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Here Are 10 Black Artists You Should Be Listening To

It’s Black History Month, and that means we get to take the time to sit back and reflect on the many accomplishments of Black people across the world. I hold the strong belief that we need to be acknowledging Black History throughout the year, but Black History Month provides a great time of reflection and a chance to educate ourselves on the rich history and culture of Black people in America and around the world.

All that said, Black music has spurred some of the greatest trends in mainstream music for years, and I wanted to take the chance to build your playlist with some of the artists who I believe hold the keys to the next big waves of music coming in the future. So without further ado, here are 10 Black artists you should be listening to this month and every month after.

Tanerélle

Tanerélle has been on my radar since the end of 2017 and has completely ruled my airwaves every day since. From her out of this world performances, to her silky vocals, all the way to her beautiful mind-bending lyrics, Tanerélle is the full package. It’s hard to quantify Tanerérelle’s sound with any one genre, because she transcends them all. If you watched Insecure, you heard her on episode 9 of season four as (Spoiler Alert) Molly and Issa are coming to the realization that their friendship may have run its course. Tanerélle’s Nothing Without You serves as the backdrop for the emotional scene and is quite frankly one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Her music often incorporates orchestral instruments and weaves them perfectly with lyrics that make for a true out of body experience. Get ready to be transported to another world.

Masego

Like Tanerélle, Masego is very difficult to place into any one genre as he transcends them all. The Jamaican-American singer first took control of my playlists in 2018 after I heard his song Tadow. After this, he released his debut studio album, Lady Lady, and if I couldn’t stop listening to him before, I was really addicted then. Masego’s voice feels like a nice sip of cold mango juice on a hot summer day beneath a perfectly shady palm tree on the beach. It wraps you up and keeps you warm and demands that you— if only for a second— relax and enjoy the show. Masego often incorporates saxophone playing in his music, giving his R&B adjacent music jazzy additives to add to his already intoxicating music. From his beautiful experimentation to his buttery voice, Masego is a force to be reckoned with. 

Victoria Monét

If you love Ariana Grande, then you’ve heard Victoria Monét not directly, but through her writing. I first heard about Victoria Monét through her extensive list of writing credits for artists Ariana Grande and Kendrick Lamar. With this impressive list of artists under her belt, it occurred to me that she must have been a wonderful musician herself. To my great delight, I got exactly what I wanted in 2018 after hearing her song “Love U Better”. Now in 2021, Monét is the songstress behind my most recent obsession “F.U.C.K” or “Friend U Can Keep”. Just a few months ago she was the culprit of my then obsession, her EP “Jaguar”.  If Masego’s voice was a sip of mango juice at the beach, Monét’s is a sip of champagne while overlooking the skylines of New York. With her amazing songwriting skills and her soft, sultry voice, Monét is sure to be ruling my playlists for the foreseeable future.

Kirby

Where do I even start with this woman? Maybe we begin with her enveloping voice? Maybe we’ll start with her immaculate song writing? Perhaps we’ll start with her amazing music production? Wherever we begin, all roads lead to this simple truth: Kirby is an amazing artist. There are few songs that cause me to have a physical reaction to them (every person on this list has done just that though), but Kirby’s “Velvet” managed to have just that and some. As the name would suggest, it’s a velvety smooth trip from start to finish. The production of this song is amazing and Kirby’s soulful voice feels like running your fingers over the softest of rose petals. Though “Velvet” is by far my favorite song by Kirby, all of her music is phenomenal. Her debut album “Sis.” is probably one of the only reasons I made it through 2020 without a mental breakdown. It’s funk filled with hints of R&B and jazz throughout and you can’t get through the songs without feeling like Kirby was singing in Harlem jazz clubs in the sixties at some point in her life. Time traveler or not, Kirby’s music is sure to make you feel good.

