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New Wave Best Of 2020 Winners



As 2020 draws to a close, New Wave has decided to put together an end of year presentation which will be rolled out through-out our social media platform, radio show, and website, highlighting some of the work that has been done by musicians but also those that work behind the scenes and fail to get the due recognition. Some categories include Best Album Roll Out, Best Style, Best Genre Blender, Best Artist Photographer, Best Album Cover, and more.

We received over 1700 voters on our voter's survey within a week's voting process which showed us the enthusiasm that people had for an authentic celebration of talent in which the people genuinely have a say. Each of our 24 categories contained nominees that were very thoroughly selected based on their merits in this calendar year. Based on the winners, who have been selected by those of you that graciously took the time to vote, our team of journalists have come together to give you a rundown of the winners and some points as to why they may have been selected as winners of the popular vote by the general public. Award shows or presentations often do not express or break down the reasoning for their selects - therefore re decided to do things differently. Although all the winners were based on your vote, we have a few things to say about the winners and why they took home their individual titles.


In partnership with House Of Lilah and Wray & Nephew, here are our winners of the New Wave Best Of 2020 Presentation.


Best Producer

Our Best Producer of 2020 goes to Labrinth, and for very good reason, not only has this extremely talented singer/songwriter and producer created hit after hit within the last 10 years, Labrinth has proved his worth and capabilities from working with the world’s biggest musicians which we believe, has shown his flair for excellent production and aptitude making him one of the most prolific producers of 2020.


The Hackney local first came onto the scene in the 2010’s after his collaboration with Tinie Tempah with the song ‘Pass Out’ which won a Brit award for Song of the Year and Best Collaboration for the Urban Music Awards. For the next 10 years until today, Labrinth has been the genius behind or self-produced the iconic 2012, MOBO-award-winning hit ‘Earthquake’ featuring Tinie Tempah, ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ featuring Emili Sande and ‘Make Me (Cry)’ featuring Noah Cyrus which were both award nominated.


Labrinth has also collaborated with a plethora of talented musicians as a singer, songwriter or producer for artists including Beyoncé , Kanye West, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj and Ed Sheeran in 2020, as well as

producing the soundtrack for the extremely popular American television series Euphoria starring Zendaya and Hunter Schafer, which won him the prestigious Ivor Novello Award in 2020. More recently, he was Grammy nominated for The Lion King – Live Action’s soundtrack and Spirit with Beyoncé.


Labrinth, we hope you appreciate this award just as much as we think you deserve it.


- Words by Shenead Porosootum


Runner Up: 808 Melo



Best Album Roll Out

Fans of music are often solely focused on the musical product of their favorite artists. However, the process of building that anticipation is often undervalued, especially in an era where projects are announced only a week or two before release as opposed to months in advance. We have dedicated this category to highlight some projects that we believe did their best to create a moment before, during, and after their release alongside some brilliant marketing minds. Your winner for this category is Headie One's roll-out for his debut album EDNA. Named after his mother, the number one album was not only well-received, because of the musical content but also because of Heasie one's presence and the events beyond the booth. A key point in the roll-out of this project comes in the form of the power move of collaborating with the #1 hip hop artist in the world Drake on their single Only You Freestyle, which was a notable moment for UK music this year. The Headie one sculptures that appeared around London alongside big features on The Guardian and GQ and Places + Faces made for a perfect storm for the EDNA album release.


Runner Up: Nines


Best Artist Photoshoot

The art of photography is a vital element of showcasing individual artistry and character. This new category was inspired by the amazing work production teams have been able to deliver, even under troubling circumstances. One of the standouts of the year is the Dazed cover featuring Pa Salieu, photographed by Gabriel Moses. This cover shoot in film had a brilliant greyscale aesthetic, a great addition to the exceptional year that the Convenry rapper has had which captured the attention of many within the creative industry and beyond. Gabriel Moses is a young photographer and filmmaker that has been involved in various projects this year, from working with Adidas on their recent Manchester United campaign to short films, Gabriel carried out his unique style onto this dazed cover which captured Pa Salieu's brash yet composed demeanor. Very well deserving of our title of Best Artist Photoshoot.


