BBC Sound of 2017 – Ray BLK

The BBC Sound of 2017 has always served as a prophecy for the future. And it is pretty much always spot on. In a 12 man longlist, they identify the most exciting musical acts at the moment and then give their prediction on who will own 2017. The winner this year was streetwise soul singer Ray BLK, a 22 year old from South London. HEKKTA is excited about music in 2017. It has all the ingredients to be a great year and the BBC Sound of 2017 winners certainly show the direction music in the UK is going. It’s going up.

The importance of the BBC Sound of 2017 is evident just by the success of some of their previous winners. In 2008, Adele won it after her incredible breakthrough album 19 (at the age of 19). It safe to say she has gone on to be one of the biggest stars in music with a career spanning 6 years, which saw her headline Glastonbury last summer. In 2014, Sam Smith won the prize who’s career went from small-time feature artist to global superstar winning buckets of Grammy’s and even doing the James Bond song. Adele did that one too. Tick.

Last year the winner was someone that we adore at HEKKTA and for many reasons. Jack Garratt won the coveted prize last year and justified his win with an incredible performance at the BBC Music Awards 2016 where he blew away the audience by his talent of musical multitasking. HEKKTA went to see him in concert in November just a few months ago, where he played guitar, drums, piano and synth while singing! Suffice to say by the end of that gig we were very impressed but also left with a pretty large feeling of inadequacy. But our point is, that pretty much every year the BBC manage to find some incredible new artists that then go on to take over our screens and radio for the coming years.

But something feels different about this year. The artists all seem refreshingly new and different. Grime has blown the music industry wide open and now more and more new artists with interesting sounds are coming forward and the winner Ray BLK is a brilliant example of this. We were very intrigued by the artists that made up the top five this year, so we gave them a closer look.



The winner of the BBC Sound of 2017 is a 22 year old singer from Catford, Ray BLK. She came to London from Nigeria when she was 4 and grew up in South London. Her music reflects the area in which she lives and what it is like growing up there. Breakthrough songs like My Hood have people calling her, “the UK’s answer to Lauryn Hill”.

She went to university and worked on her music while she was there, and worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency to fund her music career. Like many artists on the list this year, Ray BLK decided not to sign with a major label and go independent. A trend which is growing amoung artists particularly in London. She symbolises the growing amount of black, female artists at the forefront of the music industry, a trend which we want to see more of. The character of grime music in London is of raw, honest music that hides nothing and Ray BLK does this brilliantly with her own personal twist. With lyrics like, “meet me in Morley’s, best fried chicken in the South”, its no wonder people are tipping her for great things.

When asked by the BBC what her ambitions were for the year ahead she replied, “I just want to become a better artist. I’ve used this year to find my feet, and now I want to amplify that and give people more music, better music”. We hope so too, Ray BLK.

Ray BLK - BBC Sound of 2017

Ray BLK – BBC Sound of 2017



In 2nd place this year was soulful hip-hop/rock singer, Rag’n’Bone Man. This year has already got off to a flying start with the 31 year old from Brighton winning the Brits Critics’ Choice Award 2017. He has been plugging away at a music career for some time, but he started off as a jungle MC, surprisingly enough, playing gigs in London dives such as Brixton Jamm. But he dropped the rapping for singing when he decided he was better at that and it was clearly a good move as his big hit Human has been sitting at number 1 in Germany for more than 3 months! This kind of success early can only mean big things are coming his way in 2017.

Rag'n'Bone Man - BBC Sound of 2017

Rag’n’Bone Man – BBC Sound of 2017



Third place went to 18 year old singer Raye from South London. As soon as you hear this artist’s music you immediately get her aim. Make music that’s a little different, a little bit bizarre. And with statements that she wants, “to be as big as the biggest artists out there,” it’s clear she is dreaming big. What excites us about Raye is that she is associating herself with pop, which many artists who make serious music are quite hesitant in doing. She wants to redefine pop, and make it a serious music form again. HEKKTA salutes this and we wish her big success in 2017.

RAYE - BBC Sound of 2017

RAYE – BBC Sound of 2017



This artist, who came 4th, we think is really special. The 19th year old from Walsall grabbed everyone’s attention with her debut song Blue Lights, which is up there with HEKKTA’s favourite songs of 2016. When she first moved to London, she had to juggle a blooming music career with 6am shifts at Starbucks. Fortunately she’s able to leave that behind now.

Not only does she have an incredible singing voice, but she has the essence of someone destined for big things. Having done ample work with modern soul icon Maverick Sabre, her success is only going to improve. We feel she could easily have topped the list, but nonetheless, she is definitely one to watch in 2017.

Jorja Smith - BBC Sound of 2017

Jorja Smith – BBC Sound of 2017



Much to our surprise, the artist from Croydon is the only grime artist in the top five. But that should only serve to show her quality. The cousin of Stormzy, she certainly likes to keep looking on the funny side. Her songs and punchlines are playful, jokey and full of energy and her witty lines certainly make her stand out from others on this list. When listening to her music you really feel she is grime to the core, and has been rapping for a long time. We have no doubt in the coming year she will join her cousin in the category of rising grime artists in the UK.

Nadia Rose - BBC Sound of 2017

Nadia Rose – BBC Sound of 2017