Black Music Month: Artists Next Up In the Industry
The month of June marks African American Music Appreciation Month. During this time we commemorate African American music and its contribution to the storytelling of African cultural heritage and its impact on the world. Spotlighting artists who’ve significantly dominated genres such as The Blues, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Gospel, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and more.
On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed June to be Black Music History Month after two Philadelphia natives, Kenny Gamble and Dayana Williams rallied demanding African Music to be celebrated and appreciated for setting the standard for music as a blueprint. Since then, President Barak Obama modified its name to African American Music Appreciation Month. During this month we celebrate artists such as Billie Holiday, Rosetta Tharpe, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, and more.
Though we can look back and show our appreciation for those who’ve paved the way for black music, civil rights movements, political rallies, and all around Good music. I believe it is important to pay homage to those who are coming up in the industry. These artists would not exist in time without artists such as Prince and Diana Ross but we must highlight the next generation that may not be on your everyday radar. These artists are next up, combining their cultures and experiences into a multi-faceted and innovative genre. Black Music Month: It’s time to pass the torch and give recognition to the next generation of artists who are next up in the industry.
It may come as a surprise when you first hear her melodic tone reminiscent of the Jazz and Blues era. The 22- year old Bronx native is heavily influenced by her grandparents Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon. The two were members of a Philadelphia gospel singing group entitled the “Savettes.” Following in their footsteps, Samara began singing in the church. When Samara was just a student at Fordham High School of Performing Arts, she won best vocalist at the JALC’s “Essentially Ellington” Competition. Samara later enrolled in the SUNY Purchase Jazz Studies program and the rest was history.
Mentored by the legendary pianist, Barry Harris, Samara was groomed into the artist she’s become today. In 2019, Samara won the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition. Samara released two Albums, one self-titled Samara Joy and the second album entitled Linger Awhile in 2021-2022. Her remarkable work achieved a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. If you want the nostalgic feel of Jazz with a modern voice, then Samara Joy is a perfect match. Next time you listen to Samara Joy, just close your eyes and feel her music take you back in time. this is only the beginning for her and I believe she is worth celebrating.
Many may know GloRilla’s hardcore flow from her hit F.N.F of Tomorrow 2. The 23-year-old Memphis rapper, also known as Big Glo, is known for her distinct style that exchanges a soft rap flow for a more gritty hardcore tone. According to Afrotech.com, GloRilla’s name describes her “Wild and Crazy” personality. As the 8th child out of 10, GloRilla grew up with the love and support from her family, including her parents. There was even one point her mother assumed she’d be a singer but Glo had other plans. Growing up in the church as well as being influenced by her surroundings Glo would refer to her style as the “ Hood Gospel.” of Black music, According to a Billboard interview, GloRilla compares her voice to being influenced by the rap group Three 6 Mafia, for their ability to add a “Bounce” to their style of rap.
On April 2022, GloRilla released her song F.N.F. (Let’s Go). After recording her song in the studio, less than 3 hours later she began shooting her music video. Rallying some of her closest friends, Glo ran to the streets and traffic stops to shoot the video that we all know. F.N.F. went viral and elevated her career. By July 2022, Glo signed with Yo Gotti’s CMG Records as the first female rapper under the label. Glo’s second single, Tomorrow 2, featured Cardi B and ranked #1 on Billboards Top 100. GloRilla was nominated for The Grammy Award for best rap performance. Glo has received awards for BET Hip Hop Awards for Best New Hip Hop Artist and iHeart Radio’s Best New Hip Hop Artist.
Leon Thomas III
Many may originally know Leon Thomas III for his role as André Harris in the Nickelodeon Show Victorious. Leon has always been known to be a talented individual with amazing potential. To some, Leon may have disappeared, but that is not the case. Since Victorious, he has appeared in various films and television shows dating up to 2022 according to IMDB.com. However, outside of his acclaimed success, many do not know how talented Leon is. With tenured into this career, Leon began his career at the age of 10 as Young Simba in the 2003 Broadway Show The Lion King; and additionally in Broadway Show The Color Purple and Caroline and Change. By 2012, Leon released four songs for the Victorious soundtrack and released his first mixtape Metro Hearts.
Following his musical success, Thomas began writing for artists such as Ariana Grande, Toni Braxton, Chris Brown, Zendaya, Kehlani, Giveon, 6lack, SZA, and more. In 2022, Thomas was nominated for Best Rap Song receiving co-writing and co-producing credits for the song entitled “Gold Roses” by Rick Ross feat. Drake. Leon Thomas III is living under the radar but is still working and thriving. In addition to his writing and producing skills, his vocals are top-tier 24-carat gold. Leon Thomas III is next up to be considered one of the greatest to ever hit the industry.
