"Looking the way I look, you get a lot of stereotypes."
With a more diverse and inclusive scene, the UK is seeing a distinct rise in British Asian musicians.
Monumental rises to stardom from British Indian producers Steel Banglez and Sevaqk has kickstarted a less intimidating music scene for British Asians.
From soulful singers to drill rappers, these creative artists are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.
Embracing their British roots but never shying away from their South Asian backgrounds is refreshing to see.
With media outlets such as GRM Daily giving these artists a platform, fans can witness a modern surge of unique talent.
Hard-hitting lyricism, powerful wordplay, breathtaking melodies, and hypnotic beats are truly transcending these British Asian artists.
DESIblitz presents 10 fantastically gifted British Asian musicians who are taking the music industry by storm.
It comes as no surprise that London-based singer and rapper, Koomz, is the first on this list.
Although Koomz started his career as a YouTuber and influencer, his musical abilities have led him to multiple successes within the UK scene.
At only 22-years-old, the talented British Asian musician has racked up some big hits such as ‘Pretty One’, ‘Come Around’, and ‘Passenger’.
However, the song that catapulted Koomz into stardom was his track, ‘Mariah’.
Achieving over 11 million views on YouTube as well as more than 12 million plays on Spotify, the singer definitely made his presence known with the hit.
His refreshing sound takes massive influence from grime, afrobeat, and rap. His melodic voice tends to grace catchy beats, which showcase his surprising vocals and addictive flow.
Fans remain engaged whenever Koomz drops a hit as his brashness overtakes the song and audiences can really listen to the substance in his voice.
His continued motivation has led to collaborations with giant UK artists such as Geko, Kwengface, and Ard Adz.
With an established presence amongst the musically elite, Koomz is definitely on an unstoppable rise.
Hailing from Leicester, UK, JJ Esko is an incredibly talented musician who has been impressing artists and fans alike.
Having only committed to music properly in 2018, the rapper has been delivering hit after hit. His raw and unfiltered passion ooze through his hard-hitting lyrics.
Esko’s sound is dominated by the UK drill, which encompasses the turmoil that the artist has suffered throughout his life.
From the loss of close family members to serving time in jail, the imagery in Esko’s music has resulted in a loyal and attentive fanbase.
His impressive consistency led to smashing singles such as ‘Bandz’, ‘Like Me’, and ‘With You’.
However, it was his thrilling song ‘Opp Block,’ which grabbed the industry’s eyes.
With over 2 million views on YouTube and more than 1 million plays on Spotify, the rap-infused track symbolises Esko’s difficult upbringing but his tremendous perseverance.
It was this unfiltered and humble attitude that grabbed the attention of BBC Asian Network’s ‘Hype on the Mic’. This is where he absolutely delivered the same intensity that fans are used to.
These special elements within Esko’s catalogue also led him to collaborate with legendary British DJ Kenny Allstar in July 2021.
The track is already at over 215,000 views on YouTube, leaving fans in awe of Esko’s insane work rate and eagerly awaiting his future projects.
Hyphen is a British Indian musician from London who has been gaining traction not only as a rapper but for his work in men’s mental health.
The 28-year-old started his musical journey quite late compared to most. His talents came to light when he was in his mid-twenties, after suffering unwelcomed stresses from a job in finance.
Turning to poetry as a means of release, Hyphen quickly discovered the power of music as a coping mechanism.
Creating lyrics that harness his struggles with mental health culminate in extremely transparent performances from the inspiring artist. In a 2019 interview with The Evening Standard, Hyphen states:
“I’m just trying to write, say how I feel and connect with as many people as I can.”
His voice utilises his thick British accent as it echoes emotional lyrics that have the intimate undertones of jazz, whilst contrasting this with potent beats.
It is this soothing yet explosive nature of Hyphen, which has captivated UK fans and artists. This was reiterated when the rapper played an incredible set at the Reading and Leeds festival in 2019.
In addition, Hyphen was chosen as one of the British Asian Network’s Future Sounds artists in 2020. The igniting performance acquainted audiences, with his poeticism and vibrant personality.
His lyricism, piercing flow, and distinct metaphors resonate across the music industry.
His intriguing catalogue can only be found on his Instagram, but this adds to the alluring essence of Hyphen’s character.
Another musician who has seen a rapid rise is Leicester’s, Jay Milli.
The rapper started laying the foundations for his musical career when he was in secondary school. Taking part in rap battles during lunch breaks, Jay admits he used to “kill” his opponents.
This early confidence led Jay to the studio where he began recording his first bits of music.
Taking inspiration from the Punjabi music he grew up with, Jay is heavily obsessed with melody, tone and rhythm.
