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BBC Music’s Sound Of 2021 Winner Has Been Revealed As Rapper Pa Salieu

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The 23-year-old Gambian-British rapper leads the BBC’s influential list of up-and-coming artists expected to make a big impact in the year ahead.

Pa Salieu released his debut single Never Had in September 2018 and put out mixtape Send Them To Coventry – a critically acclaimed 15-track collection about his hometown – in November.

Salieu finishes ahead of Holly Humberstone, who took second place on the Sound Of list, as well as rapper Berwyn (3), soul singer Greentea Peng (4), and singer-songwriter-producer Griff (5).

Born in Slough, Salieu moved to The Gambia for six years before being sent to Coventry aged eight. His music blends elements of Afrobeats, grime and drill with stark lyrics that tells stories of friendship, family, racism, exclusion and violence.

Asked what message he wants to send with his music Salieu told the BBC: “Build. Unity. That’s what we lack. Where I come from, we lack compassion. It’s going to have to come from me. I’m not a punchline artist.

“Everything I say is exactly how I feel and exactly what I see and exactly where I’m coming from. My message is just build, build, build. Break down or make it out. Protect your energy. Protect everything.”

Pa Salieu follows previous winners of the BBC Sound Of such as Octavian (2019), Ray BLK (2017), Sam Smith (2014), Michael Kiwanuka (2012), Ellie Goulding (2010) and Adele (2008).

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