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The Black British Invasion

by Shane Thomas

 

Ella Mai 

 

The New British Invasion


When The Beatles invaded America in 1964, the “Fab Four” spearheaded a movement that opened the floodgates for other British artists to dominate the American music charts.


After Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison of The Beatles turned “The Ed Sullivan Show” into hysteria led by shrieking high school girls, newer British lads like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards became household names in America with the success of bands like the Rolling Stones.


Now thanks to Black British artists like R&B singers Ella Mai and Jorja Smith, classical pianist Alexis Ffrench and others from various genres, the Black community has its own British invasion in 2018.


With Ella Mai releasing her self-titled debut LP today, after the enormous success of singles like “Boo’d Up” and “Trip,” RegalMag.com thought it would be swell to introduce Regal readers to the enormous talent coming out of Europe.


Check out seven artists that the staff at RegalMag.com is excited about.



Ella Mai—R&B songstress Ella Mai has it all. Nevertheless, it took a long time for her to get the recognition she so richly serves from music audiences. In an era in which social media following has replaced artist development and patience, Ella Mai benefitted from producers and a record label that believed in her long-term potential. 10 Summers Records worked Ella Mai singles until they had a smash hit in “Boo’d Up,” which has dominated the R&B charts for months. The success of that single led to the “Boo’d Up Tour,” an opening act gig on Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic Tour” and a distribution deal with Interscope Records. On her debut album, Ella Mai has features with American R&B heavy hitters like Chris Brown, John Legend and H.E.R.



Jorja Smith—Jorja Smith is the 21st century version of a young Sade. Thanks to her guest appearance on the “Black Panther Soundtrack,” Smith had a ready-made fan base eagerly anticipating her album “Lost and Found.” Like Ella Mai, Smith’s career received a boost from a celebrity endorsement. Rap sensation Drake once said that Smith’s single “Where Did I Go” was his favorite song and he included Smith as an opening act for his “Boy Meets World Tour” in 2017. Drake included Smith on two tracks on his critically acclaimed playlist “More Life.” She also performed with Bruno Mars during the “24K Magic Tour.” Smith recorded music for five years before she released her debut album “Lost and Found,” which contains cautionary tales about young love. Not only a songstress, Smith is a true artist, writing or co-writing much of her own material.



Alexis Ffrench—Finally an artist has merged within classical music with the pop sounds of hip-hop, soul and R&B. When many music fans think of classical music, they probably think about the elite of society sitting in an ivory tower looking down on the common people of society who listen to that unsophisticated pop music. However, Ffrench believes that classical music can learn a lot from popular genres like hip-hop because of the risks that rap music often takes. With his latest album “Evolution,” Ffrench definitely takes risks. But the risks were well worth it as he delivered a classic that has something that all music fans can relate to without straying too far from his classical roots.



JGrrey—The South London native JGrrey has a sound that critics describe as understated but mesmerizing. Her 2017 debut EP “I Can’t Die, Lie, or End Time” got its influence from the jazz music of the 1960s and classic soul music of the past. However, her newer singles like “Don’t Fade” and “Ready to Die” have a more modern sound, which shows her diversity and artistry. And like other British artists, JGrrey is not just a singer but a songwriter as well. She wrote “Don’t Fade” after she was asked to do COLORS Berlin.



Tinie Tempah—Since 2005, British rapper Tinie Tempah has made a name for himself in Europe with a mixture of classic hip-hop, British hip-hop, grime, electronic and drum and bass music. Not just an emcee, Tinie Tempah is a true musician, proficient with keyboards, drums and synthesizers. He has released three studio albums, “Disc-Overy” (2010), “Demonstration” (2013) and last year’s “Youth.” And just like his fellow British brethren, Tinie Tempah has gained mainstream exposure thanks to opening for American pop stars like Rihanna and Usher on the European legs of their tours.



IAMDDB—Take a bow Atlanta rappers because trap music has influenced musicians and fans all the way in Manchester, England. Artist Diana DeBrito, better known as IAMDDB, fuses trap music, hip-hop, and R&B to create her own swagger. Although she also infuses her music with jazz too, IAMDDB’s music has a club and dance vibe that her peers like Ella Mai and Jorja Smith do not have. Her single “Shade” is among her most popular songs. Like Ella Mai, IAMDBB built her buzz by releasing successful EPs instead of LPs. And like the rest of the Black British invasion stars, IAMDDB has made a name for herself by performing with American R&B stars like Bryson Tiller and SZA.


 

Aaron Taylor—Critics have compared Aaron Taylor to neo-soul legend D’Angelo. So, how does it feel? Taylor probably feels great with those lofty comparisons. The single “Saw You in My Dreams” has drawn rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Just like Prince, Taylor sings, writes, produces and arranges his own music. Apple liked his song “Lesson Learnt” so much that the company used the track in an advertisement for the Apple Watch. Like many artists, Taylor found his inspiration from many artists and genres. Gospel legend Kirk Franklin, and R&B crooners Musiq Soulchild and D’Angelo are some of his favorites.

This article was published on Friday 12 October, 2018.
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