Runner Up: IAMDDB by Gareth Pugh



Verse Of The Year

The lyricism is an aspect of the UK Hip Hop landscape that is still held in high regard, we also touch on this in our Best of 2020 campaign. For Verse Of The Year, Kano takes the crown this year with the second verse from his impactful record Teardrops, taking on a new life of its own after his rated Performance with some intense visuals showcasing the harsh realities of police brutality. The verse itself was an intricate showcase of Kano's ability to flow on a brash and unconventional instrumental. Kano's second verse tackled various topics seamlessly, he compared trading verses to being a sole trader and reminiscing on being a young man dreaming of materialistic things calling them shoebox memories but now the mission to keep his friends away from the eyes of the law. A very stellar verse with great passion and subject matter.


Runner Up: Skepta, Nang Verse



Song Of The Year

After a turbulent few years, Digga D returned from his stint in prison, with the soundtrack to the second half of 2020, Woi. Written during his time behind bars, the song took a playful approach to the dark and moody tones of drill. To accompany the track, Digga D released a Suave-directed visual that paid homage to LA’s crip culture, with him and his friend cruising in a lowrider in the warm weather. The 20 year old has continued to make waves and a heavy impact on the drill scene, despite the stringent conditions of his Criminal Behaviour Order and being stabbed in the eye. Being forced into the corner he has, is testing the young stars levels of creativity, allowing him to elevate and grow his sound exponentially. The success of this track makes that clear, having amassed over 14 million views on the video in less than 6 months. The future looks bright for Digga D, and the win incredibly deserved.


Words by Fatima Sheekhuna


Runner Up: Abra Cadabra - On Deck



Best Live Performance

In a year of very few live performances, virtual performances have satisfied us and been the cause of our urge for live shows with the crowds we are so used to all at the same time. This category celebrates some of the platforms and artists that have continued to give us live sessions with our favorite artists. Platforms such as DSCVR, COLORS, and Tiny desk have persevered during hard times to showcase talent in their unique ways. The winner of our Best Live Performance category is Pa Salieu's showcase on DSCVR, performing Block Boy from his debut project Send Them To Coventry. In this performance, Pa Salieu shows his growth as an artist and his star quality. Pa Salieu performed a unique variation of the single with a live band. From his style to his stage presence Pa Salieu delivered an honest performance that forces you to look into more of his catalog.


Runner Up: Arlo Parks - Tiny Desk



Most Innovative

Innovation is one of the important aspects of progress in any industry, and the music industry is no different. This category is based on not only music but the artist's creative direction and approach to the music industry in terms of marketing and presentation. With that being said, your winner this year is Slowthai - coming off the back of the success of his debut project, Slowthai has managed to keep pushing the envelope of creativity and his approach to being a musician. Slowthai has continued to stretch his artistic expression and create conversation through his visuals and subject matter. Slowthai also has a very innovative connection to his fans. As big as it is, Slowthai always has a way of catering to his base in a personal way. For example, most recently Slowthai sent out a postcard to all his fans on his mailing list, appreciating them for sticking with him through the good and the bad times. Slowthai is also very well known for his spectacular music videos, often directed by his creative teams Crown's & Owls and The Rest.


Runner Up: Sam Wise



Philanthropist Of The Year

Our winner for Philanthropist Of The Year is Stormzy! Stormzy has been known to make moves in helping young people within the black community to make sure their voices are heard and this year is no different. This year we saw Stormzy make a pledge from the Merky Foundation to give away £10m over a decade to help organisations that are dedicated to fighting racial inequality. Not only this, but he also donated £500,000 to fund educational scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Stormzy is one for the community and is deserving of this win!


Words by Giorgia Francis


Runner Up: Joy Crookes


Album Of The Year

J Hus is our winner for Album Of The Year! Big Conspiracy was the follow up album since Common Sense and it certainly didn't disappoint. Over the years, J Hus has paved his way with his own sound, combining Afrobeats and Rap which is now known as 'Afroswing' and this album thrives in this. Featuring Koffee, Burna Boy there is versatility throughout in terms of style and genres and it works effortlessly. With little to no prior promotion aside from a string of J Hus esque inspirational tweets, the album was released early this year with widespread acclaim from critiques and fans. Big Conspiracy was highly anticipated after J Hus' 8 month stint in prison but the music was as fearless and experimental as ever. Standout tracks such as No Denying, Fortune Teller and Helicopter spoke to the talents of the self proclained Bouf Daddy, J Hus thank you for Big Conspiracy, you deserve this accolade!


