes across as deeply genuine and personal, and that’s part of what makes him such a compelling figure in an increasingly robotic and manufactured industry right now.
“I want to accomplish a few things in 2022 such as financial freedom and a better understanding of finance and business literacy amongst many other creative endeavors,” Terry explains in an email. “I feel good about my new music, it’s my life and slowly becoming ‘my sound.’ As for my headspace, it’s in its regular space, (my head). I have a love-hate relationship with humans and my mind is quite the dystopia so my actions are forever a bit affected by that. But in all honesty, I just want to get my music out to the world. I have it ready to go. In conclusion, I want my supporters to know that I miss getting music to them and that I’m also working on things outside of music at the moment. Foremost, it’ll be for us, then it’ll be for the world.”
Of every artist on this list, we probably know the least about what Terry Presume has in store for 2022, what sound he’ll tap into next, or how he’ll choose to share it with the world. Maybe it’s better that way.—Jacob Moore
It’s quite telling that one of spill tab’s most-streamed tracks on Spotify is called “Velcro.” And it’s even more telling that her song “Cotton Candy” has five times those streams. After all, her music is undeniably sticky, and when you listen to it as much as we have, its sweetness is even harder to refute.
Based out of Los Angeles, Claire Chicha got her unconventional musical start as a tour manager and (thankfully for us all), began to pick up some traction with her own material around the beginning of the pandemic. Her December EP, Bonnie, is as bright as the neon green shirt she’s rocking on the album art and makes it apparent that her influences of Remi Wolf, Caroline Polacheck, Haitus Kaiyote, and beyond are likely all bound to be fans at one point or another—just give them time to keep up.
But what will it take for Chicha’s vocal-layered, sunny-yet-sometimes-angsty, and melody-fueled pop to reach wider audiences this year? Pretty much whatever she’s doing. We’re hooked, and it’s hard to imagine that feeling not translating to the rest of the music world in no time.
“I’m honestly so excited to meet those that have been supporting the music in 2022,” spill tab shares. “So far my favorite thing about touring has been getting to talk to and hang with the people who’ve listened and vibed with the project, so I’m stoked to finally get to do more of that.”—Brenton Blanchet
Despite 2021’s headlines being perpetually dominated by hip-hop’s titans, few in the genre had a year quite like Houston-via-Louisiana rapper and producer BBY KODIE. The young multi-hyphenate dropped his long-awaited mixtape Emotions Running High, released all his past projects on DSPs, and even treated fans to a handful of singles, including “Milkshake,” a viral remix of the eponymous Kelis and Neptunes banger. Gone are the days of the light-hearted minimalism first heard on his 2018 debut Kodie Kardashian, as last year BBY KODIE’s sound undertook a dramatic transformation into something truly innovative and cinematic.
Though BBY KODIE’s past work is decorated with forward-thinking production and high-octane performances, Emotions Running High saw the emergence of a more composed artist. While he’s still full of impassioned personality, there’s a heightened sense of intention and precision in his work. Tracks like “This is Forever” sound like something a championship boxer would enter the ring to, with thundering bass serving as the perfect foundation for BBY KODIE’s cleverly-written punchlines. His eclectic style and unorthodox approach to creating bangers is a direct result of influences that span a wide range of sources: Houston icons like Lil Flip, 2016 Soundcloud titans like Lil Yachty and Xavier Wulf, cultural iconoclasts like Kanye West and Pharrell—and a special affinity for punk rock.
Despite the chaos and instability of 2021, BBY KODIE has maintained a consistent grip on hip-hop that he’s not losing anytime soon. As we progress further into the new year, fans can rest assured that BBY KODIE’s got more to offer. “2022 is the year of progression for me. I’m about to start working on my next tape while also preparing for a tour,” he says. Whether he’s collaborating with his high-school friend HVN or getting the stamp of approval from Zack Fox, BBY KODIE is an artist to watch this year. “Mentally getting ready to take on the new world we live in and continue to develop my own soundtrack for it,” he adds.—Carter Fife
Seemingly emerging out of nowhere, Los Angeles-based Yeat took the internet by storm towards the latter half of last year and that momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
After seeing massive success from his songs “Sorry Bout That,” “Get Busy,” and “Money Twerk,” Yeat constantly created viral moments whether they came from a new song leak, a celebrity link up (hello Drake), or a social media post with a cryptic caption. Yeat’s ability to stay relevant without sharing too much content has and will continue to be a strong suit in his success.
