Nile Rodgers, Pusha T and Major Lazer might have brought the star power, but of all the collaborators to appear on Chase & Status’ 2013 album, Brand New Machine, it was a virtual unknown, 22-year-old Moko, who undoubtedly stole the show.
Possessing a gutsy and impassioned gospel-soul vocal which has been favourably compared to Massive Attack’s former muse Shara Nelson, the South Londoner gave the drum ‘n’ bass duo’s third LP its emotive edge on both “Count On Me,” the warehouse rave throwback which reached No.5 in the UK charts last October, and “Like That,” a gorgeous string-soaked slice of 90s breakbeat which could have been lifted from the seminal Blue Lines.
Her affiliation with Chase & Status doesn’t end there. Previously a member of the London Community Gospel Choir and a graduate of the same Goldsmiths’ art college that helped to launch the careers of Mercury Prize nominees Katy B and James Blake, Moko had only played a handful of gigs before the Chase & Status spotted her performing with Neneh Cherry on Internet channel Boiler Room TV, and promptly signed her to their MTA Records label.
Since then, she’s supported the band on their UK arena tour, headlined the BBC Introducing stage at last year’s Glastonbury and received rave reviews for The Black EP, a four-track collection produced by long-time collaborators The Imposters thereby proving she could cut it on her own.
Indeed, the gloriously brooding trip-hop of debut solo single “Freeze,” the ghostly pitch-shifted samples, bubbling basslines and hypnotic synth snares of “Hand On Heart,” the after-hours atmospherics of “Summon The Strength” and the nocturnal electro-soul of “Honey Cocaine” are all worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the 90s Bristol scene’s finest.
Criminally ignored by most of this year’s Ones To Watch polls, Moko could well end up being 2014’s surprise package.