Words: Demi Bailey-Paul | Subbing: Bernadette Galbraith
SoundCloud has established itself as a place where artists can escape the mainstream and create their own independent content without being confined to fit one rigid genre. Has this streaming service allowed British Soul music to break onto the scene and re-emerge again?
With the likes of Sade being one of the first prominent R&B/Soul musicians to introduce the world to the British side of soul music, who paved the way for the likes of Emeli Sande and Lianne La Havas who also made their mark on the British music scene with their innovative sound of soft harmonies and meaningful lyrics. Their unique British spin was what set them apart from the mainstream American soul music. As they manifested into their music, their experiences of feeling like an outsider due to their dual heritage and how they turned to music to express their frustrations, this touch of reality and authenticity is what made their music that bit more relatable.
Since their arrival into the music industry, there has been a long-awaited void of silence that needs to be filled from this internet generation, wouldn’t you agree? Throughout the years we have seen the music industry become less creative, as ‘artists’ are shot to fame practically every five minutes with a particular sound that seems to be garnering more attention than granted. Real instruments, compositions and lyrics with meaning are being replaced by undecipherable sounds and words such as ‘yah’, that seem to be the only intelligible lyric you can sing along to, leaving you questioning ‘what did I just listen to?’
But fear no more, SoundCloud is here to save the music industry, it has been since August 2007, revolutionizing the rigidness of the music industry. It has allowed the audience to come to the musicians instead of the artists struggling to find a record label to support their dreams.
With their free services and tools, they have enabled artists to have an endless variety of ways to share their unique sound, connect with other artists and self-promote their work to the world. The independent nature of SoundCloud is in perfect harmony with artists who have a sound that doesn’t fit into one particular box, and especially with the music culture today it allows them to be free and creative. This challenges to the status quo acts as a starting point for artists to gain exposure.
But enough of my rambling, here are a few of our very own R&B British-born artists who gained popularity due to SoundCloud first.
- Ella Mai – The 22-year-old English singer-songwriter first appeared as part of a group on the X Factor but after not advancing to the next stage, in 2015, the following year she uploaded a four track EP to SoundCloud. Her sound will take you back to the era of R&B heartbreak, with her soulful instrumentals she manages to capture the essence of young love.
PEDESTAL IS ON SOUNDCLOUD NOW! go listen ☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️ link is in my bio. pic.twitter.com/Pbg4O5fPEB
— Ella Mai (@ellamai) August 1, 2015
- Mabel – Music literally runs through her veins, as her mum is 90s singer Neneh Cherry and her dad Massive Attack producer, Cameron McVey. She grew up around music, so there is no surprise that this would be her passion. Her sound gives the audience airy, chilled R&B vibes with soft melodies that carry the lyrics.
- Mahalai – Based in Leicester, her rich vocals and reminiscent songwriting is similar to the likes of Lauryn Hill and Jhene Aiko’s free flowing sound.
- Jorja Smith– Before appearing on Drakes 2017 ‘More Life’ album twice on the songs ‘Jorja Interlude’ and ‘Get it Together’, the singer from the midlands originally would release her singles independently – her first single ‘Blue Lights’ was uploaded on SoundCloud in 2016. Her sound has elements of jazz and spoken word which has been compared to the likes of Mos Def, Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse.