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Artist to Watch in 2012: Labrinth

Tony Woolliscroft, Getty Images

If Labrinth remains something of a cipher to Americans, it’s only because his work as an artist and producer is so diverse: Best known for his guest spot on breakout pop-rap import Tinie Tempah‘s genius ‘The Hills’-referencing smash ‘Frisky,’ he’s also made swirly dubstep bangers (‘Earthquake’), euphoric dance-pop (‘Let the Sun Shine’), and given a blistering grime makeover to Jessie J‘s ‘Do It Like a Dude.’

But it’s no exaggeration to say that everything he touches is genius. Seamlessly integrating pop and hip-hop to formulate a sound that’s exactingly modern and rich with club-friendly swagger, he’s one of the brightest new stars on the musical horizon. He’s even got the support of Simon Cowell, who personally signed Labrinth to his label Syco, making him the first non-talent show signing in six years.

With U.K. rappers like Tinie Tempah and Professor Green carving out a new space for British swag in the already-crowded hip-hop sphere, we’re tipping Labrinth as the hip-hop kid likeliest to score big in the notoriously hard-to-crack stateside market — with his incisive ability to blend the sound of the underground with his sick pop sensibility. — Sam Lansky

Next: Lana Del Rey

Watch the Labrinth Video ‘Earthquake’ Feat. Tinie Tempah

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