Just a few weeks ago Yeat was captured alongside Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett, both wrapped up in the classic twizzy turban. Judging by his continued internet presence, it’s clear Yeat isn’t taking his foot off the gas and is only going to get bigger throughout 2022. Having released four projects last year, it will be interesting to see if he continues frequent releases or plans to dial back the schedule. Whichever way he does it, one thing is for sure, Yeat will be turnt all year long.—Jack Sperling
2021 was quite the year for Dora Jar. Between releasing her debut EP Digital Meadows and opening up for The Neighbourhood at the Hollywood Bowl, the future pop star certainly had a lot on her plate. Throughout her music, Dora brings her passion and eccentric upbringing to life through indie rock and folk songwriting. As the songs from her debut release sunk in, it became clear that this artust from New York City has something special about her.
Dora Jar’s angelic voice creates unforgettable moments within her music while navigating thoughts of self-doubt, anguish, and vulnerability. “I’m not someone who is that comfortable having casual conversation, I want to go deep immediately and performance allows me to do that and hopefully break the ice so that other people feel liberated to connect on a vulnerable level,” she says.
Looking back at what she’s learned since the release of Digital Meadow in June 2021, Dora explains, “I learned that looking at the past is painful, and at the same time I am comforted by it and I find inspiration in it. It was my first year releasing music and many of the songs I released I had written years ago, so confronting the past was necessary and healing. I learned how to become comfortable in pain. There’s nothing more healing for me than letting myself open up in good company and for someone else to validate my pain and saying ‘I see you, and what you’re going through makes sense, no matter how confusing it may feel.’ I want my music to validate all the feelings.”—Jack Sperling
Thriving in the hazy blur found at the crossroads of plugg, vaportrap, and cloud rap is Atlanta’s very own SoFaygo, an artist that both captured and maintained incredible momentum in 2021. Throughout the year we saw SoFaygo collaborate with artists like Trippie Redd, Don Toliver, and Lil Yachty in the wake of the success of his 2020 project After Me. The Atlanta native released only a handful of tracks in 2021, but among them was “Let’s Lose Our Minds,” our first taste of his upcoming debut LP Pink Heartz. Already slated to be one of the year’s most anticipated releases, SoFaygo is dead set on making his mark in 2022.
If the genres listed above sound like a foreign language, then worry not, because it doesn’t take long to understand and appreciate the new sounds and ideas SoFaygo brings to the table. Tracks like the mega-viral TikTok anthem “Knock Knock” express SoFaygo’s undeniable talent and personality over electronic strings and Lil Tecca production. Those initiated, however, might steer you towards Don Toliver’s “Smoke,” where in the final act of the track SoFaygo practically leaps through the speakers to inject the listener with his signature larger-than-life energy. Whether he’s trading verses with Lil Yachty on “Solid” or flexing his vocal chops solo on “Everyday,” SoFaygo’s strong vocal register and talent for crafting melodies is something that, like all good things, is best shared with others.
After a year with no project, fans are foaming at the mouth waiting for a new release from hip-hop’s next genre-pushing star. Luckily, it seems like SoFaygo has much in store for listeners in 2022. He relays that fans can look forward to “more new music including my album Pink Heartz as well as my first headline tour.” With our next dose of SoFaygo energy right around the corner, the young star is certainly gearing up to take over.—Carter Fife
With just four officially released songs to his name, and a debut single that took off during the throes of a global pandemic, PawPaw Rod still enters 2022 with considerable momentum. His calling card, “HIT EM WHERE IT HURTS,” pairs a treacle-thick bassline, bright guitar licks, and a laid back vocal delivery for a new take on the classic sounds of funk, soul, and hip-hop.
His upbringing in Oklahoma and early musical experiences rapping, as well as a childhood love of Motown informs PawPaw Rod’s sound and approach today. “For some reason there’d always be this rerun of this biopic about The Temptations that would come on like every Friday, and I never missed a day,” he told NME. “I would always watch those and just love the process of being an artist, especially back then.” On the evolution of his music, he added, “When I did more rapping, with more traditional sounds, a lot of my stuff was me trying to spit bars at people. As I got older, I wanted them to be able to dance a little bit more, to have a little more fun with it and move their body to it.”
