“If you look at us, we don’t look like your typical violinists,” says Wil B, referring to himself and his partner Kev Marcus. Both musicians are six-foot-two, 250 pound black men, and they make up the hip-hop duo Black Violin, which has risen to magnificent success in the past decade. 

In her latest pop single, “Motivation” break out star, Normani, produces a vivid nostalgic sound of the late 90’s early 2000’s era. In what can best be described as a masterful audio-video achievement, the music video for the single is a labor of love that pays homage to Normani’s childhood dreams in a way that is fun, sexy, energetic, and only the beginning of what this former girl group member is capable of. 

It’s not often that I hear new artists that put me in the mindset of that old south, soulful hip-hop. I’m talking about the way you feel when someone like Big K.R.I.T spits on a track, and you can almost smell granny’s collard greens and candied yams on the stove, and hear the grease popping from the fried chicken or catfish in that cast iron skillet. Music artists that would bring you back to a time when you had to drink the water out the hose because you knew if you went back inside, you’d have to stay. You know, before central air was a regular household appliance.

When only granny’s room and the kitchen had A/C, and you weren’t allowed to go in either room and chill. So you’re stuck in the family room with the oscillating fan, trying to sit as close as possible for that 1.75 seconds of cool air. It’s a nostalgic feeling taking me back to some of the best times of my childhood that only certain artists can tap into.  

Imagine that it is the early 2000s and there is a video playing on a television screen called “Supa Dupa Fly,” produced by the hottest musical genius of the time, Timbaland, is bumping in the background. There is a woman dressed in a black, inflated, trash-bag like garment, doing eccentric dance moves. There are background dancers moving to the entrancing hip-hop beat, with flashing lights that one could not miss. The chorus: “Me, I’m supa dupa fly,” is repeated by the rapper, who at the time way ahead of her time. Her larger than life clothing, lyrics, and attitude proved to be a true revelation of who the artist would become.

When many of us think back to our first experiences with love or relationships, we picture the child-like crushes we had. Some of us, like myself, might have been dramatic enough to even write about those crushes in our diaries. As we get older love and relationships begin to change, these pure and innocent infatuations turn into passionate intense connections. Relationships can lead to toxic situations with people who made you believe in love only to show their true ulterior motives. No one may understand this better than Iranian-Swedish artist Snoh Aalegra

What does country music look like in 2019? For some it’s the ethereal country pop songs of Kacey Musgraves or the classic Carrie Underwood revenge ballad “Before He Cheats.” But for fans who envision a handsome, Christian boy-next-door singing about trucks and beer, their guy is Thomas Rhett. 

It’s not always easy to see the kinship and connection between greats of the past and the greatness we hold within ourselves. But in her works, R&B vocalist and Pushcart literary prize nominated poet, Jamila Woods challenges herself and her listeners to see that connection and to empower themselves through their legacy. This Chicago native has dedicated her art, both literary and musical, to paying homage to people who made her existence possible.

Sometimes music just happens. In the case of pop singer Sigrid, the opportunity quite literally fell into her lap while studying in Norway. “I wanted to be a teacher, or I wanted to be a lawyer,” she told TIME magazine earlier this year. “I had very specific plans. But then music happened.”

Those of us that grew up during hip-hop’s golden era,  aren’t completely sold on today’s music. We talk about it all the time in such a negative fashion that we haven’t really began to open our ears. By not giving “their” music a fair chance, we’ve ignored this new wave of music and its artists. This generation of music is unafraid to talk about things that were once taboo, like  mental health. They’ve become their own source of guidance through depression, drug addiction, and other mental health issues. The youth of today look to artists that share similar stories, the same way 80s babies listened to artists we felt we could relate to. That’s where artists who are brave enough to talk about mental health in their music like Tucker Pillsbury, aka ROLE MODEL come into play.