Main content

Meet 1Xtra's Hot For 2020

Get to know the 15 artists 1Xtra is tipping to have a huge 2020.

1Xtra Hot For is our guide to the year ahead and the talents who will shape the next 12 months. 2019's Hot For gave nods to Aitch, Koffee, D-Block Europe and more. 2018's Hot For tipped Fredo, Young T & Bugsey and Kojo Funds. And going back to 2017, Hot For picked out Dave, Jorja Smith and AJ Tracey as future superstars.

Now it's time you got to know 2020's names...

BenjiFlow

Third party videos may contain adverts.

BenjiFlow’s smooth, percussive ‘Deep End’ was everywhere in 2019, praised by Benji B, DJ Target, Toddla T, pretty much everyone on 1Xtra in fact. The track – a smart, jazz-inflected, Latin-informed rhythm that also nods to his North London heritage – got everyone talking. And it apparently came about casually, when Benji was playing Mario Kart with friend and producer Ragz. Now he’s readying his next move.

Need to know:

  • He’s in a collective called Mini Kingz, made up of himself, Ragz, Cartae, Oscar #Worldpeace and more

  • His first instrument was classical piano, before he decided to try being a MC

Br3nya

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Hailing from West London via Ghana, Br3nya’s sound and style reflects the juxtaposition of what those two soundscapes and heritages represent. Remember her name.

Need to know:

  • Her single ‘Good Food’ - produced by DJ P Montana and C Biggs - caught big hype when the music video dropped on GRM Daily.

  • Br3nya has also been co-signed by a certain Michael Owuru - better known as the one and only Stormzy.

Darkoo

Third party videos may contain adverts.

2019’s ‘Gangsta’, featuring One Acen, was one of the year’s biggest vibes; a hook-filled track that followed years of hard graft for South London’s Darkoo. She put out debut track ‘Gas Station’ in 2017, aged 16, and she’s been honing her addictive Afro-swing ever since.

Need to know:

  • ‘Gangsta’ picked up remixes featuring the likes of Tion Wayne and Ms Banks

  • Her flow has been compared to Nigerian superstar WizKid

IQ

Third party videos may contain adverts.

You know when 1Xtra’s very own Seani B hails you up, you’re destined for big things. Originating from South London, 20-year-old Cairo Dawkins - better known as IQ - is making waves in the UK dancehall scene and beyond.

Need to know:

  • IQ’s been co-signed by some of music’s hottest artists - including Stefflon Don and Afro B - as well as sharing the stage with Popcaan at Wembley Arena.

  • Having started off as a drill artist, it was under the influence and guidance of his father and successful dancehall brother GQ that IQ made the genre change - the rest is history.

  • IQ released his EP 'Jamaican Prince' in the summer of 2019 and sold out his first ever headline show.

Lila Iké

2020 is set to be a promising year for Jamaican soul star Lila Iké (pronounced Lee-lah Eye-kay). Creating a unique sound that combines reggae with soul, hip-hop and dancehall, Lila has carved out a niche for herself, with singles such as 'Where I’m Coming From”'and 'Second Chance'. Come through Miss Lila.

Need to know:

  • Lila (born Alecia Grey) is managed by In.Digg.Nation Collective - a label and talent pool of Jamaican creatives founded by none other than reggae star Protoje.

  • Last summer saw her honing her skills on the Caribbean, North American and European festival circuits - be sure to catch her this year.

  • As well as working with fellow label head Protoje, Ike has also featured on tracks by Royal Blu and Koro Fyah.

Ling Hussle

Third party videos may contain adverts.

UK R&B is having a moment, and Ling Hussle is at the forefront of it. Her ‘Hussle X Dreams’ tape put her on the map, showcasing heartfelt lyricism and a clear influence from her moniker's namesake Nipsey.

Need to know:

  • She has a verse on Krept & Konan’s massive ‘Tell Me’ track, also featuring D-Block Europe

  • She also features on ‘Whenever You Call’, a track from Tion Wayne’s latest album

Lucky Daye

Third party videos may contain adverts.

David Debrandon Brown aka Lucky Daye makes stunning, emotion-led R&B, and last year’s debut album ‘Painted’ earned him a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. He also turned heads in the 1Xtra Live Lounge, covering Summer Walker and playing his own standout track ‘Roll Some Mo’.

Need to know:

  • He was raised in a church which banned secular music. “It was full of fear,” he told VICE.

  • The “e” in his stage name is an homage to Marvin Gaye

  • He auditioned for American Idol in 2009, performing ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke

Photo: Emily Nkanga

Mastermind

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Manchester stand up. Continuing the trail that has been ignited by Mancunian rappers such as Bugzy Malone and Aitch, 24-year-old rapper Mastermind is showing us that scenes are thriving all over the UK.

