Nobody Said, 454 and more artists to keep an eye on: your Press Play-list for the week of Feb. 15

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

With so much music scrapped, delayed or lost due to the pandemic, it’s pretty easy to focus on all the music industry “negatives” in the past year.

That’s why this week, we’re squaring in on six artists who surely have big things to come in 2021.

With streaming debuts from up-and-coming artists like Brooklyn-based producer Nobody Said and NYC-based rapper 454, album drops from rock band The Pretty Reckless and U.K. rapper slowthai, and deluxe album releases from breakout artists such as Dua Lipa and Headie One, this week’s playlist is your guide to promising artists to keep an eye on this year.

Here’s your Press Play-list for the week of Feb. 15.

Nobody Said – “Roger That”

Fresh on streaming services this week is Brooklyn-based producer and DJ Nobody Said’s single, “Roger That.” The ethereal, out-of-this-world track is the third and final lead single from the artist’s upcoming album. While Nobody Said’s debut single “The Cycle Tape” wonderfully played upon more tranquil, ambience-driven production, “Roger That” is the embodiment of the artist’s flair for just the opposite, as its maximalist, warped production launches the listener into a full-on journey – appropriately paired with robotic vocals reciting the alphabet, as if it’s a countdown preparing the listener for their sonic voyage. And as if the track alone isn’t trippy enough, be sure to check out the accompanying music video, filled with glitchy, brilliant visuals that perfectly complement the music.

Dua Lipa – “We’re Good”

Breakout pop star Dua Lipa has had an anything-but-uneventful past year. Following the release of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia,” she’s scored features from artists like Miley Cyrus and BROCKHAMPTON, and became a few of the year’s biggest TikTok trends. Now, not even a year after “Future Nostalgia,” she’s released not two, but three versions of the chart-topping record. While “Club Future Nostalgia (DJ Mix)” features a plethora of remixes from celebrated DJs and artists like Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Missy Elliot, “Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition)” is a sort-of more appropriate deluxe addition, with some bonus tracks and unreleased features. Perhaps one of the most infectious tracks on this new release is “We’re Good,” a sonic departure from the original album’s more futuristic, synth-filled sound. Production-wise, the song is full of warm, smooth guitar samples and crisp pop-trap percussion, while lyrically, Lipa beautifully sings about the bittersweetness of an overdue break-up. She described the song to Zane Lowe on Apple Music, “I think [it’s] really interesting. It’s having that amicable breakup that I think everybody kind of wants. It’s like that clean break isn’t lacking, move on. We’re good. You can’t be upset if I move on. I can’t be upset if you move on.”

slowthai – “focus”

U.K. rapper slowthai’s long-awaited sophomore album “TYRON” is brilliantly split into two parts, perfectly matching the artist’s eccentric personality. There’s the ecstatic, moshpit-worthy first half of the album, with track titles aptly in all-caps, and the more somber, more lo-fi second half, track titles spelled in all-lowercase. In continuation of our so-far fairly chill playlist, we’ll be focusing on one of the standouts from the album’s second half, “focus.” The track features slowthai bluntly responding to any of those in doubt of his career, while also candidly touching upon subjects like family and mental health. The Kenny Beats-produced instrumental-only further underscores the openness of “focus,” with a grainy-vinyl-esque vocal sample and gloomy piano keys to match. While slowthai has certainly not lost any of his modern-day punk demeanor on “TYRON,” it’s simultaneously an incredibly mature sophomore LP.

Headie One – “Siberia” (feat. Burna Boy)

Another notable release from the U.K. is superstar Headie One’s deluxe version of his debut album, “EDNA.” Undoubtedly, the standout from the eight new bonus tracks included here is the smooth “Siberia,” featuring breakout Afro-fusionist superstar Burna Boy. The instrumental sounds like it could have been sampled from an unreleased Kurt Cobain B-side, complete with elegiac guitar progressions, while Headie One and Burna Boy both deliver contrasting yet crisp verses. Be sure to check out the entrancing music video too, where Headie One delivers a cold verse from atop a snowy mountain and Burna Boy lays down some heat from a palm-tree-ridden tropical setting.

The Pretty Reckless – “Got So High”

While the tumultuousness and grief of 2020 inspired introspective and reflective works for many artists, this New York rock band has been discovering their grief through their art for the past five years. After Soundgarden frontman tragically took his life while on tour with The Pretty Reckless, leaving them mourning an idol and a friend, their longtime producer Kato Khandwala died in a motorcycle accident 11 months later. The band stepped back from the limelight and took time to recuperate, processing their grief. The result of this time away is their 2021 album, “Death By Rock And Roll.” One of the most profound tracks from this forthcoming record, “Got So High,” sounds sonically hopeful and upbeat. Lyrically, however, the song explores lead singer Taylor Momsen’s struggles with substance abuse following the devastation that the band had endured in 2016. Momsen expressed that when producing honest and candid songs like this one, she felt inspired to create and carry on again. “Clichéd as it may sound, music very literally saved my life,” she told Apple Music, “I had been repressing so much of myself, and everything that I was going through, that by the time I even attempted to creep that door open, the floodgates just poured out in this uncontrollable way.” Listen to the bittersweet ballad above.

454 – “ANDRETTI”

Rapper and producer 454 has been silently putting in work. With co-signs from Frank Ocean-collaborative collective PLZ MAKE IT RUINS and rapper Rejjie Snow, it’s perplexing how he hasn’t blown up yet. Nonetheless, his time to shine is coming, and you don’t want to miss it. His new single “ANDRETTI” is certain to prove that fact – complete with cloud-rap-esque production, clever vocal pitches & melodies, and an incredible chopped-and-screwed outro, 454 shows many of his most admirable talents in one track. Watch the accompanying music video above and keep an eye out for his debut mixtape “4 REAL,” coming out on March 16.