The 6 Culture Shifting Music Projects of 2023

We’re now a month and a few weeks into the new year and in the world of music, art, and culture a lot has happened thus far! The Grammy Awards and The MOBO Awards to name a few as well as a collection of great projects, festivals and so forth in the coming months. Let’s take this moment to look back at 2023 – a great year for music, with great projects being delivered across all genres. A few releases less than a year on have already been dubbed ‘classics’, with the year being one that witnessed many major moments. We look back at 6 of the best, culture-shifting and year-defining albums and music projects of 2023.


  1. Uncle Waffles – Asylum

Uncle Waffles, the 23-year-old Queen of Amapiano hailing from Eswatini! At such a young age she has already cemented herself as a figurehead in and amongst the genre. Only learning how to DJ 4 years ago during lockdown, Uncle Waffles has since gone from strength to strength and has capitalised on her stardom and the growing popularity of the South African born genre in a major way. Asylum is the perfect gateway and introduction to the sound. Amapiano for many is a genre that is known for hit singles and its authentic use of synths and distinctive basslines, as opposed to bodies of work, with it being a relatively young genre. However, at such an early stage, Uncle Waffles has managed to deliver a phenomenal body of work that offers cohesiveness and smooth transitions whilst being authentically Amapiano. Personal favourites from the project include ‘Morocco’, ‘SLS’ & ‘Babiee'.


  1. Brent Faiyaz – Larger Than Life

Brent Faiyaz, one of the faces of new age R&B, has delivered some great projects in the last few years including 2020’s ‘F*ck The World’ & 2022’s ‘Wasteland’, it came as a surprise to many when Brent announced he was going to be treating R&B lovers to a third project in the space of three years – and man did he not disappoint! Brent struck the perfect balance between new-age R&B with an old-school influence and sound. From having Timbaland on the intro to featuring the likes of Missy Elliot & Coco Jones. The album is a complete groove the whole way through – even throwing in a few skits which complemented the theme and feel of the album; Brent is one of the leaders of today’s R&B, whilst simultaneously being a larger-than-life superstar. The 14-track album although R&B at its core had a heavy East Coast rap influence with it feeling as though the first half was more of a reflection of love, romance, situationships and everything in between, with the latter half of the album featuring verses from ASAP Rocky, ASAP Ant & Babyface Ray which served to deliver a modern-day balance and representation of what R&B is today. Genre purists may not be fans of Brent and his latest album, but many new-generation listeners and those more aligned with rap-infused R&B will undoubtedly love what the album has to offer!


  1. Dave & Central Cee – Split Decision

Split Decision, the four-track E.P brought to us by Dave & Central Cee, arguably the two biggest UK Rap stars we have right now, was one of the standout projects of 2023 – simply based on how much a moment the two stars coming together was and what the project did for U.K Rap on a global scale. Seeing the two collaborate whilst ultimately being at the top of their game was both extremely refreshing, exciting and most importantly a risk – but one that paid off very well! Last year we saw quite a few joint projects get teased and released including ‘Purple Hearts’ from Tiny Boost & Youngs Teflon & Headie One & K Trap’s – ‘Strength to Strength’. However, whether directly or indirectly I feel that Split Decision being released set precedence and room for joint projects, something I feel we don’t see enough of especially in the U.K. Sprinter, the project lead single was the first U.K. rap song to stay at No.1 on the official charts for 10 weeks and was undeniably the song of the summer! After dropping the 4-track project, it will be interesting to see what 2024 holds for both artists, with Dave set to be working on Album No.3 and Cench currently on a world tour.



  1. Burna Boy – I Told Them

Nigeria’s or should I say Africa’s Giant – The Burna Boy! Delivering his seventh studio album ‘I Told Them’. One thing about Burna Boy that I love and have to credit him for is that with every album or project that he brings to the table, he always seems to show evolution in his sound and where his head space and artistry are at the time – with each project that he releases never sounding similar or like carbon copies of previous work, something only a few elite artists can do. There was a heavy American influence on this album but unlike 'Twice As Tall', an album I wasn’t a huge fan of, I feel as though ‘I Told Them’ was Burna producing an album that you could hear different waves of influence from with the likes of Wu Tang’s RZA & GZA appearing on the album and the music videos for lead single ‘City Boys’ and ‘Big 7’ being shot in the U.S. This time around it felt as though the influence was showcased on Burna’s terms and sounded like it was executed through his creative lens. All the American features from J Cole to 21 Savage fit perfectly into the essence of the album with it seeming as though Burna has formed genuine and mutual relationships with artists across the pond, being featured recently on Both 21 Savage’ and Usher’s latest albums. Burna’s I Told Them will go down as one of his highly acclaimed bodies of work. A personal favourite from the album was - Tested, Approved and Trusted, a feel-good anthem that sounds like summer in West Africa.



  1. Cleo Sol – Gold

Cleo Sol has been around from as early as 2008, featuring on Tinie Tempah’s classic ‘Tears’, early on in his career. Since then, Cleo has forged her own lane over the last few years, with her angelic voice and what many would label therapeutic and soft-feeling R&B. Gold is an album that is both soothing to the ears and an experience that feels like journeying through the softest of clouds or floating in the middle of the ocean. The 10-track project is produced by Inflo an English Record Producer, songwriter but also Cleo’s husband – an ode and beautiful representation of their love and chemistry. The album effortlessly flows from top to bottom and is a must listen for R&B and soul music lovers.



  1. Potter Payper – Real Back In Style

Potter Payper, is one of the greatest rappers that the U.K. has ever produced, from flows, to storytelling and raw relatability. Potter delivers everything you can ask for and more with “Real Back In Style”. This was easily the best rap project to drop in 2023 and that’s not just from the U.K. but arguably worldwide. I strongly believe ‘Real Back In Style’ is Potter’s best project to date, with no skips, no features, just unfiltered, raw rap from an artist who has been through it all and still prevailed and continues to elevate. Potter kicks off the album with the introspective, gritty breakdown of his past endeavours, life and his state of mind at this moment in time. Standouts from this album for include Track 2 ‘Quite Befitting”, Track 4 ‘A Million £’ & Track 12 ‘Track Flocaine’ produced by Legendary US Producer Harry Fraud. Real Back In Style epitomises what U.K. Rap should sound like, feel like and ultimately represent. The fact that Potter had no features throughout the album and still managed to get across a range of themes, stories and sounds is a testament to why this may… sorry will go down as a U.K. Rap Classic.





Written by Toren (Founder of 99Piece)

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