Fusing both his rapping and singing abilities, Jay can produce stunning vocals, which will play repeatedly in your head.
His harmonic voice spread across a trappy-type beat is a recipe for success. Fans have seen this in tracks like ‘Them Days’, ‘Bags & Brands’ and ‘Trust No 1’.
However, Jay’s exceptional talents have led him to his most prized project of all. This is a remix titled ‘Who’s Bad’, collaborating with the colossal Indian musician, Sidhu Moose Wala.
Released in May 2021, the humungous song rocked fans as they got to witness a melodious and symphonic masterpiece between the two artists, who both brought their A-game.
With over 228,000 views on YouTube, the project has already solidified itself as a staple in Jay’s fresh career.
The energetic singer has gone on to release the soothing track ‘All Day’ in August 2021, which personifies his undying love for music, keeping audiences thrilled for his upcoming music.
Raised in London but born in India, the musically talented Nayana is quickly becoming a fan favourite within British music.
Having grappled early with her dual identity, Nayana has embraced her London upbringing but has not forgotten where her roots lie.
Fusing gritty lyricism and soothing melodies with beautiful Desi visuals highlight the pride that Nayana takes in her British and Indian culture.
Her profound voice is fresh, captivating and has a natural clarity to it. We can see this in her lively tracks ‘How We Do’ and ‘TNT’.
Interestingly, ‘How We Do’ was part of a 2019 campaign with Schuh.
Repping her Indian heritage with vibrant bindis and saris, Nayana graced audiences with an exquisite taste of South Asia.
The British Asian musician has continued to reach new heights within the industry. In 2020, she beautifully performed as one of BBC Asian Network’s Future Sounds artists.
The air in her voice managed to uplift fans and musicians alike. With this, Nayana’s incredible aura gave her an unbelievable opportunity to perform on the COLORS show.
This is a musical platform on YouTube with over 5 million subscribers. It has been graced by top artists such as Jorja Smith, Doja Cat and Billie Eilish.
The gripping performance has gathered over 445,000 views and solidifies Nayana’s inevitable future success.
Some may know S Dog from his collaborations with the Bradford-based group, Bad Boy Chiller Crew.
This is a brash collective that has captured the attention of northern locals with their UK garage sound.
However, whilst S Dog layed down his quickfire and catchy lyrics on multiple occasions, his solo venture has really brought success.
His stripped-back tracks like ‘2 Blessed’ and ‘Family’ define the rapper’s versatility. Lyrically, S Dog goes into a more personal space and allows the fans to get an insight into his difficult upbringing.
His story closely relates to those who have been hit hard by fatherhood, jail, and racial profiling.
Growing up on a council estate in Bradford, the star has come a long way.
With credible mentions from UK platforms like GRM Daily, JDZ Media, Link Up TV, S Dog’s career has finally skyrocketed.
His distinguishable northern accent allows him to grace every song, with a unique twist and demands attention from the audience.
Unapologetically himself, S Dog has racked up over 2 million views on YouTube and produced an unforgettable performance for BBC Asian Network’s ‘Hype on the Mic’ in November 2020.
The fascinating beat selection, rhythmic wordplay, and intimate setting left fans in awe. It cemented S Dog as a catalyst for British Asian rappers and he will indeed continue to climb.
Impeccable London based singer, Asha Gold, is also rising to prominence amongst British Asian musicians.
The quirky and energetic artist has a luscious voice that has been impacted by talented artists like Beyonce and Rihanna.
However, Asha manages to engage fans with her well-rounded fusion of R&B, soul, and hip hop.
Infiltrating these tracks with her UK influences like J Hus and Jorja Smith is a welcomed modern touch.
Her vocals glide across distinctive tracks like ‘Passenger’ and ‘Too Good,’ whilst still engulfing the listener’s attention.
Touching on topics of love, lust, communication, and freedom, the musician has a fabulous aura that she brings to each song. Each note holds a piece of intimacy that Asha sings so effortlessly.
Her talents have brought enormous praises from DJs such as Bobby Friction and Annie Mac. Publications such as Purple Melon and Rolling Stone have also gone on to write favourably about her.
Although, one of Asha’s most iconic moments happened in August 2021, where she performed at Lord’s cricket ground in front of 30,000 people.
The audience got to witness the singer’s calming nature, whilst still being able to get up and embrace the vigour in the beats.
Amazingly, awe-inspiring recognition has strengthened Asha’s presence within the music world.
This includes being ‘Artist of the Week’ on BBC Asian Network in 2020 and being named as one of the BBC Asian Network’s Future Sounds artists for 2021.
