ESSENCE Highlights Music's New Guard

ESSENCE Highlights Music's New Guard
ESSENCE.COM May, 06, 2012

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Why She’s Hot: Her whimsical soul–pop single “Only Wanna Give It to You” secured her spot
on BET’s Music Matters tour. Now the singer–songwriter’s highly-anticipated full-length album, Perfectly Imperfect (MBK Entertainment/RCA Records), arrives this summer. Says Varner, “My music is a fusion of hip-hop, soul and R&B. Plus, I write all my songs, so it’s like folk–hip-hop—almost.”

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Why She’s Hot: A self-proclaimed “rock & R&B” artist, Kelly served up the unapologetic “Seek and Destroy,” which warns men of bad behavior. The single has become an underground anthem for women. Says the Roc Nation artist, “A lot of women relate to the idea of taking the reins in the relationship and being the one to say, ‘Don’t mess with me.’ ”

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Why She’s Hot: An influential tastemaker in music, fashion and social media, Kola has 30,000-plus Twitter followers who believe if she says something is cool, it’s hot. “For me, it’s always about your gut instinct,” Kola says. “It’s important to give yourself a second and say, Does this really move me? How does it make me feel? And based off that, I’ve somehow gotten a good inkling for being a tastemaker.”

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Why She’s Hot: At a chance meeting in 2010 with rap impresario Rick Ross in Richmond, Audra made a lasting impression with her on-the-spot rhymes (at his request). Ross is -making her the first lady of his Maybach Music imprint. Says Audra, “Right now I’m trying to conquer the world one bar at a time and bring the focus back to the message in hip-hop.”

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