Although R&B may seem like it’s taken a backseat to other genres, the first lady of Dreamville Records Ari Lennox refuses to let it die. Her neo-soul sound and down to earth vibe gives her the relatable edge that many artists seem to lack these days. Lennox got her first taste of fame on YouTube, where she has 33 thousand subscribers, and used to upload covers of popular songs. She has remade songs like “Drunk in Love,” by Beyoncé and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” by Otis Redding. Lennox would add her own flavor to the songs by slowing them down and changing up the beat. Her smoky vocals have a very wide range that allows her covers to sound unique and fit her soulful demeanor.

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With more than 65 million views just five days after its release, Donald Glover’s “This is America,” has the internet buzzing. The video, which has been repeatedly called “genius, shows Glover as his alter ego “Childish Gambino” dancing with a group of African children while violent, terroristic and war-like incidents are taking place all around them.

Left open-ended and with little resolve, the video ends with Gambino running from the madness as a mob chases him (which resembles a scene  in Jordan Peele’s Get Out). It’s jarring and disturbing yet intriguing and compelling as well. The lyrics, like the video, tell a story of complicated contrasts. There are parties and guns, guerilla warfare and dancing, high-class consumerism and contraband, all in one video.  “What Gambino put together is a true picture of America where so many of us get to dance and sing and laugh and create,” journalist Isaac Bailey of CNN explained. “All the while others are largely ignored and trapped in the background, struggling and sometimes dying in a sea of ugliness that many of us would rather not acknowledge, knowing it would ruin the pretty pictures we’d rather focus on.” Evoking the transformative power of art and dance,  Glover as Childish Gambino puts America on display and instead of home of the free and the brave, we’ve become home of the ying and the yang.

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“I want people to know who I truly am…,” says Bebe Rexha on her official website, beberexha.com. After listening to Rexha’s candid lyrics, memorable voice, and provocative beats, we want to know more about who Rexha truly is too.

A self-proclaimed “Bad B*tch,” Bebe Rexha empowers others through her honest song lyrics and her powerful voice. The songstress/ record producer finds inspiration for her edgy, sultry style through nineties R&B music and modern pop. Rexha’s debut album, Expectations, draws from her own experiences with bad breakups and fake friends to inspire others with her candid lyrics and her hypnotic beats. This album marks her own personal growth through the hardships and turmoil in her personal life.

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Jazz is one of the few genres of music that has withstood the test of time, both with listeners and music critics. Colombian-born multi-instrumentalist, Jay Rodriguez, has been composing and performing music consistently for over 40 years. The musician also known as Hernan Ramiro Rodriguez-Sierra, began playing the clarinet at the age of 7 after moving to New York City. He later picked up the alto saxophone and the flute. The musician furthered his instrumental studies with Tito D. Rivera, a famous Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist. He also studied with musicians like Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, and Joe Allard.

By age 15, he was playing lead alto saxophone with Tito Puente, a famed musician, songwriter, and producer.  “I’d be coming home at 6 o’clock in the morning, then going to school. That was my childhood and I don’t regret it,” said Rodriguez on his official website jayrodriguez.com. After spending his high school years in performing arts schools, Rodriguez began making music professionally.

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“Musicality in hip-hop is sort of a lost art, and Common always used real musicians. It’s keeping real music alive at a time where most people aren’t.”

-Robert Glasper

Glasper, a rap icon, legendary pianist  and Common’s new group mate  almost perfectly puts into words how some of us fell  in love with the intricacies of our favorite artist’s music, in conjunction with the way they deliver heartfelt lyrics.

Common has always been credited with delivering some of the most soulful and powerful music for the culture. So teaming up with longtime friends and legends in their own rights, Robert Glasper and drumming icon Karriem Riggins, was the perfect way to yet again breathe life into the artistry of rap and hip-hop.

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Techno music originated in Detroit in the early 1980s by young African-Americans, according to NPR Music. Over time it has become a worldwide phenomenon, creating a culture of beats made for dancing. Thirty-two year old French DJ, Mike Levy aka Gesaffelstein has taken a more expressive approach to making music, aiming to create work that tells a story, and he has established himself as a staple in the music world.

Hailing from Lyon, France, Gesaffelstein takes songs with dark, low tones and amplifies them with dance-able ecstasy. His hyper-electric tracks incorporate many elements of hip-hop, though the DJ knew almost nothing about hip-hop when he began his career.

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Relatable, feel good music is exactly what someone looks for when listening to different artists.  The lyrics, the beat and even the video of a song can leave a lasting impression. When I listened to Chvrches’ track “Leave A Trace,” I was hooked.

Unapologetic synth-pop band Chvrches has been in the game since 2011. Their music most certainly gives 1980s summer time vibes for sure. The “v” in Chvrches is no mistake.  It was put there to distinguish them from different religious information when searching for their music online.

The trio were in different bands before they came together to form Chvrches. Iain Cook asked Lauren Mayberry to sing on a few demos that he made with Martin Doherty, an old classmate.  They gained popularity after they debuted their demo Lies.

Some of his most popular songs over the past three years include “No Type,”  “Black Beatles,” and “Unforgettable.” Khalif Malik Ibn Shaman Brown, otherwise known as Swae Lee, has been working in the music business since he was about fourteen, and pretty soon he will become a household name. The Inglewood, California native is twenty-three years old and he began making music with his brother, Aaquil Ibinshaman Brown aka Slim Jxmmi, as well as a family friend Bobo Swae, forming the group called Dem Outta St8 Boyz.

Later, the group’s DJ, DJ Swae, put them in touch with P-Nazty, a producer for Mike Will Made It’s record label, EarDrummers. Shortly after Swae turned eighteen, he, his brother, and DJ Swae moved to Atlanta, where Swae began observing and experimenting with the more professional side of the music business. Unfortunately, after a while, they ran out of money and had to move back home, causing Dem Outta St8 Boyz to disperse.

This year sparked the beginning of Swae Lee establishing himself separately from the group, being featured on singles like “Drinks On Us” with Future and The Weeknd, “Burn Slow” with Wiz Khalifa, and “Nightcrawler” with Travis Scott and Chief Keef. In 2016, he was featured on tracks like “Yacht Master” by 2 Chainz and “Ball Out The Lot” by Bobo Swae. It was in this year that Swae got his first co-producer credit with “Pussy Print” by Gucci Mane featuring Kanye West. He also achieved a major feat, having written the hook for Beyonce’s “Formation.” “I make a lot of songs, so I’m just thinking that this is another song. A couple months later, Mike tells me that Beyoncé wants it. I couldn’t imagine!” Swae reveals in a Fader interview.

Yonkers, New York is the birthplace of many musical legends in the famed world of rap and hip hop. However, fairly new to the scene rapper, Outasight, doesn’t quite fall under the same category as other artists that come from his hometown, like Mary J. Blige or Jadakiss. But suit and shades sporting Richard Andrew, who goes by the moniker, Outasight, writes his own melodies and light hearted lyrics to what can be classified as hip hop, rap and pop.

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