Commercials have a way of popularizing songs that would otherwise only be heard by the respective fan base of the artist or group. The best commercials contain songs that can easily get stuck in your head and have you humming the tune for weeks, which will result in you googling the song. This was exactly the case for the Alaskan punk band Portugal. The Man, with their hit song “Feel it Still.”

The song can be heard in many commercials including a 2017 iPad pro commercial, a 2017 VitaminWater commercial featuring Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul, and a 2018 Cadillac commercial. I first heard the “Feel it Still” track on a commercial and after seeing it once, I couldn’t get the catchy tune out of my head all day.

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In the digital age, it is becoming increasingly difficult for musicians to stand out as individuals with something different to offer the world. The industry has become saturated with act after act, that bring the same level of talent and longevity to the game, and anyone can share their work with the world on the internet. Thirty-five year old Washington, D.C. artist Kelela has a uniqueness to her art, making her stand out in the indie R&B world.

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Singers emerge from all corners of the world, with different backgrounds, stories, and sounds. Technology and social media are evolving so rapidly, that it’s no surprise that many aspiring music artists were discovered on YouTube after posting covers of well-known songs.

The story is similar for 19-year-old Shawn Mendes, but he put a slightly different twist on it. In 2013, when the entertainment network Vine was at its peak, Mendes began posting six second clips of him singing on the app. After a childhood full of classes for acting, performing, and entertaining, singing came easily to Mendes. The self-taught guitarist gained millions of followers and garnered the attention manager Andrew Gertler who signed Mendes to Island Records in just a few months. His first single, “Life of the Party” was released in 2014 on the label.

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Everyone can relate to the nervousness and excitement of young love, but one song in particular, is able to take this indescribable feeling and put words to it.  The bubbly, R&B song, “Boo’d Up” has taken the charts and the radio by storm this summer. Its catchy chorus and engaging lyrics make it impossible to escape, whether it is being played on the radio or stuck in your head, making the song top the Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart.

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“Honestly, this is so much bigger than me,” 20-year-old Khalid said as he accepted the 2018 Billboard Music Award for “Best New Artist.” “This is for the youth, the young believers and all the dreamers out there. Do not listen to negativity. The only person in the way of your future is yourself.”

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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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