Last month, we launched our inaugural Lineup, featuring the best six rising artists we've been keeping a close eye on. Since the inception of Sheesh, we've had our hands in both the mainstream scene as well as the underground – keeping an attentive ear for artists that are simply too talented to not get the recognition they deserve.
We've also found that defining a "rising" artist can look very different in terms of numeric stats (such as followers or monthly listeners), and can be either signed, or unsigned. All we care about ultimately – is the music. With The Lineup – we take this discovery a step further, and chop down the curation into a sizable six, that we feel are nearing the cusp of leveling up their careers. Without further ado, here are the best six artists of February 2021 on this month''s starting Lineup.
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Recommended Tracks: “BONES,” “PARASITE,” "ANGEL 9"
Spotify Monthlies: 21,216
As Elroy’s discography continues to grow, it becomes more and more apparent that he exists entirely in his own lane. Taking influence from self-produced genre benders such as brakence or Aries, Elroy reinvents these attitudes and sonic aesthetics for his own audience. Hip hop, alternative, pop, and electronic seamlessly come together to create a distinct sound that’s impossible to pin down.
His recent Demonslayer EP is Elroy finding his voice and experimenting with unorthodox instrumental choices. This EP laid the foundation for Elroy’s steadily growing audience, but also for his own creative aspirations. Following this EP, Elroy’s last three singles are his most confident, focused, and introspective yet. Elroy ended 2020 with one of his hardest-hitting tracks to date, "PARASITE." The self-produced song features glitchy production and Elroy's signature delivery.
His newest single "BONES" exceeds any expectation held for the artist. The track is self-produced with additional help from Carson Thatcher and showcases exactly what makes Elroy such a captivating artist. Once again, the song merges elements of electronic, hip hop, alternative, and pop, but these influences come together in one cohesive style. Elroy's vocal performance is incredibly attention grabbing with a deep and ominous tone. The lyrical content of the track is a dejected reflection of his past while still managing to be highly catchy. Elroy is just beginning and there’s no sign of slowing down as he artistically evolves from track to track. His inventive approach to making music and his storytelling expertise are clear indications that he has a long career ahead of him. - Tyler Borland
Hometown: Huntsville, AL
Recommended Tracks: “all of that,” “Ysl,” “talk it out,” “big”
Spotify Monthlies: 152,370
Huntsville rapper Koi (stylized as “koi”) has a knack for producing catchy tracks – with the versatility to take him to the realm of singing and sometimes producing. Born “Coye Sanders,” the rising artist emerged on SoundCloud in early 2017, amassing a following worthy of his eclectic bars. By the time Koi transitioned to other streaming platforms, his loyal fans had already cemented his position as a worthwhile artist on the rise.
To date, Koi’s discography boasts four full length projects in addition to a long list of singles: his annual project drops have certainly become something to look forward to. Koi’s latest release, 10&2, is an EP filled with his signature sing-songy flows, diverse lyrics, and musical genius.
“Ayy, hold on, hold on, I'm putting overtime,
I need to slow down, I'm tryna get this right.
Ayy, roll up, roll up, I'm tryna feel something,
'Cause I've been in and out, I promise (I promise). I want all of that.”
If you’re a fan of artists with music to match your every mood, stream Koi’s 10&2 through and through. We look forward to his next move, and we feel it may be big. - Ian Tsang
Hometown: Gaithersburg, MD
Recommended Tracks: “Sick,” “Terry Crews,” and “Lost In America”
Spotify Monthlies: 265,016
Lo Village is the musical trio America didn’t know it needed. Offering a keen perspective on the ongoing racial tension in the US, their 5 song EP titled Lost In America continues a conversation that is far from over. Right in time for Black History Month, Ama, Charles Tyler, and Kane flawlessly mix R&B, hip-hop, and rap to generate a timeless EP that deservedly earned Lo Village a spot in February’s Lineup.
The opening track, “Sick,” is a melancholy, soulful commentary on America’s shameful ways. Ama sings as if she’s been beaten down, but still has unlimited fight left in her, singing,
"I don’t know why we got to fight for things to change,
We weren’t meant to live this way,
What’s the deal then?
Sell your soul for selfish gain,
Stand for something.
Or fall for lies you cant explain."
Both Charles Tyler and Kane drop in for quick verses, speaking on how blacks continue to get attacked and killed, education reform, and white supremacy – all while maintaining effortless flow. Kane ends his verse, rapping, “I want some new shit, we ain’t singing your anthems.” Lo Village does exactly what it needed to do on the opening track: "Sick."
The second track, “Terry Crews,” teeters into a dance-hip-hop category, offering endless groove. In a quick diversion from the social commentary surrounding the EP, Lo Village takes some time to talk about keeping a small circle, and making sure those who stick around are riding for them. Charles Tyler delivers the smoothest verse I’ve heard in some time, melodic and rhythmic, in harmony with Ama’s sweet-sounding vocals. “Terry Crews” is devastatingly catchy, and incredibly balanced.
The third song on the EP, and the title track of the project, “Lost In America,” is my clear-cut favorite. Ama shows us her ability to create addictive hooks once again, crafting earworms with her unique melodic tone. Charles Tyler and Kane both deliver pulsing verses over the whistling beat that are sure to make you bop your head. In Charles Tyler’s verse, he gives some insight into how he feels, rapping,
"400 years hard to forgive
Do this shit for my brothers
Do this for my kids
Niggas still dying
And they tell me to vote
Slave ship I might jump off the boat."
