It's that time of the month. Who's been making moves and sticking out from the crowd? We break it down below, with the best six artists from September. Welcome to The Lineup.
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Recommended Tracks: "NO MORE" "DON'T PLAY" "goodbye"
Spotify Monthlies: 714
Coming off his 16th birthday last week, the Phoenix, Arizona based artist/songwriter Obai is setting a new standard for the quality of music we should expect from the youth generation. Having last heard from him in July with his release, "NO MORE," Obai continues to build his discography, putting his best hip-hop foot forward, singing and delivering bars with ease in his latest single, "DONT PLAY."
Over an 808 heavy R&B production, Obai flaunts his smooth vocal melodies, showing both range in octaves, and diversity within his flows. His sound is mature, in the tonality of his voice, but also in the lyrical content and impeccable deftness to keeping listeners engaged. There is clear intension with every word and melody within not only this song, but how Obai carries his project. When sharing this song with me, I learned Obai genuinely cares about his listeners. He shared a picture (which he has since posted on his Instagram) of a handwritten note, with a notable quote within it saying, "Thank you. Like for literally EVERYTHING. You may not realize it just yet but you all changed my life! I could literally kiss you rn... I wanted to write about the bond that I got with each of my brothers, and how when we together we just simply cant be f–ed with. I hope this song makes you feel the same way it makes me feel. Love you."
Obai is still just starting his musical journey, with a prosperous road awaiting him ahead. It's exciting to tap in early with an artist, and watch them grow in front of our eyes. That's my favorite part about being a fan of music, and Obai is another seed that has been planted, waiting to sprout. – Perry Avgerinos
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Recommended Tracks: "bluebonnets"
Spotify Monthlies: 134,796
At 20 years old, Austin George is now starting to share his music with the world. He started writing songs in middle school, but now, it’s time for everyone to hear them. He is working on his debut project, blending genres such as hip hop, indie pop, and rock, drawing from his biggest influences such as Olivia Rodrigo, Post Malone, and Jack Harlow.
His debut single “bluebonnets” makes this evidence, as he begins by rapping over this beautiful guitar melody, followed by a drum-fill which leads into him singing his heart out for the chorus. The track blends hip hop, indie pop, and alternative rock within the production. The song title itself is inspired by the purple flower native to Texas, holding down his roots for the foundation of his discography. “bluebonnets” went viral on TikTok when he teased it, gathering over 2.7 million views and 500k likes. With a fanbase already eager for more, George is off to a hot start on a successful music career ahead. – Ian Hansen
Hometown: Little Rock, AR
Recommended Tracks: "Mo' Liquor" "Color Theory" "No Small Talk"
Spotify Monthlies: 359,293
Every so often, you come across an artist whose versatility makes their craft incredibly refreshing. Kari Faux is that artist. The multifaceted 29 year old is an exceptional DJ, producer, rapper, and singer, cementing herself as one of the best upcoming talents in music. With a nonchalant attitude, the Little Rock, Arkansas singer blends southern hip-hop, funk, and alternative rap, which come together to create music that is wildly authentic.
Faux – born Kari Rose Johnson – has gained the co-sign from fellow boundary-pushing artist Childish Gambino. In 2016, she featured on Gambino’s album Awaken My Love, one of the biggest breakthroughs in her young career. Now, Faux has collaborated with artists like Smino, Baby Tate, and even Isaiah Rashad. The combination of these original, delivery-focused artists have always resulted in a memorable song that speaks to the originality of Kari Faux.
Genre-bending songs like “Color Theory,” and “Leave Me Alone” have led to a cult following for the LA-based artist. Faux’s unique music has amassed over 15 million streams on Spotify alone. While achieving success on major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, Faux’s origins as an artist come from SoundCloud where she has been dropping music since 2013. The rising artist has been committed to her idiosyncratic style and music since she was a teenager, showing how she has developed into the artist she is today.
As Faux continues to climb through the industry as a multi-talented musician, her unapologetic creations will grow vastly more popular. Take some time to explore the numerous EP’s and albums in Faux’s discography, you will see why she is considered one of hip-hops most fearless and outspoken female voices. – Nate Fenningdorf
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Recommended Tracks: "Carolina Girls" "BAWA!" "Hysterical Glamour"
Spotify Monthlies: 38,097
Before 2021, Belis existed as an underground queen of the Charlotte rap scene, with tracks “Hysterical Glamour” and “LEMONADE,” garnering hundreds of thousands of streams on SoundCloud. As of now, she’s not so underground anymore. The 21 year old singer-songwriter already has the stamp of approval from industry stars like $NOT and lil aaron, and is poised to perform at Rolling Loud this December. Since she stepped on the scene two years ago, Belis has already taken her rightful place among the greats.
Despite her success, one major obstacle put pressure on the young artist. In a 2019 interview with Complex, Belis revealed she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic immune disease which threatened to take away her ability to speak. But she insists that, “I don’t want to be a sob story. I want people to be inspired by it.” Inspired is an understatement. As she continues to make music and write music, one can only be blown away by the sheer talent and strength she contains.
With her signature high-pitched vocals and raps, her sound is both delicate and assertive. It’s quite an experience hearing the most beautifully delicate voice lulling, “I can’t stomp you out, I can’t get blood all on my Nikes,” on track, "BAWA!." I’d liken her to a female Playboi Carti in some respects – her playful raps and sugary vocals often overlay tracks that sound straight from a Carti song, and she possesses that same infectious nonchalance. Breakout track, “Hysterical Glamour,” is ridiculously catchy, and hearing her bars navigate each beat can only be described as incredibly satisfying. Her ear for samples and beats is unmatched, as she transforms simple instrumentals into something otherworldly. Belis is a force, and she stands out in this month's Lineup. – Audrey Brandes
Hometown: Ontario, CA
Recommended Tracks: "Time Goes "Bye""
Spotify Monthlies: 47,562
Singer-songwriter Jex Nwalor is an 18 year old R&B artist born in Toronto, Canada. Currently in Minnesota studying business management and playing basketball, the teen is now known for his smooth sounding voice and his signature ukulele. Jex began posting comedy videos on TikTok and his cousins influenced him to start singing on the platform after his videos were gaining traction. He posted his first cover of “Best Part” by Daniel Caeser and H.E.R which hit a million views. Now, he has more than 35M views on some of his covers. Jex is slowly introducing his own music and creating an identity of his own rather than just being a cover artist.
The track “Time Goes ‘Bye’” is about the limited amount of time we humans have on earth. Jex expresses through the lyrics how time is of the essence and tomorrow is never promised. The track starts out with a beautiful ukulele strum pattern and slowly delves into an R&B/Soul verse. Jex has a special tone to his voice – one that immediately captures your attention. With such a strong debut single, the opportunities are endless with a talent like Jex. He has it all; personality, brains, talent, a ukulele, and a love for music. – Lea Dince
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Recommended Tracks: "Bust" "Journey"
Spotify Monthlies: 9,293
Eli Manny has only released two tracks and has already begun making a name for himself. The fast-paced, melodic rapper came out swinging in July with his first single ‘Bust’, which has already picked up over 100,000 streams. While his second single "Journey" has yet to get the exposure it deserves, make no mistake – Eli Manny has good things coming down the road.
Both tracks have tight production, but Manny’s vocals lead the charge. Reminiscent of Lil Durk, Lil Baby, and even the late Juice WRLD, Eli Manny’s sound is fresh, but familiar. Moreover, his sound is consistent, an uncommon treat for such a new artist. Not only is Manny’s singing impressive, but his bars also pack a punch. While we await the new rapper’s next release, we have two solid tracks to tide us over. – Phin Choukas