Five influential Black artists paving the way in the music industry

This Black History Month, get to know some important Black artists who are changing the game

Malaika Awan, Arts & Culture Writer

February is the month of love and romance to the general public. However, to me and a lot of others, it means bringing awareness of Black culture and its impact on the entertainment world. In a society where systematic racism and double standards are still prevalent, a month to reflect on the contributions of Black men and women to American life is absolutely necessary. In theory, Black history should be celebrated longer than a month, but we can spread acknowledgment year long. A great way to do this is to listen to music by Black creators. Here are some popular Black artists that are influencing our generation right now.


1. Megan Thee Stallion 

Megan Thee Stallion is a notorious rapper. Otherwise known as Hot Girl Meg, she made her debut in 2017 with her album “Make it Hot.” Soon after, she collaborated to create the hit “Hot Girl Summer.” You may know her best from her song “Savage” that went viral on the platform Tik-Tok after the user Keara “Keke” Wilson choreographed a “sassy, moody, nasty” dance to it. In November 2020, she released her album “Good News” and fans went ecstatic to say the least. The hit singles “Body” and “Girls in the Hood” went viral after TikTokers created dance videos to the songs. At the moment “Body” is still a smash hit and is #20 on the Billboard Top 100. Megan’s lyrics promote body positivity, Black girl power and feminism. Earlier generations did not have as many Black artists to look up to and this generation continues to make the change for the better. In an industry where women, especially colored women. have to work twice as hard to make it as opposed to their male counterparts, her presence is refreshing. She continues to smash records, break charts and pave the way for future Black artists, and I cannot wait to see what she has for us in the near future.  

2. The Weeknd 

If you don’t add this artist to your super-secret love playlist, it simply isn’t complete. Born as Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, The Weeknd made his debut in 2011 with his album “House of Balloons.” He continued to release romantic hits such as “Earned It” and “The Hills.” However, 2020 was a game-changing year for The Weeknd. He released his hit “Blinding Lights” which made its way to every radio station in the country and shortly after he released “Save Your Tears” which was another hit on the charts. “Blinding Lights” continues to sit at number 3 on the Billboard Top 100. His passionate lyrics manage to needle their ways into everyone’s hearts. I am not a huge fan of romantic songs, but I admit his music has a special place in my heart. I am 100% convinced that The Weeknd can charm anyone with his tunes and classy lyrics. For these reasons, it is no wonder The Weeknd made it onto this list.

3. Doja Cat 

Another popular rapper that started small but reached great heights in this era is Doja Cat. She is truly a unique artist and cannot be compared to anyone else. Her saucy songs are catchy with lyrics and beats that can get anyone dancing. Since she is in a league of her own with her diverse music style, a mix of both pop and rap within her songs, she is different from those artists before her. Doja Cat, also known as Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, started out small in 2018 and released her song “Mooo!” Instead of releasing a song praising skinny waists, and unachievable body standards like many others, Doja released a song promoting the positivity of all body types, which is refreshing for our society. She became quiet in the music industry for a while until she released her hit album “Hot Pink” in 2019. From there, her song “Say So” made it onto radio stations everywhere and went viral on TikTok after influencer Haley Sharpe made choreography to it. Doja’s recent hit “Streets” went viral around November 2020 and spoke to every love-sick person out there. From her high notes to her specialty line, “it’s hard to keep my cool when other women try to get with my dude,” it is no wonder “Streets” spoke to every romantic out there. “Streets” continues to stay on the Billboard Top 100 at #18 on the list. Doja Cat is one of the most diverse artists and can make you feel like the most confident “baddie,” or help you cope with heartbreak. 

4. Jhené Aiko 

Here is an artist for those who consider themselves eternally heartbroken, or you’re just going through Valentine’s blues. Jhené Aiko was a small, lesser-known artist prior to 2020 and the influence of Tik-Tok. Now, she is making the charts and starting to set new records for artists before her. Jhené Aiko Chilombo made her debut in 2011 with her album “Sailing Souls.” She focuses on rhythms and blues within her songs and occasionally mixes R&B. It wasn’t until 2020 when she released her album “Chilombo” that she became the new icon for sad love songs (step aside, Taylor Swift). Her hit single “B.S” from her album enticed her fans and quickly made it onto Tik-Tok. From there it was remixed, choreographed and even became the background songs of people’s heartbreak stories. 

5. Tyler, The Creator 

Whether you know him from his vines or his music, Tyler, the Creator is an influential name in the industry. Otherwise known as Tyler Gregory Okonoma, he rose to fame as a rapper, a songwriter and a comedian. He released his debut album “Radical” with the band OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) in 2010. He released several other albums such as “Cherry Bomb,” “Wolf” and “Flower Boy.” However, he didn’t have his grand success he has now until he released his hit album “Igor” in May of 2019.  His long-time fans went ecstatic and rejoiced, while new fans came tumbling in. His single “Earthquake” peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Top 100. It was later performed at the 2020 Grammys and the album won “Best Rap Album.” Right now, he is best known for his satirical videos with his best friend A$AP Rocky where they are often seen mocking each other playfully. He released his new hits “Best Interest,” “Group B” and “Automatic Driver” in 2020. Rumors have been circulating for some time that he will be releasing a new album soon. He is still considered an underground artist compared to many of his counterparts, but I hope this year will bring more in terms of his music. 


Regardless of the time of year, it is important to support Black artists when possible. The music industry is challenging as is, but many people of color usually have to work twice as hard to make it somewhere in the industry. Many artists face criticism and difficulties along the way. It is crucial to support Black artists whenever given the opportunity.