The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021

Presenting the IM 50, a list of stars on the rise gearing up to dominate 2021 and beyond.

Spotlighting upcoming talent is something that remains at the core of everything we do. Limiting our selection to just 50 artists was a particularly tricky task with there being so many talented musicians to shout about from across the world. For that reason, our list is not only multi-genre but cross-continental opening your sonic palette to a variety of new sounds.

While we’re sure that you’ll know a few people on the list, being a platform that champions music discovery you’ll also be guaranteed to come across some new favourites.

So, without further ado let’s get into it.

Let’s get stuck in…

Ray Sang, IndustryMe Editor

Contributors: Nay Palm Neo, Hiba Hassan, Nat Siaw-Agyeman, Abdul-Jabbar Obiagwu, Tessa Altman.

Reggie Becton

Reggie Becton on The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021

Classic R&B with a new age twist

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Star Power: Sonic Fusion

Reggie Becton isn’t your typical 21st-century R&B artist. Taking inspiration from the likes of Marvin Gaye, Prince, and Brandy, Becton has found a way to weave those classic sounds with new wave soul.

Standout track: Rainin’ In LA

Katie Kittermaster

Katie Kittermaster on The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021 list

Infectious contemporary pop enters witty young adulthood

Location: Kent, England

Star Power: The ability to craft emotive hooks

Who says upbeat music can’t be serious and deep? Katie Kittermaster might write pop songs, but she does so in a way that soundly expresses the struggles that young adults go through and the feelings that they feel.

Standout track: One of a Kind

Molly Rainford

Molly rainford on The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021 list

BGT star turned pop powerhouse

Location: London, England

Star Power: Powerful vocals

You might know Molly Rainford from Britain’s Got Talent, but she’s come a long way since her appearance as an 11-year-old. Now, she’s writing her own tracks and they’re oh so good.

Standout track: Long Run

Devin Kennedy

Devin Kennedy on The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021 list

California king (of sad pop)

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Star Power: Endless catchy melodies

Love melodic pop? Devin Kennedy might just be the artist for you. He’s providing listeners with the soulful pop goodness they’ve all been craving.

Standout track: Loose Change

Billy Lockett

Billy Lockett The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021 list

Heart-wrenching music for the indie soul

Location: Northampton, England

Star Power: Poignant lyricism

Don’t let the scruffy, rough-around-the-edges exterior fool you: Billy Lockett is a pure heart. Incredibly personal lyrics with powerful piano arrangements…he might just break your heart in the best kind of way.

Standout track: Wasting Time

DNNY

DNNY on The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021 list

Setting intimate conversations to music

Location: Atlanta, GA

Star Power: Flawless fusion of electronic and soulful sounds

Not many people can blend electronic, R&B, and melodic pop and do it well, but DNNY can – and he does it more than well. With songs that examine the good and bad in his own life – and the lives of listeners – it’s no wonder he landed on Spotify’s Fresh Finds: Pop. 

Standout track: Wildflowers

Kelli-Leigh

Kelli-Leigh on The IM 50: The artists you need to look out for in 2021 list

Back-up singer turned pop powerhouse

Location: South London, England

Star Power: No matter the tempo, she brings the soul

Maybe you don’t know Kelli-Leigh’s name, but you definitely know her voice. She’s gone from touring with Adele, even providing backup vocals at the Grammys, to now finding success in her own right with her own music.

Standout track: Can’t Get Enough

Tré Samuels

Tré Samuels

21-year-old Tré is the wonder kid tailor-made for this generation.

Location: Australia

With his avid fan base garnered early on in his modelling years, he has managed to leverage their adoration into streams. Groomed for the modern entertainment industry by a group of forward-thinking producers, singer-songwriters, and execs, he has released two EPs and a slew of singles since he has been 17 after his move to the U.S.

