Englands Finest

Mot-clef : Englands Finest

01 Cover: Emile Smith Rowe

Even in Baku’s tin-hollow Olympic Stadium, Emile Smith Rowe could feel them. The eyes of the crowd weighing heavy on his back, analysing, judging his steps like a TV talent show.

Yxng Bane

Yxng Bane, one of the most exciting new artists in the UK right now, is telling me exactly how it is. I’ve just asked him whether 2018 was the biggest year of his life.

Steel Banglez

It’s coming home. Grime that is. To Newham, if you want to be more specific. Much like the current wave of energy and optimism that surrounds English football, it has been refreshed and reinterpreted by a burgeoning wave of emerging talent, and no one represents that more than Steel Banglez.

Class of 2019: Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman was a little-known winger playing on scuffed Sunday League pitches in Wandsworth in 2014. At 16, his career seemed to have already hit the fated ceiling, lulled at the plateau outside of one of the country’s prodigious academies.

Class of 2019: Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Within the space of two weeks last year, everything changed for Aaron Wan-Bissaka. On February 25 he made his Crystal Palace first-team debut in front of 25,000-plus fans at Selhurst Park against Tottenham. On March 5, he faced Manchester United. On March 10, Chelsea.

Rising 11: AJ x Deno x EO

Childhood friends who’ve combined their sound to impressive effect, the incredibly young London duo have found an enthusiastic fan-base through their heartfelt and infectious Grime meets Afro Beat hybrid.

01 Cover: Callum Hudson-Odoi

Whether in Thessaloniki, Minsk or the Sóstó in western Hungary, Callum Hudson-Odoi can always pick one sound out from the crowd. A high-pitched multi-octave whistle which pierces through the crackling flares of the home fans before ricocheting around Europe’s concrete arenas.

Avelino

If you follow Avelino on Instagram, you probably know he’s a serious baller. On all levels. He regularly gloats that he’s the G.O.A.T. on FIFA 19.

WSTRN

West London rap/R&B collective WSTRN are coming back strong, with their new album DOU3LE3AK out just a few months ago. The critics have been unanimous in this aspect: WSTRN, who only signed with the record label Atlantic in 2015, are the past, present, and future of West London.

Rising 11: Amelia Monet

Amelia Monet is on a mission, with a determination that belies her age. Singer, model, west end performer and more besides, Monet’s stock is rising faster even then her own social media channels (380k on Instagram alone at the time of printing), as the success of breakout track ‘The Baddest’ (ft fellow Gaffer featured artist EO) struck an instant chord in summer 2018.

Rising 11: Unknown T

Homerton B was the track of 2018. A late summertime grower, the track found its way into the record box of every established selector - everyone from Mistajam to Annie Mac (and even Tim Westwood) could be found blasting it out to legions of ravers from London to Ayia Napa.

U17 Lions: Nya Kirby

Nya Kirby trudged nervously towards the penalty spot through Kolkata’s thick evening air, blacking out the shrieking crowd, his mind stuck in a mantra. “Stick with it,” he repeated.

Class of 2019: Rob Holding

It seems an obvious statement, but Rob Holding’s casual tone belies a young man both taking in the vast and eye wateringly swift step-up he’s made professionally and also a person at total ease with the process?

Kojo Funds

2018 has seen Brexit whip up a nationwide frenzy and increased media coverage of youth violence illuminate the fissures in English society.
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