Black Top 10s Spotify Playlists Indie Musician Suggestions
The Internet has made it more feasible for rising musicians and producers to put their work out there for the world to see. As a result, indie musicians, and specifically Black talent, have been making waves in the music industry, finding new audiences. Sometimes independent artists just need a gentle reminder of how far others have gone starting from the same position.
Some are award-winners and have collaborated with the biggest names in the industry; others have remained independent and have continued doing everything — from producing to composing — themselves.
Keep scrolling to check out some amazing rising Black stars who are independent artists. The following ten famous independent artists have defeated the age-old idea of an artist being successful only if signed by a major record label.
Alex Isley – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
A longtime Los Angeles native born in Westwood, New Jersey. If you hadn’t already taken notice of the last name, Alex Isley, is the daughter of the prolific group, The Isley Brothers’ member, Ernie Isley.
Naming inspirations such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Ella Fitzgerald, Toni Braxton, Aaliyah, and Mariah Carey, this soulful songstress brings on a dreamy, melodic tone neo-soul rhythms to R&B. Isley describes her music as R&B with Hip-Hop and Jazz influences. In 2012, she debuted with Love/Art Memoirs, an EP that introduced her predominantly mellow and strongly expressive approach to R&B. Already having worked with artists, Lucky Daye, Masego, and PJ Morton, Isley leaves the hopes of the R&B genre in hopeful hands.
Masego – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
Southern swagger, Jamaican blood, with a South African name, Masego is a Gumbo of culture and creativity. His music is best described as what he likes to refer to as his own genre, TrapHouseJazz. Masego is a singer and songwriter known for incorporating his saxophone into his music, along with a variation of endless instruments he plays all, himself.
He gained widespread attention with his collaborative record with FKJ entitled, “Tadow,” in 2017, after releasing his two EPs, The Pink Polo EP and Loose Thoughts. Masego released his debut album, Lady Lady, on September 7, 2018, which included guest features from FKJ, SiR, Tiffany Gouché, and De’Wayne Jackson. His soulful singing and his jazzy personality colored every track and caught the attention of many. His glow up will only continue from here, and the world will be watching.
Phony Ppl – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
A stylistically adventurous band rooted in R&B and Hip-Hop, members Elbee, Elijah, Matt, Aja, and Bari make up the group, Phony Ppl. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, Phony Ppl has steadily progressed since their self-released digital downloads, and their debut album, Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Sounds of funk mixed blended with R&B resonate from this group’s guitars and vocals. Those looking for the perfect introduction to this group’s sound can start by listening to their single, “Why iii Love The Moon.”
Jade Novah – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
Versatile contemporary R&B singer and songwriter, Lindsay Fields combines her love of both music and acting under the alias, Jade Novah. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Novah began her career in music as a backup singer and a songwriter-for-hire, before releasing her first mixtape in 2012. Jade Novah has written songs for the likes of Mya, Melanie Fiona, and Christina Milian.
While continuing her work in music, Novah also garnered attention on YouTube for both a sketch parody of Beyoncé and several cover videos, culminating millions of views. A great introduction to Jade Novah’s style would be her latest single released in 2021, titled, “I Just Wanna Know.”
Devon Culture – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
Devon Culture is a soulful singer of contemporary R&B in good company of singers such as Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and rap group The Roots, born of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Culture’s angelic, smooth melodic falsettos resonate through tracks of his two EPs, Off The Ground, released in 2018, and Cultivate, released in 2020. Although unsigned by any major labels at the moment, the future for this R&B crooner looks bright. “Red Light Green Light,” is Culture’s introduction single to his Cultivate EP, and the perfect introduction to getting his voice through your speakers.
Tobi Lou – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
With a playful and open-ended style, singer/rapper/songwriter, Tobi Lou, crafted a hybrid sound that backed his floating vocals and raps with mellow, organic instrumentals. Tobi Lou is a Nigerian-born, Chicago-raised artist who gained traction after fans connected with his vibrancy, unique artistry, and creativity.
Growing up in the Windy City, Lou was inspired by the superstars of rap and pop that the city produced, and often cited fellow Chicago artists, Kanye West and Common as early inspiration. From the release of his three critically-acclaimed EP’s in 2018, tobi lou and the Moon, tobi lou and the Loop, and tobi lou and the Juice, Lou gained instantaneous success. In 2019, Lou released his debut album, Live on Ice.
Chance The Rapper – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
Despite his non-affiliation to a major label, Chance the Rapper has become one of the most significant artists to infiltrate the mainstreams during the 2010s. A native of Chicago’s West Chatham neighborhood, released his debut mixtape, 10 Day, in 2012. He began to gain mainstream recognition in 2013 after releasing his second mixtape, Acid Rap.
The release of his third mixtape, Coloring Book, in 2016, garnered further critical acclaim and attention, earning him three Grammy Awards, including the award for Best Rap Album. The productions that supported the verses and hooks included various regional contemporary rap styles, among other synthesized elements of gospel, jazz, and soul.
Flying Lotus – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
A rising star not only in the indie space but in mainstream music, as well. Flying Lotus has been catapulted into the public conscience recently after working on the soundtrack for Netflix’s, Yasuke. Before the anime’s release, however, this Black artist has an extensive history of collaborating with other popular artists, including Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Mac Miller. He is known for his experimental approach to Hip-Hop, Rap, and other genres of music.
Frank Ocean – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
The one, the only, the legend, Frank Ocean. He’s largely considered an Alternative R&B artist having revitalized Jazz, Funk, and Experimental Soul. Frank Ocean has been one of the more fascinating figures in contemporary music since his early 2010s arrival. A singer and songwriter whose artful output has defied rigid classification as R&B.
He has pushed the genre forward with seemingly offhanded yet imaginatively detailed narratives. When Ocean left the major-label system, his commercial clout was greater than ever. He was signed to Def Jam where he worked only to fulfill the contractual obligations and leave them. Despite further strained relations with music industry maneuverings, his debut album, Channel Orange, nearly crowned the Billboard 200 and made him a Grammy winner.
Jean Deaux – Indie Musician, Spotify Playlists Suggestion
Consciously evasive of being confined to one style, Jean Deaux, made a name for herself outside her native Chicago during the mid-2010s with output ranging from R&B-oriented pop to low-key house, along with a wide variety of cross-genre guest appearances.
Deaux has appeared on tracks by other artists including Smino, Saba, Mick Jenkins, and Isaiah Rashad. She has noted Missy Elliott as one of her main inspirations. The lead single, “Way Out,” from the Krash EP was positively reviewed by Pitchfork. NPR also listed Deaux as one of 20 ‘artists to watch in 2019.