Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, singer-songwriter, Leo Pastel is a rising-star, set to break all music boundaries before him. Pastel has strong musical roots, and has been singing for his entire life. He prides himself on his unique sound and his vulnerable authenticity.
Leo started releasing music in June 2018, and his music and fan base has picked up quickly. He has had the opportunity since to write with a few large industry labels and their artists after his first single, “Woah”, blew up, surpassing 100k+ combined streams. Pastel has stated that his purpose for making music is to spread love and positivity to all listeners, so if you could use a little sprinkle of positive energy in your life (and really, who doesn’t need this), keep your eyes and ears on Leo Pastel.
Chicago Rapper, Joseph Davis, better known by his stage name Joey Purp has single-handedly been releasing hit after hit that makes it almost too easy for the most uncoordinated dancer want to hot the dance floor. Purp grew up listening to Wu-Tang Clan, Sex Pistols, The Casualties, The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Dipset, and Lil Wayne. In a 2014 interview, he stated that his early recordings were heavily inspired by Currensy He is one of the founding members of Savemoney (the collective of artists that includes Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, and others), and has most notably released two banging albums. iiiDrops, which came on May 26, 2016 included features from Mick Jenkins, Saba, Teddy Jackson, TheMind, and fellow Savemoney collaborators, Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper. The album’s single, “Girls @” even included a music video.
QUARTERTHING, Purp’s follow-up album brings more tact and attention to how his unique cadence and flow drive his music. iiiDrops established Joey Purp as a leveling rapper with range, one who can batter down the walls while simultaneously conducting a dancing crowd. iiiDrops was painted in broad strokes, and QUARTERTHING finds Purp zeroing in on an exciting and complementary color scheme.
Jang Da-hye, better known as Heize, is a South Korean singer, rapper, songwriter and composer signed to Stone Music Entertainment. After making her debut in 2014 with the EP Heize, she gained the attention of many new fans, after appearing on the second season of the South Korean reality show, Unpretty Rapstar.
Since then, Heize’s music has continued to capture the hearts and ears of many unsuspecting listeners. With the release of her fourth EP, Wind, Heize set a record for having every lead single top the music charts.
Famous violinist, Kaori Miyazono once said, “Music transcends words. By exchanging notes, you get to know one another, to understand one another. As if your souls were connected and your hearts were overlapping. It’s a conversation through instruments. A miracle that creates harmony. In that moment, music transcends words.” As such, you would be doing yourself an extreme injustice if you did not give Heize a listen.
New Zealand singer and actress, Kimbra Lee Johnson, known mononymously as Kimbra, is a vocalist known for mixing pop with classic R&B, jazz and rock musical elements. Her debut album, Vows, was released in 2011, Include singles, “Good Intent” (my personal favorite), the winner of the Australian Recording Industry Association Award, “Cameo Lover“, and “Settle Down”. After the album’s release in North America, the numbers shot to 14 on the Billboard charts.
All of these accolades aside, most people recognize Kimbra as being a feature in Gotye’s song, “Somebody That I Used to Know”, which earned both Goyte and Kimbra the Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance awards at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. However, others (typically her “real” fans…and gamers) will recognize her vocals on the Sims 3, as a playable song, originally, “Good Intent”, but redone in Simlish, the gibberish-like language that the Sims’ characters are known for speaking. This version honestly, is just as good as the original. Kimbra’s achievements made her one of only three New Zealand singers to have won a Grammy. Kimbra’s second studio album, The Golden Echo, was released in August of 2014, and follow up album, Primal Heartin 2018, to much positive critical reception.
Eric Whitney, known to his fans as Ghostemane, is an American rapper and singer. Growing up in Florida, Ghostemane originally played in local hardcore punk and doom metal bands. After graduating from university, where he studied astrophysics, and eventually obtained a steady position earning $65,000, Ghostmane moved to Los Angeles, California after music sales proved to be too low in Southern Florida. When settles in LA, Ghostmane rebranded himself, starting his career as a rapper, thus rising to much acclaimed fame in the underground. His process of merging of rap and metal gained him popularity on SoundCloud, amongst other underground artists such as Scarlxrd, Bones and Suicideboys. In 2018 Ghostemane released the album, N/O/I/S/E, which was highly anticipated in the underground due to its heavy influence from industrial and nu metal groups. Check him out. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised at how much you like this fusion of music.