A PawPaw Rod EP hits those marks and then some. All the songs are built on a solid groove with Rod dispensing wisdom and revealing pieces of his physcial journey from Oklahoma to L.A. and his spiritual journey of personal growth. Signed to GODMODE, the label and music company behind the introductions of Channel Tres, Yaeji, and JPEGMAFIA, PawPaw Rod seems to be on the right path to bring his art to the wider audience it deserves.
“In 2022 I’m planning to continue being a vessel for art with my peers and folks I admire,” PawPaw Rod tells us. “I really look forward to sharing with listeners a song I have with violin in it, that’s so cool to me!” Although nothing has been officially announced yet, PawPaw Rod does have a second EP planned for this year and has been seen via social media in the studio with the likes of DJ Mustard, Black Noi$e, and others. Stay tuned.—Alex Gardner
Fun, vibrant, and self-assured, MICHELLE are a New York City-based collective consisting of Sofia D’Angelo, Julian Kaufman, Charlie Kilgore, Layla Ku, Emma Lee and Jamee Lockard. What was initially a passion project has developed into a versatile creative vision, pulling together a range of genres—R&B, pop, indie rock and more—and capturing the sounds of New York. Now, practically family, the sextet are closely entwined, glued together by their friendship, music, and shared ambition.
As we move into 2022, the group is excited to share with the world what they have been working on behind the scenes. In early January, MICHELLE released “EXPIRATION DATE,” a melodic glimpse into their forthcoming sophomore album, AFTER DINNER WE TALK DREAMS. Full of their trademark layered harmonies, emotive songwriting and R&B percussion, the third single offers a snapshot into what’s to come. “There are so many things we’re looking forward to in 2022. We’ve been working on our second album for years, and we’re excited to finally share AFTER DINNER WE TALK DREAMS with the world,” the collective tells us. “We’re also touring with Mitski this spring! We fell in love with touring last year and we are eager to open for an indie legend in rooms we’d previously only dreamed of performing in.”
The past year has shaped MICHELLE’s direction, providing momentum and room for artistic growth. “2021 taught us a lot about hard work and patience. Sounds simple, but we probably wouldn’t have brought the album to where it is, lived together on the road, or made it to 2022 without those lessons so it’s worth it to say.”—Rani Boyer
454 is already set to make his mark in 2022 as he’ll be touring alongside P&P alum Aminé and Cochise for the (ambitiously named) Best Tour Ever Tour. Born Willie Wilson, a Florida-raised skater turned NYC-based artist, 454 has his own unique interpretation of rap and electronic music. You may have first heard him while browsing Frank Ocean’s new jewelry brand Homer as the only sounds playing on the launch website were 454’s songs—a not so subtle nod to 454 from Frank himself.
March 2021 brought us 454’s debut project 4 REAL with standouts like “FACETIME”, “LATE NIGHT” and “ANDRETTI.” Characterized by pitched-up vocals, these playful electronic tracks are interlaced with glimpses into 454’s life. On “LATE NIGHT,” a vulnerable verse discusses the loss of 454’s father: “I lost my pops in 2009 my heart that shit cut right through, my people you ain’t blind open your eyes see what we going through.” Merged with an energetic and distorted beat, 454 shows his talent for giving us depth while still delivering sounds we can play anywhere.
Post album, 454 kept us hooked with a continuous rollout of kaleidoscopic, lush visuals to accompany his songs. These pixelated, high contrast videos are reminiscent of found film from the ‘90s and match the fresh feel of his work. His most recent video release “Pisces + A Day in the Life” featured an unreleased track nestled within that fans are now waiting for with bated breath.
There don’t seem to be any signs of the pace slowing—454 is as inspired as ever and looking forward to the new horizons 2022 holds. “For me in 2022, I just want to make music with my friends and create things that make me smile,” he tells us.—Sabine Adorney
The first time we wrote about LA-based duo Junior Varsity, they hadn’t released any music yet. Word started spreading in 2019 thanks to you-had-to-be-there shows, demos that were passed around by friends and eventually the music industry, and one stunt involving a giant dairy cow and the Hollywood sign. It wasn’t until 2021 that Greg and Zach delivered on their promise of new music with the release of their six-song, self-titled EP.
The music didn’t disappoint. Songs like “Cold Blood,” “Limousine,” and “Weather” have the kind of intense, emotive hooks that welcome first-time listeners with open arms, but the pair’s patchwork of alternative styles and perspectives keep things interesting. The music doesn’t sound crafted for the masses, but it isn’t so stuck on a singular genre or scene that it’s rendered niche. Junior Varsity might have started off as somewhat of an underground secret, but their energy is contagious.
