2015 was a busy year, a very busy year. We saw the peak of the incredible rise of the YouTube celebrity, the re-emergence of the Grime scene and some great music releases, incredible comebacks and controversy that has made music history.
With everybody publishing their 2015 lists about who’s the best and who’s the worst, i thought i would focus on who was great but not properly acknowledged. The ‘Unsung Heroes’ of 2015.
Kehlani Parrish may not yet be a household name, or even one that you are aware of but Cali R&B singer has had a truly phenomenal 12 months and looks all but set to have an even bigger 2016. First brought to the public’s attention by her appearance on America’s Got Talent back in 2011, finishing fourth as part of group Poplyfe. In a post America’s Got Talent world, Khelani split from Poplyfe and stepped back from the world of music, due to a fear of legal complications from her former groups management.
With no musical outlet, Kehlani was effectively homeless for 12 months before being brought back into the game by Nick Cannon in 2013. After two years of mix tapes and singles, Kehlani entered 2015 with a mixtape called “the years first great R&B mixtape” ‘You Should Be Here‘. Since then, Kehlani has featured on some of 2015’s biggest projects, including Pusha T’s ‘Darkest Before The Dawn‘ and Justin Bieber’s ‘Future‘
After her phenomenal mixtape response and feature placement, Kehlani topped the year with a sold out tour and a 2016 Grammy Nomination. Undoubtedly one of the shining lights of 2015.
9. Meek Mill
Laugh you may and we all know why you would but aside from his poorly planned Twitter tirade against Drizzy, Meek had a truly fantastic 2015.
Prior to his Twitter fingers turning to trigger fingers, Meek dropped one of the albums of the year in ‘Dreams Worth More Than Money‘ a project both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. A near impossible ask in the modern era.
Alongside the quality of his 2015 album, Meek also went on tour, yes it was his girl’s tour, but it really was a special tour. After coming out publicly as the Nicki Minaj’s boyfriend (an achievement worth praise in itself) Meek went on Nicki’s ‘Pinkprint Tour‘ hitting 50 shows in six months across America and Europe and grossing $22 million with a total attendance of 429,672. Seriously, let that sink in.
Meek isn’t done yet but he’s definitely gotta claw it back.
There really shouldn’t be any need for me to explain why Chip is a hero of 2015 but apparently people weren’t playing attention. Chip stepped into 2015 with one intention, to re-assert himself as one of the king’s of UK music, not just Grime.
Many accused Chip of troublemaking in 2015 as he took aim at Tinie Tempah for some very overlooked digs from the Disturbing London spitter. I spoke to Chip last year, just prior to the drama that was soon to unfold and got one of the first snippet’s of Chip’s intentions for the year and more specifically Tinie;
(Watch the Tinie verse that really irked Chip)
‘PLEASE understand that I’m not like Tinie Tempah. Please don’t compare me to Tinie Tempah. I’m an ACTUAL MC‘ – RWD Magazine
Chip responded to Tinie with one of the best Fire In The Booth’s which birthed the now immortal ‘Chip can’t run out of bars‘. Chip’s abrupt re-introduction caught the attention of Manchester’s Bugzy Malone (another man worthy of this list tbf) who tried to draw the Tottenham boy out, which he did and probably shouldn’t have.
After a stellar 2015 i highly doubt any relenting from Chip in 2016 and seriously, this is only a fine selection of Chips moves in 2015. We just don’t have the time for it all.
7. David Vujanic
David Vujanic Aka VUJ has been on the rise for a few years now but 2015 really saw the Serbian comedian really step into his own. A staple of the properly sick Football Banter show #FilthyFellas and one half of Copa 90’s ‘Comments Below‘ along with a man who had an similarly great 2015 and just a similarly sick guy Poet, Vuj went from a YouTube favourite to a staple of UK comedy and satire.
2015 saw Vuj shine most predominately in his, ever-comfortable lane of musical spoof. One of the biggest hitters was the now iconic ‘Cheeky Nandos‘ ft Mim & Klayze (Peri Boyz) which exploded online and reached over half a million views, launching Vuj onto the cut favourite show ‘Rude Tube‘ and further cementing the Essex born slang term for a nice meal at High street restaurant Nandos.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Vuj then capitalised on the infamous ‘Hotline Bling‘ video with his genius interpretation ‘Immigrant Bling‘, playing on the tense immigration issues current dominating the news across Europe with a real comic twist.
Constantly surrounded by some of the funniest individuals in the country and even in himself one of the met charismatic and motivated funny men about, Vuj is sure to have a huge 2016 after a brilliant 2015.
