And just like that, 2021 is half way through. With the sixth Lineup in our inaugural year of this segment, we give you an eclectic group of the month's best six artists. Learn more about each artist, and dive into our recommended tracks below.
Hometown: Montreal, CA
Recommended Tracks: "Every Night" "Crushes" "Credit Cards & Broken Hearts"
Spotify Monthlies: 52,899
If you’re a fan of the experimentation and diverse sounds across today’s pop and rock scenes, you’ll love Montreal-based Miko. His garage rock chops are on par with the best of the early 2000s, as evidenced in his standout track “I Wasn’t Made to Fall in Love.” Miko isn’t stuck in the ivory tower of indie rock, however, with a powerfully sweet performance in his pop-leaning debut single “Crushes,” and in his latest single “Every Night,” where he energetically chants through relatable lyrics in a highly unique and infinitely appealing fashion. Throughout his work, he employs compelling melodies and expresses themes consistent with all of the passion, and frustration, present in this day and age.
“Every Night” marked Miko’s second collaboration with Yuki Dreams Again. He has also collaborated with esteemed electronic producers Lunice and Robotaki, proving the versatility of his vocal artistry even further. Miko’s discography is still quite young, so it’s hard to say exactly what to expect in the future, but we’d like to dub him a potent hitmaker to-be, with something to offer pretty much any music lover. – Conner Crosby
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Recommended Tracks: "Countless Times" "Love Letter" "So Frequently"
Spotify Monthlies: 166,188
If you like music that grabs your soul with a gentle grip, only to take it for a smooth-sailing euphoric ride – then Marzz is going to be a new favorite. Fresh off her debut EP Love Letters, Marzz continues to convert new fans with her sultry R&B sound – which got her noticed by Timbaland, who ended up producing a track on her EP. Marzz's tone is simply as light as hair, floating over silky downtempo production, as she croons listeners with her relatable storytelling.
A recent signee to Keep Cool/RCA, the 21 year old showcases her range on her debut EP, building on her impressive growing catalog of singles. In the lead single off her EP, "So Frequently," Marzz lets her vocal melodies shine, hitting listeners directly in their feels with each vowel and syllable she sings. A proud member of the LBTQ+ community, Marzz is not afraid to be herself, fusing her passion for anime into her artistic direction, always dripping with her signature bandana touch. Simply having the full package, Marzz is well on her way to becoming not only a starter in the league, but a playmaker in game 7 of the NBA finals. Welcome to the Lineup, Marzz. – Perry Avgerinos
Hometown: Hyattsville, Maryland
Recommended Tracks: "France" "Monte Carlo" "Never Let Go"
Spotify Monthlies: 138,257
More and more artists have traded genre categorization for a seamless blend of influences and sounds. No one quite embodies this like Maryland native, Memoria XI. Memoria XI embodies a rockstar persona on each track. By blending hip hop, alternative, classic rock, and emo, Memoria XI makes music in his own lane.
Singles such as “Happier,” “France,” and “Monte Carlo” all stand out for their high energy vocal performances and emotionally vulnerable lyricism. His recent single “Monte Carlo” shows Memoria XI hitting his creative stride. The hook is easily one of his most memorable as it invariably bounces around your head long after your first listen. Another impressive characteristic of Memoria XI’s music is his incredible consistency. Across his discography the artist has no misses with deeper cuts such as “Patience” hitting just as hard.
With only singles released so far, Memoria XI leaves listeners anticipating a full body of work. If these singles are any indication of where the multi-talented artist will go next, then Memoria XI is definitely an artist you don’t want flying under your radar. – Tyler Borland
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Recommended Tracks: "motions" "tmb" "Trust"
Spotify Monthlies: 7,210
If you’re an internet kid and hip to the Overcast scene, then you’ve likely stumbled across the kid with pink hair named monty.pk – and if you checked out his music, then you’re probably already a fan. But for those who are unfamiliar, monty is a part of a rising troop of artists that make music that doesn’t exactly live under a specific genre. Bending the rules of pop music and casting stuttering vocals, yet not falling under the traditional hyperpop umbrella, monty simply makes music with disregard for the rules, in the best way.
