15 Hip-Hop & R&B Artists to Watch in 2021

After showcasing our fierce 15 last year, Billboard runs the table back and presents this year’s Hip-Hop/R&B Artists to watch Class of 2021.

Last year, Billboard watched a bevy of rookies take a leap forward and graduate into stardom.
Rod Wave, Jack Harlow, and Don Toliver’s chart dominance helped solidify their standing in the hip-hop game while R&B singer Kaash Paige exuded promise on her sizzling debut. Along with standout campaigns in 2020, the hip-hop community mourned the losses of Brooklyn’s Pop Smoke and Chicago’s King Von, as both stars were victims of gun violence. With 2021 currently in session, a new breed of neophytes looks to cause a stir. After showcasing our fierce 15 last year, Billboard runs the table back and presents this year’s Hip-Hop/R&B Artists to watch Class of 2021. Check out our list below.

In 2020, Blxst rocketed to success when fans unwrapped his eight-track project No Love Lost. The Cali polymath doesn’t shy away from messy topics, working through heartbreak and relationship woes with elastic ease. Fortunately, Blxst doesn’t allow his losses to define him, as he proves to be a slithery Casanova on “Wrong or Right,” “Overrated” and “Be Alone.” His skill for hitmaking shines on the project’s deluxe edition, as he recruits West Coast all-stars Dom Kennedy (“Got It All”) and Ty Dolla $ign and Tyga (“Chosen”) for his daily escapades. — CARL LAMARRE

Lil Baby’s My Turn was one of the biggest hip-hop releases of 2020, and featured 42 Dugg, the Detroit rapper with a sprightly flow and knack for riding beats, on a pair of tracks; one of those, “We Paid,” became a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 and served as a mainstream breakthrough. After his mixtape Young & Turnt 2 demonstrated his leading-man appeal last year, 42 Dugg is looking ahead to a new project that will be jointly released through Yo Gotti’s CMG and Lil Baby’s 4PF. — JASON LIPSHUTZ
Raiche is another gifted member of the aptly titled Island Prolific roster, co-founded by songwriter-producer Prince Charlez (Rihanna, Beyoncé, Usher). Gaining favorable notice in 2018 for her smoky, robust vocals on “Money Pies,” Raiche upped the soulful quotient in 2019 with “Complicated,” followed by her EP Drive, issued via GDE/Island Prolific/Atlantic. The title track was featured in Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. Raiche’s hard work and promise are paying off: The singer-songwriter currently ranks at No. 8 on the Adult R&B airplay chart with relationship slow-burner “Pick a Side,” from her upcoming debut album. — GAIL MITCHELL
With the drill scene still commanding New York’s attention, Staten Island’s prized gem CJ barreled his way into the hip-hop mainstream with his explosive hit “Whoopty.” Moving into the top 20 on the Hot 100 this week, CJ’s single not only earned him a partnership with Warner Records earlier this month, but a fistful of co-signs from previous New York greats Cardi B, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, and more. With a forthcoming EP executive produced by French Montana en route, expect CJ to bring a healthy balance of drill and melody. — C.L.

READ MORE: https://apple.news/AsjqbK4xlS_-0NZQjTCgcLg


Did He Kill It? Zayn Covers Beyonce’s ‘Me, Myself & I’

To hold fans over while he works on his upcoming album, former One Direction member Zayn drops a cover of Beyonce’s classic self-love anthem “Me, Myself & I.” He tweeted, “Album is on the way. Got a few surprises for you too .. here’s a taster.”

Zayn’s vocals aren’t as emotive as Beyonce’s, he adds his own adlibs and a masculine twist to the lyrics while keeping the same vibe as Beyoncé’s 2003 hit from her solo debut album Dangerously in Love.

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While the cover doesn’t move us, apparently, model girlfriend Gigi Hadid loved it. “I meeeaaannnnn,” she tweeted along with heart eye emojis.

Stream below and tell us what you think:

miguel’s pussy riot cover is a soulful must-watch

Miguel’s a big Pussy Riot fan, and he wants you to be as well. The R&B crooner took to Twitter last week to do a little pro bono PR for the Rusmiguelsian protest group, praising their 2016 anti-Trump anthem,Make America Great Again.” Miguel’s cover is a little more soulful, by his own admission. “Shitty emo cover of ‘make america great again’ by @pussyrrriot,” the artist tweeted. “You gotta hear the actual song, it’s legit a jam, feel good even!” Two members of the collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were famously jailed in 2012 for a protest staged inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They were freed almost two years later, and the group has since recorded a number of protest songs aimed at oppressive figures like Donald Trump.

“Make America Great Again” was one of three tracks the group released in October of last year, all aimed at conservative politics around the world. The first — titled “Straight Outta Vagina”was a brazen celebration of women’s sexuality and power. The second, “Organs,” was released the following day. The Russian-language song dealt with corruption and the oppression of female sexuality in Russia. We’re glad Miguel’s listening.

iTunes Record Broken by Beyonce

ImageBeyoncé has already shocked the music industry with the stealth release of her namesake album, but she now boasts bragging rights for most albums sold in a debut week on iTunes. The artist sold 828,773 copies of Beyoncé in the first three days it was available, breaking an iTunes record for most albums sold in the first week of release, Apple announced Monday. The pop queen kept her album secret until its midnight debut on Dec. 13 — a departure from the typical practice of releasing an album on Tuesday to allow a full week of sales.

Read it at Time.

Avant to Release Seventh Studio Album “Face the Music” on February 5

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R&B veteran Avant will release his seventh studio album, Face The Music, on February 5, 2013 via Capitol/EMI-distributed independent label Mo-B Entertainment. The set is led by the first single “You & I,” a long-awaited follow up duet with R&B songstress Keke Wyatt. Watch the music Video for “You & I” On the 12-tracks Face The Music, Avant draws inspiration from R&B legends like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Luther Vandross and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, blending traditional sounds with new age R&B. “It’s a taste of new school and old school,” states Avant. “You might hear a piece of, say, Stevie Wonder or Babyface, then I spin right back around and offer up some new age R&B. It’s a well-rounded album with something for everyone. At the end of the day, Face the Music is about who we are and what we live by; it’s about respecting that as well as the music.” Avant wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks on on the project.