Every great team that's ever lived relies on a talented lineup to win. While we've been growing our roster throughout the past year featuring surging young artists, only few are rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup. Introducing, “The Lineup,” an editorial segment featuring six artists we’re watching closely each month. Check out the inaugural starting six for January 2021 below.
Hometown: Carmel, CA
Recommended Tracks: “Dangerous,” “eye2eye” “9teen”
Spotify Monthly Listeners: 211,504
If you’re looking for bright pop music to distract you from lockdown, look no further than 19-year-old singer/songwriter david hugo. hugo’s sound is similar to pop icons such as Shawn Mendes or Ryan Beatty, but he sets himself apart from his contemporaries through his writing and personality on the mic. Tracks such as “Sleep and Friends” and “9teen (feat. Slush Puppy)” are blissfully nostalgic pop songs that standout from the current scene. What’s most attention grabbing about these songs, and all of hugo’s discography, is his poetic interpretation of universal topics such as love or personal growth. Beyond just his songwriting expertise, david hugo’s vocal performance and range on each track is beautifully stunning. david hugo’s track titled “Dangerous” is a breakout moment for the artist and a personal favorite. The instrumental is relatively stripped back and guitar driven, but it’s hugo’s performance on the track that makes this song so special. It’s also rare you find a song that’s pre-chorus is just as memorable and catchy as the chorus.
“Think I could love you
Tell me do you feel like I do
'Cause I can't get a read if I tried to
Think I might whisper think I might tell you
I could love you
Tell me do you feel like I do
Feeling lost in the rhythm
Make you nervous make you move”
david hugo has already accomplished so much with only a handful of singles out on streaming platforms. Make sure you get familiar with david hugo now because he’s likely got more inventive and catchy pop music coming in 2021. - Tyler Borland
Hometown: Dorchester, MA
Recommended Tracks: “Pull Up,” “The Heat,” “Jealous”
Spotify Monthly Listeners: 234,090
Let's be clear here: Khamari isn't just in the lineup, he's hitting big shots in crunch time. The R&B singer, songwriter, and producer out of Dorchester, MA exploded on to the scene in 2020 with the release of his debut EP: "Eldorado.""Eldorado" is a 6 track, 16 minute project in which we're still listening to in search of a flaw (to no avail). Eldorado saw great success, landing Khamari on Spotify playlists such as New Music Friday and Fresh Finds. After a successful 2020, we're projecting Khamari to play a large roll on Spotify Wrapped 2021. Khamari lacks no soul, exuding artistry comparable to R&B juggernauts such as Brent Faiyaz and Khelani. A top passive production, the Massachusetts native effortlessly attracts listeners with an infectious sense of comfort and compassion, singing about inner conflict and relationship dynamics. In such a tight, consistent project, it's hard to single out specific songs to harp on. This EP is what I like to call a "no skipper." Just press play, and enjoy the next 16 minutes. In his first single off of the EP, "Jealous," Khamari talks about the jealousy that comes with comparing your life to your peers.
While he receives timeless advice from his mother, "Mamma said shit your eyes, enjoy the ride/ cause nothing good every happens overnight," he still can't help but feel a degree of FOMO, responding with, "I just wanna get fucked up with my friends and have a good time". Khamari has no problem unapologetically telling his fans exactly how he feels, and "Jealous" is a good example of this. On the back half of the song, Khamari nails a high tenor, flaunting the versatility in his voice and turning heads to his vocal aptitude. My personal favorite track from "Eldorado" is "Pull Up." In this one, Khamari uses a groovy beat to give his listeners a look into his personality. Infused with energy and soul, Khamari is. hopeful about getting a girl to come over, confidently singing, "Pull up, don't think / you know the script don't change."