Kyle Dion

Like everyone on this list, Kyle Dion had one specific song that forced me to pay attention to it, and that was “Baby Esther”. It was a high octane ride from start to finish with Kyle Dion’s unwavering falsetto driving an already high energy song. After hearing “Baby Esther”, I needed more, and I was excited to find his debut album “SUGA”. Dion mixes R&B flavors with all kinds of other genres of music, and he, like a few others on this list, is a bit difficult to fit in any one genre, as he has no issue jumping into anything. His voice is a driving force behind his pristine songwriting and production, and “SUGA” will surely go down as one of my favorite albums of the past few years. Every high note Dion hits is blood curdling, but in the best of ways. His music reaches through the phone and sits you at the front row of a one on one concert with Lenny Kravitz style  and D’Angelo style music and falsetto. 

Moses Sumney

Remember our conversation about Tanerélle earlier, and how she had an ability to transport you out of this world? Well Moses Sumney has this same ability but instead of transporting you to Venus, Mars, (or in Tanerélle’s case) Saturn, Sumney is sure to set you down in the middle of Eden. Imagine lush green forests and crystal clear waters. Imagine cool breezes and then, just in front of you, the songs of sirens emerge out from the trees. That’s Moses Sumney for you. Sumney has been categorized as “Alternative”, but with his experimental tracks and bone chilling vocals, it’s impossible to place him into one category of music. His album “græ” which debuted last year does not have a single bad song on it. Every song is a trip to that garden and a massage to your temples. Sit down, meditate, and listen to Moses Sumney. I promise you’ll find Eden.

Lianne La Havas

I was immediately attracted to Lianne La Havas after discovering her Prince connection. Heads up: Prince is my absolute favorite musician followed only by Rihanna. After watching La Havas and Prince perform together on SNL, I had to find out more about her, and I had to listen to her music and like Moses Sumney and Tanerélle, La Havas has that superhuman ability to transport you to world’s outside of our own. Her music is like being courted by a siren. She incorporates storytelling into her music flawlessly, casting you wherever she feels like you should be for that song. Her music is always welcoming no matter what mood you may be in, and if you know anything about sirens and their hypnotic abilities, prepare to experience it in real time with Lianne.

Bree Runway

Bree Runway is a newcomer to me. I only just found out about her a few weeks ago and I will never look back again. With her music catching the attention of the incredible Missy Elliot, that should say more than enough for you. Plus her impeccable writing capabilities coupled with her high production music videos and charismatic personality, Bree Runway is sure to be taking hold of radios across the world soon. Remember what a night out at the club felt like pre-pandemic? Add that to the electric energy a music festival like Coachella might have and you have exactly what a Bree Runway production feels like, and yes production not song, because every song feels like a main event.

Rico Nasty

This name might not be new to you if you’ve been into trap music for a while. You may know Rico Nasty from her collaboration with Doja Cat on “Tia Tamera”, or maybe even her song “iPhone”, but however you may know her, you know she is a hard hitting force in acid trap. Taking on inspirations from trap and screamo rock music, Rico Nasty is in a lane all on her own, embracing many different genres of music to curate a signature sound only she can have. Add the energy of Bree Runway with the out of body experience of Tanerélle and you have the realm for which Rico Nasty dwells— a high octane, motocross, mosh pit of wonderfully enraged music.

VanJess

This sister duo caps off our list of Black artists you should be listening to, and although they are the last, rest assured they in no way shape, form, or fashion, the least interesting on this list. With sister duo Chloe x Halle owning 2020, I sat rooting for VanJess to be next up. VanJess makes all the feel good music you dance to in the summer while the sun sets on your rooftop get together. It’s the kind of music you listen to on those rides home with the breeze blowing up on your face and all your cares are behind you if only for a second. VanJess makes music that makes you want to dance and most of all, makes you feel good. With voices like gold and feel good lyrics, you’re sure to have a great time while you listen to them. This duo has so many good songs it’s hard to choose one to highlight, so to make things easier for you and for me, enjoy them all.

So there you have it; a whole catalog of new artists for you to consume and transport you off your couch and to the Garden of Eden, Saturn, or maybe a rooftop party in L.A if only for a few minutes. Be sure to listen to this music with caution— you may not want to come back down to Earth after this music is all said and done.

My name is Jordan Morgan, and I am a sophomore studying journalism at Michigan State University. I love writing, reading. watching movies with my friends and family, and I love animals.