If you thought the colorful, criminal web of SoundCloud rappers was a lot to take in — well, welcome to the world of SoundCloud R&B, a rich network of singers from the U.S. to the U.K. that grows more robust and complex by the day. There are the mush mouths, the whisper octaves, and the sensitive-but-make-it-sexy dudes. You’ve likely heard songs like “Boo’d Up,” “On My Mind,” “Focus,” and “I Don’t Know Why Though,” but which breathy diva-in-waiting sings which? From the Drake-approved to the viral sensations to the household names, here’s a handy cheat sheet to ease the confusion. This list is not exhaustive — it’s just too big a universe, and it’s growing too fast! — and not every single artist listed below got their start on SoundCloud, but all are now staples of the platform and this generation of R&B stars.
Hometown: Walsall, West Midlands, England
The Thing She’s Known For: Featuring on Drake’s More Life song, “Get It Together,” which came together when Drake slid in her Intstagram DMs and requested the appearance after he heard her work on SoundCloud. (But as she is quick to clarify, their relationship was strictly professional.) Also, for getting a solo song on Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack. But mostly, her honeyed vocals and staying unsigned.
That One Song You Might Know: “Blue Lights,” “On My Mind,” and the aforementioned “Get It Together.”
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
The Thing He’s Known For: Being the first artist signed to Drake’s OVO Sound record label, collaborating often with Drake, writing other people’s hits (Rihanna’s “Work” and “Wild Thoughts”), homewrecking, making out with Kylie Jenner (whom he maybe once dated) in the rain in that one video.
That One Song You Might Know: “Come and See Me,” “Recognize” featuring Drake, and “Not Nice.”
Age: Majid Al Maskati (vocals), 27; Jordan Ullman (production), 24
The Thing They’re Known For: Signing to Drake’s OVO Sound, getting featured on and co-producing Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” withholding their identity when they first started uploading to SoundCloud (a recurring theme on this list).
That One Song You Might Know: Besides “Hold On,” “Her, “My Love” featuring Drake, “Make It Work.”
Hometown: Brampton, Ontario, Canada
The Thing He’s Known For: Being signed to Drake’s OVO Sound, singing sedated love songs, kicking a potentially dangerous drug habit.
That One Song You Might Know: “Drama” featuring Drake or “Instinct” featuring MadeinTYO.
Age: Nineteen85 is 32, but the age of the duo’s other half, Daniel Daley, is unclear.
The Thing They’re Known For: Being signed to Drake’s OVO Sound record label and not revealing their identity for months. DVSN initially remained anonymous – à la the Weeknd – until it was discovered the pair behind the duo are Drake’s in-house producer Nineteen85 (né Paul Jefferies) and Nineteen85’s affiliate, singer Daniel Daley.
That One Song You Might Know: “Hallucinations” (whose video co-stars Queen Sugar’s Kofi Siriboe!) and “Mood.”
The Rising Stars
Hometown: Vallejo, California
The Thing She’s Known For: Remaining totally anonymous up until last summer (H.E.R. stands for Having Everything Revealed); potentially working with Rihanna; covering Drake; working with Daniel Caesar and Khalid.
That One Song You Might Know: “Focus” and “Best Part.”
The Thing He’s Known For: Styling his name “6lack” but pronouncing it like “black”; signing with Flo Rida’s record label to little success; striking it big on his own on SoundCloud with his song “Prblms.”
That One Song You Might Know: “Prblms,” “Ex Calling,” “OTW.”
The Thing She’s Known For: Being deeply racist toward black women, which was uncovered in old, derogatory tweets that Claudio has since apologized for (Claudio is half Cuban, half Puerto Rican); dominating SoundCloud prior to that controversy.
That One Song You Might Know: “Belong to You,” “Unravel Me,” “Don’t Let Me Down” featuring Khalid.
The Thing She’s Known For: Getting discovered on SoundCloud for singing over songs by Danish electronic producer Galimatias; working closely with Khalid.
That One Song You Might Know: “Electric” featuring Khalid, “I Don’t Even Know Why Though,” “Fantasy.”
Hometown: Columbia, Maryland
The Thing He’s Known For: Having one of the silkiest falsettos in the business; performing with Sufjan Stevens often (they’ve even covered Drake together); his “In the Room” live concert webseries, which has included duets with Dua Lipa, John Legend, Seal, and, of course, Sufjan.
That One Song You Might Know: “Weight in Gold,” “Gentleman,” “Bourbon,” “Skipping Stones” featuring Jhené Aiko.
Hometown: Catford, South London
The Thing She’s Known For: Winning the BBC’s Sound of 2017 poll; staying unsigned; once being in a band with fellow British R&B singer MNEK.
That One Song You Might Know: “My Hood” featuring Stormzy and “Chill Out” featuring SG Lewis.
Hometown: East London
The Thing She’s Known For: Her high-pitched vocals; once singing in an all-girl a cappella group called the Boxettes; being a leading voice in Britain’s neo-soul revival; branding her style “wonky funk.”
That One Song You Might Know: “Bad Blood,” “Girlfriend,” “In the Morning.”
Hometown: London (but she’s from Stockholm and Spain)
The Thing She’s Known For: Winning the genetic lottery by being the daughter of Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack’s Cameron McVey; self-starting her career on SoundCloud.
