The 20 best mixtapes and EPs of 2022

These bite-sized releases introduced a new legion of rising artists to obtain invested in

This year’s best mixtapes and EPs highlighted the thrilling new ways in which our current crop of rising artists have exhibited creativity, tenacity and perseverance in their work. Resources for musicians making their first steps into the industry have continued to deplete following the pandemic, but 2022 has proven that, thankfully, there’s been no slackening in the pace and sheer quality of new releases.

The sound of this new class of emerging talent has expanded quicker than ever this year: both Nia Archives and Piri & Tommy found continued relevance by never allowing their respective takes on underground dance music to be solely defined by one sound. Been Stellar, meanwhile, crafted new epics inspired by the seminal New York guitar bands that came before them, while Dylan’s tireless yet enthusiastic work ethic became a shining example of what it takes to be a major label pop star today.

Crucially, every artist listed below overcame their own challenges and brought what they learned from them into fresh and singular projects all of their own making.

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Sophie Williams, Associate Commissioning Editor (New Music)

Additional words: Andrew Brown, Hannah Mylrea, Sam Moore

Anish Kumar – ‘Postcards’

Who: North East producer and DJ with a clear talent for creating exhilarating dancefloor smashes
What NME said: “If ‘Postcards’ is only intended to be a set of brief dispatches from Kumar’s production career to date, then we can’t wait to obtain stuck into his first real opus.” Read more
Key track: ‘Steamroller’ (SM)

ArrDee – ‘Pier Pressure’

Who: UK rap upstart making a brilliantly cocksure artistic statement
What NME said: “With quality rhymes and nightclub belters befitting of his character, ‘Pier Pressure’ provides a clear snapshot of a rapper very much on the rise.” Read more
Key track: ‘Locker’ (SW)

Bad Boy Chiller Crew – ‘Disrespectful’ 

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Who: Exuberant bassline trio prioritising the hedonistic side of life
What NME said: They locate their power not just in the recording booth, but on stage, the race course and the dancefloor, fully self-aware and seemingly unstoppable. Read more
Key track: ‘BMW’ (SW)

Been Stellar – ‘Been Stellar’ EP 

Who: New York rockers pushing their city’s guitar scene in a new direction
What NME said: “The mystique and raw sense of youth that has so often defined the greats of NYC’s guitar greats cuts through the surface at all times here.” Read more
Key track: ‘Kids 1995’ (AB)

Bree Runway – ‘Woah, What A Blur!’

Who: A supreme force of talent, charisma, and sheer pop excellence
What NME said: “Woah, What A Blur!’ is an exploratory collection that goes to multiple stylistic places, but if Bree Runway’s forthcoming debut album fills in the gaps, her stardom will be impossible to downplay.” Read more
Key track: ‘That Girl’ (SW)

Central Cee – ‘23’ 

Who: West London rapper who’s well on his way to becoming one of the UK’s biggest new solo artists
What NME said: “On ‘23’ you sense Central Cee is relishing this possibility to have fun and simply enjoy what he’s making.” Read more
Key track: ‘Lil Bro’ (SM)

Crawlers – ‘Loud Without Noise’ 

Who: Self-proclaimed “Northern shit-stirrers” with an explosive, modern rock sound
What NME said: Crawlers embody what it means to be a young band for the current moment – fluid in style, chronically online and willing to take on difficult subjects in a thoughtful way.” Read more
Key track: ‘Feminist Radical Hypocritical Delusional’ (AB)

Doechii – ‘She / Her / Black Bitch’ EP

Who: Tampa rap scene-stealer is entering a bold new phase
What NME said: “A clever vocal performer who can utilise both masculine gruff and feminine whimsicality in her flow, this makes for a tantalising record that signals a bright future ahead.”
Key track: ‘Persuasive’ (SW)

Dora Jar – ‘Comfortably In Pain’ EP 

Who: Pop experimentalist dissolving familiar sounds to find surprises at their core
What NME said: ‘Comfortably In Pain’ offers a welcome barrage of ideas and sounds, a five-track collection that bursts at the seams with effective, endearing ideas. Read more
Key track: ‘It’s Random’ (SW)

