daniel caesar

5 up and coming Toronto R&B artists you should know

Toronto is having an R&B moment. Some of this can be attributed to the wild popularity of The Weeknd and Drake, but the soul of the movement is taking place on the ground, where a diverse array of up and coming talent is making R&B that challenges the conventions of the genre beyond merely the influences of pop.

Here are my picks for up and coming Toronto R&B artists you should know.

Daniel Caesar
Daniel Caesar has been on Toronto music fans radar for over a year now, but seems poised for a major breakthrough with his first live shows scheduled this spring. More akin to pared down soul than the synth-heavy R&B that rules the airwaves these days, Caesar's voice is as searching as his clean piano lines.

dvsn
Recently signed to Drake's OVO label, dvsn is about as mysterious as The Weeknd was in the early days, and might just become as popular. While only three songs have been released under the dvsn name, the rising and falling beats and at times Sampha-like vocals show off huge potential.

a l l i e
Mixing early Erykah Badu with contemporary R&B sensibilities, a l l i e's style is as engaging as it is playful. If you caught her performance at What's in the Box this year, you know that she's got a veteran stage presence despite the fact that she's just breaking onto the scene. I've listened to her four-track Moonlust EP a ton since it was released late last year.

Brendan Phillip
Signed to Dine Alone Records last spring, Brendan Phillip's debut EP showed off a dark and brooding sound reminiscent of a strange mash-up between The Weekend and Twin Shadow. This is spooky but soulful stuff that should have broad appeal outside of the confines of traditional R&B.

Lemon.
I hear just a little bit of Esthero in Lemon.'s vocals, which glide over pared down R&B beats that have already attracted a devout following despite a precious few live performances from this artist. Given that each track she's released so far has been stronger than the last, my expectations are already soaring for her next round of music.

Who did I miss? Add your suggestions in the comments.

Writing by Christina Estrelle. Photo via Daniel Caesar on Twitter.


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