Up-and-coming artist, Taquirah is a performance artist from Illinois. She started her training at Joffrey Ballet, and graduated from UNCSA for dance. She focuses on creating performance art pieces and fusing ballet into the hip hop music scene. Together with Rebel Motion, an international creative production agency from New York City, she and female director Isabella Tan create a visual story of the female experience featuring the dance talents of both Taquirah and Jessica Hu, a ground-breaking visual/dance artist who performed with other notable artists such as Dev Hynes, Wyclef, T-Pain and Macklemore.
Taquirah releases her breakout music video for debut single “Lonely.” The music video presents the juxtaposition of the oxymoronic feelings that arise from a past relationship through a soft, divine and vulnerable balletic depiction of sadness against the angry anguish through sharp contemporary street dance. The audience follows the two dancers through their journey of self-acceptance and transcendence above the past in a deserted space suspended in construction that once held the promise of a bright future.
When asked about her debut single, Taquirah stated that “Lonely is a visual movement piece that tells a story of a black woman who feels neglected and unloved. Within her acknowledging all her feelings she finally realizes it’s most important to love yourself instead of begging for that love from someone else. This piece talks about strength of walking away from unmatched love. Taquirah was inspired by the women in her family that ultimately walked away from unhealthy relationships and focused on having a healthier relationship with themselves.” I recent had an opportunity to ask Taquirah a couple of questions, and these can be found below.
Not Him, not Her, but They.! THEY. is the name of the American R&B duo consisting of Dante Jones and Drew Love from Los Angeles, California, who are signed to Mind of a Genius Records. The duo began their music career in 2015, releasing debut extended play, Nü Religion. In the same year THEY. (pun intended) released the successful single “Working for It” in collaboration with Zhu and Skrillex. In 2016, the duo started touring with singer Bryson Tiller, before releasing their debut studio album, Nü Religion: Hyena. Since then, THEY. has been gaining nonstop momentum, even going as far as releasing EP, Fireside in November, in which they bring their neo-soul/hip-hop vision to life with major features, Wiz Khalifa, Jessie Reyez, Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, Vic Mensa, and Gallant assisting in the narrative. Go ahead and give these young guys a listen. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.
“It’s never cool to copy someone’s whole concept and call it a ‘response’ to try to come up. Be you! Be original.”
Queens, New York native H.I.M, which, if you didn’t know (and many don’t) is an acronym for Her In Mind is an R&B vocalist who has just enough mystery surrounding his identity as H.E.R. His debut album was marketed and mastered superbly in terms of strategic genius. With H.E.R.’s rising success, came H.I.M.’s (yes, I am using proper English, the names just make it sound so improper).
H.I.M’s career officially began in 2016 when he released his debut album, H.I.M Volume 1, following the release of H.E.R Volume 1. Fans immediately went banana with endless amounts of conspiracy theories, the most popular of them all being that H.I.M.’s album was a collaborated effort and sub-responses to H.E.R.’s, and that they were actually an item, who were in the process of unraveling a joint album called (and here’s the kicker) T.H.E.M. H.I.M and H.E.R’s album covers, musical styles and song titles were all purposely related. But is that the right word for it? Or would “copied” be a better fit?
Imitation truly the highest form of flattery, but H.E.R didn’t find this concept cute or amusing in the least bit. The two have never even met. When you really break down the action for what it is, you’ll realize that in truth, he pretty much stole H.E.R.’s entire concept, he just did it amazingly well. Spotify said that H.I.M. “created a more complete response album than anything that has been made and does it from a genuine perspective” meaning that the world still praises him for his musical style that he completely plagiarized. In all honesty though, though not original, I completely see the genius behind the tact. Nevertheless, it would have come across as completely authentic and creative, had he created this idea with someone who had not already reached fame. Because H.E.R. was an already a well-established artist, H.I.M.’s genius translated as a person who was essentially riding the coattails of an already famous person’s coattails. As irony would have it though, after hearing of this “H.I.M.” H.E.R. actually took to Twitter to sub-tweet H.I.M. for stealing her well—everything. The tweet read, “It’s never cool to copy someone’s whole concept and call it a ‘response’ to try to come up. Be you! Be original.” What do you think? Is he in the clear, because let’s face it, dude’s music is AMAZING, or should he be placed in the negative light for pretty much being a copycat? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
“I grew up in the church, so it was a bunch of gospel along with Musiq Soulchild, Em, T-Pain—just a bunch of soulful dudes that are country. My first favorite rapper was Ludacris.”