South London’s Cadet stepped into 2015 like it was his birth right. After the huge success that followed his stellar ‘Slut Freestyle’, Cadet drew attention and praise as the new ‘storyteller’ of UK music. A former member of the cult crew ‘Gip-Set’ Cadet has had his moments in and out of the scene but seemingly made the decision last year that the wait had gone on long enough.
Following the reception for ‘Slut‘ Cadet went on a spree of tearing down freestyle sessions, most notably his intense and touching ‘Behind The Barz’ freestyle where he touched on a troubled youth and religious confusion coming up.
With all eyes on him, Cadet then took to arguably the most popular freestyle platform as he opened up on Charlie Sloth’s BBC Radio 1Xtra ‘Fire In The Booth‘ and really lets loose. There isn’t much doubting that 2016 will have us all shouting CADET CADET!
5. Lady Leshurr
Lady Leshurr has been one of the hardest working artists in the UK for a few years now but has never really been given the credit she more than deserves. With one of the fiercest flows about and an ability to turn 2 bars into retweetable gold, Lesh decided in 2015 that enough was enough as she stepped out of the shadows and became a sensation.
Starting the year with the now iconic ‘Queens Speech Ep.1‘, i doubt even Lesh herself thought it would go quite as brilliantly as it did. Now on her 5th episode of ‘Queens Speech‘ and with over 15million views amassed, the Birmingham MC has caught ear of the US with fans obsessed with her charm, lyrics and aggression and is preparing for what looks like i could be huge 2016 tour.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH
4. Quentin Miller
We all know the name and we all know th implication but like it or hate it, there is concrete evidence that Mr Miller contributed some of the most important flows and verses in recent history. Meek brought Quentin to most of our attentions with his twitter silliness and for the most part the issue and the man himself were forgotten about. That was until NY’s legendary DJ Funk Flex released the controversial reference tracks to R.I.C.O and Know Yourself.
The question still goes unanswered as to the extent of Quentin Miller’s input into Drake’s career as a whole but one thing is for sure, without Mr Miller we wouldn’t have a lot of what makes the OVO sound so absorbing and appealing. 2016 can only see this story and this man grow in importance right?
3. Metro Boomin
Metro Boomin or Leland Wayne is in a sense, the sound of 2015 or at least the memorable sound of 2015. The man who brings us the epitome of Future and has done so for the past couple of years had releases in 2015 so huge that it is no doubt that the name will continue to dominate into 2016.
With production credits on ‘Blow a Bag‘, ‘Where Ya At‘ and ‘Jumpman‘, not many had a better year for production that Metro. His most recent smash of course coming with Kanye West’s ‘Facts‘ a song that you will certainly be talking about for at least the next two months.
2 & 1. Craig David/Big Narstie
(These two sit on level pegging for me for 2015)
Everybody and i mean everybody loves Craig David. Although his reputation has been happened by success of Bo Selecta, Craig David’s catalogue can’t ever really be contested. Despite his legendary status however, not many saw the 34 year old re-emerging as one of the hottest artists of the year. After a memorable appearance on Radio 1Xtra as a part of the hilarious Kurupt FM #SixtyMinutesLive takeover, Craig David formed a special bond with Brixton hero Narstie which birthed the huge single ‘When The Bassline Drops‘
Big Narstie himself spent 2015 amassing a huge following up and down the country with his truly electric live performances and unbelievably catchy screams of ‘Bass’ & ‘Gas’. Not one to let the mainstream forget him tho, Narstie also had his say in the UK’s biggest beef as he took exception to Chip’s claims to the throne of King of Grime and in typical hilarious and devastating fashion, whipped up a response for our lists number 8. Don’t mess with Uncle Pain.
Narstie also used 2015 as the perfect opportunity to show the world just how much they need the big guy on their screens as he took part in a number of special video projects from cooking classes to holiday tour guides for Noisey.
After the phenomenal success of ‘When The Bassline Drops‘ Craig David and Big Narstie gave the single it’s official video and have since managed to get into the BBC Radio 1 A-list, a truly incredible achievement for anybody.
Now in 2016, these two don’t look like going anywhere and in my opinion, will be two of the most important artists in the coming 12 months. With the huge cult following they both hold respectively and the whole new collections of fans they draw in every day, the duo of Craig David and Big Narstie will be a force for 2016.
That was my Top Ten Unsung Heroes of 2015. If you agree or you don’t, feel free to let us know.
Ben Fawcett (Editor I Am)