Stevie G: Let’s talk about some of the tunes which lit up 2021

It was a strong year for music, but I'll narrow it down to my favourite 10, says Stevie G in his Downtown column 
Stevie G: Let’s talk about some of the tunes which lit up 2021

Galway-based Melanin Tee (‘Who’s She’) has loads of attitude and sass.

Today I’m gonna pick my favourite tunes of the year. I’ll narrow it down to 10 but in reality it was a strong year for music, particularly when it came to singles. This column mainly specialises in hip-hop and soul so I’ll keep it to those genres, and the other ones which I specialise in, including afrobeats/dancehall/trap and drill.

Amapiano was probably the biggest music story of the year, and 2021 was the year where many great south African rhythms hit the mainstream. Drill continued it’s rise, and in Ireland, new drill artists emerged left, right, and centre. I wrote about this a few times in this column, but it was great to see some of Ireland’s drill artists explode, both here and abroad. It doesn’t get the media coverage or airplay that it merits, but drill is here to stay and it’s massive in Ireland and the UK. Both Drill and Amapiano are genres which have existed for a while and which are both morphing into new areas all the time.

This is one of the wonderful things about music. It will merge with new styles and become something new again.

We live in turbulent times, and I’ll sum up the year in full next week, but today let’s talk about some of the tunes which lit up my sets in 2021.

My only big regret is that I didn’t get to play more of these out in clubs and at festivals and parties.

Here are 10 of my favourites, in no particular order.

Sello ‘Dublin’/’As Gaeilge’

This Dublin rapper burst on to the scene in 2021 and it’s hard to choose between these two bangers, both of which combine drill beats and sub bass over samples of more traditional Irish music. Max is on the boards for two tracks which were everywhere in 2021. ‘Dublin’ samples ‘The Foggy Dew’ by the Chieftains while Sinead O’Connor is reworked for ‘As Gaeilge’. These were two tracks which always got people texting in to my show.

Ireland’s new sound, from a charismatic young Clondalkin rapper who is going places fast.

Kanye West ‘Moon’

Donda is full of absolute bops and it peaks on this sublime bit of music. Backed by Don Toliver and Kid Cudi, this is what Kanye is all about. He has some of the best ears in music, and he regularly brings out the best in others too.

This was the year where he really got his mojo back, and the world is a better place when he’s in this form.

Blakkheart ‘From a Dream’

One of Cork’s most unique and under-rated talents, Eimear O’Sullivan has been making superb music for a number of years. She produces and engineers it all too, and she’s amazing live. One of my highlights this year was hosting Blakkheart and loads of other great young Cork newcomers in Fitzgerald Park this summer. This is the new school.

Cardi B ‘Up’

It was a comparatively quiet year for Cardi B, who had another baby, but the New York rapper has got bars to burn and she showed them off with ‘Up’ back in February. Cardi/Megan and a whole wave of women have been killing it in the rap game for a few years now, and they ain’t stopping anytime soon.

Melanin Tee ‘Who’s She’

We’ve got our own Cardi and Megans too. In Ireland, Celaviedmai, King Koko, Schmoney Doll and many others girls are killing it on the mic, and that’s before we mention Denise Chaila, who also released more fire this year.

Galway based Melanin Tee has loads of attitude and sass and the “Brown skilled girl and Irish beauty” is one to watch for sure!

Brent Faiyaz ‘Wasting Time’

Drake and the Neptunes join Brent for an r&b banger! Wonderful.

Ding Dong ‘Booming’

So many Jamaican classics this year and Ding Dong came correct with another banger that I play out every single time.

Stylo G ‘Oh Lawd’

This might have been late 2020 but I don’t care. More dancehall goodness!

Central Cee ‘Obsessed with you’

London rapper who followed classics like ‘Commitment Issues’ and ‘GangBiz’ with this lush PinkPantheress sampling jam. She could have featured in my top 10 herself to be honest.

There were so many great tunes from PinkPantheress herself too in 2021, including ‘Just for me’, the origin of Central Cee’s track.

Little Simz and Cleo Sol ‘Woman’

Two more amazing UK talents absolutely smashing it.

It’s been a good year for music.

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