POWER RANKINGS: THE LEADING ARTISTS OF FEBRUARY ’24

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In a similar manner to outlets covering the NBA or NFL, Power Rankings is a monthly opportunity to measure the momentum of artists within our scene. Artists are assessed by the AUD’$ editorial team against five key selection criteria; activity, impact, quality, metrics, and originality – from this, the list of Top 10 artists each month will be made public.

This is an internal, subjective measure intended to highlight recent success and significant achievements by artists in the AU. As we have done since day one, AUD’$ will continue to provide a platform and innovate new ways to generate discussion amongst our community and to share in the richness of artistic talent.

10. NERVE

While the Meanjin/Brisbane artist is yet to drop his first release of the year, that’s not to say he hasn’t been hard at work. Because if you’ve been following Nerve for even longer than a week, you’ll know this man never stops working. Last year he travelled Europe and Aotearoa/New Zealand, with a new single for each destination, before closing out 2023 supporting Chillinit and UK’s Flowdan on their respective tours. The ‘Walk & Talk’ rapper is now back overseas, flipping vinyl samples into his signature style for his new LUCKY DIP Instagram series. Travelling Greece, London, and Norway, and linking with SONGER and Yxng Dave along the way, Nerve’s originality as an artist and producer, and his constant drive for creativity is unmatched. Announced last week, Nerve & Friends (ECB and Cloe Terare) will be performing at 2024’s Groovin The Moo.

9. KOBIE DEE

One of the country’s premier storytellers, Gomeroi/Wodi Wodi artist Kobie Dee made his solo return on Invasion Day with ‘Statistic’. Penning his perspective as a First Nations man in Australia, Kobie addresses the generational impact of genocide, systemic oppression, and the erasure of Indigenous cultural and history: “They put our elders on a ball and chain. They stopped their kids for learning culture now we think its shame. They took our fathers never knew if they’d be seen again. And wonder why there’s deadbeat dads our generations pains.” With his 2019 breakout track ‘Jody’ recently reaching Gold certification, and coming off the back of collaborations with Mali Jo$e and Stan Walker, the Bad Apples signee kicks off 2024 with his debut appearance in the Power Rankings.

8. ONEFOUR

While ONEFOUR dropped down to 8th place since last year, there’s no denying the trailblazing Mount Druitt group’s lasting impact. Airing in October 2023, the ONEFOUR: Against All Odds, detailed their tumultuous rise to fame and ongoing live performing issues with law enforcement. From arguing against creative censorship, to showing why Spenny is ONEFOUR’s MVP, the Netflix documentary proves their undeniable influence on Australian music. Since its release, ONEFOUR have shared their new single and music video ‘Freedom Of Speech’. Over the icy drill production by Chandler Jewels, Louie Oblin, and Twizz, it always lights a fire under the scene when the whole group (J Emz, Spenny, Lekks, and Celly) bless a track together.

7. TKAY MAIDZA

Surpassing the 10-year anniversary of her debut, no other artist has been as consistent throughout the years as Tkay Maidza. The Zimbabwean-Australian singer and rapper has never failed to grace listeners with hit anthems on every project, from her self-titled 2016 debut, each volume of the LYWW series, and now her latest offering, Sweet Justice. Featuring Flume, Duckwrth, Lolo Zouaï, and Amber Mark, the 14-track album includes previous releases ‘Silent Assassin’, ‘Ring-a-Ling’, and ‘WUACV’ – all of which were undeservingly omitted from the Triple J’s Hottest 100. Should’ve been higher? Should’ve at least been there. Regardless, Tkay always keeps it moving and has wasted no time to return in 2024, featuring alongside THE WHALES and MadeinTYO on the infectiously funk-infused collaboration, ‘Hunned Racks’. 

