5 Underrated Rap & R’n’B Artists of the 2010’s

Anyone who knows me personally will be more than aware of my endless love and appreciation for all things musical. Whether it’s the bubblegum pop of One Direction, the ever-so-explicit raps of Tyler the Creator, the funky fire of James Brown or even the deep and bassy drops of Diplo; music is something that defines and lets me express myself in the form of sound.

Growing up, my dad was without a doubt my biggest influence on music and contributed to my love (and not to mention education) on all things funk, hip-hop, rap, soul and house-related. Being a man of all genres, my dad showed me how to look deeper into songs and passed on his respect for music to me.

sick beats
Me, probably listening to some sick beats back in the day

Even though I appreciate all genres, I won’t hesitate to admit that some stand out more than others. Rap, Hip-Hop and R’n’B have always hit a soft spot for me and grabbed my attention the quickest. You can usually find me searching through the iTunes charts under those particular genres and forever scrolling through the ‘recommended for you’ and ‘listeners also bought’ categories on iTunes and Youtube. Not only this, but reading music reviews, scrolling Ticketek and checking out what my friends are listening to help me further expand my music library.

As my first official music post on my blog, I have decided to write about my favourite underrated Rap and R’n’B artists to give my readers a further insight of my musical taste and possibly provide some new tunes to jam to!

(P.S – A SPOTIFY PLAYLIST WITH MY FAVOURITE SONGS FROM THE LISTED ARTISTS WILL BE AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE! MAKE SURE TO GIVE IT A LISTEN!)

Goldlink 

“And I said f*** this music s***, I want a house and a pug”

See I Miss (And After That, We Didn’t Talk)

I stumbled upon this ridiculously talented artist after a friend of mine who moved overseas (Hi, Millie!) told me that one of his songs reminded her of me. Naturally, I was both intrigued and curious so I hopped onto youtube to search the song ‘Palm Trees’ by Goldlink.

Since I’m not the biggest reggae fan out there, Palm Trees didn’t grow on me at first play – but it didn’t stop me from giving it a chance. I replayed the song about 4 times straight to listen to the lyrics and try to find some sort of connection, but soon found myself not getting lost in his lyrics, but just his voice alone. This guy literally rapped and sung in two different genres throughout the song as he channelled reggae and r’n’b-like vibes that I had never heard before… and they flowed extremely well!

This encounter enhanced to my interest in Goldlink’s style and lead me to search up his other music. ‘And After That, We Didn’t Talk (2015)’ was the first album of his that I fell in love with and it has been on repeat ever since. From listening to his lyrics loosely, it is evident that the pressure of fame, his past love life and the black uprising are the main themes and influences for his song writing. But although AATWDT was vital in shaping his sound and creativity, GoldLink’s first ever mixtape, The God Complex is what seems to have sent the music community into a frenzy. Its polyrhythmic blend of 90s hip-hop, RnB and sophisticated EDM was so unheard of and yet blended together so well. Undoubtedly, this was an impressive debut for someone who picked up a mic for the first time three years ago.

To compare the DC rapper to any other artist would be an impossible task as he is such an identifiable individual. If I absolutely HAD to compare him, his strong and soothing vocals are made seem effortless like Bryson Tiller or Frank Ocean, and his raps are somewhat similar to J Cole (Again, if I HAD to compare).

Washington, D.C.’s GoldLink mixes forward-looking hip-hop, jittery indie rhythms, and heavy danceable beats that hark all the way back to the ’80s and D.C.’s go-go movement.” ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

Miguel

We talk street art and sarcasm / crass humour and high fashion / peach colour, moon glistens, the plot thickens / as we laugh over shotguns and tongue kisses…”

Coffee (Wildheart)

To be completely honest with you, I absolutely hated Miguel when I first heard him. He was opening for Bruno Mars’s Moonshine Jungle Tour back in 2014 and seemed like the most arrogant and self-absorbed jerk ever. I distinctly remember him singing songs about drugs, sex and money as well as him dropping the F-bomb every two seconds. I don’t know what changed my opinion on him… but what I know is that 14 year old Julia did NOT approve.

Along with other famous singers such as Frank Ocean, Miguel identifies himself as a part of a new wave of ‘electronic R’n’B’, or to put in his own words, “Fly, funkadelic, intergalactic-hip-hop-meets-sexy-orgasmic crazy, dope sh**”.

In 2011, Miguel released his debut album called All I Want is You. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? Yeah that’s because he didn’t promote it enough and it flopped. One year later, Kaleidoscope Dream, his second studio record was released and the heavens openedPersonally, it is the best album he has ever done. There is not one single song that I don’t like on that album and Miguel has gone above and beyond with every tiny aspect. Boasting breath-taking falsettos, heartfelt lyrics of love and lust and a strong drive to showcase his identity, the LA-based r’n’b singer has set a remarkably honourable name for himself.

If you’re still unaware of Miguel’s exclusive albums , I can guarantee that you probably would have heard him feature on someone else’s song. Having worked with many A-list artists such as Mariah Carey, Disclosure, Kendrick Lamar, Mark Ronson, A$AP Rocky and J Cole just to name a few, it goes to show that his talent has definitely not gone unnoticed. Miguel just has the perfect voice to pull off almost any genre and I completely understand why he has been asked to collaborate with so many music artists and producers.

Since I physically couldn’t bring myself to name anyone who has a similar sound to Miguel, MTV recommends that The Weeknd, Usher, Jeremih, Bruno Mars and Neyo fit into likewise categories. Eh, agree to disagree I guess.