Star Power: The fresh take he brings to the alt R&B wave sound

Standout track: Raspberry Wine

Jarreau Vandal

Jarreau Vandal - 'Suburb Superhero: The Villain Within' [EP Review] - Acid  Stag

Dutch producer/DJ turned fully-fledged recording artist, Jarreau (pronounced Juh-ROW), has been a member of Soulection’s L.A. roster since 2014 and has helped define the sounds they have pioneered in the last 5 years.

Location: Amsterdam, Nederland

Star Power: His multicultural musical background is possibly his greatest tool in his bid to blend his wide spectrum of influences into one cohesive sound.

His sound is an eclectic blend of pop, afro, and island fusion, built on an electronic foundation. It is hard to keep up with numerous remixes of sleepers and personal records such as his Dumebi and My Way Vandalized edits. His Suburb Superhero album features Col3trane, Tay Iwar, and Kojey Radical and was released in the summer of 2020.

Standout track: Someone You Love

John Tucker

John Tucker

Location: Ohio

Performing on Rolling Stone and achieving viral success in the same year would be considered a great feat by the music industry has been shrouded in uncertainty. With his summer tape aptly titled Summertape, he encapsulates everything he is and is trying to become. On the standout Drake, he explores a more radio-friendly pop-infused version of his R&B. And it works.

Star Power: The ability to craft a catchy hook

Standout Track: How Do You Sleep?

TÖME

TÖME  artists to watch 2021

Nigerian French-Canadian singer-songwriter TÖME is a fast-rising Afrofusion artist.

The globetrotting 23-year-old possesses a unique sound, which has positioned her for a broader audience than most of her peers. Her sophomore project, Bigger than Four Walls (stylized as BT4W) was released in May of this year. Stacked with features from industry vets and rookies including King Promise, Runtown, Wavy the Creator, and Zlatan, the project is as multifaceted as the guest list suggests.

Star Power: The ability to infuse a multitude of afro-inspired sounds without losing her R&B core.

Standout Track: The Money

Elaine

Elaine

20-year-old R&B/Soul sensation, Elaine is a talent that frequents several editorial playlists.

Location: South Africa

The singer initially has struggled with being acknowledged as a South African artist as her sound has been likened to a more traditionally American one, due to the references that are most likely to be brought up in the same breath as her. Her argument is that those elements are not what make her authentic, rather the fact that she is South African is what does.

Star Power: Her raw lyrics convey her persona effortlessly, her delicate demeanor lends itself to her verses and she claims to use songwriting to processes her emotions.

That honesty shines through on the seven song EP abundantly. 

Standout track: You’re The One

Rebecca Winter

rebecca winter: IM artists to watch 2021

Meet Rebecca Winter. It’s likely that you’ve sung the singer featured on GRM Daily and Afromusichub, she comes prepared with radio-friendly tunes and a bright personality.

Location: London, UK

Her sound is primarily Afropop and after appearing on numerous features during 2020 it is fair to say her next body of work will be her most important yet. 

Star Power: An infectious stage presence and captivating melodies

Standout track: Pree Me

Eugy

EUGy

Introducing British-Ghanaian musician Eugy.

Born in Ghana and raised in London, UK, he has had an interest in music from an early age.

Location: Hertfordshire, UK

He received the majority of the attention he enjoyed early on producing and featuring on hits with the likes of Mr. Eazi and Juls. From that point he continued in the same vein, preferring the supporting role to a fully-fledged starring one. This however reduces nothing from his artistry as he is clearly curating a catalogue populated by international hit songs. An original member of the R&B group E3B with his two younger brothers, he also garnered attention for their covers on YouTube. His sound is predominantly West African with elements of Nigerian and Ghanian afrobeats and highlife clear to see all over his catalogue.

Star Power: His use of his native Twi in his music is also a highlight of his records as it lends an air of authenticity to his music.

Standout Track: LoLo

JeRonelle

JeRonelle

You may recognise JeRonelle from his appearance on The Four in 2018.