Muni Long is the definition of what hard work and consistency mean in the music industry. Before there was Muni Long, the world would meet Priscilla Renae Hamilton (or Priscilla Renae). Born in Vero Beach, Florida, Priscilla spent her early years heavily influenced by music. Priscilla loved to sing but did not put her talent out to the world until a teen after posting song covers on youtube. Her renditions of “Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake and Fergie’s “Glamorous” gained millions of subscribers and notoriety from big artists. By the age of 18, Renae was signed to Capitol Records and released her first single entitled Doll House.
During her interview on the Terell Show, Renae expressed her distaste for the song claiming that it was very “Pop.” Her time at Capitol Records didn’t go as well as she hoped. From there, Renae transitioned from singing to songwriting as a way to continue to do what she loves most. This would start her more than ten-year success as a songwriter for Chris Brown, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Maranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and more. Hit after Hit, Long is the mastermind behind songs such as “Califonia King Bed” by Rihanna and “VSOP” by K Michelle.
After many years behind the scenes as a songwriter, it was not until Long was diagnosed with Lupus that she decided to take things up a notch. According to Vogue, Long emphasized how it ”put things into perspective” and that she’d be “pissed” if she did not go “after the things she wanted.” This is what birthed the artist as we know, Muni Long. Her tenure in the career just shows how vital she’s for Black music as the mastermind behind some of our best hits. Now, it is the moment for Muni to receive her flowers and the recognition she deserves.
The R&B artist RAAHiiM, formally known as Rahiem, a Toronto native lives a very private life. However, through his music, we can take a glimpse into his world. RAAHiiM grew up with musical influences from the church. His grandfather was a pastor and a classical singer. By the age of 17 years old, RAAHiiM was entered into the Remix Project based out of Toronto. This was a mentorship for young artists who had difficulty taping into the industry due to life challenges. The program provided “Personal and professional” guidance to help develop these artists and form a “creative community”, according to theremixproject.com.
During his time in the program, RAAHiiM was mentored by Danial Daley, who is half of the group DVSN. The two later became closer and partnered on future projects together. By 2020, RAAHiim released his debut album entitled ii Knew Better on December 4th. RAAHiiM described this album as a therapeutic process that tells a “story with grace and honesty.” According to thefader.com, RAAHiiM spends most of his time “Practicing being present” and staying away from the notoriety of the industry. However, his music has reached thousands of listeners worldwide. RAAHiiM currently features Rory’s (Podcast Rory and Mal) summer single Not Me.
Alyssa Michelle Stephens or as we know, Latto, a.k.a Big Latto, continues to top the charts and put Clayton County on the map. Born and raised on the South side of Atlanta, Georgia Latto received recognition at a young age. At just 16 years old Latto appeared on Jermaine Dupri’s reality television show “The Rap Game” as Miss Mulatto. Before her name change, the name Miss Mulatto arose from her background of having a white mother and a Black father. However, would she’d later drop the name to Latto due to its racial context.
After winning the first season’s competition she then turned down the record deal and continued as an independent artist. Latto emphasized in an interview in 2022 emphasizing the lack of financial profit from joining So So Def Records. That did not hinder her career. Latto released her single Bitch From Da Souf from her EP Big Latto which ranked no.95 on Billboards Top 100. By 2020, Latto signed with RCA record. She also released two singles entitled Muwop feat. Gucci Mane and No Hook. By August of the same year, she was listed amongst many rappers as XXL Magazines Freshman Class of 2020. During the same month, Latto released her debut album Queen of the Souf. The album skyrocketed to no.44 on Billboards Top 200. In 2021, Latto received MTV’s Global Push Artist of the Month.
Chess Not Checkers
This was only the beginning, Latto partnered with the legend herself on her following album 777. She released her song Big Energy featuring Mariah Carey which hit No. 5 on Billboards Hot 100. The song grew and eventually snagged a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Latto’s transition from Miss Mulatto to Latto only illustrates her work ethic and growth in the industry and her influence on music. Latto continues to make chess moves featuring artists such as Cardi B on the hit track “Put it on the Floor” and more. Lotto’s recent accomplishments include a BET Award for Best New Artist. This woman is on a mission and is next up to be the Queen of the Souf and represent her hometown and the legacy of Black music for Hip Hop.
Singer, songwriter, and violinist Sudan Archives is the perfect example of a rose that grew through concrete. Sudan Archives, real name Brittany Parks was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sudan grew up musically inclined. Her stepfather, co-creator of La Face Records ( Talent: Outkast and TLC), instilled the music business into her and her twin sister at a young age. Sudan and her sister were always talented, and her stepfather invested in the marketing of their skillset, setting up studio time, and rehearsals. He created a saleable brand as the teen pop group called N2. Though her sister stayed along the course, Sudan had other plans. The style of music didn’t feel authentic to her and felt like her father maintained too much authority over her music and image. This led to Sudan’s rebellion skipping rehearsals and neglecting her responsibilities to the group.