Lo Village isn’t shying away from speaking their mind, and this vulnerability has given them the recognition they truly deserve. The final two songs on the EP, “Run” and “Out The Window,” hold with the theme of the entire project, and are equally as emotional and polished. Clearly, this EP is about far more than music, but sometimes music serves as the best avenue to be heard. Lo Village is making sure their position of influence benefits society, and all we can do is say thank you. Lace up your shoes, Lo Village, and welcome to The Lineup. - Joe DelloStritto
Hometown: South Central, TX
Recommended Tracks: "HEAVY METAL" (only release)
Spotify Monthlies: 147,161
Paris Texas just stepped into the scene and they’re already taking the industry by storm. The rap duo has garnered attention on SoundCloud in the past year, but it’s their undeniable versatility and conjoined vision that makes them so striking. The South Central group’s sound is impossible to pinpoint – their debut SoundCloud EP, i’ll get my revenge in hell, contains hard tracks featuring Travis Scott-esque autotune and beats, while also showcasing a softer acoustic side. There doesn’t seem to be any style they can’t execute flawlessly.
But it’s their latest release “HEAVY METAL” that has dominated the music scene in a mere week since its drop. Weaving in hard rock drums and grungy basslines, the duo executes metal-rap like it’s second nature. Members Felix and Louie Pastel play off of each other, heightening the intensity of each respective rappers’ verses as the song progresses. Distinct in their own right, they coalesce to form something provocative and intimidatingly intense.
And it’s not just the track that showcases the extent of their vision. The visuals accompanying “HEAVY METAL” are genius. Not only is the cinematography mesmerizing, but the storyline is something out of a movie, featuring the artists’ kidnapping and imprisonment by two masked figures as they continue to rap their verses.
Simultaneously nonchalant and distressed in their delivery, the group presents a dichotomy that exists within themselves as well as in their sound. As the video takes an abrupt turn at the end, featuring a soft acoustic outro with stark David Lynch-esque visuals, the group renders their vision for us clearly. A perfect amalgam of aggression, melancholia, and adrenaline, Paris Texas has created an entirely new dimension within their music. - Audrey Brandes
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Recommended Tracks: "Sensitive," "King," "Hard"
Spotify Monthlies: 1,986,268
With the release of her project The Leo Sun Sets at the end of 2020, Serena Isioma cemented herself as an exciting new artist refusing to be confined to any one genre. Breathing new life into R&B, Isioma’s sound is uniquely her own. Blending traditional elements of R&B with influences from soul music, lo-fi melodies, and indie-pop, every song Isioma puts out is an unexpected, yet welcomed surprise.
The Leo Sun Sets showcases Isioma’s versatility, with her vulnerable songwriting acting as the single through line of the project. Isioma, a first-generation Nigerian-American, was raised in Chicago. There, her unique background blended with the city’s own vibrant culture, resulting in Isioma’s incomparable sound. In paying homage to her Nigerian heritage and reflecting on her life experiences, Isioma’s music stands out from the masses. Her viral hit “Sensitive” broke into the mainstream consciousness, speaking to the wide point of connection she manages to cultivate in her music.
Isioma is the exact artist the world needs right now. Her personal songwriting, melodic construction of her music, and her willingness to bare it all in front of the world is inspirational. The outspoken nature of her songs are empowering, and her emphasis on self-love is potent. Isioma is on track to establishing herself among artists like Tyler, the Creator and FKA twigs, with a catalogue of music that stands alone in its excellence. - Rachael Jansky
Hometown: Hokksund, NO
Recommended Tracks: "Bottle Rocket," "Puppy Love," "Never Cared"
Spotify Monthlies: 386,145
Over the past few years, a new generation of Norwegian artists have risen to popularity on an international level. Lead by artists like Sigrid and Boy Pablo, this generation largely capitalizes on the nostalgia and sentimentality of American pop culture and alternative culture. While Jimi Somewhere shares in this charming aesthetic, he has been building out a sound with more diverse influences, and in doing so, he may be poised to become very influential himself.
Hailing from the small town of Hokksund, Norway, Jimi Somewhere, born Benjamin Schandy, looked to American punk, hip hop, and auteur cinema to help develop his artistic personality. His love for movies permeates throughout his work, with a large amount of creative intentionality being expressed through his music videos, and two of his latest tracks presumably being nods to one of his favorite directors, Wes Anderson. “Bottle Rocket” and “Moonrise,” both featured on his new album Nothing Gold Can Stay, demonstrate Jimi’s thematic and sonic range. On “Bottle Rocket,” Jimi shows he can provide an energetic anthem perfect for anyone’s summer soundtrack, and on “Moonrise,” he slows things down and shows a more vulnerable side.
Other standout songs on the album include bright, melodic “Jesus,” featuring Kacy Hill, who lent her vocals to a little artist known as Travis Scott on his album Rodeo, and the bold synth-pop/hip-hop fusion that is “Confidence,” featuring the talented Jon Waltz.
With every track he releases, Jimi introduces a different combination of hip-hop, punk, and alternative pop. He innovates on every genre he approaches, and does so with a surprisingly sophisticated brand of youthfulness. The music of Jimi Somewhere is fun, smart, and bound to pave the way for more Norwegian artists looking to make their mark on the Internet-era music scene. - Conner Crosby
Check back in next month for March's Lineup, only on Sheesh. For weekly new artists, see our Friday Finds updates on Spotify.