If you’ve never heard of Christopher Smith Jr, better known as Smino, then all hope is lost for you. Luckily, I’m here to restore that hope (you’re welcome). Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer Smino is co-founder of the musical collective Zero Fatigue with Bari, Monte Booker, Jay2, and Ravyn Lenae. Signed to independent label Downtown Records, Smino initially gained local recognition in 2012 after the release of his mixtape, Smeezy Dot Com. His debut album, Blkswn was released to in 2017, with his sophomore album, NØIR following only a year later.
Smino describes his sound as futuristic funk and soulful rap. Having bene raised listening to jazz, gospel, and hip hop, with rappers including Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Field Mob being of the few, Smino lists Kanye West and André 3000 as his biggest musical influences, as well as his cousin, Drea Smith. In an interview with Pitchfork he stated, “I grew up in the church, so it was a bunch of gospel along with Musiq Soulchild, Em, T-Pain—just a bunch of soulful dudes that are country. My first favorite rapper was Ludacris.”
Amsterdam native, Jeff Kesse, better known as, Jay-Way is not your average rapper. Typically, when you turn on the radio (which most people don’t even listen to anymore), you’ll find a plethora of songs in which the artist is only talking about sex or drugs. If this is what you look for in music, then Jay-way is not the artist for you. However, if you’re in the market for conscious lyrics, positive messages, complex storytelling, and fire beats, then look no further. Being influenced during the short time he lived in New York, his honest, poetic and straight lyrics, speak to an entire new generation, as well as older Hip-Hop fans.
Jay-Way isn’t just a random up and coming artist either. He’s put in all of the hard-work necessary to actually put prestige behind his name. After releasing his first single “Cool Kid”, Jay-Way put out his first solo project Jaynalysis, earning him the award for Best Rapper at the Glint Awards, only a month later. The accolades don’t end there either. In 2016, Jay-Way was chosen to be one of the (5) Encore Freshmen, releasing a compilation album. His first song from this project, “Happen Dappen”(definitely my favorite song), received 100K plays within the first week of release, went straight to number 1 in the Spotify NL Viral Chart and has gained over 2 million streams up to date.
Jay-Way clearly has an ever-increasing fan-base, but in addition to this, he must also, in the words of Cardi B, have “shmoney”, as he’s been rocking the stage with his own shows and festivals with his live band as well, opening up for artists such as KRS-One, Obie Trice and Rejjie Snow, in addition to doing a live performance for the radio show 3VOOR12 on NPO/3FM. Haven spoken with this talented artist (find the interview below), there is no doubt in my mind that he is destined for the top of the top, so definitely keep your eyes directed towards the skies (just don’t look directly at the sun) to see the constant rise of Jay-Way’s continued success.
“I think I’ve come so far as a man and I’m just starting to feel solid where I can be like, ‘You know what? I think I can hold this down legitimately.”
As a general rule of thumb, I try not to post more than two segments per week, and they’re nine times out of ten, posted at 11 am on the dot. Only on rare occasions do I break this trend, and a rare occasion this is. So, one of my all-time favorite R&B vocalists recently got hitched, and really, what kind of fan would I be, if I didn’t announce that, and then follow it up with a highlight? So, as promised, here is the announcement: If you did not already hear the news, let me break it to you, Miguel Jontel Pimentel and Nazanin Mandi have tied the knot!!! The couple were wedded on November 24, 2018 at Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Santa Susana, CA.
Miguel and Nazanin met back when they were both 18 years old. She was interviewing him for a behind-the-scenes DVD he was putting out to promote his very first music video, when she asked him a question that wasn’t on her Q&A. The question being if he had a girlfriend. Real smooth, right? He flashed a debonair smirk, saying, “No, but I’m looking for one.” Even smoother! From there, they exchanged numbers, and he called the very next day to ask Nazanin out on a date (that’s how you do it my fellow guys. No games played). Since then, they had nowhere to go but up! A true love story at its finest.
