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, independent (indie) creators, and specifically Black talent, have been making waves in the music industry, finding new audiences.
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.
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. His FlyLo also started his independent record label called Brainfeeder back in 2008.
Former Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard saw success after the release of her first studio album Jaime in 2019. The album alone garnered nine Grammy nominations, and her song "Stay High" won Best Rock Song. Howard soothes her audience with her blues-infused rock music while touching on themes of homosexuality, acceptance, and more. She's signed to the independent record label ATO Records.
What makes Vagabon's music so mesmerizing are the soft sounds transforming the powerful messages of the lyrics. Laetitia Tamko started her music career in 2017 when she debuted her first album Infinite Worlds. Guitar instrumentals really nail the feel of some of her works, especially in "Every Woman" and "Reason To Believe ft. Courtney Barnett." She also draws on her African heritage for some of her music.
A rock band that has taken Scotland by storm, Young Fathers is an award-winning indie group that started off performing in nightclubs in the mid-2000s. Their work earned them the Mercury Prize in 2014 for their album Dead. Their songs, albums, and mixtapes feature some melodious tunes that are rather accessible to listeners. You can also find lo-fi, pop, and other unique sounds in their tantalizing music.
Anais Marinho went from being a poet to being a breakout music star in the United Kingdom. Going by her stage name Arlo Parks, this London-based singer's debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams peaked at No. 3 on the UK charts. Even before the album, she was quickly signed to independent record label Transgressive after her first song "Cola" got millions of streams. Her songs are a mix of folk and pop with themes focused on exploring relationships, romance, and heartbreak.
This singer can do it all -- sing, produce, compose her own music, and all without a record label behind her. Muhsinah Abdul-Karim is a rising force in the indie scene, crafting electronic songs with unorthodox structures, fun synthesizers, and different instruments. She sticks to electronic music and R&B, and her work has netted her a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.