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Since the show, he’s released two projects 2019 EP Vulnerable and his new album, Beloved.

Star Power: With his striking vocal prowess, JeRonelle transcends the boundaries a lot of artists are restricted to.

He can create conventional R&B love ballads or more introspective rhyme reliant music with fresh production choices. It is no surprise that early on he could be found singing at church services, school events, and local talent shows. So far he has shared the stage with artists such as Deitrick Haddon and Common.

Standout track: Think Of You

Bree Runway

bree runway

Bree blends a plethora of genres such as Rock, Pop, Dance and Trap, to make a unique sound that makes her stand out in the current music landscape.

Location: Hackney, London

Star Power: Her ability to adapt her sound on unconventional beats yet still maintain a sound that is unique.

This is a skill many artists try to cultivate, but rarely ever master and it’s exciting to see the rising star has locked in the blueprint so early on in her career.

Standout track: Gucci 

Adreyn Cash

Adreyn Cash

An angelic voice that intrigues the listener

Location: London, UK

Adreyn Cash gives a refreshing take on pop that combines different aspects of his upbringing with a range of soulful soundscapes to create a unique sound.

Star Power An enamouring aura that captivates the audience in with every listen

Standout track: Killshot

Cali Rodi

Cali Rodi

An explosive star that shows us what real pop is supposed to sound like.

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Star Power: She builds her brand off of early 2000’s nostalgia, but she adds her own modern twists.

The familiarity of the throwback feels draws people into her music, but the aching vocals and heartfelt lyrics keep fans intrigued by her sound.

Standout track: blink182 + u

Flynn Marks 

flynn marks

His rich and soulful voice is warm, giving his music a mature and seasoned feel.

Location: London, UK

Star Power: He does an amazing job weaving his personal experiences into magnificent songs, showcasing his songwriting skills that will have listeners hooked on every word he says.

Standout track: Crown

James Smith 

James smith

With a voice that sounds like honey, James Smith creates a feeling of warmth within the listener

Location: London, UK

Star Power: The relatability of his lyricism.

It’s very hard for music to resonate within listeners, and James Smith does this so effortlessly with touching lyrics against soft and sweet melodies. 

Standout track: Call Me When It’s Over

Emma Rena

Emma Rena

Her lo-fi, fatalistic aesthetic is refreshing and different, and her piercing vocals make her stand out even more against the current music scene.

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Star Power: Her storytelling ability is relatable to the listener in many different ways, allowing her to reach a wider audience.

Standout track: God Says Joke’s On You

KTJ + Carly

KTJ + Carly

Their burning passion for music has pushed this sister-sister duo into creating songs that are beautiful yet thought-provoking. 

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Star Power: Their personalities shine through their music and you can really hear how authentic their music is without the need for superficial messages. 

Standout track: Almost True

Clide

Clide

His music contains the influences of Coldplay and James Arthur, but he has carved his unique voice and sound to something that fits the message he tries to get across in his music.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Star Power: His sound pulls at heartstrings and is very moving, creating songs that are very beautiful and can easily be considered as masterpieces.

Even though he is early on in his career, his music definitely has longevity to it.

Standout track: Broken parts

Bellah

Bellah

The UK’s very next R&B superstar

Location: London, UK

Star power: Her sweet vocals, soulful harmonies, and honest songwriting are as if you are venting to your best-friend.

If you like old-skool R&B, Bellah has to be your new favourite artist. Bellah first marked her entrance into the scene with her track Never Loved in 2019 and since has become a favourite on many playlists, including Capital Xtra’s Rob Bruce and BBC1 Xtra’s Hot For 2021 list. It is hard to not picture next year without her as a rising star.

Standout track: Cause U Can

Scribz Riley

Scribz Riley |

Singer, songwriter, multi-award-winning producer, and rapper.

Location: East London/ LA

Star power:  He has an artistry that pieces everything together, perfectly.