6. ECB 

Going from strength to strength in 2023, ECB have arrived in the Power Rankings stronger than ever. In the lead up to their 10-track project East Coast Sessions Vol. 1, the Tweed Heads group became Acclaim All-Stars, shut down the Stranded Bar stage at BIGSOUND, and dropped a handful of tracks (‘By The Way’, ‘For The Taking’ and ‘Get The Money Up’) with titles alone that tell you exactly the energy ECB run with. Across already explosive production, the main roster of Chiggz, Nate G, and Will, showcase their fiery bars for the first time on a full-length effort. With no signs of slowing down, ECB just performed with their brother JK-47 at Laneway, and as previously mentioned, are scheduled alongside Nerve for Groovin The Moo. 

5. YNG MARTYR 

For any upcoming artists, pay close attention to YNG Martyr. Since his breakout in 2019 with ‘Nike Ticks’, the Wiradjuri artist has, for the most part independently, utilised his internet virality and creative marketing strategies to amass an engaged international fanbase. Off the back of his first long-awaited full-length project Lovesick, the Naarm/Melbourne artist closed out 2023 with a return to bass-heavy bangers on ‘50K’. Earning his Power Rankings debut, the Slakin and Riverine-produced track was birthed in response to being handed a $50,000 tax bill from the ATO and IRS. Refusing to succumb to financial stress, Martyr did what he does best – rap and innovate. Doing what a lot of artists struggle to do, he’s stayed persistent with pre and post content around the single, even catching the attention of a handful of US media platforms (trust us, the biggest is yet to come).

4. 3%

Made up of Indigenous artists Nooky, Dallas Woods, and Angus Fields, meet hip-hop’s new supergroup 3%. Sampling The Presets on ‘OUR PEOPLE’, the trio joined forces late last year to explore the mass incarceration of First Nations people and their deaths in custody. In the press release for their debut single, Noongar man Dallas Woods powerfully states “I hate that we still have to fight but love that we refuse to stop.” Shutting down the SXSW and Blak Powerhouse stages in the last few months, they’ve recently released their latest track ‘Sleezy Steezy Cool’ alongside Tia Gostelow. Produced by One Above, the single follows an upbeat and lighter tone, accompanied with glamorous gig visuals directed by Nick Rae. Without a doubt, 3% have certified themselves as the country’s most exciting group right now.

3. GENESIS OWUSU

Genesis Owusu has been the longest standing champion in the Power Ranking since its inception in March of 2023. Following up his debut studio album Smiling With No Teeth, the Canberra raised artist jumped straight into the lead up of his next project, STRUGGLER. He was relentless in every aspect of his artistry last year, from his mammoth tour spanning across six countries, and music videos and singles like ‘Leading The Light’ and ‘Stay Blessed’ both landing in Triple J’s Hottest 100. Going back to back for ARIA winning albums, Owusu snatched up multiple awards including Album of the Year, Best Hip-Hop/Rap Release and Best Independent Record. Being as great of an advocate as he is an artist, the Ghanaian-Australian called for a ceasefire in his final acceptance speech: “Ceasefire now, ceasefire now, free Palestine.”

2. JK-47 

JK-47 burst into the Power Rankings in 2023 with his meditative sophomore album Revision For Regrowth. Produced by longtime collaborator Jay Orient, the 12-track project exudes Blak excellence with features from Nate G, DENNI, Adrian Eagle, Tasman Keith and more. 2/2 for AOTY consideration, the Tweed Heads artist now turns his focus to spread the album’s gospel across the country. Tearing up Triple J’s Bars of Steel in November, he kicked off 2024 at We Are Warriors’ free Blak Powerhouse event on Invasion Day. From one stage to the next, JK recently ticked off his first festival of the year with Laneway, and will be performing at The Burrow on March 23 as part of the Great Southern Nights.

1. THE KID LAROI.

Australia’s biggest superstar The Kid LAROI unsurprisingly remains in the top spot since Power Rankings last 2023 update. Despite the ARIA winning artist’s Australian tour being postponed from February to October 2024, there’s no shortage in anticipation for his return. Featuring the likes of Central Cee, Jung Kook, Future and more, his coming-of-age debut studio album, THE FIRST TIME, is already sitting at nearly 500 million Spotify streams four months since release. Entering the new year amidst dating rumours with Tate McRae and more importantly, with the intimate ballad of ‘HEAVEN’, The Kid LAROI remains one of the most exciting artists – Australian or otherwise.

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