There’s no getting away from the fact that the UKG community has absolutely exploded over the course of the last 18 months, which despite lockdowns being a part of, has lead to a massive influx of new producers and labels pushing the scene forward at quite an alarming rate. This means that the last year has been one of the richest years in history for the garage sound, with the general catalogue of the scene boasting one it’s strongest outputs on record. So, us being the fanatics of the sound that we are, have decided to put together a list of the top 10 garage producers of 2021, focussing on their output release wise and the impact those tracks have had on the scene as a whole.
When putting this list together, the most genuinely difficult part was narrowing it down from a pre-list of 25 names that was put together, so please do bare in mind this list is based primarily on the musical output of each producer involved, rather than live shows or additional avenues.
Without further ado then, let’s jump into today’s selection!
Despite the fact that Hans remains the only non-UK name on today’s listing, there is no doubt whatsoever that he has been one of the most influential producers of 2021. Boasting a string of powerful releases with the likes of Night Bass, The Wub Club, Garage Shared & 24Hr Garage Girls, alongside a selection of hard hitting singles on Local Action, which happens to include a wicked collaboration for the ages with DJQ & Shola Ama. A fantastic year for Hans Glader to say the least!
What more is there to say about Higgo at this point, having put together one of the most explosive years-worth of releases and remixes of anyone in the UKG scene. The technique behind Higgo’s movements have been precise, always being on hand to provide a high end remix and also, a number of fiery collaborative originals. Those remixes happen to include official features for Shift K3Y, Zero & Window Kid & more. There really haven’t been many artists who have been able to grow as much in populairty as Higgo in 2021!
At this point, it would be difficult to not include the infamous Sammy Virji on a list like this, as he seems to keep pulling bangers out of the bag. The impact of each and every one of his drops this year has been pretty outstanding, the big release for him this year of course being ‘Quarantine Done’, which currently sits as the highest selling UKG release on JunoDownload for 2021. When you then couple that with the explosive impact of the ‘We’ll Be Alright’ EP and the recent sizzler with MPH, the output is pretty exceptional.
When putting this list together, there were very few people who got involved quicker than Smasher, who for me, has had an incredibly positive year. kick-starting 2021 off with a vibrant run of singles leading toward the official ‘Locked In Locked On Remix EP’. Within a couple of months of that, he was back on the release run, boasting collaborations with MC Neat, Local, Solo Jane and more, all culminating in the magnificent ‘Vibes In Motion’ album project. As far as albums go, this was one of the strongest drops of the year, which was then chased up in December by ‘Ooh La La’ alongside Mc Darky, rounding off an excellent collection of vocals and instrumental creations.
Without a doubt, Soulecta has been one of the most impressive garage producers across 2021. Being dubbed as one of the kings of collaboration, his ‘Soulecta & Friends’ album project that landed in May is widely being cited as one of the most impactful garage projects of 2021, featuring the likes of Shosh, Mc Neat, Tuff Culture, FooR, Dread MC & many more across an electrifying tracklisting on Garage Shared. Following this, we have seen a spicy new drop on Nuvolve entitled ‘Stargazer’, next to a number of alternate remixes of the ‘Soulecta & Friends’ tracklisting!
As one of the longer standing veterans of the UKG scene, Tuff Culture has undoubtedly have a top notch 2021, reeling off a string of top quality LP drops, all exploring the themes behind his own ‘Elements’ & ‘Roots’ series. Featuring on no less than 18 different release drops over the course of the year, the consistency of the man is pretty untouchable, which every release boasting a unique pocket of energy. Having released primarily alongside the Garage Shared team and focussed in on a string of top quality remixes, it’s a very impressive 12 months to say the least!
Despite the sheer quality that populates the full stretch of this list, there aren’t many people more deserving of a place than MPH, a producer who hit the ground running at the start of 2021 and has been yet to take his foot off the gas. With an incredible record of releases, featuring regularly on the likes of Night Bass, The Wub Club, Night Bass, Nuvolve and more, the actual quantity of the quality released is pretty outstanding to say the least. This is all before we take into account one of the most popular UKG collabs of the year in ‘Levelz 2 Dis’, which sees himself & Coco come together for a club certified banger. What a year its been!
The infamous enigma that is WZA has been, without a doubt, one of the most consistent soundsmiths to emerge out fo UKG this year. Consistency is key in this world, and WZA has become a master at that attribute, featuring on no less than 30, yes 30 releases across the last 12 months. With a rich tapestry of remixes and collaborations included in this, WZA has given us a truly exceptional release rate. The best thing about this is, at no point does he drop the ball, with labels such as Simma Black, Nuvolve, Wang Records, Strictly Flava, Garage Shared, Four40 and more all getting involved. A truly breakout year for the mystery man!
Another very bright spark to emerge out of 2021 with a serious career boost is of course Oppidan, an electrifying producer whose sound has captivated thousands of people both in the UK and overseas in the US. Having broken onto the infamous Night Bass with a sumptuous solo EP, featured regularly on the Kiwi Rekordings catalogue and of course launching her own label project ‘Delphino Square’, it’s been a real breakout 12 months with her releases gaining serious support and starting to stack up real listenership numbers. Not to mention, she’s also been featured on the likes fo 24Hr Garage Girls, Steppers Club, Garage Shared and more!
The final addition to today’s list is another trooper who has been flying the flag for consitency across the entirety of 2021. Phonetix is a veteran of the game, having kick started his career all the way back in the early 2000’s, boasting impressive early support from DJ EZ and many more. This year, he has been on a serious grind, featuring as an original producer, remixer and collaborator on 20 different drops. This includes a fabulous label run with the likes of Garage Shared, Nuvolve, Strictly Flava, Strictly House & Garage, Downplay and more, alongside a full length album drop of ‘Jazz Step FM’ back in February. The consistency is crazy and that’s why Phonetix is the perfect man to round off today’s list!
One thing is for certain, garage has never looked this healthy, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what everyone on this list and everyone who just missed out has in store for 2022!