These 31 Up-and-Coming Artists Are Defining a New Era of Music

How many of them do you know? Don’t answer that. Just add them to your playlist.

Kelela performing at the Broccoli City Music Festival on April 14, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
Kelela performing at the Broccoli City Music Festival on April 14, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Creative Commons

With music being downloaded, streamed, watched on YouTube or at a music festival, spun at the club and played on vinyl, the millennial generation has come of age at a time when there are more ways than ever to experience the soundtrack of their lives. And a budding group of innovative, young black artists are taking the helm as tastemakers, giving us ample cause to celebrate. Here are 31 of these breakouts on the rise in hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, rock, pop and electronic. They’re all regulars on the playlists of The Root’s under-age-30 staffers and will surely be welcome additions to yours. Happy listening!

1. Kelela (Kelela Mizanekristos): Singer-songwriter

Hails from: Rockville, Md.
Style: Experimental/future R&B
Influences: Janet Jackson
Did you know? She is the only daughter of Ethiopian parents who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s.
Check out: Cut 4 Me

2. Bizzarh (Charli Champ and Dollar Paris): Singing-rapping duo

Hails from: Toronto
Style: Psychedelic, soulful hip-hop, R&B
Influences: D’Angelo, Outkast, Erykah Badu
Did you know? The duo bonded over Wiccan ideology and started collaborating at age 14. They continued to write verses and rhymes individually even after Champ moved 37 miles away.
Check out: The Cover Up

3. Jean Deaux: Singer-rapper

Hails from: Chicago
Style: Amy Winehouse, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill
Influences: Amy Winehouse, Gil Scott-Heron, Billie Holiday
Did you know? Not only is she a singer, rapper and songwriter, but she also directs. She directed the music video for her song “Escape,” featuring Saba.
Check out: Soular System