Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images – ENNY performing at the recording of AIM Independent Music Awards 2021 at Neg Earth in London.
Her lyrics are conscious, her beats soulful.
Ticketmaster has revealed its 10 choices for “Breakthrough 2022” artists from the UK. Pollstar reached out to their teams to find out more.
South London rapper ENNY delivers conscious and sharp lyrics over beats that sample a lot of jazz and soul, reminiscent of the 1990s golden era of hip hop. Since signing to Jorja Smith’s label FAMM at the beginning of last year, her career has been taking off.
She released her debut EP in summer last year, which features the singles “Same Old,” “I Want,” and “Peng Black Girls.”
Tems is a Nigerian storyteller championing West African alté through a fusion of neo soul and Afro-R&B. She earned two U.S. top 40 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 with her Drake collaboration “Fountains,” and featuring on the Wizkid single “Essence,” which is nominated for a Grammy this year in the category Best Global Music Performance.
Tems signed with RCA Records in September, following the release of her sophomore EP “If Orange Was a Place.”
Joseph Okpako/WireImage – Wizkid and Tems perform at London
Both ENNY and Tems are represented by Summer Marshall at CAA, who first heard their music in 2020 and 2019, respectively. “Tems and ENNY are making truly meaningful music at a time when we all need meaning in our lives after covid.”
Both artists were looking at a stream of sold out shows, strong presence on digital platforms, press, TV and radio support, and then COVID followed. “Both teams have worked hard these past months and look towards a bright 2022 ahead,” says Marshall.
Upcoming shows for both ENNY and Tems include performances at The Great Escape (TGE) 2022, which returns to Brighton, May 11-14. “I’m excited for Tems and ENNY to play in Brighton, one of the UK’s most vibrant cities. Adam Ryan is a fantastic supporter of new artists. I have no doubt this year will be the best Great Escape yet,” Marshall continued.
With virtually every artist, new and established, wanting to tour now that markets are opening back up, it must be particularly tough for breakthrough artists to lock in dates at venues. Marshall doesn’t seem to be too fazed about the situation, though. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach when working to break new artists. There will be bumps on the road as we transition through the pandemic this year. Some venues will have available dates, others won’t. My attitude is to be proactive with the venues I work with to maintain a constant dialogue throughout the booking journey,” she explained.
Burak Cingi/Redferns – Priya Ragu performs at The Jazz Cafe in London, England, Nov. 23.
The Swiss-Tamil tastemaker made up her own genre: Raguwavy.
Priya Ragu was born in Switzerland to Sri Lankan parents, and is currently based in the UK. Her blend of electronic R&B cannot really be categorized, which is why she came up with her own genre, Raguwavy – a sound that is best explored on her debut mixtape Damnshestamil, which produced by her brother, known under his producer alias Japhna Gold.
CAA’s Claudio Lillo first noticed Priya Ragu, when his fiancée showed him the video for “Lighthouse.” Some six months later, he started working with her. According to Lillo, Priya Ragu deserves to be on Ticketmaster’s “Breakthrough 2022” list, is “because she is incredibly talented, and her story is amazing. I get goosebumps after her shows seeing how many brown women and men come up to speak to her. Representation matters!”
Priya is also among the 400-plus artists to perform a showcase during TGE 2022. These types of talent festival used to be a way for unknown performers to be heard and attract agents who want to work with them on building a (live) career. According to Lillo, that’s changed: “I don’t think TGE really operates that way any longer. By the time an artist performs there, they will probably have a full team in place and a tour might already be booked. That said, with the right slot and if the buzz is strong enough, you can turn a lot of industry heads and prove an artist is more than their hype,” he explained.
Lillo admits, that “it has been trickier than usual to route tours, in general. Working around lack of avails is psychological. Once you realize, and convey, that you might not get your first-choice room or day of the week, it’s all good. At the end of the day it is all about giving artists a chance to connect with their fans.”
Joseph Okpako/WireImage – Central Cee performs during day three of Wireless Festival 2021 in London, England.
His next live plot will be announced soon.
Next up is Central Cee, also known as Cench from West London, who delivers punchy and witty one-liners over melodic sampled beats with a unique flow that’s hard to describe in words, but is put on display on his latest song, “Khabib.”
Central Cee is represented by Jack Clark at United Talent, who came across the artists five to six years ago, when browsing through YouTube and discovering his “Street Heat Freestyle” on Link Up TV. “But I really started paying attention again in 2020 when he came in with a different sound and released tracks like ‘Molly’, ‘Day In the Life’, and ‘Loading’,” Clark recalls.
Between well thought out releases, strong video concepts, and shutting down parks in West London with sporadic live shows, Central Cee has become “one of the most influential emerging artists in any genre over a very short period of time,” according to Clark, “The fact that he has achieved so much success amidst the difficulties and restrictions surrounding COVID makes his accomplishments even more impressive. He’s also extremely humble, full of vision and very intelligent. He has all the makings of a star!”
Central Cee went on his first UK tour in October 2021, which included a homecoming show at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire that sold out within minutes. Another sold-out gig on the trek, according to Pollstar’s box office data, was his Sept. 29 performance at SWG3 in Glasgow, Scotland, which sold out all available 500 tickets for a gross of $8,605.
“The next live plot will be announced soon for later this year,” says Clark, adding that booking shows has been “tricky in general, but in Cench’s case we were way ahead with our plans and fortunately managed to secure dates without too much hassle.”
His team is already putting in the groundwork in terms of testing certain European markets with local club shows to very promising fan reaction. Says Clark, “this has helped us shape a great summer 2022 in terms of international looks and festivals. Cench and his manager ybeeez have also put serious time and effort into organically connecting with artists who are making their own similar waves across Europe such as Rondodasosa from Milan, Freeze Corleone from Paris, and Morad from Barcelona, which has helped everything progress.”
Ticketmaster’s “Breakthrough 2022”:
For fans of: Aitch, Unknown T
Listen to: “Oliver Twist”
Bad Boy Chiller Crew
For fans of: T2, The Streets
Listen to: “Messages”
For fans of: Tion Wayne, Digga D
Listen to: “Retail Therapy”
For fans of: Little Simz, Jorja Smith
Listen to: “Peng Black Girls”
For fans of: Phoebe Bridgers, Bon Iver
Listen to: “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Pip Millett
Listen to: “Fake”
For fans of: Griff, Becky Hill
Liste to: “Before I Go”
For fans of: Jungle, Summer Walker
Listen to: “Good Luck 2.0”
For fans of: Ayra Starr, WizKid
Listen to: “Crazy Tings”
For fans of: Pavement, Violent Femmes
Listen to: “Chaise Longue”