As hip hop continues to innovate and fracture away from its roots, a new terminology is needed to give scope to the bewildering variety of rap derived genres currently dominating the global charts and underground alike. As such, and while we wait for a better term to come along, Sónar presents a number of artists who are not only dominating the Urban Music scene in 2019, but are also pointing the way to where it might evolve.
Perhaps no other artist best represents the rise of urban music than A$AP Rocky. An early adopter of YouTube, and expert in digital self promotion, the Harlem rapper has given the scene many of its hallmarks; an obsession with high fashion, a DIY attitude and an open minded approach to genre. In Rocky's case this openness has led him to collaborate with everyone from psych rockers and grime artists to R&B chanteuses, resulting in a string of modern anthems, which he'll perform for the hypebeasts at SonarClub on Friday 19th July
Representing the scene for the UK, and an artist whose career we've followed closely at Sónar, Skepta will air his long awaited follow up to Konnichiwa at the same stage on Saturday 20th. Equally proficient as a beatmaker and an MC, London's grime kingpin has played a key role in breaking the grime sound in the US, as well as introducing American artists into the UK and Europe.
If A$AP and Skepta both represent a blurring of geographical boundaries, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples takes things even further from a genre point of view. While his subject matter and rap style is rooted in the LA gangster rap of his upbringing, his fondness for electronic beats and 4/4 time signatures brings him closer to the world of club and dance music than anyone else on the line-up this year.
Anyone, except perhaps Bad Gyal. The catalan, but decidedly international singer, seems poised on the edge of global domination right now, thanks to her digital take on dancehall. Staunchly independent, and set on doing things her own way, her show at SonarVillage this year will be her second time at Sónar, but her first on the main stage at Sónar by Day. An unmissable show from an artist bringing a much needed dose of female energy into the scene, and pointing the way to the future at the same time.