ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Baby Prince, ESKE, Zia Paola & Shaka J
Our newest edition of the ‘Artist Spotlight’ segment features four varied acts who are notable for having actively carved out their own distinct lane within the Australian scene. Hailing from Brisbane, Baby Prince has impressed with every wholly unique solo single and collaboration he’s put out since his debut in 2018. With the mutual honour of having both released two singles in their debut year 2021, Sydney artists ESKE and Zia Paola have left us in awe at their abilities and in keen anticipation for the music to come in 2022 and beyond. Finally, Canberra artist Shaka J continually displays his lyrical prowess and knack for merging the old and new of his varied range of influences throughout his extensive discography.
No matter the beat he’s on, Brisbane’s Baby Prince kills it each and every time with uncontainable energy. A stylistically distinct flow and delivery separates Baby Prince from his contemporaries, but it’s certainly more than just that which makes him one to keep a close eye on. 2020 release ‘Dollar $igns’ exhibited the young artist’s flair for gliding easily across a silky instrumental, whilst 2021’s ‘ENTIRELY BROKE’ packs in bar after bar of confidence and bravado. The fact he can step-up to both sonic extremes naturally is a reflection of the uncanny abilities he possesses within the Australian scene. Baby Prince’s dynamic musicality has led him to collaborate with some of the country’s strongest up-and-coming artists from his debut in 2018 to now. With two massive features under his belt alongside Mason Dane and BLESSED this year already, we know 2022 and beyond is going to keep Baby Prince on his pathway to artistic greatness.
ESKE is a name we recommend you become immediately familiar with. With two tracks to his name so far – both released in 2021 – the Sydney-based artist and producer is expertly laser-focused on honing a sound that actively goes against the confines of traditional music-making. However, it is his ability to craft and attune his music to be aesthetically pleasing whilst still pushing boundaries that exhibits this perfect balance he has as an artist, a notion well on display within his two singles ‘RUNAWAY’ and ‘SO SWEET’. Unafraid to experiment with his sound, ESKE can be heard employing layered production in both releases, with ‘SO SWEET’ in particular providing the young up-and-comer a chance to flex his sonic muscles. Upon listening to the track you’ll notice the enhancements added to ESKE’s vocal stretching over a background of extended high-pitched synths that close out the track, it’s certainly something to savour and is largely unheard of in this scene – a testament to his creative nous.
Merging the worlds of R&B, pop and electronic is Sydney artist Zia Paola, a talent whose rich vocal depth and sensual, captivating voice solidifies her as an act blessed with natural ability and a capacity for effectively drawing from her range of influences with sophistication. 2021 saw Zia releasing both of her two singles to date, with the atmospheric and self-affirming ‘Brand New’ followed up by the bassy, dance-inducing anthem ‘Fuchsia’. What becomes immediately apparent when listening to both tracks is Zia’s capacity for breathless vocal harmonies and a velvety smooth delivery, elements which indicate the sheer intricacies of her skill as a singer. The moodiness of ‘Brand New’ juxtaposes effectively against the bubbliness of ‘Fuchsia’, and whilst Zia’s mastery of capturing both moods indicates a deep knowledge and understanding of the euphoria of finding self-love, it is well-and-truly an echoing of the sheer array of musical avenues she can take with complete and utter confidence going forward.
Backed by a varied discography which illustrates the full force of his eloquent lyricism and capacity for musical introspection, Canberra’s Shaka J is unafraid to dive deep into his personal struggles with each and every release. Since 2019 Shaka has released a stack of projects, including an album, four EPs and two mixtapes. The immense diversity in sound that can be found throughout these projects is a credit to his fearlessness in approaching music as a vast and unending canvas that can shaped and reshaped as he intends it. The ever contemplative and thoughtful Shaka traverses themes of finding self-love, empowering himself through moving in silence as opposed to boastfully, and the impact of fatherhood on his life (‘Father, Son’ from his 2019 album ‘Ragged Saint’ displays this perfectly) within his music. Furthermore, Shaka’s composed delivery and exceptional lyricism will have you repeating tracks again and again to uncover the depth of his bars.
@burrowsdigital (Shaka J Photo 1), @miinorbeatz / @skiptan.photo (Zia Paola Photo 1 / Photo 2)
Words by Matthew Badrov