The Big Read

The Big Read – AJ Tracey: the lad from Ladbroke Grove takes on the world

AJ Tracey doesn’t arrive at his NME photoshoot with an entourage, but he does bring a dachshund called Bridget. Jordan Bassett meets the outspoken British rapper who doesn’t do things by the book, and whose eclectic, wilfully commercial debut album – veering from grime to, erm, a country song – might even make him the first artist to take UK rap truly Stateside.

The Big Read – Sunflower Bean: “We’re coming at the world with a jackhammer”

On the sly, Sunflower Bean have proven themselves one of the world's coolest, funnest and, er, hard-workingest bands. Following the brilliant 'Twentytwo In Blue' – a Top Five entry in NME's Albums Of 2018 – the New York trio today release the rocking follow-up EP, 'King Of The Dudes'. Rhian Daly meets them in Brooklyn to talk about music, patriarchy-smashing and that time at band camp.

The Big Read – Lizzo: “If I feel worthy, then everyone gonna want to eat my pussy”

Lizzo’s funk-inflected hip hop has endeared her to Missy Elliott, Ru Paul, Macaulay Culkin and even the late Prince. With a couldn’t-be-more-2018 message of self-love and positivity exemplified by recent single ‘Boys’, the one-time indie star has found a unique voice – and new levels of fame as a result. But that doesn’t mean she’s in any rush to release her debut album, she tells Nick Levine.

The Big Read: Bring Me The Horizon: “We never say die”

Once the preening band rock fans loved to hate, Sheffield's Bring Me The Horizon are now one of the UK's biggest live draws. In the run up to release of their bold, brilliant and boundary-pushing album ‘Amo’, Andrew Trendell meets them in Reading, Berlin and London to dig into their latest reinvention – shaped by death, divorce and a newfound sense of happiness.

The Big Read – Maggie Rogers: “My story is the story of the internet”

Two years ago, a viral clip with Pharrell put the spotlight on Maggie Rogers. Her debut album ‘Heard It In A Past Life’ traces that journey from plucky graduate to an SNL performer and a musician whose impact is reaching an audience bigger than she could have ever imagined. Thomas Smith witnesses the transformation.

The Big Read – Billie Eilish: the most talked-about teen on the planet

As we launch the NME 100 – the brand new artists we’re tipping to break through in 2019, the full list of which is on NME on Monday January 7 – Thomas Smith travels to LA to meet Billie Eilish, the teenage singer-songwriter whose genre-bending music is showing the millennials it’s time to move aside.

The Big Read – Yoko Ono: Imagine The Future

Once vilified as the person who broke up the Beatles, Yoko Ono is finally being recognised as a treasure, for her  commitment to peace, her solo work and her unwritten contribution to much of John Lennon's work. As her peace tower shines its beacon into the stratosphere from Iceland's capital, Elizabeth Aubrey talks to Ono about the new, archive version of 'Imagine', and why women in art are finally being recognised.

The Big Read – Wolf Alice: “The whole year has been bonkers”

As they cap off a stellar year with two special Christmas shows at O2 Academy Brixton, Wolf Alice tell Rhian Daly about the highlights of 2018, from touring with Queens Of The Stone Age to winning the Mercury. Pictures by Jono White

The Big Read – Slowthai: “Is Britain actually great, or are you?”

The self-styled ‘Brexit Bandit’, Slowthai is the Northampton rapper questioning what it means to be British. While his brutish live shows and barbed, barbiturate bangers may seem nihilistic, he’s really about “love and unity”, determined to find a voice in a society he doesn’t feel serves him. And he has a motor mouthed manifesto for a better Britain, finds Jordan Bassett. Pictures by Mike Prior.