Julie Adenuga: ‘Drake has made it acceptable for boys to speak about emotions’

The Beats 1's DJ talks BRIT Awards and how she's championing J Hus and Dave

“It’s a great time for music right now and every day I’m excited to come into the Beats 1 studio and share it with our listeners. Last week alone I saw James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Mahalia, Jorja Smith and Slowthai all performing in London. Five artists across three venues in three days and each of them was like being in a different world, like I’d travelled to a different country. I’ve always loved James Blake and his music but seeing him live for the first time was mesmerising.

Kendrick is just one of the greatest performers ever and I’m blessed to be alive during his time and to see him perform. Mahalia supported Ed Sheeran years ago and when I saw her back then although she was new you realised already how comfortable she was on stage. I felt I was watching a seasoned pro. Jorja invited me down to see the show and her talent levels are just crazy. It was exciting to hear her perform tracks from her new album coming in June and a pleasure to listen to her sing.


Of this year’s BRIT Award nominees, I expect big things of Dave and J Hus (who are both nominated for British Breakthrough Act, with J Hus also nominated for British Single and British Album of the Year) who are already leaders in their respective fields. Dave has his own style and feels like a pioneer and is leading rapping with purpose. He’s saying real things that mean something and seems very conscious about what he’s putting out there into the world. It’s a special thing. J Hus, meanwhile, is a trailblazer and should be respected as the owner of the sound he makes, which is not an easy thing to do. Both these guys deserve to be massive this year and beyond, and I’m excited for them.

Looking to the future and to potential BRIT Award nominees of the years to come, I think Mist deserves the world. His subject matter can be quite dark but he’s a lovable character and has that Cardi B vibe that can be controversial but you want that person to succeed. I’ve heard nothing like IAMDDB before. It’s a fearless, unique sound and style coming out of Manchester and like J Hus she has her own category. If she continues to build on what she’s doing it will will add so much variety to music overall right now and we need that diversity.

UK Afrobeats and R&B are going to have a big year – everyone seems to be in love right now! Artists like Ray BLK are singing in a way that people can relate to, singing about adolescence, about what it’s like being a 20-year-old in this day and age. I hear a lot of people talking about how they can’t relate to a certain artist or a certain genre because they sing or rap or talk about things or a very different life but I think everyone can relate to being in love. And it’s both girls and boys. Drake without doubt has made it acceptable for everyone – and boys in particular – to speak about emotions, to sing about them and make it all OK.”

Julie Adenuga presents on Beats 1 Monday to Friday 2-4pm at apple.co/julie

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