As someone who’s actually spoken with Miguel, I can easily admit, there truly is not anyone more deserving of this wonderful news than he. He is such a down to earth, well-rounded guy, with nothing to offer but positive energy, and when you meet genuine people like that, you cannot help, but to wish the best for them. Opening up about why he hadn’t rushed into matrimony, Miguel told Hot 97 in 2015 that he just “wasn’t raised like that.” “I think I’ve come so far as a man and I’m just starting to feel solid where I can be like, ‘You know what? I think I can hold this down legitimately.” I think now people throw things around like marriage. I just wasn’t raised like that,” he said. “I just follow my instincts,” he continued.
“I think she’s learned that and she’s had to adjust and had to learn and also embrace. And I love her more for that.” I think we could all learn a lot from Miguel’s philosophy. Often times we rush into things because we have this socially given image in our brains of how things are supposed to be, even going as far as to compare ourselves to people that we’ve never even met. But timing is key. Not the timing of when other’s do things, or rushed timing from the pressures of society, or even family. At the end of the day, each and every person has only one life to live, so what’s the point of rushing through it? Comparison is often the thief of joy, and the goal is happiness and joy, right? Of course it is. So here’s to Miguel and Nazandi Pimentel, sincerely wishing you ALL the joy and happiness in the world!
“The first time I wrote a song I was 10 years old. It was about loving myself, because I was always being bullied at school. So music was my therapy and it still is.”
Globally famous for singing alongside British singer, Jamie Scott on David Guetta and Martin Garrix’s song, “So Far Away,” singer-songwriter, Romy Dya has fans on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting her next endeavors. With powerfully smooth Contemporary R&B vocals, and a reputation for writing for Dutch artists, Sharon Doorson, Roxeanne Hazes, and Maan, it comes as no surprise that Dya is catching the attention of many listeners. Having spoken to Dya, I had the special privilege of uncovering the answers to some of the inquiries that fans might have themselves.
Where were you born and raised?
Holland, in a little village called Broek op Langedijk.
Is your family musically inclined as well?
Yes, they are! My mom used to be a singer and my dad plays the guitar.
Can you remember the first time you wrote/sung a song?
The first time I sang a song I was 4 years old. I sung ‘Gloria EstefanandMiami Sound Machine-Rhythm is Gonna Get You’. That’s when I already knew I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. The first time I wrote a song I was 10 years old. It was about loving myself, because I was always being bullied at school. So music was my therapy and it still is.
Who gave you the support to begin writing? Who did you play the early songs for?
You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?
I draw my inspiration from daily life. Love, problems I’m facing, but also friends, family, books, movies or series. My favorite part about the process is recording it, because it comes to live and you can feel the emotion of the song like you’re telling a story.
As listeners, we can all assume what artist’s songs are about, but I find it more beneficial to be direct and ask. What is “Smile on My Face” about? What does it mean personally to you?
“Smile on my face” is about turning a negative situation into a positive one. My dad always used to tell me that there was always something positive even in a negative situation. I always used to be a drama queen. I still am sometimes [she laughingly admitted], but last year was one of the toughest years in my life. I had hit rock bottom. I was overworked, my relationship ended after 12 years, I was broke, had a lot of debt, and I lost my job. I cried a lot, but I told myself almost everyday in the mirror: ‘Girl, you got this. You’re strong, beautiful and you’re a Child of God. Put a smile on your face and go.’
Who are your biggest writing influences, and who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
My biggest writing influences are Sia,Bebe RexhaandBibi Bourellywhen it comes to writing songs for myself or others. I’d like to collaborate with Russ, because I really like his way of rapping and I especially like his song ’Since I was broke’. He’s talking about the law of attraction there which I do believe in and that song has been an inspiration for ‘Smile on my face’ too.
For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words
(Vulnerable and powerful at the same time, an edgy pop sound combined with some jazz and soul influences).
If I was to turn on your iPod right now, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
H.E.R., SZA, GoldLink, Jorja Smith, Xavier Omar.
I’ve let plenty of people hear your music, and we all agree that we can’t wait for more! Are there any plans for new singles, or an EP on the way? What’s next for Romy Dya?
My next single is coming outon January the 11th.And I’m planning to release every month in 2019. And yes there will be an EP in 2019! I’m also still working as a songwriter for other artists, cause I’m determined to win Grammy’s.