Dylan – ‘The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn’ 

Who: Pop disruptor who’s already rocked stadium stages supporting Ed Sheeran
What NME said: “This is a major label debut with unfiltered personality in abundance, a rarer commodity than it should be today in UK pop.” Read more
Key track: ‘Girl Of Your Dreams’ (HM)

English Teacher – ‘Polyawkward’ EP 

Who: Leeds quartet on a voyage of self-discovery through wry, withering lyrics and unpredictable post-punk
What NME said: “This is the sound of a young, rising band at their loosest and funniest, rolling with life’s punches while laughing every step of the way.” Read more
Key track: ‘Mental Maths’ (SM)

FLO – ‘The Lead’ EP

Who: London trio taking the singular power of girl groups far into the future
What NME said: “By proudly embracing their femininity and sexuality, in both their band identity and across the EP, FLO empower themselves and their girlfriends.” Read more
Key track: ‘Cardboard Box’ (SW)

Glorilla – ‘Anyways, Life’s Great’ EP

Who: One of the most exciting – and fearless – voices in US hip-hop
What NME said:Glorilla is one of the most hotly-tipped rappers around. The artist currently has only a handful of singles to her name, but she’s already rubbing shoulders with the big dogs.” Read more
Key track: ‘F.N.F (Let’s Go)’ (SW)

Lava La Rue – ‘Hi-Fidelity’ EP 

Who: Multi-faceted west London creative with an expansive ‘Lavaland’ sonic universe
What NME said: “Lava has brought in funkier riffs for this follow-up that scream of summer, nodding to the West Coast vibes imbibed while making the record in LA.” Read more.
Key track: ‘Hi-Fidelity (feat. Biig Piig)’ (HM)

Nia Archives – ‘Forbidden Feelingz’ EP 

Who: A passionate scholar of old-school jungle and rocksteady
What NME said: “On her second EP, Nia Archives proves that not only is she a leader for a new generation of drum‘n’bass ravers, but cements her place as an elite producer.” Read more
Key track: ‘Luv Like’ (SW)

Piri and Tommy – ‘froge.mp3’

Who: Drum ‘n’ bass duo sketching a vibrant, Y2K–inspired fantasy
What NME said: “They hit all the notes for ‘TikTok music’, but there’s dynamicity in the range of their creations… they’re an behave with longevity beyond an influential app.” Read more
Key track: ‘On & On’ (SW)

SIPHO. – ‘She Might Bleed’ EP 

Who: Darkly theatrical soundscapes from a once-in-a-generation vocalist
What NME said: “At the core of everything on this six-track collection is SIPHO.’s voice. He wields his not-so-secret weapon as a powerful and versatile tool, comfortable expressing emotional turmoil as it is wearing a zero-fucks scowl.”
Key track: ‘Beady Eyes’ (SW)

STONE – ‘Punkadonk’ EP 

Who: Lively Scouse punks that don’t shy away from their ferocious sound
What NME said: “STONE have used their first EP as an possibility to build upon their own punchy identity – and, thanks to the electricity coursing through ‘Punkadonk’, that decision has paid off.” Read more
Key track: ‘Waste’ (AB)

Surya Sen – ‘At What Cost’ EP 

Who: Bengali-British rapper and producer’s house-heavy beats recall big nights out while delivering socio-political commentary
What NME said: “The deftness with which he balances the desire to reclaim London’s nightlife scene, while speaking to the history of colonialism and the effect it has on South Asians today, is remarkable.” Read more
Key track: ‘Earn It’ (SM)

Yunè Pinku – ‘Bluff’ EP 

Who: Malaysian-Irish producer bringing hypnotic, introspective bangers to the club
What NME said: “‘Bluff’ sees her join that list of artists who are instilling a sense of intimacy into their club-ready tracks.” Read more
Key track: ‘DC Rot’ (SM)

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