17 Black Artists You Should Be Listening to This Juneteenth and Black Music Month
As we celebrate Juneteenth and Black Music Month, there’s a particular opportunity to not only honor the history and revolution embedded within our culture but the eclectic depth of Black artistry. From WILLOW single-handedly reviving emo punk to redveil rhyming circles around your favorite rappers’ favorite rapper, this new age of Black artists remains adamant about authenticity, bravery, and versatility, dismantling the confinement of expectation and paving the way for their wide-eyed listeners to free themselves, too. As proof there’s truly something for everyone, here are 17 of our favorite rising stars in every shade, flavor, and expression of black.
Chicago singer, songwriter, and guitarist Dreamer Isioma is an intoxicating elixir of psychedelic funk and experimental R&B. They embody defiance against conventionality, from gender identity to the fluidity of their musical craft, creating something hypnotic, alluring, and very, very queer.
Oklahoma-bred, LA-based, alternative R&B prodigy PawPaw Rod has every right to be braggadocious, yet his humility is part of his charm. He just wants to make music that gets people to smile as loudly as he does, which is why there’s such a euphoric air of childlike wonder to his work.
Fueled by eccentricity, North Carolina’s hemlocke springs is a viral sensation making it beyond the internet. She’s quirky, intellectual, and radically playful, accentuating the awkward bits of life we all tend to cower from in her addictive '80s-esque indie pop.
A mix of lofi and indie pop, 16-year-old Chenayder uses her youth to her advantage, making music that is a lullaby for the tired soul. With innocence as her asset and a wondrous sound that’s both nostalgic and immersive, there’s a lightness you feel every time you take a sip, encouraging you to be free, hopeful, and comfortably naive.
It’s hard to pin down exactly when Q’s soul incarnated, but one could guess he’s got a few lightyears in him. With futurism and soultronic deliciousness as his ingredients, every one of the Miami-bred artist's projects is a psychedelic ride through wonder and '80s groove.
Stardom sits beautifully on d4vd’s skin, as his melancholic ballads go from being recorded in his sister’s closet to being shouted back at him by a sea of fans. His songwriting ability captures even the most nuanced intricacies of heartbreak and despair, making him one of the most coveted storytellers in moody pop.
Halfway instrumental, it’s hard to find the lyrics in Cruza’s music, but part of the appeal is how little they have to say for as deeply as they make you feel. Through haunting guitar riffs and soothing vocals, internet-friends-turned-band members AJ Roth, Charity Joy Brown, Jupiter’s Sick, and Adam Kain live at the intersection of sound and movement, charting a new multimodal sensory.
Indie dance connoisseur binki has made a sound entirely his own. Reminiscent of early 2000s punk rock, he bounces from anti-pop to alternative hip-hop seamlessly, proving himself to be both hypnotically eccentric and creatively independent.
Like a modern-day N.E.R.D, LA-based collective grouptherapy. vacillate between rock, rap, and R&B, excelling in every avenue as both individual artists and a group. Beyond talent, the secret sauce to their magic is the authentic and homegrown friendship they’ve poured years into, and how that colors the joy felt in their work.
Texas-based Teezo Touchdown is hip hop’s latest obsession. The experimental rapper has a sound that belongs to no one else, using a ‘90s pop-punk backdrop to exercise his boundless lyrical versatility. He’s not afraid to introduce punk to hip-hop, mixing potions that are both lethal and perfectly paired.
Being raised under a variety of musical influences, including grunge, West Coast hip-hop, Brit pop, and Latin rock, Jean Dawson has no choice but to be a sonic stew. In constant exploration of himself, the only thing that we can expect from the Mexican-American alt artist is that we’ll never know what to expect from him.
Haunting, melancholic, and eery, there is something undeniably captivating about Montell Fish’s sad indie and the way it coils around your bones. All that he produces holds his entire heart, each song serving as a display of his soul in a glass box. It’s music crafted for late-night drives, where your only company is you and your subconscious.
keltiey may have ended up with a TikTok-bred hit with the release of her breakout single "Need," but she's not just a trending sound; she's the next wave. With a sound that screams Y2K, technicolor, and undeniably infectious, keltiey is emerging from the far corners of the internet to cement herself as a force to be reckoned with in the larger world of digital pop.
Formerly 1/2 of the beloved sister duo VanJess, AMAKA is introducing herself to the world, maybe even for the first time. Her Kaytranada-produced debut dance single proves she’s furthering the legacy of what she’s already built by completely reinventing herself along the way.
If MySpace chose to embody a human consciousness, we’d get Tama Gucci exactly. The raunchy Miami native has become a staple in the underground queer scene, curating a unique, technologic sound that pays homage to the digital age.
With only one single out as a collective, we already know the severity of their rap and soulful hip-hop’s potential. A seven-member creative consortium, there's nothing this New England-based collective doesn’t offer, from witty rap to hypnotic vocals. Sanća, Juelz, ProSwervez, ALI, Dochee, Buu, and Dalvin Lopes are all uniquely delicious on their own, but the true magic is the catastrophic collision of CLUB INDGO.
Though the debate about R&B’s pulsing heart remains polarizing, musical acts like Chicago duo Channel Seven are a reminder that its evolution is something to be celebrated. With elements of neo-soul and lofi, they’re helping to deepen the tone and saturate the shades of R&B.