Future Stars: WSTRN (Atlantic)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

When I hear about a new major label signing, I usually make a note to keep an eye on the artist, and feature them if their career starts taking off. I’d never heard of West London trio WSTRN when I read that they’d signed to Atlantic, so I was surprised to see them at no.3 on the Shazam new release chart just a few weeks later with their new single In2. Atlantic have been pushing the track hard, securing support from Radio 1, 1Xtra and Kiss FM, and it’s also had rave reviews from blogs like The 405 and Indie Shuffle that don’t even specialise in this genre. WSTRN is a kind of supergroup, featuring rappers Akelle Charles and Louis Rei and singer Haile, all of whom have been around on the UK urban scene for a while. Although WSTRN are managed by Morgan Keyz, best known as part of the SBTV crew, their sound has moved on from the British pop-rap crossover tracks of SBTV’s heyday, which seem quite dated now. In2 is better described as a British take on current US artists like Drake or Fetty Wap, and has a warmth and commercial feel that suggests the group could break through at a level that few UK hip-hop artists have managed recently. It’s important for these artists to maintain a distinctive sound, but there’s no shame in taking inspiration from their US counterparts, whose music is so popular with British fans.

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