Rapper Pa Salieu wins BBC Music Sound of 2021

PA SALIEU has been crowned the winner of BBC Music Sound of 2021, the broadcast network has revealed. 

The 23 year-old rapper was selected by a panel of 160 industry experts and alumni artists, including Billie Eilish, Stormzy, Jorja Smith, Wolf Alice, AJ Tracey, YUNGBLUD, Foals, and Charli XCX.

Pa Salieu was born in Slough and spent his formative years in The Gambia before moving to Coventry at the age of eight.

His new home later became the inspiration behind his breakout track Frontline and his debut mixtape Send Them To Coventry, which he dropped late in 2020 to widespread acclaim.

He began his journey with BBC Music back in the summer of 2019, with his track Dem A Lie premiering on BBC Radio 1Xtra for Target Embargo.

He has since recorded freestyles for Toddla T and  Tiffany Calver on 1Xtra, and joined the likes of Headie One, Ghetts and Burna Boy on the bill for 1Xtra Live 2020.

He has performed live in session for Radio 1’s Future Sounds with Annie Mac, with his recent single My Family featuring BackRoad Gee making the longlist for Annie’s Hottest Record of the Year 2020.

He has also picked up consistent Tune Of The Week support from Nick Grimshaw and Clara Amfo.

Pa Salieu said: “I was just really happy to even be included on the list alongside some amazing artists, a few of who I know personally.

“They’re all crazy talented, so to be the winner of something like this so early in my journey just feels mad.”

Annie Mac said: “I’m delighted for Pa Salieu winning the prestigious Sound of 2021.

“As a man whose childhood was split between The Gambia and Coventry he has a unique perspective on Britain.

“His songs are exquisitely produced, with enough restraint for Pa’s voice to shine through and have the space to tell the stories of his life.

“They are stories of friendship and family, of violence, exclusion and racism and they act as timeless evidence of British street life at the turn of new decade.”

The top five artists for Sound of 2021 are:

  • Pa Salieu
  • Holly Humberstone
  • Greentea Peng

Also on the longlist for Sound of 2021 (in alphabetical order):

  • Alfie Templeman
  • Bree Runway
  • Dutchavelli
  • girl in red
  • The Lathums

Profiles of all ten artists are available on the BBC Music Sound of 2021 website, along with details of the panel and how the list was compiled.

Sound of… started in 2003. Last year Celeste claimed the top spot ahead of a strong longlist featuring the likes of YUNGBLUD, Arlo Parks and Beabadoobee. Artists named on the list over the years include Stormzy, Adele, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Foals, Dizzee Rascal and Lewis Capaldi.

Sazrah Hunt, real name Sarah, is music editor at The Entertainment Gazette. For stories, email: sazrah.hunt@entertainmentgazette.co.uk | Insta/Snap/FB: @SazrahProducer

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