There is no denying that Blackness influences culture on a global scale, whether it’s through the worlds of beauty, style, and even social media. And in recent years especially, it’s become customary for Black artists—from the realms of fashion, music, and beyond—to take their most intimate and formative life experiences and turn them into socially stimulating art. This common process is how select artists have shaped themselves not just as creators, but also as bona fide international influencers.
As Black History Month comes to a close, it’s imperative to understand that Black art and excellence should be celebrated far before the start of February and way beyond its conclusion. The Black artists who are flourishing today are a current collection of talent set to inspire for years to come.
Below are the designers, musicians, and creators who should absolutely be on your radar through 2020 and beyond.
— Music —
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Yes, Kelis has already cemented her status as an R&B icon. Since the release of her early millennium gems like “Milkshake” and “Bossy,” she’s been, well, boss. But this year, she’s having a moment as she prepares to release new music and celebrate the 20th anniversary of her stellar debut LP, Kaleidoscope. After thriving with quiet life on a farm with her family—she even has plans to open a restaurant—she’s shedding light on difficult moments of her years-long career. She recently came forward with claims about being “lied to and tricked” by The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), who produced her first two albums, and that she allegedly didn’t make any profit off those LPs. She also opened up about how “the issue of race has been such a big part of my entire career,” recalling how people were confused by her alternative, genre-bending music.