Which big name will win out?
Great music isn’t just unique to the UK. Some of the best things we’ve heard over the last 12 months have come from further afield, be that Drake‘s endless run of bangers or Kanye West‘s constant game-changing approach. Celebrate some of the highest-achievers with this handy guide to the nominees for Best International Male Artist supported by VO5 and then keep an eye out on February 15 to see which megastar will walk away victorious from the VO5 NME Awards 2017.
Chance The Rapper
Whether he was releasing surprise Christmas mixtapes with Jeremih, performing for President Barack Obama, hosting his own festival or writing songs for the US Olympics basketball team, Chance seemed like he was having the most fun in 2016. His ‘Coloring Book’ mixtape extended those good vibes further, with the likes of ‘All Night’ and ‘Juke Jam’ proving to be future party anthems-in-waiting.
It’s hard to argue with the idea that Drake is the biggest rapper in the world today. On his imminent UK leg of the Boy Meets World tour, he’s set to play a whopping eight shows at London’s The O2 – that’s the same amount as Adele played last year. He’s also become the first artist to have a song streamed one billion times on Spotify with ‘One Dance’ and has helped push grime back into the ears of fans worldwide thanks to his surprise performance with Section Boyz and continuous co-signing of Skepta. Plus, you can’t argue with a tune as good as ‘Fake Love’.
After four years away, mysterious Frank suddenly re-emerged doing a bit of DIY on a livestream. Turns out he was building a wooden staircase and the footage would form part of visual album ‘Endless’. He wasn’t done, though, releasing third album ‘Blonde’ just days later. With songs as exquisite as ‘Pink + White’ and ‘Nikes’, it turned out to be well worth the wait.
It’s been a strange year for Kanye West, but, through the mental health concerns, visits with Donald Trump and Taylor Swift controversy, he proved he’s still one of the most innovative artists we’ve got. Latest album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ became a living artwork as West continued to work on it after its release, editing tracks and reuploading them to streaming sites as he went. His ‘Saint Pablo’ tour – or the dates that weren’t cancelled – proved his vision went beyond music, utilizing a floating stage that hovered over his loyal fans.
For the most part, 2016 for Kendrick Lamar was about collaborating with other artists. He’s featured on singles by Funkadelic, DJ Khaled, Sia, Beyoncé, Danny Brown, Mistah F.A.B., Maroon 5 and Travis Scott over the last 12 months, but also found time to release ‘Untitled Unmastered’ – a compilation of demos created during ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ sessions. Live appearances at Barclaycard Presents BST Hyde Park and Austin City Limits reminded us all what a potent and powerful performer he is, while his music became further intertwined with politics as protestors chanted lines from ‘Alright’ in response to Donald Trump cancelling a rally.
Abel Tesfaye has always been ambitious, right from his early days releasing mixtapes as an enigmatic artist on the internet. The Weeknd mastermind didn’t let up those big ideas on latest album ‘Starboy’ and even managed to rope in Daft Punk to help out on a couple of tracks. Like Drake, he’s also been breaking Spotify records, achieving the most streams on the platform in a day following the release of ‘Starboy’.