Leaping from one triumph to another, Asha’s progress is extraordinary and she will definitely continue to prosper.
Hailing from Birmingham, UK, Jagga is the oldest British Asian musician on this list but there is no denying how fresh his talent is.
Only introducing himself onto the scene in 2017, Jagga has continuously overcome the hurdles, which he has faced as a Punjabi rapper. He expresses:
“Looking the way I look, you get a lot of stereotypes. But at the same time, you stick out ten times so that could be a positive.
“I deal with any negatives that come my way in a positive way.”
Admirably, it is Jagga’s cultural and distinct look that has allowed him to inherit an exciting fanbase. Sticking to his roots, the artist’s immersive voice has led him to pump out hit after hit.
Impressive tracks include ‘Like Kings’, ‘Kisaan Blood’ and ‘For This Dhari,’ which he worked on with established British Asian producer, Sevaqk.
The rapper’s creativity is unmatched and his Punjabi rap focus is refreshing to see within the British Asian music scene.
It has led him to unparalleled successes, including a gigantic tune titled ‘Stacks,’ with Indian artists Nseeb and Sidhu Moose Wala
It is on these hip-hop-inspired songs where we truly see Jagga shine.
The way he powerfully raps about his lifestyle, journey, and musical ability is stunning and a genuine treat for the audience.
In 2019, Jagga was unsurprisingly named as one of BBC Asian Network’s Future Sounds artists. With over 35,000 Instagram followers, it is easy to see why Jagga is receiving his deserved recognition.
South London Tamil artist Pritt is a bona fide catalyst when it comes to leaving a mark on a song.
With a heavily diverse background in Carnatic and R&B music, the singer is an immense talent who takes pride in herself as an artist and musician.
Using her empowering qualities, Pritt wants her art to express the stereotypes women face daily. Using truthful lyrics mixed with an urban trap sound advocates for the singer’s uniqueness.
Interestingly, Pritt has started introducing Carnatic adlibs within her tracks donning it as an “Eastern meets Western” aspect.
The melodic, sensual and mesmerising musicality this brings within Pritt’s music is astonishing.
The ‘western’ sound in her voice is cleverly contrasted with Desi visuals and cultural pride, emphasising an embrace of South Asia that many British Asian artists are working to.
With engaging hits like ‘365’, ‘Identity’ and ‘Top Boy’, already in her catalogue, Pritt’s arrival on the scene has been met with jubilation.
Publications such as GQ India, Trench and Pop SUGAR have all featured and acknowledged Pritt’s versatile yet comforting artistry, and rightly so.
In January 2021, the singer was one of eight Future Sounds artists for BBC Asian Network. Actually, making her the first Tamil woman to do so.
Her 2021 EP, Take 2, has gathered over 120,000 streams and listeners are desperately anticipating some fresh music.
With an unquestionable obsession for music, fans won’t have to wait long to be graced with Pritt’s voice again.
Originating from Birmingham, UK, Sparkaman is a rapper who although has been on the music scene for a while, has only started to receive a great deal of admiration.
Known for his raw and authentic lyrics and honest representation of his upbringing, Sparkaman is an artist with substance and grit.
The melodic tones in his voice, whilst rapping about the obstacles he has faced is quite impressive. Also, the clarity within his delivery shows how deep-rooted the musician’s experience is.
His natural passion for music has led him to create gigantic tracks like ‘Faryaad’ and ‘Yorkshire 2 Westmidz,’ which both have over 420,000 plays on Spotify.
Interestingly, the rapper continuously partners up with Birmingham singer, Muki, who regularly sings in Punjabi.
This versatility has astounded fans but revealed the depth of musicality within Sparkaman’s catalogue.
It has allowed the duo to emphasise the modern-day British Asian musician – someone who can operate on an urban track, whilst incorporating a Desi essence.
In April 2020, Sparkaman welcomed his first music plaque, which was certified gold by Link Up TV. His reaction allowed fans to see the rapper’s humble nature as he mentioned:
“Proud moment getting my first music plaque…and for my real supporters this one is yours as well.”
With even more imminent success on the horizon, it is exciting to see what Sparkaman can conjure up on his future projects.
As the music scene evolves and different sounds are inherited by fans, British Asian artists have quickly solidified their presence in the industry.
Coming from stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice, these creative stars have already proved their worth.
From incredible collaborations to breathtaking EP’s, these musicians are building a wonderful amount of credibility that will for sure influence the next influx of British Asian artists.
Not only do their voices capture true artistry, but their cultural pride is solidifying an appreciation for South Asian communities.
Having already reached impressive feats, these artists will undoubtedly continue to shine and decorate the music scene with their creativity and flair.