So much of American music has been based on and created within the African-American culture, so with Black History Month now is a great time to acknowledge a few phenomenal current African-American artists. These are all my personal preferences, so feel free to look further into their work, and just know that there are so many more I am unable to mention here. Take this article as your sign to go listen and explore some more talented popular, and up-and-coming African-American artists this month!
- Blood orange
Devonte Hynes, born in Texas but based in New York City, is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, record producer, and director. He sings as well as plays guitar and synth, and has mastered the art of songwriting. Some recognizable artists he has written, played, or produced for and with include Caroline Polachek, Solange Knowles, Connan Moccasin, Mac Miller, Mariah Carey, and more. Blood Orange has a number of albums released worth a listen, Coastal Grooves and his newest EP Four Songs are my current favorites. Hynes also wrote an absolutely beautiful score for Gia Coppola’s film Palo Alto. His music really captures complex feelings of yearning and attachment perfectly balanced with an upbeat danceable groove.
- Ice spice
Ice Spice, or Isis Gaston, is a Bronx-born American rapper who has been taking the rap scene by storm these past couple of years. If you have not heard her music on the radio or TikTok yet, I highly encourage listening to her debut album Like..? or her newest feature on PinkPantherss Boy’s a liar Pt. 2. Ice Spice began her rapping career in 2021, slowly but surely gaining traction on Soundcloud, Instagram, and later becoming a TikTok phenomenon. Her music primarily falls under the category of Bronx drill, and in 2023 quoted to be “rap’s new princess” by Jon Caramanica of the New York Times. Her music captures a femininity that is not the usual expectation when listening to drill but she does not shy away from exploring more pop elements as well.
- Yves Tumor
Sean Bowie, best known under his recording alias of Yves Tumor, is truly what one would call an artist. His music does not fit into a box, but could possibly be classified as having electronic, experimental, and rock influences. Born in Miami, Tumor has traveled globally to perform and record his music including Berlin, LA, Germany, and more. Tumor is multi-talented, with an additional interest in upholstery, designing a variety of types of furniture. Tumor plays a number of instruments including a focus on vocals, synthesizer, keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. All of his albums are masterpieces, my favorite being Heaven To A Tortured Mind. They recently released a single called Echolalia last month, January 2023, so go and give it a listen!
Otherwise known as Walter Williams, Zelooperz is an American rapper signed with the hip-hop group Bruiser Brigade and this group’s personal record company. He is based in Detroit and is known to often perform and write with Danny Brown, another well-known rapper. Zeelooperz has several albums released, my personal favorite and introduction to his music being Dyn-O-Mite, but all of them are very enjoyable and unique in different ways. He recently released a new single on February 8th called GS1, partnering with the equally talented producer CONNIE. His discography varies from having old-school sounds to more modern experimental flavors, such as hyper pop.
- kwame adu
Starting the new year off strong with a three-sided single called BLACK SXX: the machine and I this New-Jersey-based rapper continues to grow and evolve his sound. Kwame has a lot of jazz and drum-n-bass influence music throughout his tracks, and his artistry is truly a unique listening experience. My personal favorite track of his “Jeanine!” is a testament to the dual strife and beauty of love, yearning and recalling past memories. This track has a charming nostalgic sound to it, and his partnership with producer Aviad adds a beautiful simplicity to the track.
All of these artists are worth an addition to your monthly Spotify playlist and current rotation. I look forward to seeing what each of them brings to the music scene this coming year!