The Black Cultural Forces Who Are Making Their Mark in 2020

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.

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— Music —

Kelis

 

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Waiting for the weekend like…..

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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.

Rico Nasty

 

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A couple nights ago 😉 in Santa Barbara Shot by @rahulgowthaman Makeup by @thescottedit ??

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Google the words Rico Nasty genre and five distinct results will pop up: hip-hop, trap, punk rap, rap metal, and SoundCloud rap. Even the names she goes by (from alter egos Trap Lavigne and Tacobella, or her birth name, Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly) refuse to lay a perimeter on her ingenuity. To put it simply, the 22-year-old artist defies labels. She first broke out in 2016 with viral YouTube hits like “iCarly” and “Hey Arnold.” Just a year later, her single “Poppin” continued to rake in millions of hits on the video-sharing platform before subsequently being featured on the hit HBO series Insecure. Fans often call her music cathartic, a screeching and unapologetic response to the daily societal pressures to repress oneself, especially as a Black woman. Her work, then, forges a path forward to not only being loud but being heard. The Maryland-bred artist says it best herself in an interview with Dazed, “Being an artist is about innovating and pushing limits. You can’t stand still.”

Doja Cat

Noname

 

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mood: roddy ricch + black marxism

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Fatimah Nyeema Warner—otherwise known by her musical moniker, Noname—is one of the most authentic storytellers in music today. The Chicago native became a critical darling after the releases of her two studio albums, Telefone and Room 25—both in their own rights standing as poetic odes to Chicago, womanhood, and the simultaneous joy and melancholy of Blackness. Noname’s latest venture, however, finds her foraying into the literary world with Noname’s Book Club, an “online/irl community dedicated to uplifting POC voices.” The musician’s club aims to not only promote the literary works of burgeoning and prominent authors of color, but also, via the club’s subscription model, it sends book copies to select prisons so incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to read.

 

From: Harper’s BAZAAR US

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