That One Song You Might Know: “Know Me Better,” “Finders Keepers,” “Thinking of You.”
The Bubbling Under
Hometown: New York City
The Thing She’s Known For: She comes Sade-approved (Mark wrote Sade to get her permission to cover “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” on her EP, which Sade personally granted); writing an EP about the death of her mother; producing her own songs.
That One Song You Might Know: “Love Me Right, “Lose My Cool.”
Age: Ivana Nwokike, 26; Jessica Nwokike, 25
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
The Thing They’re Known For: They’re sisters (but not twins); they technically got their start on YouTube posting covers and mash-ups; they appeared on Linda Perry’s Make or Break VH1 reality show.
That One Song You Might Know: “Touch the Floor,” “Addicted,” and “Though Enough” featuring GoldLink.
Hometown: New York City
The Thing She’s Known For: Covering Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t,” Tami, Tyrese, and more on her popular YouTube channel.
That One Song You Might Know: “Into You” cover, “How You Gonna” cover, “Tell Her.”
Hometown: Birmingham, England
The Thing She’s Known For: She wrote her first song at 8 years old; got signed at 13; has already toured with Ed Sheeran; she’s also an actress who appeared in the film Brotherhood.
That One Song You Might Know: “Sober”
The Viral Sensations
Hometown: Canton, Michigan
The Thing He’s Known For: Having his song, “Mine,” become a Hot 100 hit after its opening line (“You’re so fuckin’ precious when you smile”) was turned into a meme from a popular Snapchat filter overflowing with heart emoji. (The song has reached No. 29 on the chart.)
That One Song You Might Know: “Mine”
The Thing She’s Known For: Co-starring in the popular former YouTube vlog channel “Chris and Queen” with her ex-husband (Chris Sails); going through a public YouTuber divorce after it was discovered her husband had cheated on her; gaining viral traction with her song “Medicine” about that infidelity (the song has reached No. 45 on the Hot 100 and is currently the No. 2 most popular R&B song on SoundCloud).
That One Song You Might Know: “Medicine”
Hometown: East St. Louis, Illinois
The Thing They’re Known For: Remixing Kodak Black’s “Roll in Peace” as an R&B song backed by the “Lovers and Friends” beat; going viral with its extended version uploaded to SoundCloud; reaching No. 12 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart with her remix.
That One Song You Might Know: “Roll in Peace” remix and “Myself.”
These artists didn’t necessarily get their start on SoundCloud, but now dominate the platform.
The Thing She’s Known For: Her song “Boo’d Up” going viral and reaching the Hot 100’s Top 10 a year after its release; getting discovered on Instagram by DJ Mustard through her soul cover of Fetty Wap’s “679”; being signed to his label, 10 Summers; was once in a girl group called Arize on X Factor that didn’t pan out; currently has the No. 1 song on SoundCloud’s R&B section.
That One Song You Might Know: “Boo’d Up” and Naked.”
The Thing She’s Known For: Speaking out about sexual misconduct in the music industry; being friends with Chance the Rapper; collaborating with Calvin Harris, Romeo Santos, and, soon, Eminem.
That One Song You Might Know: “Figures,” “Gatekeeper,” Body Count.”
Hometown: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
The Thing He’s Known For: Going viral on Apple Music first; getting Grammy-nominated for his debut album; working with many women on this list, including H.E.R, Kali Uchis, Syd, and Jessie Reyez.
That One Song You Might Know: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “We Find Love,” “Blessed.”
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia, and Pereira, Colombia
The Thing She’s Known For: Her retro style, in both fashion and sound; working frequently with Tyler, the Creator; being a low-key cinephile.
That One Song You Might Know: “Tyrant” and “After the Storm.”
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
The Thing She’s Known For: Her purple hair; covering Drake; taking a knee during her performance of the national anthem at a Nets game in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
That One Song You Might Know: “Collide,” “Back for More, ” “U Don’t Know,” “Don’t Think About It.”
Hometown: Maryland and Berlin
The Thing She’s Known For: Writing “Bitch Better Have My Money” and other Rihanna songs.
That One Song You Might Know: “Ego” and “Ballin.”
Chloe x Halle
Age: Halle Bailey, 19; Chloe Bailey, 18
The Thing They’re Known For: Getting discovered by Beyoncé from their YouTube covers of her songs; becoming the first artists to sign to her record label, Parkwood; co-starring on Freeform’s Grown-ish; being sisters (but not twins); vocal harmonies for days.
That One Song You Might Know: “Happy Without Me,” “Grown,” “Drop.”
The Thing He’s Known For: Signing with Cash Money Records; briefly feuding with Tory Lanez.
That One Song You Might Know: “B.E.D.” and “At the Club.”
Age: Drew Love, 25; Dante Jones, n/a
Hometown: Los Angeles
The Thing They’re Known for: Their feature on the hit song by ZHU and Skrillex, “Working for It”: flipping the Dawson’s Creek theme song for one of their singles; fusing R&B and alt-rock; touring with Bryson Tiller; being mysterious about their identity in the beginning; getting a Timbaland co-sign.
That One Song You Might Know: “Working for It,” “Dante’s Creek,” “U-RITE,” “Motley Crew.”
Honorable mentions: Khalid; Kehlani; SZA; D.R.A.M.; The Internet; Jhené Aiko, Bryson Tiller; Tory Lanez; Kelela.