By the age of 19 Sudan was kicked out of her home. this began her new journey as a Los Angeles resident. Sudan began takings classes at the Pasadena City College studying Ethnomusicology. She began making beats on her iPad and later worked her way up to the proper equipment. in 2017 Sudan joined Stone Throws Records and released her EP entitled Sudan Archives and the following EP entitled Sink in 2018. Her debut Album Athena was released in 2019 which gained her much success. However, it would not be until 2022 that Sudan would release her first single from her second album Natural Brown Prom Queen entitled Home Maker.
An Influence on Culture
Sudan’s love for R&B, and West African Music, mixed with Irish influences puts her in a lane of her own. There are just some artists whose style stands out from the rest. Sudan is truly the next generation of artists whose music will inspire and influence a new take on R&B.
Have you ever heard of an artist who can mix deadpan with rap and make it fire? If not, then be prepared for an awakening. The Detriot native, Babyface Ray’s chill personality and conversational style have created a lane that makes him unforgettable. The next generation of rap is demanding to be heard as they embark on a new approach to the art. Babyface Ray is not new to the rap game. Many Detriot locals are aware of his talent and authentic demeanor. Introduced to rap at a young age, Babyface Ray spent most of his teen years playing sports and renting out studios on weekends to rap with his friends.
What started as a Hobby turned into a business. It was not until a friend of his pushed Ray to submit his work to him that he saw his potential in the career. After posting his music online, Ray began to get a taste of the rap game. Detroit rappers Peezy and Ray created a rap group called Team Eastside in 2010. They would go on to gain much local success. During his time in the group, Ray recalls being known for his hyper demeanor influenced by drugs and alcohol abuse caused him to have a mellow behavior. Tied with his nonchalant personality caused a shift in the style of rap but did not take away from his music. Babyface Ray illustrates his addictions to be a tough topic to discuss His addictions and referred to them as past tense according to okayplayer.com. His relaxed tonality did not subside.
The Come Up
In 2017, Ray released his mixtape MIA Season and MIA Season 2 in 2019. In 2021, he released his EP entitled Unfuckwitable which features artists such as Kash Doll and MoneyBagg Yo. During the same year, his EP reached 128 on the Billboards Top 200. In 2022 he gained recognition from Big Sean and released his Debut Album Face featuring G Herbo, and Pusha T, and ranked No. 33 on Billboards Top 200. Babyface Ray was also featured in XXL’s Freshman Class of 2022. This is a prime example of what being a ten-year success truly means. though his career has just reached notoriety to the masses, Blue Face Ray has always had a fanbase and support from the industry.
Victoria Monet has topped the charts with On My Mama, We Might Be Falling In Love and Party Girls. The Atlanta native moved to Sacramento California at a young age. She began her career singing in church choirs and attended Sheldon High School of Performing Arts Program. During her time at the school, Monet was a dancer and performed poetry. Her poetic skills would later reposition into songwriting. Victoria’s first experience in the industry began after messaging DarkChild on Myspace which led to her audition and receiving the opportunity to become a member of a girls-band called Purple Reign. Monet packed her belongings and moved to Los Angeles, California to live out her career.
However, her time with the group was short-lived. Mowtown Records eventually dropped the group from the label causing Monet to find a different lane in the music industry. Victoria created an impressionable career collaborating with Artists such as Ariana Grande vocally producing many of her albums. In addition, Monet Performed on tracks for Nas, T.I., and more. Monet signed to Atlantic Records where she debuted her first EP entitled Nightmares and Lullabies Act I in 2014 and Act 2 in 2015. Her success allowed Monet to tour with Fifth Harmony and later became the opening act of the Dangerous Woman Tour in 2016. Monet released her Album Jaguar in 2020. This album had a difficult release due to the pandemic and date complications. However, Monet is spinning the block. Her new album Jaguar II is set to release on August 25. 2023.
Picasso with the Pen
To date, Monet has written for Chloe X Halle, T.I., B.O.B., Chrisette Michelle, and Brandy to name a few. IN 2022, Monet won The Visionary Award at the Give hr FlowHERs Awards Ceremony. According to Billboard.com, Monet stands with 12 credits listed on the Billboards Hot 100. This is only the beginning for Monet and she’s already broken the mold by being the fearless, multi-talented artist she is. With all of her hit records, amazing dance skills, and writing ability, I am sure the best is yet to come.