Need to know:

  • His track 'WaveTime' has been bigged up by industry leaders such as Twin B, DJ Target and Kenny Allstar as well as fellow rappers including Bugzy Malone, Aitch, Headie One and Yxng Bane to name a few.

  • As well as a growing fanbase in the UK, Mastermind has a big following in Canada due to his collab ‘Hungry’ with Toronto rapper Robin Banks

Photo: Emily Nkanga

Melii

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Harlem star Melii first broke through via YouTube covers, most notably through her version of Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’, which picked up millions of views and eventually earned her a record deal on Interscope. Debut project ‘phAses’ helps shape her own identity, fusing razor sharp hip-hop with glistening R&B, as well as paying dues to her Dominican heritage.

Need to know:

  • She’s featured on an advert for Rihanna’s Fenty beauty brand

  • She attended the same school as A$AP Rocky (Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School)

  • She guests on ‘W.T.S’, a track on Meek Mill’s 2018 album ‘Championships’

Nafe Smallz

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Luton-raised talent Nafe Smallz has been making waves for years. 2015 mixtape ‘Project O’ earned co-signs from Wiley and Chip, amongst others. A 2016 Fire in the Booth put him on the map. And he soon found himself opening for the likes of Future and Migos on tour.

But he made his biggest waves yet in 2019, via the show-stopping ‘Good Love’ project, two songs on the Top Boy soundtrack, and a guest spot on Skepta’s ‘Greaze Mode’. 2020 looks set to be a landmark year for the rapper.

Need to know:

  • 2019 project ‘Good Love’ featured collabs with Tory Lanez, Chip, M Huncho and Yxng Bane

  • He contributed two tracks to last year’s Top Boy soundtrack – ‘Riding on E’ and ‘8 Missed Calls’

Bandokay and Double Lz (OFB)

Their Voice of the Streets freestyle for Kenny Allstar was one of 2019’s most-viewed; a stunning insight into what makes these guys one of the most talked-about new acts in the UK. And their ‘Front Street’ mixtape is a window into what makes their form of drill so fascinating.

Need to know:

  • They’ve toured the UK with fellow Tottenham drill star Headie One

  • Yxng Bane and Kojo Funds are big fans

Rema

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Benin City, Nigeria-raised Rema first found recognition in his local church, where at 14 he was given the title “rap nation leader”. He showed off his skills, before teaching other kids how to verse. But his international breakthrough took place in 2019 with ‘Dumebi’, a honey-sweet, addictive cut that’s racked up million of plays worldwide.

Need to know:

  • Barack Obama included his ‘Iron Man’ song in a 2019 summer playlist

  • He used to design his own comic books

  • He has two EPs to his name: ‘Rema’ and ‘Freestyle’, both released last year

Shaybo

Third party videos may contain adverts.

The self-confessed "Queen Of The South" carries her moniker with poise and determination that comes out in her tracks such as ‘Ya Dun Know’ and ‘Bonjour cava’. Born and bred in SE London, Shaybo brings the grit with her grind.

Need to know:

  • Look out for her forthcoming EP 'Queen Of The South'

  • 'Ya Dun Know' is currently on regular rotation via the 1Xtra Playlist

Sho Madjozi

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Sho Madjozi is already a superstar in South Africa, and she’s in-part responsible for bringing the sound of gqom to the masses. She fuses the sound with dance and hip-hop – something many are calling revolutionary – and in 2019’s standalone single ‘John Cena’, she might have found her breakthrough globe-spanning hit.

Need to know:

  • She won the 2019 BET Award for Best International Act

  • Debut album ‘Limpopo Champions League’ came out in 2018

Pop Smoke

Third party videos may contain adverts.

Our final 1Xtra Hot for artist, Pop Smoke tragically lost his life on February 19th, following the publication of this list.

1Xtra’s Kenny Allstar paid homage to the New York rapper following his unexpected death saying: "Pop Smoke is the reason why we've had people like Drake on a drill track”.

Possessing the air and cadence of a rapper who had been in the game for a decade or two longer than his actual age, 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke had been making seismic moves on both sides of the Atlantic.

Need to know:

  • His alliance with UK drill producer 808 Melo – who’s responsible for two of late 2019’s biggest tracks in ‘Welcome to the Party’ and ‘Dior’.

  • ‘Welcome to the Party’ got the seal of approval from none other than the rap queen Nicki Minaj, who blessed the remix last summer.