There’s something special about a song or body of work that truly resonates with the listener. Albums like Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap, Lucky Daye’s Painted and SZA’s CTRL each offer an experience from start to finish. We turn to music for different reasons whether it’s heartbreak, seeking motivation, needing validation or wanting to have a good time. There is a song for every emotion and situation imaginable.
As a music enthusiast, I scour platforms like Apple Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, and YouTube for new sounds from up-and-coming artists. There is no better feeling than coming across hidden gems and holding them tight. The experience reminds me of when I would purchase one of my favorite artists’s albums: examining the album artwork from front to back, placing the CD into my Sony portable CD player, adjusting my headphones, turning up the volume, and pressing play.
Each project listed below has something different to offer from the overall sound, message, mood, theme, etc. Don’t say I never put you up on game! Be sure to add these 10 artists to your playlist:
TAKE 1: NBDY, Admissions (EP)
New Jersey based R&B singer, NBDY released a 7-track EP titled, Admissions in 2019. He differentiates himself sonically by serenading listeners with thoughtful melodies intertwined with vivid imagery. NBDY details his shortcomings with love and heartbreak in an open and honest way, referring to the EP as an open letter to his past relationships.
TAKE 2: The Oshi, Oshi (EP)
Bajan-American rapper/songstress, The Oshi is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The release of her self-titled EP, Oshi (2019) introduces her listeners to her exuberant personality and sultry sound. The Oshi exudes confidence and doesn’t allow doubt or naysayers to impede her determination to win.
TAKE 3: Amindi, Minztape (EP)
Jamaican singer, Amindi grew up in Inglewood, California and recently shared a collection of three tracks titled, Minztape. The tracks were solely featured on the musician’s SoundCloud and serve as an appetizer before the entree. She refers to this gesture as fulfilling a promise to her supporters. Each track is distinct, creating a balance of mellowness and vulnerability. A trio that is true to Amindi’s rich, eclectic, and soulful sound.
TAKE 4: OLA, Pressure (Album)
Atlanta based R&B singer, OLA released an album titled Pressure where he vulnerably shares his story. He reveals his struggles with moving from his hometown, Plainfield, New Jersey at the age of sixteen to pursue music and adjusting to a new environment. OLA stays true to the genre of R&B in terms of lyrical content with a smooth and upbeat twist. Pressure is non-skip worthy and each track fades into the next effortlessly, with themes relating to temptation, self-awareness, family, and failed relationships. He says that this album is meant to shed light on the things artists endure within the music industry that are often left unspoken, leaving them voiceless and/or complacent.
TAKE 5: Eco$ystem, “Fetish” (single)
Australian rapper, Eco$ystem is of Sudanese heritage and grew up in Melbourne’s inner-city. He is unperturbed by others’ thoughts and asserts himself on his latest track, “Fetish.” Summarized in three words, “Fetish” is catchy, flashy, and high energy. The sound is reminiscent of Ski Mask The Slump God, with heavy trap sounds accompanied by fast drum rhythms, adding to the confident energy he gives off throughout the track. “Fetish” has the charisma of a summer party anthem with a simple, yet memorable hook.
TAKE 6: Alika, “Flex” feat. Br3nya (single)
West London artists Alika and Br3nya teamed up to create the perfect summer vibe. “Flex” is a sexy confidence booster with a fast paced beat reminiscent of Cardi B and SZA’s “I Do”. Alika and Br3nya match one another’s energy, showcasing their flows, catchy wordplay, and ability to keep listeners engaged.
TAKE 7: Bigal Harrison, Bintage (Album)
Harlem born rapper, Bigal gets lyrical on his 2019 release, Bintage, a 10-track EP. He has a nostalgic 90’s style with a sound that is true to East Coast hip-hop. Bigal intimately details the harsh realities that Black men face, relationships, and his determination to elevate in all aspects of life. Bigal’s sound is reminiscent of rappers like Nas and Dave East. He does a great job of creating vivid imagery through his lyrics, helping the listener visualize and experience each part of the narrative.
TAKE 8: Kristina Alcordo, Soul & Mine (EP)
Toronto singer/songwriter, Kristina Alcordo released a 5-track EP titled, Soul & Mine. It’s mellow with a tranquil guitar rhythm and intoxicating drum patterns. The EP makes you feel as if Alcordo is performing live, serenading you with her sultry vocals. Soul & Mine is an honest, open, and vulnerable illustration of her afflictions in romance and a journey to self-discovery. In the end, she comes out more confident and self-aware. Alcordo’s sound resembles artists like Snoh Aalegra, Ama Lou, and Raveena.
TAKE 9: Phabo, Free (EP)
Los Angeles based singer/songwriter, Phabo released a 6-track EP titled, “Free” Always Comes With “Bullshit”. Phabo puts an end to relationships that have grown old and claims the season as his own, emphasizing a fresh start. However, there are certain things that he cannot free himself from. Seamless transitions are used to sew various themes together including making a name for himself, and learning from and seeking love despite the complicatedness associated with it. The EP is an excellent showcase of his writing, vocals, and overall creativity. Phabo’s sound is reminiscent of artists like Roy Woods, DVSN, and Giveon.
TAKE 10: CKay, CKay The First (EP)
Nigerian singer and producer, CKay released an EP titled, CKay The First in 2019. The EP is a colorful disposition of his past relationships, lustful fantasies, and desire for love. His carefree energy can be felt within each song and prompts the listener to let their guard down. CKay fuses futuristic elements with prominent Afrobeat rhythms. His sound is similar to that of Joeboy, Blaqbonez, and Fireboy DML.