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Add these rising Black artists to your playlists

Tai Verdes, a singer who made his mark in 2020 on TikTok, is one of the many underrated Black artists you should be listening to this year. – Photo by @taiverdes / Twitter

There are so many incredible Black artists that fly under the radar with amazing production, sound and lyricism. Don't let their music pass you by, and give some of these artists a chance to be added to your frequent song rotation. 

Tai Verdes

Tai Verdes, birth name Tyler Colon, can best be described as making music that employs bedroom pop with influences of R&B and soul. Avid TikTok users may recognize his song "Stuck In The Middle" as it went viral in 2020.

Verdes' songs feel like a warm hug, and his playful, sometimes boyish voice lends a charm to them that completely immerses the listener in his world. His unique combination of rapping, singing and conversational style has solidified his brand of being a chill, laid-back guy.

His second album, "HDTV," does not stray too far from his signature sound but experiments with new production techniques and tests his vocal limits a little further.

The tracks "100sadsongs" and "On U" are stylization choices that feel reminiscent of Generation Z slang, further crafting his image as someone who goes where life takes him and not the other way around.

Verdes' "last day on earth" is my favorite as it describes his personal mentality of living life wholesomely instead of acutely focusing on what makes life horrible. He encourages listeners to question why they should spend their time crying about the world ending when they could celebrate with their loved ones instead.

Samara Joy

Recent winner of the Grammy for Best New Artist in addition to Best Jazz Vocal Album for "Linger Awhile," Samara Joy is a 23-year-old jazz singer from the Bronx.

She primarily focuses on jazz singing, and her two Grammys are not the only accolades she has received. She was an Ella Fitzgerald Scholar and received various awards during her time at Purchase College.

Several of her videos went viral on TikTok, a major feat in the face of pop bastions currently dominating the music sphere. Her rich, velvety voice on "Can't Get Out Of This Mood" immediately captured my attention after her stunning performance at the Grammys.

Her voice is haunting yet provides a comfortable presence and puts the listener in a time before ours, filled with speakeasies and noir films.

Nova Twins

The Nova Twins, based in London, England, are a rock duo consisting of bassist Georgia South and vocalist and guitarist Amy Love. Contrary to the duo's name, Love and South are not sisters but close friends.

Their style of music exudes raw punk and rock energy with an emphasis on electronics and complimentary vocals. Their self-titled EP, "Nova Twins EP," combines masterful guitar and bass playing with bits of gritty, spoken-word lyricism.

I find that the use of bass is the heart and soul of the Nova Twins, and much of their music builds off this strong foundation to create a unique sound. As someone who used to listen to bands like Pierce the Veil, Nova Twins brought me back to a time when I used to wear shirts from Hot Topic and listen to angsty music with my wired headphones.

The duo's most recent album, "Supernova," was met with widespread critical acclaim. My favorite songs, "Cleopatra" and "Choose Your Fighter," both employ extremely tight and controlled sound but feel unrestrained. If you like punk or rock music, the Nova Twins are for you. 

Sam Ezeh

I found Sam Ezeh almost entirely by accident. I was doing a random Spotify listening session, and his song "CRISIS" played automatically in the queue. It was atmospheric, dreamy and everything I needed that night as I sat in bed and read a book. The song's echoey guitar riffs reminded me of Childish Gambino's "Redbone," and I was immediately hooked after listening to more of Ezeh's music.

Ezeh hails from Sweden and is breaking into the pop scene with a unique twist on modern pop and hip-hop. He employs more soothing elements of music, relaxing the listener into a calm state.

Ezeh's music is infused with groove and rhythm, making it perfect for almost any listener. His sound is not clearly defined but continues evolving with each new release, and his most recent EP, "Sapphire Alley," is a perfect example of that.

Isaac Dunbar

This 19-year-old from Massachusetts has been a favorite amongst friends of mine for his Lady Gaga-esque sound and charming personality. He stated in an interview that Gaga's album "ARTPOP" was the reason he started making music.

Dunbar released a smattering of songs prior to debuting his EP, "balloons don't float here," and getting signed to RCA records. After his signage, he released his sophomore EP, "Isaac's insects."

From then on, his momentum appeared to be unstoppable as he was named on several new artist lists and his works were met with critical acclaim.

One of my personal favorite songs by Dunbar, "Makeup Drawer," is a deeply personal song that sheds light on his experiences with homophobia. Dunbar feels unique due to his ability to craft narratives from his lyrics and sound, all while making his listeners feel like they're a part of the journey.

For someone so young, Dunbar displays incredible maturity through his music. You can listen to his most recent album, "Banish the Banshee," here.

These talented and innovative Black artists will make great additions to any of your current playlists — so if you find a favorite new artist off this list, keep them playing to support their creativity.

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