Words by Giorgia Francis


Runner Up: Nines, Crabs In A Bucket


Best Song Concept

Jorja Smith is no stranger to making a politically charged track, with her breakout song touching on the topic of youth violence and Black boys' relationship with the police. On By Any Means, her first single of the year, she continued that legacy. In a year where Black Lives Matter at one point was at the forefront of many peoples lives, she graced us with a track that touched on the history of lies and pain that led to that moment. The video spotlighted the eclectic faces and bodies within the scope of Black Britain, including the team of No Signal Radio, a Black British Radio station that rose to prominence during the pandemic. With a specific focus on the eyes of individuals, various tones of Blackness and what it looks like, the video was a powerful tool in doing the work of reflecting the times of an artists and also maintaining a timeless stance in keeping the conversation of race relations and what Blackness in the UK looks like.


Words by Fatima Sheekhuna


Runner Up: Ghetts x Skepta, IC3


Best Artist x Brand Collaboration

It’s always amazing to see an artist come together with a brand to create great content, whether it be in the fields of fashion or leisure. A mogul in his own right, Skepta continues to solidify himself as one of the most impressive creatives in the U.K. 2020 saw him work with renowned Cuban Rum Brand Havana Club to create a limited edition bottle design for the Havana Club 7 rum. The theme authentic and personal, not just taking on influence from his heritage but also stocking bottles in local corner shops around the U.K. in support of small businesses. The multi-talented musician that is Skepta presented elements of his style and that of Cuban culture for this collab making for a top tier campaign.


Words by Shante Collier Mcdermott


Runner Up: Stormzy x Watchdogs


Best Music Video Choreography

WSTRN are no strangers to incorporating dance in their music videos, and with the use of movement and dance ingeniously positioned throughout the “Never Find / Armagidion” 7 minutes 2-in-1 visuals, “Never Find / Armagidion” has won the “Best Music Video Choreography” for New Wave: Best of 2020. The music videos for “Never Find” and “Armagidion” were combined seamlessly with smooth shots and transitions by the talented director Charlie Di Placido, who helped capture dance and movement within the music video. The choreographers Nathaniel Williams, ZhanèSamuels, and Carella Nama used elements of dance to effortlessly express the lyrical content and musical production. The use of action, space, time, and energy within the dance sequences coupled with the video production contributed significantly to shaping the visuals. We see the infamous catchy hooks from WSTRN complementing and aligning with the memorable and energetic dance moves constructed by the choreographers. The 2-in-1 music video begins with the summer feel-good visuals for “Never Find” with the male group dancers in the first half and female dancers in the second half of the song. The choreographers pieced together a dance sequence inspired by Afro-Caribbean dance, the choreography is filled with exaggerated dance moves, smooth footwork, and good use of space. “Armagidion” has a less summery vibe and more gritty tone, the visuals reflect this with a night scene and hard-hitting dance moves. The music video choreography is a stand-out, and the choreographers and team are worthy winners of the “Best Music Video Choreography” for New Wave: Best of 2020.


Words by Daniella Francis


Runner Up: Bree Runway - Gucci


Music Journalist Of the Year

The lead up to 2020 seeing a consistent output of work come from Elle it was inevitable this year would continue to see her flourish. A journalist passionate and considerate with their craft, she’s been responsible for countless impressive articles this year. From interviewing household names like Trey Songz, new stars like Toosii and uplifting homegrown talent via Mixtape Madness all the same, a tastemaker in her own right. Published by the likes of COMPLEX, CLASH & Notion - Elle Evans’ 2020 has seen her take Music Journalism completely in her stride.


Words by Shante Collier McDermott


Runner Up: Thandie Sibanda


Best Artist Management

Being in the music industry takes a well-grounded and experienced team to take you to the next level. For this category, we highlight some management teams that have done some amazing work with year with their artists and other initiatives. Your winner this year is Metallic inc, Founded by Grace Ladoja and Alex Sossah - Metallic inc has done some amazing work this year. From the constant growth and progression of Skepta's career, and being involved in our Artist x Brand collaboration of the year with Skepta's partnership with Havana Club, to the Metalic Fund, which was a much-needed initiative in such a difficult year that gave out grants and mentorship to young black businesses, and their involvement in the Bumble campaign that was a big talking point featuring artists such as Lancey Foux and more. Metallic Inc are also the founders of the amazing annual homecoming festival which was held digitally this year, including an insightful conversation on Africa being the new generation of streetwear alongside Louis Vuitton menswear director Virgil Abloh and rising brands such as Place + Faces, Vivendii and Motherlan amungst others. Congratulation to Metallic Inc!


