BBC News

1Xtra names Pa Salieu, BERWYN and Ivorian Doll on 'Hot For 2021' list


1Xtra usually gets it spot-on when it releases its annual prediction of next year's breakout stars.

J Hus, Koffee, AJ Tracey and Stormzy were all tipped for the big time before they became household names.

And in its Hot For 2021 list, the station has chosen another ten names for superstardom, including Pa Salieu, BERWYN and Midas The Jagaban.

"It's been such a hard year for artists, so I'm really excited to continue celebrating them into 2021," says 1Xtra Breakfast Show host Nadia Jae.

"They've kept our spirits up with their music and content so I think the list this year will be a special one."

In alphabetical order, here's the ten selected artists and everything you need to know about them.


Who: R&B singer from north London

What they say: "Bellah has a luxuriant voice and melodic chatty vocals" (

In her latest video, Cause U Can, the singer raises awareness of sickle cell, an inherited blood disease particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background.

Bellah says the song is about "finding strength with your vulnerability and channelling your inner power. In my case it's sickle cell."


Who: Rapper and singer born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, moving to the UK when he was nine.

What they say: "There is something divine about his full-bodied croons and honest candor." (Pitchfork)

As well as making the longlist for the BBC's Sound of 2021, BERWYN has already worked with Headie One and Fred again, and is self taught on the piano, guitar, drums and violin.

After performing his powerful track Glory on Jools Holland's show, in which he added a last-minute verse to reflect the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, a teacher got in touch with him to ask for the lyrics so she could pass it on to her students,.

Central Cee

Who: 22-year-old rapper from London

What they say: "Central Cee has been making waves in the scene with his jumpy drill vibe." (GRM Daily)

The emerging rapper says he was born into music, hearing the neighbourhood's sound systems as a baby and listening to his dad's old school hip-hop.

Growing up in west London, he's always been a carnival kid and his freestyles have got him noticed by Big Sean, Dave and Not3s.

Ivorian Doll

Who: One of the leading female voices in UK drill

What they say: "Regardless of which drill scene you prefer - Chicago, Brooklyn, or London - Ivorian Doll deserves to be in the conversation." (Pitchfork)

image copyrightFireshone
image caption"Why would I be friendly on the mic? I like to shock people. They see me and think 'how can she look like that but sound so aggressive?'"

"I've always been outspoken," she recently told Newsbeat. "I say things that will make people talk, other people are afraid to do that."

Amassing loads of fans from her YouTube channel, Ivorian Doll then crashed her way onto the drill scene where she's built up a huge following.

Headie One was one such fan, inviting her to collaborate with him on Edna, one of the tracks from his chart-topping album.

Lavida Loca

Who: South London drill star

What they say: "Everything we've seen so far has taken the rough, brutal template of drill and put a new, albeit subtle, spin on the UK sound." (

Lavida's already received support from 1Xtra's Snoochie Shy and Kenny Allstar.

She says a new wave of female American rappers like Cuban Doll, Mulatto and Molly Brazy have influenced her sound, as well as big hitters like Lil' Kim.

Her route to rapping has been 'crazy', telling Amor magazine that she got noticed after coming out of jail.

"I was on tag so I had a lot of time on my hands, so I was recording a few videos of me rapping.

"I posted it on Snapchat... it went viral and got posted on all the blogs."

Midas The Jagaban

Who: 19 year old balaclava-clad singer from south London

What they say: "Infectious beats bangers that you just can't get out of your head." (

image copyrightDominic Louth
image captionMidas The Jagaban is never spotted without her trademark balaclava

First played on 1Xtra by Jeremiah Asiamah, you'll NEVER see Midas without her balaclava, which adds a certain mystery to her confident persona.

As expected, her name comes from the famous Greek myth about King Midas and she says "every beat she touches turns to gold".

She learned to sing and play instruments in church and was influenced by artists including Kanye West.

Pa Salieu

Who: Coventry-based rapper already making music waves

What they say: "This is an extraordinarily assured first offering from a young artist capable of surprising at every turn."(Pitchfork)

image copyrightRosie Matheson
image captionPa Salieu is one of the most talked-about up-and-coming British rappers

The 22-year-old was born in Slough, spent time in Gambia and moved to Coventry when he was 10.

He's been getting loads of acclaim already. He's got a spot on the Sound of 2021 longlist, was up for Annie Mac's Hottest Record of the Year, and his track Energy, with Mahalia, was Clara Amfo's tune of the week on Radio 1.

Last year, the rapper was shot in the head following a drive-by shooting in Coventry. After spending time in hospital, he discharged himself and took himself straight back to the studio.

Omah Lay

Who: 23-year-old Nigerian superstar

What they say: "Omah Lay is arguably one of the best break out artistes of 2020." (

Growing up in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, Omah started his career as a member of teenage rap group Lil King, before going solo.

He's currently signed to the Dypper Music record label and has established a huge fanbase, with singles including Lo Lo and Damn.

Omah has been generating massive headlines in Nigeria recently after he was arrested in Uganda for allegedly breaking Covid-19 rules. However, all the charges were subsequently dropped.


Who: 23-year-old emerging dancehall artist from Jamaica

What they say: "Jamaica's new dancehall hope." (i-D)

Figure captionWarning: Third party content may contain adverts

Hailing from St Thomas, Jamaica, Skillibeng's had a huge rise to fame which recently led to a publishing deal with Sony/ATV.

His fans are eagerly awaiting his December 23 mixtape, Prodigy 2, and he's been supported by legends such as Chronixx, Koffee and Popcaan, as well as 1Xtra's Seani B.

Stalk Ashley

Who: Jamaican singer mixing R&B, reggae and dancehall

What they say: "She brings to the fore a refreshing slice of unfiltered dancehall inflected R&B." (

The singer blew everyone away when Stormzy brought her to the Radio 1 Live Lounge to sing on his cover of Beyonce's Brown Skin Girl.

Based in Kingston, Jamaica, her debut single Young has had more than three-million YouTube views and she's collaborated with British artist WSTRN.

She says she didn't have any connections in the music industry and took a "leap of faith" to make it happen.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.

Related Topics

  • Afrobeats
  • Nigeria
  • Grime
  • Music
  • Hip-hop

More on this story

  • Ivorian Doll: From YouTube drama to Queen of Drill