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From Baby Keem to Blood Orange: 6 Projects We Need in 2023

To punctuate the end of a hectic year, we’ve decided to truly highlight our greed for new music with a list of artists we're waiting to hear more from in the new year.

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2022 was a major year for music. It saw the return of megastars like Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, experimental switch-ups from BIllboard mainstays like Drake, and career-defining albums from acts such as Smino, Vince Staples, JID, and more that foreshadow a new generation of undeniable forces. However, even with Friday presenting a frenzy of new music every week, we’re still left wanting more. 

To punctuate the end of a hectic year, we’ve decided to truly highlight our greed as music pundits. There are artists we want more from, and our fingers are crossed that 2023 is the year that they grace our ears with their unique blends of genres, undeniable voices, and of course, crowd-raising bangers. The 6 acts we’re hoping to hear from in the near future, are listed below.

01. Baby Keem (California, USA)

It wasn’t that long ago that we got Baby Keem’s debut album The Melodic Blue. In fact, he even gifted us a deluxe version this year, providing new highlights in the form of tracks like ‘Killstreaks’ with Don Toliver and Pinkpantheress. Nonetheless, we want more from the unique rapper in 2023. Lately, he’s been serving as a support act for Kendrick Lamar’s The Big Steppers tour, firing embers and heating up the crowd before his cousin graces the stage. His growing ability to raise arena crowds out of their seats inevitably will translate into an evolution of his knack to blend bellowing bangers and futuristic ballads. We’re hoping the next step of his rapidly growing legacy hits DSPS as soon as possible. 

02. Chanel Loren (Sydney, Australia)

Chanel Loren has been a consistent standout all throughout 2022. Music has served as a safe, comfortable space for her since relocating to Australia with her family from South-East London at the age of 17. Using her art to help her through the transition of being in a whole new country, without the familiar faces of where she once resided, has resulted in some of the most vulnerable and ear-catching R&B we’ve heard in a while. Tracks like ‘Playlist’ and the Arz-assisted ‘Some Other Time’ are soulful, head-bop-inducing cuts, while others like ‘F4U’ slow it down, creating essential late-night drive soundtracks. The duality of Channel Loren is something we hope she channels into a full project come this new year. 

03. Blood Orange (New York, USA)

Dev Hynes doesn’t need a damn introduction, but heck, we love gushing about him anyway. At this point he’s a certified legend, producing and writing for the likes of Tinashe while dishing out his own classics in the form of projects like Negro Swan. In recent years, he’s also become a go-to for movie soundtracks, curating the sonics for films like Queen & Slim, Mainstream, and Passing. 2022 saw him drop a brief collection of tracks called Four Songs, serving as a reminder of his master status when it comes to his craft, blending jangling guitars and a shoegaze-y atmosphere as a backdrop for his silky falsetto vocals. It was great, but it simply wasn’t enough to tide us over, and we’re anticipating the extension of that EP’s ideas to translate into a full-length project in 2023. 

04. Tems (Lagos, Nigeria)

Future’s ‘WAIT 4 U’ was one of the biggest songs of 2022. On a track that features the Atlanta trap legend in his R&B bag, and an undeniably solid verse from Drake, it’s hard to imagine anything else being a standout. However, as soon as the euphoric vocals of Tems blend into the smooth instrumental, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Alongside this standout appearance, the Nigerian singer co-wrote Rihanna’s ‘Lift Me Up’ and covered Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. At this point, with her creative approach to the sounds of R&B, pop, and afrobeat, it’s impossible not to want an album from her. Let’s hope that 2023, is the year that yields this destiny.

05. J Hus (London, UK)

J Hus is forever branded with the legacy of being a pioneer. Newer fans of drill and afro-fusion may not be aware, but Hus was one of the first to fuse African sounds with UK rap, and in such a fast-moving climate since his debut album back in 2017, it’s becoming rarer to see J Hus get his flowers. The East London artist, however, has been relatively quiet since his 2019 prison release, having only released one project, Big Conspiracy in 2020. Signs point to the fact that Hus understands the weight his name carries; appearing only where it counts, like his standout verse on African giant Burna Boy’s massive 2022 album Love, Damini, or his legendary Daily Duppy freestyle, which sits pretty at 14M views. Either way, we think it’s time for another project packed full of his signature storytelling to keep us informed on where he’s been at the last couple of years and we hope 2023 is the year we hear more from him.

06. Channel Tres (California, USA)

You never really know what Channel Tres is going to do next. His 2022 project refresh was a pleasant surprise, contrasting his standout 2020 mixtape, i can’t go outside, with its absence of vocals, and its emphasis on woozy, psychedelic dance beats. Without a doubt, it was fire, but considering his standout contributions on records from Tove Lo and Honey Dijon over the last year, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want more. The Compton artist’s unique polymerisation of hip-hop, house, and dreamy soundscapes is something you simply can’t get enough of, and judging by his recent interview with Acclaim, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear Channel’s raspy voice grace some four-to-the-floor drums on his upcoming project Real Cultural Shit due in 2023.