By Michelle Hyun Kim, Colin Joyce, and Jaelani Turner-William of Third Bridge Creative
In this week’s column of emerging artists, we're diving into a French-Cameroonian rapper, a UK pop-grunge sentimentalist, OVO's leading lady from Rotterdam, a Southern California indie rocker, and Atlanta's latest offering for atmospheric R&B.
Chartmetric Artist Rank: 910
@colorsxstudios @Yamê - Bécane | A COLORS MOMENT ✨ #colors #yame #acolorsshow #yamê #bécane #becane #french #cameroon ♬ Bécane - A COLORS SHOW - Yamê
French-Cameroonian rapper Yamê is seeing global success after the June COLORS SHOW performance of his song "Bécane" went viral on TikTok. COLORS reposted a clip of the artist in late November, and it’s since racked up 32 million views and 2.8 million likes, with many TikTok users both poking fun at and admiring his jazzy vocal delivery in French, as well as his missing front teeth. Despite the internet’s cruelty, Yamê’s unique look and sound have helped him stand out, bringing the song to No. 1 on the Spotify Viral 50 - Global chart and garnering Yamê 2.1 million new Spotify monthly listeners in the past month. His popularity also seems to transcend language; of his 279.9K new TikTok followers in the past month, 9k are from the United States and 5.9k are from Brazil.
Chartmetric Artist Rank: 5,587
The U.K.-born singer/songwriter Artemas Diamandis’ career in pop music was born from darkness. Though he’d always been a singer, he realized he wanted to pursue it seriously when he saw a documentary on Kurt Cobain — whose irrepressible emotions and sneering sense of humor served as a striking parallel for the singer’s stormy music. Over the last few years, his singles have carved out a unique corner of pop, indulging downcast emoting and darker instrumentals without abandoning heartrendingly catchy melodies. Thanks to viral singles like the cryptic “cross my heart” and the yearning “if u think i’m pretty,” he’s garnered 1.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify in the last month, and placements on prominent placements on editorial playlists like Pop Rising, Lorem, and big on the internet. His grungy and sentimental pop music seems only poised to grow heading into 2024.
Chartmetric Artist Rank: 12,610
Country: The Netherlands
The first woman signee of Drake’s OVO Sound label, alt-R&B vocalist Naomi Sharon exudes sultriness and futurism on her debut album Obsidian. Released on October 20, the tracks are largely reminiscent of Drake ballads — with moody lyrics fitting for Instagram captions — but the quality fits Sharon’s smoky Sade-inspired vocals and ultramodern visual aesthetic. Even without a feature with OVO’s head honcho, “Another Life,” Obsidian’s highest-streamed song, has garnered nearly 3.3 million Spotify plays. Since the album’s release, the Dutch-Caribbean vocalist has uploaded a string of visualizers and official music videos, getting near a cumulative 2 million views since the start of October. Currently at 1.26 million Spotify monthly listeners, Sharon's music has landed her on editorial playlists RNB X, Chilled R&B, and R&B Weekly.
Chartmetric Artist Rank: 182,034
Genre: Indie Rock
California singer-songwriter Zooey Celeste has become a new indie-rock breakout star with his psychedelic-tinged album, Restless Thoughts, released November 10 via ATO. Produced by Nick Hakim in his Brooklyn apartment, the album has a hazy sound that pulls from Celeste’s years as a surfer, as well as a metaphysical thriller novel he’s working on. After its Tei Shi-featuring lead single “Big Trouble” got prominent placements on Front Page Indie and All New Indie, Celeste gained 64.4k new Spotify monthly listeners within the record’s first month of release, resulting in a 1,349% overall increase.
Chartmetric Artist Rank: 3,997
Atlanta R&B and soul crooner Chase Shakur is putting his spin on the hazy and atmospheric sounds of Brent Faiyaz and Bryson Tiller. The singer’s passionate lyrics and cloud R&B production hold the attention of his Spotify monthly listeners, which increased by 163.7k listeners in the last month. In November, the 23-year-old shared a live session of his heartfelt track “exit 65” which currently has 84k YouTube views. On September 1, Shakur released it’s not you, it’s me… it’s love, the deluxe edition of his sophomore project that dropped in June, with the most popular track “nite” currently at 1.8 million plays.
The Method: The Power of Label Association
Naomi Sharon’s debut album might not have a Drake feature, but the electro-R&B artist still has his backing through association — her label, OVO Sound, isn’t just known as a record company, it’s known as Drake’s record company. That might be why the official OVO Sound playlist on Spotify, curated by Drake and currently featuring ten tracks from Sharon’s album, Obsidian, has 1.1 million followers, more than the combined follower count of every public playlist by Drake’s label, Republic Records. Featuring over half of Obsidian’s tracklist is a smart move to get Drake and OVO Sound fans onto the Naomi Sharon bandwagon, and it seems to be working — the non-single album track “Time and Trust,” for example, peaked at No. 6 on the OVO Sound playlist in early November, and has since had an over 250% increase in Spotify streams.
Graphics by Nicki Camberg and cover image by Crasianne Tirado; data as of Dec. 13, 2023.