If you’re labouring under the misapprehension that all the UK’s best rap and R&B originates from the South, it’s time for a long overdue reality check. Be it Blackpool grime MCs Soph Aspin, Afghan Dan and Little T, Mancunian creative collective LEVELZ or BBC Sound of 2018-approved trap queen IAMDDB, the North West of England is currently home to many of the scene’s most exciting young voices.
Head a little further up the A666 from Manchester and you’ll find Chrystal, a B-O-L-T-O-N-based vocalist and producer creating incredible, streetwise pop and proudly revelling in her northern roots. Drawing on an eclectic range of influences ranging from Aaliyah and local boys Blackout Crew to, ahem, The Venga Boys, the 26-year-old’s output to date has been centred around springy beats, soulful, accented vocals, and a healthy smattering of lyrical sass.
Following last year’s grime-inspired single ‘Waves’, and the more melancholic, low-slung beats of ‘New Shoes’ – produced by Dave-collaborator 169 – she’s back and armed with the sugary bounce of ‘2 Real’. Created with John Calvert of Nao and Bonzai fame, released via 37 Adventures, and accompanied by a fun video taking in her favourite local haunts, it swaggers, it soars and it screams “potential breakthrough hit.”