Once upon a time, an artist’s stature could easily be quantified by the success of their live gigs, album sales, radio airplay and traditional media coverage. These days, those things aren’t so important anymore.
Over the last three to four years, thanks to the Internet, it's become common for kids - disconnected from any local scene, operating without a label or manager - to quietly build up buzz, connections and a substantive fanbase from the comfort of their bedrooms.
In particular, Soundcloud has become the nursery of choice for budding producers and musicians to show off their craft to a global audience and develop their profiles. The case is no different here, and it's pretty remarkable to find so many hidden Singaporean gems plying their trade on the platform. Here are just 9 acts you should check out today — some prominent underground darlings (although still largely under the radar, in the mainstream sense) and others who've seemed to have sprung out of nowhere.
Affiliated with: N/A
Made up of Colombo Kidd and Leon the Professional, this production duo is a Singapore by way of Melbourne team-up that’s been impressing us for a few months now. Built from YouTube and vinyl samples, Young Spice's instrumental hip-hop journey is a dusty, nostalgic callback to the days of Dilla and Peanut Butter Wolf. Amazingly, they also have a couple of outstanding house tracks under their belts, so you know there’s some versatility there. (Paging Darker Than Wax, these guys are right up your alley.)
Affiliated with: GID$
We’ve been following Akeem for a couple of years now, and we’re gonna go out on a limb by calling him the best local rapper in Singapore right now. His #Seludope mixtape is straight fire and a good representation for what makes him special. Akeem’s bilingual lyrics (mostly Malay with effective bits of English strewn about) bear repeated listens because they’re so often so clever and so real. And even if you don’t understand them, you can still sit back and appreciate his impeccable flow. (Woodlands represent.)
Affiliated with: H Y B R D T H R Y
Only 19, sofklo is an ideal example of the kind of young talent that thrives on Soundcloud. Marrying her longing, hypnotic brand of bass-heavy, LuckyMe-influenced beats with an on-point PC Music aesthetic - sofklo’s already carved a distinctive identity in the local scene - which is difficult to do. A sofklo joint is instantly recognised as a sofklo joint. It looks like she puts up a new track every month (all brilliant by the way), so she’s remarkably consistent too.
Affiliated with: Syndicate, Phyla
Okay it's a stretch to call Gema a hidden talent since he’s been the bass scene’s favourite son around three years now (heck he’s even played Laneway!), but we couldn’t do a round-up like this and not include the Echo Prince. Hands down one of the best producers to ever come out of Singapore (and one of our finest DJs too!), Gema’s romantic repertoire frequently draws comparisons to the likes of Jacques Greene and James Blake, and that’s no exaggeration.
Affiliated with: Phyla, Darker Than Wax, Top Cats, H Y B R D T H R Y
Fzpz (pronounced eff-zed-pee-zed) has organically garnered an insane amount of hype within the span of a year, and all of it has been justified. As you can see from his list of affiliates, everyone wants a piece of the prodigy, so if you haven’t gotten on the bandwagon, we suggest you start today. This kid releases at an alarmingly prolific rate, and it's no wonder that his jazz-inspired, bass-drenched take on boom bap and future beats has been the talk of the town in 2015.
Affiliated with: Zoom Lens
Locally speaking, Yeule only recently came to our attention during her debut Singapore gig at June’s Good Times x ATTAGIRL! 2nd Anniversary Party. But internationally, Yeule’s dreamy breed of farouche-pop has stealthily been making waves (she’s even been name-dropped on The FADER) thanks to her Zoom Lens-backed 2014 EP entitled yeule [ZL-20] and her shell-breaking collabs with Shinamo Moki, LLLL and Oh My Muu. Oh, and she’s just 17-years-old. *gasp*
Affiliated with: Order Records
Its a mystery as to why Night Dives isn’t huge here, because he’s certainly one of the freshest, most forward thinking producers to have emerged in the last couple of years. He’s evolved from making incredible bass house tracks to making knotty, physical, underground bass stompers that could fit anywhere between Fade To Mind and Ninja Tune. His tracks have made it onto NTS Radio (on House of Trax), Sidechains’ first compilation and even Rinse FM (dropped by Plastician no less!), so we’re glad that the big boys are noticing!
Affiliated with: Syndicate
Intriguant is likely the biggest name on this list, and he's definitely deserved the recognition due to his work ethic. Besides working at Lush 99.5 by day and gigging prolifically by night (not only a live performer with his own trio and The Good Life Project, he's also become one of Singapore's most in-demand bass house / hip-hop DJs), Intriguant has proven himself to be a producer of high repute. Evoking the likes of Nosaj Thing and Bonobo, his compositions are moody, minimalist and uniformly excellent.
Affliated with: H Y B R D T H R Y
Made up of omarKENOBI, mickeyLEANO and daniKIDDO, Mediocre Haircut Crew first caught our attention earlier this year when their single, "Suburbia" made the rounds. We've kept tabs on them ever since, and each new release continues to impress. They may be young (like, polytechnic young) but their vibe is a vibrant, kinetic, cross-generational meld of Odd Future and Naughty by Nature. And judging by their recent showcase at the Syndicate Beat Invitational (during August’s Lush-curated Kaleidoscope event), these kids are pretty dynamic in a live setting as well!