YouTube Picks Its New Zealand Artists to Watch
As part of YouTube’s ‘Artists to Watch’ 2019 spotlight, the video-sharing website has highlighted 10 acts from New Zealand and Australia which it predicts are going to create tsunamis this year. The line-up includes Auckland teenager Bene (pictured), rapper JessB, and 20-year-old Kwame who lives in Sydney.
The list is based on a variety of factors, including YouTube views, engagement from global music fans and YouTube Music analytics.
Bene, 18, was raised in a musical and theatrical family, growing up playing saxophone and guitar.
She started putting covers on SoundCloud for friends and was astounded when artists and the New Zealand industry excitedly drew her in.
“I want music to be the thing that drives my life,” she says, debuting with a single ‘Tough Guy’ (“about acting as if we don’t have feelings”) and last month dropped the single ‘Soaked’ which is getting love on all the streaming services.
Rapper JessB grew up in New Zealand with foster parents, so her music is fundamentally about searching for her Kenyan identity, returning to Africa on visits, and finding her place in the world.
The one-time star netballer recalls that there are not many mixed-race African kids in New Zealand, so she felt and looked different as a teenager.
She recalled in one interview after returning to Kenya: “It changed the way I saw myself.
“I just knew there was a lot of work for me to do in terms of the way I see myself, and my identity and my life and how I relate to that and being a New Zealander who’s of Kenyan descent, or an Afric-Kiwi’.”
Original article by The Music Network, January 24, 2019.