Monty first drew a slew of eyes on his melancholic single “tmb." The ghostly vocals and flex of his pen creates for a killer intro, but the real lure comes in the form of the bass heavy drop where monty reaches to the upper shelf of his vocal range. “tmb” was an ever-clear step in the right direction, but it’s safe to say with his latest release of “motions," monty is sturdily on a path to seeing a lot more attention. The Arizona-based artist has consistently shown off his ability to write a song, but the production and vocal performance really leaped forward with this one. Pairing this with the stunning visuals seen in the music video, “motions” is poised to be the tune that throws monty into the limelight. Check out “motions” below and dive into monty’s whole catalogue as the future seems brighter than ever for him. – Timothy Weber
Hometown: Austin, TX
Recommended Tracks: "VANESSA" "Finna Charge" "Gucci Umbrella"
Spotify Monthlies: 199,099
From Travis Scott to Tay-K, Texas is one of hip-hop's most consistent landscapes for fostering burgeoning talent and eclectic style. Making his mark as one of Texas’ most promising next-up rappers, Whookilledkenny is holding nothing back in 2021. With an energetic flow and an off-kilter style sure to sway even the most hard-headed hip-hop stans, the Austin rapper is quickly gaining traction as he ascends into the musical stratosphere.
Since his humble beginnings a few years ago, Whookilledkenny has quickly honed an original and unique style that rivals many of his peers. Alongside Whookilledkenny’s signature flow is his characteristic versatility, with every track of his branching out into different styles and intersections of hip-hop and R&B. It’s not something that will be lost on the average listener – 2018’s “Trap House” and 2021’s “Gucci Umbrella” could not be more different. While the former is a more poppy and commercial-leaning cut, the latter adopts a distinctive southern sound that works in tandem with Whookilledkenny’s individual artistry. 2021 has definitely been Whookilledkenny’s year – as the Texas rapper has dropped more singles this year alone than he had over the prior three years. His first release of 2021 “Finna Change” is a bouncy Texas banger that balances Whookilledkenny’s knack for songwriting with his ethereal choice of production. Take one listen and you’ll understand why it’s been so successful, as somehow Whookilledkenny has managed to combine the best parts of rappers like Kenny Mason, Swae Lee, and Smino – while still providing listeners with something brand-new.
Thus far, Whookilledkenny’s releases have all culminated with “VANESSA” - his new single released earlier this month. For fans of Vince Staples’ carefree flow and Schoolboy Q’s bleak and dejected production, this track is something you cannot afford to miss this year. To undersell this track – “VANESSA” is rhythmically infectious, and the mix that Whookilledkenny flows so effortlessly over lurches forward steadily, almost sounding off-key but in the most interesting way possible. “VANESSA” is a relatively minimalistic track too – perfect for showcasing Whookilledkenny’s unrivaled pen game. With more music planned for this year, few artists are working hard to end the great hip-hop drought of 2021 like Whookilledkenny.
Whether or not you’re a hip-hop head, or if your tastes tend to lean more mainstream or underground, Whookilledkenny is an artist every music fan should have on their radar this year. Consider this an early invitation to become a fan before somebody else sends you his music – it’s only a matter of time until he’s collaborating with your favorite artists. – Carter Fife
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Recommended Tracks: "Gravitating" "idny" "no hesitance"
Spotify Monthlies: 5,787
Take one listen to jasper, and it’s clear that she’s a hidden gem. Though her following may be small, the Dallas native’s music affects the listener in a massive way. She knows how to draw in an audience, and ultimately captivate it. At least that’s what she did for us.
jasper first stepped onto the scene in 2018, garnering attention with her haunting EDM hit “idny,” a breakup track that lingers on the edge of empowering and somber. It’s a track made for festivals, and one that conjures up every primal human emotion. The singer, I’ve noticed, is good at that. Her songs truly are an emotional journey – from her candidly bittersweet lyricism, eerily high-pitched and whispery vocals, and electrifying EDM production – jasper knows how to take the listener to where they need to be.
2020 saw the LA-based artist release three singles, each of which holds something special. Her track, “Trainwreck,” gathered quick attention. For good reasons, of course – the invigorating electronic production highlights jasper’s made-for-EDM voice, creating a level of hype that I forgot existed pre-pandemic. Her other 2020 release, “that far from heaven” is a song that immediately casts a spell over you – entrancing, bitter, and capturing the desperation of heartbreak. As she sings, “I hope you wish I was there, I hope you know what you’re getting that far from heaven,” it genuinely feels like she’s putting a hex on you – in a completely chills-inducing and enjoyable way. You might ask how that could be enjoyable. Just trust me, it is.
With that being said, 2021 may be her best year yet. With only two singles out, “Firefly” and “Gravitating” show jasper in her prime – less overwhelming production, more melodic and gentle vocal work, while still keeping in line with her electronic roots. This pair of tracks felt weirdly reminiscent of Lil Peep meets Grimes meets…jasper? It’s truly impossible to compare her to other artists. jasper is an artist you might not have heard of, but once you do, you’ll be happy you made this discovery. Trust me, I’m the first one to want to keep my new favorite artist discoveries to myself. But this time, I can’t help but share. – Audrey Brandes