It’s rare to see this kind of rise in an industry driven largely by overnight success stories, one-trick ponies, and fleeting moments of hype. Junior Varsity has kept the momentum up by balancing out the buzz with tangible experiences and world-building, and they’re not slowing down in 2022. “We’re finishing a mixtape right now,” says Greg. “First single should come around March. Along with the music component, we’ll be rolling out a unique product to accompany it. State of the art. And bringing back A F$*KING WEEKEND of course.”
With the live experiences being such an integral part of Junior Varsity’s growth, it’s hard not to wonder what 2021 could have been for Junior Varsity if the pandemic didn’t keep us all away from sweaty rooms and maniacal mosh pits. Maybe there’s an upside though—the build-up has been long and steady, and Junior Varsity is ready to detonate.—Jacob Moore
We all know the proverb: “Two heads are better than one.” Clearly it’s been overused. And when something is repeated so often, and occasionally in settings when one person isn’t pulling their weight, it can lose it’s flair quite easily. Thankfully, however, brotherly duo Brevin Kim are giving the saying a new reason to exist, and their blood-bonded eccentric pop-trap-combo is surely not running low on flair anytime soon.
Still riding high off their string of 2021 loosies and 2020 project no less than three, Callin and Brendan Paulhus make music that stimulates, shocks, and sounds almost like it was pieced together on a spaceship. The duo’s latest single, “DYE,” is the perfect example of the type of concoction they’re capable of—driven by intense vocal effects and a climactic bassline—but beyond just the music, the Boston natives are looking to bring something even more ambitious to their upcoming album PAIN MUSEUM: An entire experience.
“Our plan this year is to continue to elevate our sound and our visuals, and to be as interactive with our community as possible as we roll out this album,” they said in a shared statement. “Each song is its own exhibit in the museum. Our main goal is foot on the gas all year, no stopping, and to create something bigger than music with the PAIN MUSEUM.”—Brenton Blanchet
With younger artists on lists like these, the early part of the story typically revolves around trial and error. Before any artist is fully comfortable in their own sound, they usually need to make mistakes while they’re in the spotlight. Unusual Demont has a slight advantage—the 21-year-old Wisconsin-raised artist has been making music since he was 9 (his grandfather was Curtis Mayfield’s drummer), and he’s had plenty of experience releasing music under other names.
By the time he was ready to put out “Amber,” his official debut as Unusual Demont, he had confidence in his music. He knew he had a hit on his hands, and he wasn’t wrong. As momentum built, Unusual Demont showed his range across eight songs on the 2021 project HUES. The timing was perfect for songs like his, combining indie pop sensibility with classic soul and modern, alternative R&B. He made the feature-less project alone in his room in Wisconsin, but in 2022 he’s ready to explore.
“2022 is going to be a big year of firsts for me,” he says via email. “I moved out to LA and I’m now writing this a few days into the first lease I’ve ever signed. I’m doing in-person sessions for the first time, and working on tracks with my friends that I’ll be putting out early this year. I have my first direct support tour with Emotional Oranges, and thats in the EU which will be my first time really out of the country.”
In the immediate future, Demont has a cover of Outkast’s “Prototype” on the way. He put it together in collaboration with Johan Lenox and says it’s one of his favorite things he’s made yet. He’s also in the early stages of crafting his first album. “Overall, I’m just looking forward to this next chapter, and being able to enjoy and share it with everyone who supports.”—Jacob Moore
Oozing confidence, suave 21-year-old Texas rapper Mike Dimes hit 2021’s congested rap scene like a meteor. Ever since his debut single “MY STORY” dropped in March, Dimes delivered one of the most consistent freshman years in recent memory. His ability to dominate the mic and deliver fiery, action-packed bars with style and ease has defined the Mike Dimes flow.
He’s become something of a Gen Z hero, gaining the support of creators on Tiktok, who have used “MY STORY” in over 300k videos. While this was a key factor to his early blast-off, Mike Dimes followed up his viral success with a no-skip debut tape titled DLOG in May, alluding to his alter ego Double Lamb OG. His upward trajectory only gained pace with a monstrous second half of the year. Elevating his pen game and songwriting, his next three singles proved to be a considerable evolution of his style. August’s “NO TRENDS” highlighted Mike Dimes’ boisterous and rowdy side, October’s “WISS” showcased his most creative production yet, and November’s “BACKROOM” flaunted his ability to step on the gas.
