James Blake (GB)
Some artists simply defy description and categorization. Then, there’s James Blake…
He exists in a sphere entirely of his own design. It’s a study in contrast. It’s wonderfully impossible to fully understand, yet warmly welcoming all the same. Boundaries, rules, and genres just don’t apply, but everyone wants in on the party, nevertheless. From an elevated underground position, he quietly casts a shadow over popular music and culture.
The GRAMMY® Award-winning UK singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer unassumingly operates as the enigmatic engine behind some of the most influential albums of the 21st century. He produced choice cuts on Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. as well as JAY-Z’s 4:44 and Beyoncé’s Lemonade—to which he also lent his voice in both cases. Feature appearances span “Stop Trying to Be God” with Stevie Wonder and Kid Cudi on Travis Scott’s epic ASTROWORLD and “King’s Dead” with Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and Future from the chart-dominating Black Panther: The Album. The latter not only went triple-platinum, but it also earned Blake his first GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Rap Performance.”
Simultaneously, he emerged as pop’s most celebrated outlier with his dynamic solo output. He introduced a singular sound on 2011’s James Blake. Awarding the record a rare 9.0-out-of-10 score, Pitchfork crowned it one of “Top 100 Albums of the Decade So Far (2010-2014).” On its heels, the 2013 Overgrown illustrated his rare magnetic ability to align the likes of Brian Eno and RZA on the same project. It notably received the 2013 Mercury Prize and secured Blake’s “Best New Artist” nomination at the GRAMMY® Awards. After 2016’s The Colour In Anything, he reached new critical and commercial peaks with Assume Form during 2019. It bowed at #21 on the Billboard Top 200, marking his highest entry to date. Beyond clocking 300 million cumulative streams in under a year, it garnered the GRAMMY® nomination for “Best Alternative Album”