While "Pull Up" is sure to make you move your hips, "The Heat" is carefree and calming, dominated by a sing-a-long chorus that is destined to play on repeat in your head. In "The Heat," Khamari comes to peace with a poor situation, conveying an overwhelming sense of freedom and relief in his voice as a result. The rising R&B star patiently sings, "Tryna make the best of a bad situation / waiting for some light but you keep on raining / tell me what's the point if you're both feeling jaded /
I just kinda feel my time's getting wasted." Khamari is on his own time, level headed, and jam packed with soul. The talented triple threat is fast tracked to stardom. Similarly to rewatching season one in anticipation for season two, I plan to wear out Eldorado until he decides to bless us with more music. Welcome to the lineup, Khamari. - Joe DelloStritto
Hometown: Hampden, MA
Recommended Tracks: “Tell Your Mom” (only release)
Spotify Monthly Listeners: 62,736
Georgia Webster was born to make music. After teaching herself to play the guitar, Webster began writing her own songs, performing throughout her hometown, and posting her original music on her social media. After going viral on TikTok in July 2020, Webster released her debut song “Tell Your Mom” which has amassed nearly one million streams since its release in October. At the core of Webster’s music is an unpretentious and honest perspective on life. Remaining true to her country roots, her music has an innate relatability, creating a strong bond between her and her fans over a shared experience. Country fan or not, “Tell Your Mom” is a track guaranteed to get stuck in your head and is begging to be played in your car on a sunny day with the windows rolled down. Despite being her first release, “Tell Your Mom” is proof that Webster’s stardom is inevitable. Between her small town charm, bubbling social media presence, and her insightful lyricism, not only is the 18-year-old becoming the face of new country music, but she is on track to becoming the next Taylor Swift. - Rachael Jansky
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Recommended Tracks: “Jumpstart,” “Zeus,” “.22”
Spotify Monthly Listeners: 74,790
Manifesting his lyricism into the perfect blend of entertainment and introspection, Wesson Desir proved he’s ready to grow to the next level this year. The 22-year-old Atlanta-based artist broke his confinement to the SoundCloud sphere in early 2020, giving light to his ambitious and unorthodox vision for hip hop. Desir boasts a catalogue of unique bangers from soulful cuts like “Suicoke” to grungy flex-tracks like “Jumpstart”. Through his debut album, Apollo Archives, Desir solidified himself as an artist pushing boundaries to near extraterrestrial levels. The project goes further than entertainment, with a deep focus on helping others tap into the most secluded areas of their minds. Lyrics like, “Caught in the concept of time that was made by a man that's death by design,” from the mystifying track, “Let’s Ride Our Hellies To The Cosmos”, show Desir’s aptitude for asking what the bigger picture is - an attitude that makes him noticeably different in a time riddled with much of the same. This uncommon approach captivated the likes of some of the top industry players. Debuting his song “.22” with Pigeons and Planes, signing to RCA Records, and receiving critical praise from many other blogs, are just some of the come-ups Desir has experienced in the last few months. We’re confident this praise will spread in 2021, but for now, we’ll just keep the Apollo Archive on endless repeat. Welcome to the lineup, Wesson. - Miles Opton
Hometown: New York, NY
Recommended tracks: “STILL WITH U,”“ANGEL FANGS,” “WISH YOU WELL”
Spotify Monthly Listeners: 21,539
Budding pop-star, aptly going by the pseudonym THE BLOSSOM, is headed towards a breakout year. The LA artist, born Lily Lizotte, navigates between bedroom and hyper-pop, with clear electronic, indie, and shoegaze influences. Her sound is vibrant, bubbly, and quite frankly-- scratches an itching in your brain. Meanwhile, their lyrics harbor some darker themes. THE BLOSSOM described in a recent interview that much of their music centers around their experience with anxiety, depression, and general growing pains. Their vulnerability is simply refreshing and cathartic. Their latest single, “STILL WITH U” creates an alluring juxtaposition: featuring raw, stripped-down production that is overlain with hyper-produced vocals, a commonality in their music. The song came out earlier this fall and is already one of their biggest yet. They deserve all the hype and more. Not only do they have the songwriting and vocal chops, but their videos are mesmerizing and perfectly encapsulate their overall vibe. THE BLOSSOM is a self-made star, their songwriting set-up being a guitar, laptop, microphone, and iPhone-- from which they record themselves in their bedroom. Their unique sound makes them a captivating listen, not to mention the star-quality of each song. THE BLOSSOM is a starter in 2021. We know you’ll be seeing more of them soon. - Audrey Brandes
Hometown: Boston, MA
Recommended Tracks: “Invitation,” “Our Days,” “Seasick”
Spotify Monthly Listeners: 120,897
Boston native, Rapta, tends to draw personal experience into his craft - composing a strong discography of relatable love anthems for the heartbroken, yet optimistic individual. Self taught and self made, the emerging hip-hop/R&B singer dives headfirst into every song: overseeing the track from lyrics, to production, to vocals. Rapta’s story is an undiscovered gem - the epitome of a diamond formed under time and pressure - gaining traction with every release, and molding him into the unsung star he is today. Combining heartfelt lyrics with invigorating (yet sometimes soul wrenching) melodies, the young star has produced hits such as: "our days," "Know Your Sign," and "Farewell." Striving for an illustrious career, Rapta uses vulnerable, relatable music as a means to build his loyal fanbase.
“Do you remember
It wasn’t all that long ago remember
I was in your driveway in November
We ain’t even make it through December
Now you won’t even let me befriend you”
Make no mistake: while Rapta may prefer a “slowly but surely” approach, the budding artist has made leaps and bounds since his 2015 start. Calling on his loyal fans, Rapta headlined his own North American tour in 2016, playing shows in front of an exhilarating 12 crowds, before making monumental progress in the new year. 2017 saw the birth of Rapta’s modern success - releasing his debut album, Leo, and performing at Boston’s iconic House of Blues theatre - a certifiable rite of passage for hopeful lifelong musicians. Fast forward to present day and Rapta looks to keep his muse flowing: using a cross-continental move to LA as a symbol - ushering in the new age of music, the age of Rapta. - Ian Tsang
Grab your Sheesh Jerseys, and hit the court. In a competitive business, artists are always gunning for a spot in the lineup. With the being said, stay tuned, as February's lineup may look a bit different.