Runner Up: Ground Works Management (Digga D & Potter Payper)


Best DJ

From defying his humble beginnings at Pirate radio to becoming one of the UK’s most illustrious DJ’s and Tastemakers, Kenny Allstar, has done more than enough to prove why he is deserving of this award. This year has been particularly challenging as we all know, but this super-tastemaker has kept millions upon millions of us entertained through his show on BBC 1Xtra, a slew of Voice Of The Streets performances and last but not least, his Mad About Bars freestyle series on Mixtape Madness. Simultaneously he has nurtured upcoming talents; like, Just Banco, Kwengface, French The Kid and many more. Provided established artists with a coveted creative outlet. All while playing a major role in sustaining platforms in an industry that has taken a colossal hit.


Words by Rehana Harmony


Runner Up: Tiffany Calver


Best Artist Photographer

Zek Snaps had his start in photography shooting Paigey Cakey's birthday, and he has gone on to become a go-to artist photographer. One of the things that distinguishes Zek's photography is his emphasis on clean lines, which might come from his background in architectural photography. He knows how to create an iconic shot, from Meekz Manny holding a baby crocodile (his eyes competitively glinting with the crocodile's) to Headie One on silk. With such accomplishments behind him, Zek might have become jaded but he actually has a reputation for being a lovely person to work with – someone that artists feel comfortable to shoot with. He was nominated in top company with greats such as surrealist photographer Nwaka Okparaeke and his win stands strong. We think Zek's use of sleek composition and rich vintage colours has given him a portfolio of photos that are incredibly memorable, and are excited to crown him New Wave's Best Artist Photographer of 2020.


Words by Tice Cin


Runner Up: Nwaka Okparaeke


Comeback Of the Year

In the music world, there are a multitude of things can cause an artist's career to be temporarily halted, in the case of Unknown T, it was prison. Prior to his time in jail, Unknown T had burst on to the scene first with his Mad About Bars, followed by his smash hit 'Homerton B', which quickly became a sensation in the UK and even worldwide. However, fast forward 6 months to June 2019, the time of the song's peak popularity, Unknown T was charged for murder, subsequently spending 7 months inside before being cleared of the crime in February 2020. Unknown T let everyone know the jubilation he felt after being released with the sensational comeback 'Fresh Home' produced by Hargo, released just 1 week after being freed. The song rose to #55 in the UK singles chart, almost equalling 'Homerton B', which peaked at #48. Unknown T then went on to release his debut album 'Rise Above Hate' in July 2020, off the back of the success of singles 'Deh Deh' and 'Fresh Home'. The album featured AJ Tracey, Young Adz, Young T & Bugsey and M Huncho and also called on frequent collaborators and fellow Homerton natives KO & V9. The album was not only successful in terms of the charts, peaking at #14 in the UK Album Chart but garnered millions of streams and rave reviews. 2020 has been fantastic for the E9 native as he has gone from being in prison to national stardom within the space of 9 months - it seems that anything is possible for Unknown T, defying the mainstream media and coming back better than ever.


Words by Levi Wilson


Runner Up: Digga D


Best Album Cover

Despite 2020 being a gruesome year, one of the silver linings undoubtedly is the amazing championing of creativity across culture. Over the years, artists and musicians have used their album covers as form of not only explanation but expression. Nines brought his no.1 album Crabs In A Bucket to life with the symbolism on his cover - An impressive cover always makes you look twice and the Crabs In A Bucket artwork does just that. Giving us an insight to his journey from darker times to now becoming an iconic rapper and entrepreneur as well as the struggles he faces especially as he now reaches his pinnacle - this album cover was truly unique.


