On the 21st of February, a couple of folks will hand out some prizes to other folks for doing a music thing quite adequately. Well enough for the Public to approve of them, even. To be honest, it’s hard for me to be more enthusiastic than this. I’ve not often seen a list of nominees so uninspired as for this year’s Brit Awards. Let’s have a look at what should be the most exciting category, that of British Breakout Artist of the Year, and see who is who and why they appear to be worthy of praise.
David Orobosa Omoregie is a 19-year-old rapper from Streatham, London, who has a lot to say in a very obvious accent. His beats are weak, but not as weak as his rhymes, so that’s something. I don’t want to be too hard on the kid, but Dave’s debut record Game Over is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. From the “political” ramble of “Question Time” to the uncomfortable trip down memory lane of “How I Met My Ex”, it fails to impress throughout. It’s clear Dave wants to be the English Drake, but he needs to do a lot more than churn out a sad attempt like “Calling Me Out” to rise to that challenge.
A pop queen in all respects, Dua Lipa is very likely to take home this award. Her deep, raspy voice gives a welcome edge to the slick and tight production accompanying it. Thing is, I don’t see how Dua Lipa is a breakout artist. She’s got numerous hits to her name and she’s all over the web in the Google Pixel 2 ad. I dare you to put on her self-titled album and pretend you know none of these songs. Even I was surprised with how many of her songs I already knew from just walking around in the world. Not a very exhilarating nominee, though.
Another young ‘un, 22-year-old Momodou Jallow AKA J Hus mixes Afrobeat with grime and frankly I’m not mad at it. He’s got the approval of the likes of Stormzy and is audibly very passionate about his craft. He’s got a good flow, is not afraid to be aggressive (quite impressively on a track like “Clartin”), and knows how to put structure to a rap track (Dave, take note). Common Sense boasts diverse sounds and sees J Hus experiment with different formulas that all seem to work in some way or other. Very promising, and a welcome addition to this yawn list.
Loyle Carner (Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner) has already achieved somewhat of a status in the UK, and is sort of a perfect son-in-law type of rapper. He’s intelligent, confessional, and not too preoccupied with his image. Instrumentally, his work is next level compared to most others in this category (perhaps only challenged by Sampha). Vocally, his voice is just on the verge of being too nasal, like he’s always doing a bit of a Michael Caine impression, but the warmness of it makes you forget all about that. Add to that the jazz rap vibes that are all over Yesterday’s Gone and you’ve got a darn good debut record. It is clear that Carner enjoys American hip hop. It can’t all be grime, innit?
Yeah, yeah, Sampha is amazing, we know. To be honest I was tired of hearing his name the moment he got hyped with what felt like unprecedented ferociousness, especially in the UK. I also feel like as he’s already picked up the Mercury Award last year, there is no reason Sampha should even desire to walk away with this prize too. Let’s give it to someone else for that reason alone.
So, who do you think should win?