Young artists have been blending genres for decades now, and the more it happens, the harder it becomes to classify new music. Rappers are making emo, pop stars are dabbling in hip-hop, and some artists mix so many different styles that it's impossible to stick them with labels. We've seen it work for acts like Tierra Whack, Yves Tumor, Juice WRLD, and Lil West, and it's a beautiful thing. Many of today's most exciting newcomers are the ones who defy genre altogether. Here are some of our new favorites doing just that.
Toronto artist Joël introduced himself through his first single and video for "Vent." It's a mellow, R&B-flavored track that manages to be catchy, interesting, and effortlessly smooth at the same time. We were already sold, and then he followed it up with "TYPE." Now we truly have no idea what to expect from Joël next. "TYPE" is harder, edgier, and truly impossible to classify. Jagged guitar stabs through booming bass and a fluid delivery that dances on the line between rapping and singing. In just two songs, Joël is already one of 2019's most exciting and unpredictable new prospects. Toronto's got another one.
Los Angeles-based artist TeaMarrr doesn't hold back. Her songs "Whorey Heart" and "One Job" are wrapped in a rhythmic, uptempo exterior, but her lyrics (example: "You don't want, you don't want walks in the park / You just want everyone sucking you off") get straight to the singer/songwriter's true feelings. TeaMarrr's debut album Tea Turns To Wine is on the way, and we can't wait to hear what else she's got on her mind.
“I use to say I wanna be genre-less," TeaMarrr says. "Like stop calling me an R&B artist. Then it dawned me I’m pretty genreful, you guys just haven’t heard all of me yet and that’s cool. I love a good plot twist. I appreciate a long wait, musically speaking. I’m bringing all of that to the table, just wait.”
Spencer. emerged in early 2018 as a teenage artist with an old soul and a timeless sound. The early releases have a lo-fi charm and Spencer. just keeps getting better and better, developing his style while keeping his richly textured voice at the heart of his songs. Although his music is rooted in R&B and soul, there is a sense of youthful freedom to experiment and create without boundaries that runs through his music.
"My influences come from all over the place," Spencer. explains. "I try to listen to everything. I think there’s value in learning from artists in different genres. You come to realize there’s really no right approach to making your own music, and it makes the writing process that much more exciting!"
"Want U Back," a sweet song about missing someone, is a highlight from his catalog so far, and Spencer. has more music coming soon.
Compton-born artist Channel Tres had worked as a songwriter and producer for other artists, but since he debuted as an artist in his own right in 2018 there's been no looking back. He introduced himself with "Controller," a funky track rooted in house music but with equal importance give to Channel Tres' baritone spoken-word vocals, not to mention the smooth sung outro. Subsequent releases have been built on the same dance music base but incorporated elements of rap, jazz, dub, and more.
Channel Tres genre-spanning appeal is encapsulated by the two artists he's supporting on tour this summer—rapper Vince Staples and pop singer Robyn. It shouldn't really make sense, but for this rising star it does.
When we first heard Suzi Wu, it was through the delightfully grimy music video for "Taken Care Of." The song was unclassifiable—The Line Of Best Fit described it as "wonk rock," Suzi herself liked to think of it as electronic grunge, but in the end she made it clear that she doesn't care what you call it. "I don’t consider what categories my music fits into," she said. "That’s for the suits."
Whatever it is, the 21-year-old London artist keeps that same energy on her more recent releases, and now she's working with Def Jam and getting mixes by Mike Dean. Despite the new resources and connections, Suzi is sticking to an exciting and always slightly disheveled hodgepodge of pop, electronic, hip-hop.
Read our 2018 interview with Suzi Wu here.
Easy Life are a five-piece band from Leiscester in the often grey and rainy middle of England, but their music is an upbeat mix of indie rock, jazz, hip-hop, funk, and more. In short, it's the sound of pop music in 2019, when young people can explore anything from Dilla to Afrobeats without leaving the comfort of their own home.
Frontman Murray grew up on a farm and the band was built out through school friendships and shared musical interests. Although Easy Life explores different sounds and styles across their songs, the music remains cohesive thanks to Murray's distinctive vocals and sly observations about life, love, and growing up.
The band just released a new mixtape titled Spaceships and will be playing a bunch of US festivals this summer.
Jelani Aryeh's genre-blending approach was clear from the first listen to his Suburban Destinesia EP back in the summer of 2017. "The EP includes rap verses, sunny pop hooks, R&B touchstones, and glimmering electronic production," we wrote when premiering the project. Inspired by artists like Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean, and Kevin Abstract who are always incorporating new sounds in their music, Jelani is evolving and growing with each release.
"I feel like I’m always exposed to a never-ending influx of music with such diversity," Jelani explains. "I think it’s all that I know. Most of the artists I’ve been brought up with or that I find myself listening to the most are the ones who naturally blend styles and are more focused on just expressing themselves than worrying about what categories they fit into."
His latest release is "Union Station," and there's lots more music on the way in 2019.
Orlando-born and Los Angeles-based Tyla Yaweh is already doing big things. He's currently on tour with Post Malone, has collaborated with Ski Mask The Slump God and Juice WRLD, and he's hitting festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Rolling Loud. A lot of boundary-pushing artists kick off careers in more experimental territory, but there's a pop sensibility to Tyla's music that makes it palatable to the masses, even in these early stages.
"My style is a blend of hip-hop, rock, and R&B," Yaweh says. "It’s a culmination of all the types of music that I love and grew up on. I don’t want to ever be boxed in. There are so many incredible vibes out there and I want to explore all of them."
If you've followed Pigeons & Planes for a while, you've probably seen a few of these faces. Splash Brothers is new collaborative project from Allan Kingdom, Topaz Jones, Haile Supreme, Brother KAMAU, and SIIMBA SELASSIIE. Each of these artists is genre-bending in their own way, so when you put them all together, the potential for wildly eclectic range is limitless. Their first release is "Patiently," a slow-moving groove with a silky finish, but if this crew keeps making music together, nothing's off the table. From hip-hop and R&B to funk and pop, Splash Brothers are capable of it all.
Singer and producer Emawk hasn't shared too much of his story online, instead preferring to let the music do the talking as he builds momentum. His songs are often built on beds of twinkling keys but whatever the backdrop, his voice ties everything together, warm and expressive but never overdramatic. Although early support came from electronic/dance leaning outlets like Majestic Casual, there's a deep soulfulness to Emawk's music, and a poetery to lyrics like "cut my existential dreads off" or "before you judge me take a trip to the reflection pool."
His latest release—and first video—is "Later."
Diana Gordon is far from new—she's been writing songs for others since the early 2000s and released her debut album as Wynter Gordon in 2011—but in 2018 she released her first EP under her real name, and it's impressive. Diana Gordon's songwriting skills are undeniable, which makes sense since she's written on high-profile projects like Beyoncé's Lemonade, but on the Pure EP she applies them to a variety of different sounds, from the shimmering pop and contemporary R&B of "Wolverine" and "Too Young" to slower, '90s sounding ballads like "Moment to Myself." With an inspiring life story and some great releases in 2018, it'll be interesting to see what's next for Diana Gordon this year.