Scribz Riley is no stranger to creating hit-singles, with two Grammy’s under his belt already. The multi-talented artist has previously worked with A-list musicians such as Cardi B, Khalid, H.E.R, J Hus, and Chris Brown, producing tracks we all know and love, such as 4×4, by Young T and Bugsy. His latest debut EP, Wish Me Luck, is a feature-heavy project that displays his talents coming into the limelight. Riley has already acclaimed a name for himself behind the scenes, it is exciting to see where he will go now as a solo artist.

Standout track: Mandy

Tiana Major9

Stream Tiana Major9's new EP, 'At Sixes and Sevens' | lab.fm

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, Tiana takes her name from the major 9th which is a chord that is favoured in jazz and one of the soulful singer’s main influence

Location: East London

Star power: Tiana’s vocals are perfectly unearthed, raw, and versatile.

Combining mellow reggae tones with soulful R&B, she is a fresh new voice for the music industry. Her epic signing to Motown is a testament to the critically acclaimed artist she already is, featuring on the soundtrack of Queen and Slim, and Stormzy’s delicate hit, Rainfall.

Standout track: Same Space?

Tems

Tems

Making her worldwide debut in Wizkid’s critically acclaimed album, Made In Lagos, her vocals are immaculate, earnest, and distinctive; redefining women emerging from Nigeria’s music scene.

Location: Nigeria

Star power: Her distinctive vocals and earthy lyrics are sung from her core, creating an intense audio-visual for her listeners.

Tems is set to be a game-changer for alternative music emerging from Nigeria and in particular, women from the African music scene. She first made her mark with her track, Mr. Rebel, which has now seen her feature on major albums, like Made In Lagos. Her voice is one of a kind, it is hard not to love.

Standout track: Damages

Yas VW

Yas VW

At only 21-years-old respectively, her sweet, contemporary vocals, lyrics, and insanely cool visuals, are set to make 2021 Yas’ year.

Location: London, UK

Star power: Her nostalgic flair

Coming from a musically inclined family, it is clear to see why Yas VW is so talented. From her immaculate, honeyed vocals and perfected dance routines, she can also play the guitar and keys, displaying the all-around great artist she is set to become. Drawing inspiration from Aaliyah, Mya, and Michael Jackson, she already has two singles on her streaming platforms, setting the warm, expressive attitude her music is set to prevail.

Standout track: Off The Ground

Odeal

odeal

Relatable, soothing lyrics with expressive, heart-felt vocals… what more could you want?

Location: London UK

South London’s very own, Odeal is ready to take over. In 2020, he released multiple singles, including the highly acknowledged 24/48, which featured on Capital Xtra’s Rob Bruce’s Homegrown show. Alongside his latest album, OVMBR: Roses, which is an introduction to his label and collective, OVMBR. It is clear Odeal is ready to take what is rightfully his, honing his craft with his standout harmonies and stunning visuals.

Star power: His work is straight from the heart, and filled with pure emotion.

Standout track: 24/48

Tay Iwar

File:Tay Iwar 2

Hailed as a soft-spoken, reclusive 22-year-old, Tay Iwar has honed his craft in creating music that is fitting to his character.

Location: Nigeria

Speaking to Clash, Tay has always been surrounded by music, explaining that he picked up his first guitar as a child which lead him to pursue his dreams as a musician.

Star power: His expressive nature is profoundly projected in the sweet sound he curates.

While 2020 did not hear much from Iwar, in the year prior, he released a highly acclaimed album titled, Gemini, arguably his most expressive form. Iwar is unlike his co-peers, but we hope to hear more of his exquisite vocals in 2021.

Stand out track: Monica

Teenear

teenear

Location: Miami, USA

Star power:  This Miami native is bringing all the warmth and light to her take on R&B.

