2023 was a blur, especially when it comes to music and artists. It’s hard to believe “Pound Town” stole our hearts in January or Flyanna Boss running through Walmart in June. We’ve seen fresh faces and industry veterans emerge this year to cultivate the base of longevity and spurt into stardom.
The creatives that rotated in our playlists added a new musical element that focused on the importance of well-rounded artistry and authenticity. With TikTok impacting streams and charts, these artists have cracked the code when merging virality and quality production.
As music continues to evolve and fill our sonic beds, there were many songs that amplified the importance of individuality and creativity in a space where viral moments are a priority.
Though the year is not over, the artists that hit our For You Pages curated moments that will be the highlight of 2023 and possibly more years to come. Check out the artists that emerged with their bars, running and quotable lyrics.
Aliyah Bah continues to lead the Zillennial lifestyle with her fashion movement Aliyahcore, and now with her music. Her debut single “It Girl,” took the internet by storm as she raps over a classic New York house beat. The Atlanta Native is only at the beginning of her musical journey but has already garnered over 50 million streams on Spotify. Now as she gears up for 2024 fans are looking forward to her debut project that embodies the Aliyahcore movement taking over the fashion and music industry.
14. Ken The Man
It’s safe to say that Houston cultivates raw talent. Ken The Man now joins the running list of Space City artists from Beyonce to Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion, securing the south on the map. After being signed to Roc Nation earlier in the year, she released Back To 304’n under her new label which coincided with a successful nationwide tour. The eight track project serves as a glimpse into what we can expect from the “Not My N—a” rapper’s debut album in 2024, but it’ll surely deliver nothing less than sultry bars with H Town spice.
13. Lola Brooke
Despite “Don’t Play With It,” coming out in 2021, TikTok brought the New York sound to light as people couldn’t stop quoting “Gimme Beso ( MWUAH )/ Extendo ( GLAHHHH )/I carry b-tches like I’m preggo.” The Brooklyn rapper continued to garner her own fanbase and co-signs from artists like Meek Mill, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, and Ciara. With the release of her debut album Dennis Daughter, the 29-year-old continues to make her mark in hip-hop with epic freestyles and hardcore bars.
Can you believe we were introduced to Doechii in 2020? The “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” rapper may have debuted three years ago, but has emerged in 2023. The latest TDE signee, and Floridian native has become an essential moodboard to beauty and style with extravagant streetwear looks and bold makeup glam. Now besties with Doja Cat and Ice Spice and locking down a radio hit with “What It Is,” Doechii continues to be on radar as we await her debut album in 2024.
11. Coco Jones
For the OG Disney fans, Coco Jones always had the star power we loved to see in young Black women in Hollywood. Still, this year proved how much of a songstress and star Coco Jones is. Her debut project, What I Didn’t Tell You, opened the floor for a larger conversation around the new landscape of R&B giving people hope that the genre could never be dead. Jones scored several Grammy-nominations and a win as Best New Artist at the 2023 Soul Train Awards continuing to make her dedicated fanbase and R&B lovers proud of her sonic growth.
10. Flyana Boss
When you’re a teenager, sometimes Walmart is a vibe. For bestie duo Flyanna Boss, the mega corp was their ticket to mainstream success. Bobbi Lanea Tyler and Folayan Omi Kunerede literally ran 2023, with their catchy lyrics, “Hello Christ, I’m bout to sin again” intro. From running through the offices of the industries top brands including Google and Complex, to being on stage with Megan Thee Stallion at Essence Festival, and being the opening act on Janelle Monae’s tour, the internet became A&R for one of Gen Z’s leading groups.
Chloe Bailey stepped out on her own this year after releasing her debut album, In Pieces, sharing a more open and vulnerable side of herself as a solo Zillennial artist. With her headlining tour, Bailey proved to herself and the naysayers around her that it was possible for her to stand out in the industry. Not only did she take her talents in music to the next level, but she also scored major roles in film and television. From “Praise This” to “Swarm,” Bailey showed her fans how versatile she is as an entertainer.
After shaking the world and Telfar with her “Telfie” single late last year, Maiya The Don wanted 2023 to be her’s. Releasing her debut album Hot Commodity, the Brooklyn rapper partnered with Tik Tok and Rap Caviar, and Spotify released another hot trending track “Dusties,” performed at the GU Kickback during Essence Festival and ended the year with a full circle landing a campaign with the Telfar brand. It’s safe the say Maiya The Don isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Soprano savvy singer Amaarae made big waves in the alternative space with her sophomore album Fountain Baby. Following her 2020 hit song “Sad Girlz Luv Money” featuring Kali Uchis, the Ghanaian-American arist fused together a variety of genres to take Afropop by storm. From acquiring covers from Galore, Clash 125 and Office Magazine, to kicking it with Vice President Kamala Harris, and securing a performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk, Amaarae emerged into the mainstream scene being undeniably herself.
6. Ayra Starr
At only 21 years old, Ayra Starr is making her mark as a newcomer in the growing afrobeats genre. The “Rush” singer continues to focus on her individuality in music by adding her flair to pop-infused hooks and melodies. Not only is the Zillennial having a major moment in music with Grammy nominations and constant collaborations, but she’s headlined her tour and reached 646 million streams on Spotify, granting her the space to create an impact on the next generation of international artists.
5. Ice Spice
Since releasing her viral hit “Munch (Feelin’ U),” only a year ago, Ice Spice has become the go-to Zillennial It Girl. Not only has she scored features from Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, but she’s now a Grammy-nominated artist. At such a young age, she’s built a brand outside of music, solidifying herself as more than a viral sensation through various partnerships like Skims, Dunkin’ and Instagram. Now as she embarks on a major world tour with fellow rapstress Doja Cat, the Munchkins are looking forward to where her sound goes as she gears up to release her debut album.
At first brush, Teezo Touchdown is an enigma. His bold fashion choices – his signature shoulder pads and nails – have easily become a part of his aesthetic. But perhaps the best part is his vocals, the “7969 Santa,” crooner has captivated audiences with a unique blend of rap and rock influences. His distinctive sound, coupled with his unapologetic authenticity, quickly garnered attention, by the likes of Janelle Monae, Drake, Travis Scott, and Don Toliver. The alt rock star rapper is set apart as one of the most intriguing artists of today.
Tyla’s “Water” challenge took over the timeline causing us all to grab water bottles and participate in the sexy choreography. The South African songbird represents the genre of afrobeats and amapiano, giving people a new taste of how these sounds can impact pop culture. After creating waves across social media, she’s now gearing up to release her debut album with singles “Truth or Dare,” “Butterflies,” and the Grammy-nominated hit “Water.” At only 21 years old, all eyes land on her, and new fans welcome her in the mainstream space with open arms.
2. Sexyy Red
We all remember getting on Twitter and coming across a red headed woman in a beauty supply store rapping provocative yet catchy lyrics. “Pound Town” took the world by storm and introduced us to Sexyy Red. Out of town and thuggin with her rounds, she’s achieved co-signs from Drake, Travis Scott and SZA, and even went on a nationwide sold-out tour while eight months pregnant. From function favorites, to playlist must-have’s Sexyy Red’s rise in the music industry was vast and virally received.
Victoria Monet is seasoned in the industry through her skillful pen and production, and this year, she took her artistry to the next level. Her bonafide hit “On My Mama” became the song of 2023, leaving us in awe that she’s finally getting her centerstage moment. From snagging seven Grammy nominations to being MTV’s Push artist, the “Hollywood” singer is making her mark in the music industry and fostering a community for Black women in music. Through songwriting and performing, we’re looking forward to seeing what moments Victoria will own next in 2024.