With 2021 in the books, Mike Dimes already has his goals picked out for the new year. “In 2022 I want the world to know who Mike Dimes is, the people’s champ type,” he tells P&P. He then went on to manifest, “Imma be the sexiest man alive.” Mike has a special A$AP Rocky joie de vivre to him that only comes around every once in a blue moon. With the perfect concoction of a debonair personality and consistently hard-hitting music, 2022 will be a year to remember for Mike Dimes.—Grant Conley
After a quick name change, BET performance with Isaiah Rashad, and an ongoing tour with SZA, Doechii (formerly iamdoechii) is moving into 2022 in full force. Oh The Places You’ll Go was released in 2020, but kept us anticipating Doechii’s next move. It came in three parts. An EP Bra-less was released in April last year, followed by Doechii’s feature on “Wat U Sed” from The House Is Burning, and opening for SZA on the Good Days Tour this past fall.
The Tampa-based artist is unabashedly honest and doesn’t censor herself for anyone. With songs like “Pms” and “Spookie Coochie” Doechii becomes that friend you can tell anything to, who won’t shy away from taboo topics. Newer fans may have found Doechii from her biggest hit to date “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” which deservedly made waves on TikTok For You Pages this summer.
Doechii brings a fun, unique energy to her music, comfortably nestled somewhere in between rap, R&B and cyber-pop. With her glossy, enunciated voice she effortlessly shows a deep understanding of catchy cadences. Whether she’s switching between breathless verses and the hook in “Spookie Coochie” or delivering more mellow vocals on “Girls,” the versatility of Doechii’s delivery is plain to see.
An avid user of Youtube, Twitter, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram, Doechii is an artist who allows us to see glimpses into her daily life and keeps her fans up to date, creating an even more relatable persona for this rising star.—Sabine Adorney
Listening to THE BLOSSOM makes you feel everything all at once. The LA-based artist draws from an eclectic pallete of influences where nothing is off limits. For THE BLOSSOM, there’s no such thing as genre, each sound is simply a means to an end to capture an emotion just right.
Back in April, THE BLOSSOM shared their debut EP 97 BLOSSOM—the first project released on Kevin Abstract and Romil Hemnani’s record label VIDEO STORE. “The whole writing process of 97 BLOSSOM was gut-retching and exhilarating, it was instinctual but also really intentional,” they tell us. “The entire year felt like curated chaos.” THE BLOSSOM’s most recent singles “SPIKE COLLAR” and “SPORTS CAR” double down on their affinity for ‘90s nostalgia and emotional maximalism. Each lyric hits harder than the one before as you float through waves of double-tracked acoustics and grunge guitar.
When asked about what we can expect in 2022, THE BLOSSOM doesn’t skip a beat: “I move at full speed ahead. I’ve got another full project on the way really soon. It’s bundled up, tangled up and spewed up ENERGY. I love playing live and sinking my teeth into touring and spilling more of my guts whenever I can. I’ll also still be a sloppy kiss making out with all my inner tears and fears then turning them into more songs. It’s all a never ending trash-fire in my head, so I keep throwing whatever I can into the flames. Also probably taking a lot of planes, trains and automobiles.”—Nico Tripodi
All you need to know about hyperpop charmer midwxst is what stares right at you, front-and-center, as you spin through his 2021 effort BACK IN ACTION 2.0: an image of an 18-year-old carelessly leaping over a turnstile, feet-first, with a pair of shades on.
Basically, that’s how smoothly the Indiana-raised teen is hopping over his contemporaries with impressively punchy melodies and production that often sounds like it was ripped straight out of a Sega Genesis cartridge. Edgar Sarratt, whose musical inspirations fall somewhere between XXXTENTACION and Bill Withers, is going to have no trouble plotting his digicore dominance all through 2022. As he tells us before he hits the road with glaive, his best is yet to come, and the new stuff should be even more rambunctious when it finally hits.
“I’m excited to share what I think is my best music yet with my fans,” he shares. “I might have to bless them a couple days before tour with a song or something, I guess we’ll see. I’m just ready to get back on stage and see everyone’s faces again. It’s a rough time for the world right now and being able to have the platform and level of support I have is something I have to utilize. Recently, everything in my life has just been so crazy and has developed so fast but I think my new music reflects that craziness in the best way I could. I’m just thankful to be alive and to be able to keep on doing what I love as a job, hopefully I can for the remainder of my life. See y’all soon!”—Brenton Blanchet