Music has been a huge part of this rising star’s upbringing, Teenear has always known she wanted to work in music, it is only now it is paying off for the talented artist. In 2013, she signed to the same label that projected a young Rick Ross, Slip ‘n’ Slide Records, where she kicked off her career with Friday Night, earning her more than 2 million streams on Spotify. Now, the singer has almost 90k followers on Instagram and millions of views on Youtube, Teenear is one to watch in the R&B scene.

Standout track: Special Attention

Darla Jade

Darla Jade

Comparable to the likes of Billie Eilish, it is hard to not picture Darla Jade’s vocal expertise on the charts very soon.

Location: Stoke On Trent, UK

Star power: Darla Jade has a vocal range that only creates an atmospheric, dream-like quality as she sits above the standard female alto, already making you want to sit in a daze to her vocals.

To top it off, Jade is no stranger to speaking on important topics in a variety of her songs, she highlights issues like OCD and Dementia in her tracks Overcrowded and Forget You Not, displaying the importance and healing effect of music. Her writing is also highly recognised, and in addition to her own music, she has also written for the likes of Gordon City and Nico de Andrea, she is one to look out for!

Stand out track: Two Of You

Jeffrey James 

Jeffrey James

Pop singer-songwriter Jeffrey James has had a very good year in music.

We had the pleasure of interviewing the Nashville-based artist and

Star Power: His candor.

Complementing his hearty vocals are candid and emotive lyrics. This man has love and all its elements narrowed down to a science.

Standout Track: Aftermath

Raheem Bakare

Raheem Bakare

R&B star-in-the-making Raheem Bakhare has had a very interesting journey.

Location: London, UK

Star Power: Raheem is unafraid to push the boundaries that society has deemed sensitive over the years using provocative, specific imagery and ideation in his music videos.

After premiering two music videos on GRM, he decided to take his time when it came to his music.

Standout Track: With milky vocals and deep melodies, a go-to song to get to know the South-Londoner and his unorthodox writing style is most definitely PTSD

Lila Iké

Lila Iké

Songstress Lila Ike has quite a unique sound, as so expressed in her latest EP The ExPerience. With a mix of classic reggae, pop, R&B and soul, she has truly made waves this year.

Location: Jamaica

Star Power: Lila Ike has been using a voice for a hot minute now, but what makes her stand out is not only her lyricism, but her connection to her culture and the ability to capture timelessness through song.

Standout Track: Solitude

NemChel

NemChel

NemChel is one of those gems that you find just as you think you’re over your current playlist.

Location: Florida

The hustle in this young woman is undeniable.

Star Power: When it comes to the creative process, she is very honest and candid, filming almost every moment and shares personal motivations about what it takes to shake the table, all of which artists and listeners can relate to.

Standout Track: The Pop-Soul songstress shook us with her music video for her single Don’t Feel Right

Poison And The Cure

Poison and the cure artists to watch 2021

Funk masters Poison And The Cure are an R&B duo and happily married couple from the UK who began to document their lives in relation to music in vlog format.

Location: London, UK

Star Power: Their versatility and genre-bending bring the old-school to a new class in a fresh and funky way.

Standout Track: Their breakout hit What Do You Say paved their way to their journey to popping up more often on YouTube’s recommended list. 

Cheryll

Cheryll

Singer-songwriter Cheryll has been grinding like hell all year, making a name for herself and standing out in an ocean of musicians and has even appeared on #IMChatz via our Instagram page

Location: London, UK

Star Power: As an advocate for the growth & empowerment of women in the industry, she has taken an active stance against any kind of discrimination and injustice against women in the music industry, educating others on how to navigate through it.

Standout Track: The alternative R&B singer dropped the visuals for her single Catch My Eye at the top of 2020 which has garnered more than 10,000 views on Youtube since then.

Rowlene

Rowlene

Location: South Africa

Rowlene is a Pop singer-songwriter who’s recently released an album called 11:11. She rose to stardom under the care of Nasty C’s label Tall Racks, where her creativity and confidence blossomed into something beautiful.

