3 Underground Artists You Need On Your Playlist

Not gonna lie, my entire life has been centered on music, so believe me when I say it’s stressful to imagine life without it. I absolutely love music and everything about it.

As deep as my love goes for music, the gag is that the radio annoys me because of its mainstream trends. Whenever a hot new song releases, radio stations will play it almost 24/7. I mean I get it, this is a generation of new-age sounds and artists, but everyone has their limits when it comes to how much of it we want to hear. All it takes is a day of hearing the same song on the radio and I’m completely sound-sick.

Underground culture is often overlooked because of the effort it takes to find some of its best artists. Through personal experience, it always starts with YouTube and goes from there. For a lot of people, if it’s not on the radio then it seems irrelevant. Little do they know, underground music has fresh sounds that are far from mainstream music. They’re probably not going to be on the radio anytime soon, but their dedication wows the people who seek out their music.

1. Stage Name: Noname

Real name: Fatimah Nyeema Warner

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Fav 5 Tracks: Song 31, Ace (ft. Smino & Saba), Self, Shadow Man (ft. Saba, Smino, & Phoelix), Diddy Bop (ft. Cam O’bi and Raury)

Despite her more recent rise to stardom, she’s been on the scene since before her first most notable project named “Telefone.

Fatimah Warner (formerly known as Noname Gypsy) is a Chicago-born rapper with a voice that gives you a warm hug and lyrics that remind you of all things home.

My first time hearing Warner was her first ever project, a mixtape titled “Fatimah Now.” She wouldn’t consider this one of her more serious projects, but it still created a little buzz and gave her recognition. Warner is extremely talented at poet-rapping and had me immediately hooked. Her larger audience began to roll in once she started doing features on songs with other Chicago-bred artists like Chance the Rapper and Mick Jenkins.

If you’re anything like me, lyricism and instrumentals can make or break music. When it comes to Warner, she gets a strong approval in these categories from myself and many music reviewers. Her debut album, "Room 25," was even more heartfelt and groovy than her project and it left me anticipating what’s next. If you’re looking to get into more conscious underground poet-rap, add Noname to your list.

2. Stage Name: Mick Jenkins

Real Name: Jayson Mick Jenkins

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Fav 5 Tracks: Your Love,  On the Map (ft. BadBadNotGood), Vibe, Smoking Song (ft. BadBadNotGood), Stress Fracture (ft. Mikahl Anthony)

Another Chicago-born rapper, Mick Jenkins is making his mark on the underground rap scene just by being poetic.

I’ve always enjoyed a good Jenkins track and what I enjoy most about this artist is the consistent themes throughout his music. These themes? Drinking water, vibing and smoking. Jenkins creates vibes that cater to the mellow energy in all of us. Hearing only a couple of his songs will give you a very strong idea of how the rest of his music will generally sound. I’d say it’s hard to listen to this artist and not want to daydream or get lost in the calming energy.

3. Stage Name: VanJess

Real Name(s): Ivana and Jessica Nwokike

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Fav 5 Tracks: Honeywheat, Through Enough, Touch The Floor (ft. Masego), Addicted, Cool Off the Rain (Interlude)

The absolute cutest thing about this R&B duo is that they’re sisters! (Total awww!)

It’s been said that the Nigerian-American sisters owe their thanks to YouTube, where they got their start and gained popularity doing song covers. What I love the most is that they deliver when it comes to vocal control and the influence that you can hear in their work. VanJess provides a sound and instrumentals that remind you of older artists like Brandy, Aaliyah or SWV. In essence, they hit home creating tracks that can send you back to the 90s while still keeping you well in the 2000s. I mean, they’re practically giving us the best of both worlds.

Their self-released album, Silk Canvas, dropped in 2018 and the duo took off.

What I appreciate the most from their craft are the harmonies they create and ability to make listeners hear and feel their musical chemistry. There’s nothing that will make me repeat a song quicker than being moved by how well the artist graces a track. You probably saw this coming by now, but I highly recommend giving VanJess a serious listen because they never fail to impress.

 

Convincing your friends that you deserve a round on the aux cord can be a challenge. We can all be a bit bias in thinking we have the best music taste out of everyone in our group. However, adding these three artists to your list will be a healthy mix for everyone, and I guarantee someone will be asking you to send them your playlist very soon.