Words by Shante Collier McDermott


Runner Up: Kwollem C2C by Jack Harper


Best Genre Blender

2020 has been a year in which Tyron Frampton (aka ‘slowthai’) has unequivocally displayed his capability to fuse genres while creating something effortlessly original. The 26-year-old, Bajan-British, rapper has gifted us with his infectious energy and originality since he burst onto the scene in 2016 with ‘Jiggle’. Raised in Northampton by a single-mother, he naturally became well-versed in the injustices within Britain’s politics and economy. Initially Slowthai’s career seemed destined to be for a specific brand like grime - with tracks that featured rough-edged instrumentals, his relaxed flow, and politically charged lyrics. Despite this, Slowthai has managed to daub his raw, gritty voice across a multitude of genres with a variety of artists. He employs some of the best styles in British music - including punk, punk rock, grime, UK rap, and garage; while also taking inspiration from other global genres such as screamo, trap, hip hop and electronic. This year Slowthai featured on Gorillaz's single ‘Momentary Bliss’ with punk band Slaves, and in September he released the single ‘FeelAway’ with singer-songwriter James Blake and electronic duo Mount Kimbie. The collaboration opens new doors for Slowthai as he explores a more soulful style - the track starts off gently, stirring emotions while he sings over a piano loop, building momentum. In November he also released the single - ‘nhs’, along with a preview of the tracklist for his upcoming album ‘TYRON’, which is to be released on the 5 February 2021.


Words by Sophia Hill


Runner Up: IAMDDB



Best Freestyle

This year saw many stand-out freestyles on Kenny Allstar’s Mad About Bars series with Mixtape Madness - being one of the most highly regarded freestyle platforms it seemed fit that legendary grime MC Ghetts finally made his debut on the show. The freestyle (with producer Ten Billion Dreams) came out on the 12th of July after Ghetts released the unexpected single ‘Mozambique’ featuring Jaykae and Moonchild Sanelly. Setting the bar to new heights for future guests on the show Ghetts delivered his skilled flow and witty bars, which are chock-full of references, metaphors and nuggets of wisdom. He addresses subjects such as where he stands as a UK rapper, experiences of being black in Britain, and his own mental well-being - feeling the weight of recent events and the ongoing crisis of police brutality. This session with Ghetts is certainly deserving of the award for best freestyle this year - could this even be the hardest freestyle we’ve seen on Mad About Bars thus far?


Words by Sophia Hill


Runner Up: Fredo - Daily Duppy


Best Style

Individual style is an element of a musician's persona that says a lot visually. From music videos to photo shoots and even street looks, your fashion sense showcases an individual's preferences and understanding of not only fashion but themselves. Our Best Style category nominated some artists that we believe we're the most stylish artists this year. Our winner this year is Skepta, who is not only a musical icon but a style icon in the UK, breaking boundaries for access into the fashion world consistently. From being front row at Lois Vuitton shows at Paris fashion week to being part of the first collection campaign for his close friend Matthew Williams, Skepta's style has continued to evolve and progress from year to year, and a well-deserved winner of this category.


Runner Up: FKA Twigs


Best Collaboration

Musical collaborations are things that we as listeners often look forward to, many artists would say that it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of making music. Some collaborations may not work as imagined while others thrive and become iconic moments in time. For this category, we nominated some of the collaborations this year that make a huge impact in UK music, whether that be for the conversations it created or the result of years of anticipation. Therefore, our Best of 2020 winner for Best Collaboration is Ginger by Wizkid & Burna Boy. This song is the product of 2 of the biggest superstars in African music currently as they come together to produce a record that has permeated airwaves around the globe. Often, two musical giants coming together can result in a lackluster offering, however, many would agree that this song was a well-produced and organic collaboration that will be held in high regard for years to come.


Runner Up: Headie One ft Drake - Only You Freestyle


Rising Star

The beguiling soulstress, Greentea Peng, has enchanted us with seductive lulls that are usually engulfed by hypnotic lo-fi, R&B and neo soul backdrops. GTP’s whirlwind year comes in succession to a widely acclaimed COLOURS performance and her second EP, Risin’ back last year. This acted as a spring board in her charming her flourishing fanbase with a host of well received singles such as, Hu Man, Ghost Town and Spells to name a few!


Words by Rehana Harmony


Runner Up:


Best Music Video

From Black excellence to street life, lavish lifestyles and ominous storytelling visuals. This category was full of talent from artists with undeniable RANGE so it’s no surprise that decision making was the furthest thing from easy. However, it fills us with joy to say that the winners of this category are upcoming ones to watch! Pa Salieu and Backroad Gee came with nothing but heat this year seamlessly asserting themselves into the industry. With big banger My Family, Femi Ladi knew EXACTLY what he was doing with the visuals. A music video that perfectly exudes the same energy coming from the gritty bars, everything from the back-and-forth sharp transitions to the monochromatic tones I’m sure everyone was as mesmerised by the brash attitudes as we were. A massive congratulations to their team!


Words by Shorayi Mauluka


Runner Up: Headie One ft Young T & Bugsey - Princess Cuts (Directed by Capone)







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