In 2019, women continued to be a dynamic and dominant force in music. Newcomers like Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty and Doja Cat asserted their presence in hip-hop eschewing the usual cavalcade of rivalries, Twitter fights and feuds, while superstars Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and Normani carved their own lane by tearing down outdated models of what a pop star should be. Across industries, decades, and disciplines women have been forced to break the rules, so it's no surprise that they lead the way in music, dictating sonic trends, what's hot or not in fashion and everything in between.
While it's fun to look back on the women that lit a fire underneath music fans last year, it's time to look to who is shaping the future of 2020. It's no secret that women of colour tend to be overlooked despite the risks they take, though many of music's most influential and iconoclastic stars are Black, Latinx, Middle Eastern and Asian.
So in celebration of Women's History Month and International Women's Day, we decided to honour the next generation of stars bound for great things.
Atlanta R&B singer, Baby Rose has garnered comparisons to Nina Simone and SZA. This is no surprise considering all three share the same smokey vocals that emulsify feelings of yearning, heartbreak and desire. It isn't just her unique voice that makes Rose an arresting presence, because it's apparent within minutes of listening to the singer-songwriter that music runs through her veins. Growing up, she looked to Sam Cooke records thanks to her father while her mother managed a prominent Washington DC rapper, exposing her to the grittiness of hip-hop. Now she's combining all this to forge her own path, with the release of her diaristic debut LP, To Myself.
Yung Baby Tate
Yung Baby Tate's music is like a sugary tangle of bright threads, all rainbow-coloured and effervescent. The Atlanta rapper trills with an attitude that is both intimidating and aspirational on glossy hip-hop productions. Her debut album Girls is an ode to friendship and femininity, but most of all the record is about solidarity. Some might describe Tate as cool and cocky, but she has every reason to be — she sings, writes her own music, dances, twerks and creates her own beats. At just 23 years old its clear that for this rapper, the best is yet to come.
Wafia's glittery electro-tinged R&B has made waves in Australia for some years, but the time has come for everyone across the globe to know her name. Her Iraqi-Syrian heritage is weaved delicately throughout her music tempered by her most nimble instrument: her voice. Wafia's most recent single, Flowers & Superpowers is a meditation on love and lust covered in a frothy combination of steady pulses and pop textures. It's a great summation of her signature style, though her most exciting work has to be The Ending, on which she collaborated with Grammy-winning producer, Finneas. She recently revealed that the song was a bit of a family affair, with his sister, Billie Eilish as well as their mum and dad also jumping on the track.
At just 22, Alabama rapper CHIKA is causing a stir with her double-time flow and sharp lyrics. Counting the likes of Erykah Badu, Diddy and Jada Pinkett-Smith as fans, the burgeoning hip-hop star only has a few songs under her belt, but for her, it's all about quality over quantity. CHIKA went viral last year when she called out Kanye West in a freestyle over his own song, Jesus Walks. Viral moments tend to be fleeting but CHIKA's realisation that she was really good at rapping wasn't. Thanks to its success she decided to pursue a career in music and the future looks bright.
At first glance UK teenager, Griff doesn't look like your average pop star, but then who does? What's more important here are the 18-year-old's silvery vocals that snap and crackle over delicate piano-laden beats. She plays with distortion, tempo, and heartbreak all within 3 minutes. She's a writer, stylist, producer and designs her own clothes while managing to creative direct her music videos, too. It's clear that Griff is a force to be reckoned with.
Non-binary singer-songwriter, Imbi is the Sydney rapper whose prose style flow is mellifluous and hypnotic. It should come as no surprise then that Imbi is a poet, blending elements of spoken word with stripped-back production. While their music is powdery and warm, the lyrics explore darker territory as Imbi unpacks their trauma, bad acid trips and what it's like to piece yourself back together. Their most recent EP, Back Then, is sweet and refulgent, the perfect record for whittling away the time in your bedroom or at the beach.
Victoria Monét is a name that needs little introduction. Best known for her songwriting prowess behind superstar Ariana Grande's biggest hits, Monét is now carving a space that is her own. It's always exciting to see writers step out from the shadows, but a quick Google search will find that Monét has tried her hand at a solo career since 2015. But in the words of her latest single, this is her "motherfucking moment". Moment is a woozy R&B slice of the singer's 2020 vision, and to say we're excited about what's coming next is an understatement.
Vetta Borne is the grown-up project of singer Maribelle, who is ready to forge a new identity in music. The indie-pop project is underscored by coquettish basslines, whispery vocals and sultry moments. Singles, Hey and R.I.P. are starkly different but sonically share a similar thesis. There is a sense of catharsis throughout Vetta's new music, whether that is from shedding old skin or stepping into one that finally fits, it feels like a joyous occasion. Vetta Borne's dropping a mixtape next month and we can't wait to see what's in store.
At first listen, Ilham's baby-voiced lilt sounds at odds with her confrontational front but after a few spins, it quickly becomes an irresistible paradox. This is clear on her 2020 single, Uh Huh - a tough hip-hop jaunt, where she threatens to take your man while you're too distracted by the beat. Though, Ilham's comfort usually lies in misty R&B with songs like Honey Dripped showing off the New Yorker's higher register all the way to her contralto.
If you've spent a solitary moment on TikTok, then you've likely already heard Cookie Kawaii's Jersey club hit, Vibe. What sounds like a slow-burning R&B track is bolstered by a double-time kick and its success has now inspired three versions. The Jersey producer hasn't experienced a spotlight like this one and she is now tasked with utilising her newfound fame. Honestly, we're ready for ten more versions of Vibe.