Star Power: Her fearlessness and willingness to push boundaries.

Standout Track: Her latest single STOP has blared across international airways and she is definitely one to watch in the year to come. 

Claye

Claye

Kingston-born artist Claye now lives in the UK, combining the blissful sounds of Reggae with some hip-hop, and afro-pop flare.

Location: London, UK

Star Power: His delivery and endless good vibes are the main attraction.

Standout track: His most recent single Hot Peppa has to be added to your playlist for 2021. 

Rum.gold

Rum.gold

From the East Coast of the United States, alternative Pop artist Rum.gold is just majestic.

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Star Power: This raw mineral of an artist has displayed incredible amounts of vulnerability in his songwriting this year and that accompanied with the rough silk that is his voice is just *chef’s kiss*! 

Standout Track: It’s the song ‘Call It What You Want’ for me.

Tafari Anthony

Tafari Anthony

Ingredients include Soul and R&B with a dash of pop sensibilities.
Location: Toronto, Canada
Star Power: Though Tafari’s sleek vocal tones certainly caught our attention, it’s his pen game that really struck a chord with us.

Uniquely intimate in his writing, lyrically Tafari draws his listeners into a state of self-renewal.


Standout Track: No Good

Chaz Cardigan

Chaz Cardigan

A genre-bending mix of folkish modern pop perfection with a rock sensibility
Location: Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Star Power: Similar to Tafari, Chaz’s songwriting capabilities are his super powers. Refreshingly blunt in his words, Chaz is over the ‘fairy language’ and is not afraid to expose the bleakest parts of this thing we call life in his songs.
Standout Track: Everything’s Wrong

Joe Daccache

A tasty blend of Pop, R&B, and Gospel influences.
Location: Kernersville, North Carolina.
Star Power: A range so wide, Joe’s vocal agility will instantly catch your ear.

Till today we still replay the last high note (@2.23) of ‘Clouds’. His crystal clear harmonies can undoubtedly mend a broken heart.
Standout Track: Clouds

Kali Claire

Kali Claire

Stationed in R&B/Soul with occasional stops in the Alternative.
Location: London, UK
Star Power: HER VOICE! Kali’s buttery smooth voice will draw you in like a hook. Though quite versatile with her sound, Kali’s vocals shine exceptionally bright on R&B infused ballads
Standout Track: All My Nights

Kaleem Taylor

Kaleem Taylor

Contemporary Neo Soul goodness with a touch of nostalgic 90’s R&B.
Location: London, UK

Star Power: Hypnotic vocals!

Smooth, sultry, eargasms, so many synonyms we can use to describe Kaleem’s voice. He is swiftly becoming one the UK’s most talented vocalists.

Standout Track: Feel

Morgan

MORGAN

Edgy Swaggy R&B
Location: London, UK
Star Power: One word – Versatility.
She can go from making us get into our feelings, with her slow tempos to wanting to stomp someone out with her attitude-filled punchy anthems.
Standout Track: Hostess

María Isabel

María Isabel

A crafty mixture of Pop and Lofi R&B.
Location: New York
Star Power: A modern-day poet, Maria’s songwriting capabilities deserve the spotlight. Weaving both English and Spanish into her narratives, Maria’s gifted pen is captivating.
Standout Track: Stuck In The Sky

Griff

If Pop and Electronic sounds had a baby together.

Location: London UK

Star Power: Griff’s ear for melodies has greatly impressed us.

Sometimes artists can focus too much on the writing part of songwriting and forget the importance of slick melody. It’s refreshing to see Griff pay attention to both aspects.
Standout Track: Mirror Talk

Mega

Mega

We like to call this – ‘Folkish Soul’
Location: London, UK
Star Power: A rich tone that literally raises our goosebumps, Mega’s vocal prowess remains the highlight of all her tracks. Her delivery exudes emotional intensity and the light production further heightens it.
Standout Track: Chariot