Young adults are shaping today’s musical landscape, while simultaneously merging and creating new genres and reshaping the music industry as a whole. Young artists are crafting their own paths. Innovation is key.
Story by Kennedy Williams
As the Internet continues to dictate how we create and find new music, artists are breaking onto the scene at progressively younger ages. Check out these young musicians under 25 that are making their mark on the music industry and our playlists.
This California-based musician has made waves in the industry with music that is exclusively recorded and produced on his iPhone. Lacy, a member of alternative R&B group, The Internet, was nominated for a Grammy at 17 for his production on “Ego Death,” The Internet’s third studio album. Lacy’s first solo project, “Steve Lacy’s Demo,” was released earlier this year.
Lacy has cultivated a production style that is built upon warped guitar chords, swirling synths and stripped-down drums. Fans of Mac Demarco will quickly find solace in Lacy’s off-kilter music.
This Upstate New York native is a champion of the DIY music scene. Not only is Dapperton self-produced, but he also writes all of his own music. His first EP “Yellow and Such” was released in August. The title of the project is quite fitting, seeing that Dapperton’s music is quite colorful, with dreamy layered production and ambient soundscapes contributing to the overall picture. The intricacies of Dapperton’s music will leave you wanting more.
Lenae’s music is best described as a watercolor of sounds. Synths and crisp 808s provide a background for her striking, yet airy vocals. Lenae’s falsetto proves that age does not determine ability. Her debut EP “Moon Shoes” and follow up “Midnight Moonlight,” show her vocal range and talent for creating lush soundscapes.
Eilish’s debut song “Ocean Eyes” made waves after appearing on the singer’s SoundCloud in 2015. Since then, Eilish has signed to Interscope Records and her music has been released in a steady stream. Earlier this year in July, Eilish released a new song every Friday, ultimately leading up to the release of her EP “Don’t Smile At Me” on Aug. 11. If you’re looking for music with playful yet indifferent lyrics Eilish has got you covered.
Princess Nokia, a Harlem native, is magnetic. Her music strikes a balance between playfulness, New York braggadocio rap and references to indigenous spirituality. A true example of versatility, Princess Nokia sometimes adopts a Southern drawl or utilizes a triplet flow. Her 2016 mixtape “1992” is a love letter to her native New York self, as much gritty as it is romantic. No matter the sonic landscape, Princess Nokia is unquestionably authentic.
Sabrina Claudio’s mesmeric voice draws you into her world. Rooted in 90s R&B, her music creates a seductive atmosphere, complete with musings on love and reflections on relationships. Although she is just 21, Claudio sings like a woman that has experienced a lifetime of self-reflection and heartbreak. Her breathy, moody vocal style is right on trend, sonically. With the release of her debut album “About Time,” Claudio positioned herself as a key player in the R&B universe.
Rex Orange County
Rex Orange County makes music about young love. “Apricot Princess,” the title of his latest EP, is not only a reference to the Little Kings Story but also a widescreen, post-genre project that chronicles Rex Orange County’s love for his very own Apricot Princess. i-D describes him as “a sweet, sweet boy with an even sweeter voice and an outlook on life and young love that we're more than happy to sink into again and again.” We couldn’t agree more.
This rapper from South London is unafraid to discuss what matters most to him: family and navigating adulthood. Although he hails from Croydon, home to many Grime artists, Carner’s music is more poetry than rap. His languid, deliberate word play creates a soulful autobiographical masterpiece. His first album “Yesterday’s Gone” is part homage to his late stepfather and part meditation on coming of age. Sonically, “Yesterday’s Gone” is in the lineage of Common’s “Be” and J Dilla’s “The Shining.”
While Smith may have had a cult following at first, she was exposed to a much more mainstream audience through her work with Drake on his latest album “More Life.” She’s released a few songs independently on her Soundcloud and has one EP, “Project 11”. Inspired by both UK garage and R&B, Smith’s soulful voice is unmistakable no matter the sonic background. Get hip to her before she releases her first full-length project.
Sophie Meiers’ music draws listeners in with it’s hazy, low-fi production but her tender, ethereal voice makes listeners stay. The singer’s SoundCloud is full of songs that showcase her vocal ability. Meiers is perfect for fans of stripped down music with DIY qualities.