“Interestingly, I matured as a musician and as an artist before I matured as a man. What I mean by that is, I was ready to be completely vulnerable and honest with myself and unapologetic when it comes to how I express myself in my medium. But I wasn’t as secure in doing that when it came to just being myself.” – Miguel

Travis Garland

“The way my name rolls off your lips, I think there’s no better sound. 
You’re like a drug, I see them hips. You’re moving, can’t keep me down”

– Clouds (Travis Garland)

Hopefully the drool won’t affect you reading into how talented Travis actually is.

As similar to Goldlink, I was introduced to Travis Garland through my friend Millie. She has such a vast taste in music and I have always adored that about her. To quote her exactly two years ago, “If you love Bruno, you have to listen to Travis Garland”, so naturally, I did.

Travis’s flawless vocal range is very comparable to the likings of Justin Timberlake, Nick Jonas and even Michael Jackson in some faint ways – sharing a certain expertise in the higher octaves. Slow r’n’b ballads, soulful love songs and catchy pop jams are what he specialises in most – and this definitely shows in his self-titled album.

Although being mostly a solo artist as well as writing and producing his own music, Travis has had the pleasure of working with many familiar faces in the music industry such as Pharrell Williams and R’n’B singer Ne-yo.

Overall, my favourite album ‘Travis Garland’ goes for a mature sound with a sexy and seductive theme underlying each track. And with that being said, I can assure you that the “explicit” and “Parental Advisory” tags don’t lie. Travis has such an incredible way with words and the way he talks about his past and present lovers is in such a poetic melody that even you will soon be begging to be his potential girl.

Travis channels similar sounds to the works of Nick Jonas, Justin Timberlake, Miguel, Jhenè Aiko and August Alsina.

Anderson .Paak

“Said we bopping slow and we do the dance like we more than winning,
Said she off the beat but she’s fine as f*** so I find the rhythm”

– Drugs (Venice)

This is a little embarrassing, but I genuinely can’t remember how I discovered Anderson .Paak. Although my thoughts are blurred, his musical gift is something that definitely isn’t.

I’m assuming that I discovered Anderson .Paak through the crazy-talented DC rapper Goldlink (bonus points if you remember him from the first artist article). From the moment I heard the song ‘Unique’ which features both composers, I couldn’t stop listening to it. The beat in the chorus is so funky and compliments the ascend into Anderson’s verse perfectly.

With Anderson .Paak (a.k.a Brandon), I’ve been a little slack (bonus points for rhyming – maybe I should become a rapper too). I wouldn’t class myself as his biggest follower since I have only heard the iTunes snippets to his albums and have been yet to purchase them. But from what I’ve heard, he showcases a certain aura to his music that can’t be compared to any other rapper/singer.

“He is making some of the most exciting new music around. His sound is a warm and hazy blend of styles – funk, jazz, New York house, reggae, trap, blaxploitation-era soul, a hint of psych-rock – anchored in R&B and hip-hop. He is equally at home singing and rapping. And he has a highly distinctive voice that somehow manages to be both smooth as maple syrup and raspy as a whisky-soaked barfly.” – Matt Munday on Anderson .Paak (The Guardian AU, Read more here…)

Now you may be thinking to yourself… “Why does his voice sound so familiar?”. Well, I’m glad you asked. You may feel a light bulb go off  when I tell you that he is featured in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s recent single ‘Dance Off’. That’s right, he’s the voice of the lyrics…

“Oh Lord, I can’t sit down
Better hold my phone, I’m going for the crown, good God
But I’m confident this is my town
Better hope my feet don’t fail me now, good God”

– (3:10 – 3:26)

When I heard he was featured in this song I absolutely couldn’t contain myself from excitement. While listening and jamming to every beat, every lyric and every melody in anticipation for the wrath of Anderson .Paak, I soon found myself disappointed when I discovered that he literally only had four lines of lyrics. Although I understand that he would be ever so grateful to have the opportunity to be noticed by a whole other fan base, the guy barely had 15 seconds to strut his stuff. Oh well, it’s still a banger.

If André 3000 and Frank Ocean had a baby, that is where the style and vocals of Brandon would be originated from.

Kehlani

“Actin’ so damn bitter, lettin’ go of their temper / I ain’t got the time so I’ll crop that ass out that picture” – N****’s (You Should Be Here)

Meet Kehlani – R’n’B’s new Queen.

The 21 year old singer-songwriter was discovered  after she auditioned with her old vocal group ‘PopLyfe’ for the sixth season of America’s Got Talent. After finishing fourth in the finals and appearing on their last tv performance ever, it was then that Pier Morgan told Kehlani “You’ve got real talent, but I don’t think you need this group”.

Soon after leaving the show, Nick Cannon (ex-husband to Mariah Carey) who had been the host of AGT while she auditioned, invited her to be involved in a new rap group in New York. She ended up not liking it and moving back home, but soon released her first solotrack called “ANTISUMMERLUV”, which left Cannon begging for her to come back  and set up a few recording sessions.

To compare Kehlani to similar artists is a hard task, but she does very much resemble the artistry of fellow R’nB queens, Jhené Aiko and Tinashe.

Kehlani’s strong sense of self is evident in her music, which primarily chronicles the tenor of her romantic and family relationships as she moves from teenager to adult. – Kevin Ritchie. (Read more here…)

Runners Up

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DVSN
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NAO
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WSTRN

So there you have it, my first EVER music blog post! If you’ve enjoyed this please let me know by liking the article and commenting below if I missed any of your favourite artists! Until next time… Keep jamming!

2 thoughts on “5 Underrated Rap & R’n’B Artists of the 2010’s”

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