Do You Know Your Music?

Growing up and coming from a Puerto Rican, Dominican and Black background, I have listened to a wide range of music. From Marc Anthony, Hector Lavoe, Romeo Santos to Duran Duran, Ne-Yo, Biggie Smalls, and Keyshia Cole, I’ve had my fair share of music exposure! Nowadays, I am always recommending new music to my friends. I am always on the search to find a new track and listen to different playlists for inspiration. Without music, I wouldn’t be the same Brianna everyone knows and loves!

All over the Graded campus, I keep hearing the same generic conversations about Kanye West, J. Cole, Childish Gambino and many other artists. And even though all of those artists are popular (and well known), I am here to give you some new and “underground” artists and genres to listen to!


POP (CIRCA 2011): Devon Baldwin

BACKGROUND: Devon Baldwin is a singer-songwriter from the Bay Area. After listening to her for about five years now, her music is very catchy, upbeat but different due to her unique singing. The way that her music matches the tone and melody of the song really brings out the difference and uniqueness in her singing. Overall, she peaked in her career through a feature with her now ex-boyfriend and one of my favorite rappers, G-Eazy’s single Let’s Get Lost.

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: Knowing that she hasn’t come out with many albums, the singles that I recommend would be Knock You Down ft. Skizzy Mars and her most recent one in late November of 2018, Someone New. Between both songs, she seems to discuss the negatives aspects of her relationship; but, Baldwin always comes back stronger and harder than before.  


MODERN R&B/SOUL (CIRCA 2017): Mac Ayres

BACKGROUND: Mac Ayres is a self-taught singer, producer, and a diverse instrumentalist from Sea Cliff, NY. (Arimé). Before releasing his 2017 album, Drive Slow, his song Easy had reached more than 1 million plays on Soundcloud and other music apps in less than 5 months. After listening to Ayres’ music through Spotify playlists, I fell in love with his sultry voice and the different flavors of old R&B in his music.

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: After listening to Ayres non-stop for two years, I would recommend only his two albums: Drive Slow and Something to Feel, if you enjoy a mix of new and old R&B/Soul. Both albums talk about his personal life as a musician, his relationships (both past and current) and so much more!



BACKGROUND: Coming from Ventura, California, KYLE grew up loving poetry and Shakespeare! In 2016, with much time and effort on his music, his hit single: iSpy ft. Lil Yachty became #4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and in charted in 15 countries (Genius)! After listening to his music for 6 years as well, I noticed that it has a variety of flavors and a different flow than the newer rappers in our generation, which is amazing because it’s great to be the ‘odd one out’.

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: An album I would recommend would be his current album Light of Mine. It goes through different flows and beats and it’s not the mumble rap that we hear today. From my perspective, Light of Mine is a narrative from one song to the other but jumbled up in one big and amazing masterpiece.



BACKGROUND: Marc E. Bassy grew up in the Bay Area. His notable single (which became Platinum) is You and Me featuring G-Eazy. He has also written and produced songs for other popular artists such as Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa.   

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: On November 9th, 2016, I had the opportunity to experience a “cut-in-line”, front row concert of Marc E. Bassy with my best friend and my mom, at a cafe with an underground stage for 50 people! After experiencing that amazing night, my favorite album to recommend would be Only the Poets Mixtape, Volume 1 and East Hollywood. Throughout these two albums, I noticed that Bassy talks about his life, his relationships, the hardships, the accomplishments and much more, into his music.


“TRAP HOUSE JAZZ” (CIRCA 2016): Masego

BACKGROUND: Masego, who is a singer, rapper, and saxophonist, comes from Virginia, and has created his style and flavor of music under the name “Trap House Jazz.” In previous and multiple interviews, Masego describes “Trap House Jazz” as a mix of house music, jazz and hip-hop (Reform the Funk). His career peaked with The Pink Polo EP which has more than six million streams on SoundCloud (Genius).

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: As an experienced listener of 5 years, I recommend his most recent album: Lady Lady. While you listen to that album of his accomplishments, women he loves, his relationships and much more, you’ll notice that his music is exactly as he describes it: “TrapHouseJazz.”


“OLD” HIP-HOP/RAP (CIRCA 1990’s): The Fugees

BACKGROUND: Coming from New Jersey, the Fugees is a trio of members: Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel. They have made covers of many singles that my family and I still listen to today. Their most notable singles would be Killing Me Softly With His Song and Ready or Not.   

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: Because I grew up listening to Killing Me Softly With His Song and Ready or Not, I would recommend those two songs to listen to, as well as their entire album, The Score. If you are interested in real 90’s Hip-Hop, The Score is the right album for you!



BACKGROUND: Coming from Orange County, California, BANKS’ music is modern electronica with a sprinkle of Grunge, Pop, and R&B. She doesn’t have a breakthrough song, but her album Goddess has gotten much praise from all over the media, social platforms, TV, radio and many more!

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: A couple of summers back, on Pandora, the first song I heard from BANKS was Brain from her album Goddess. 5 years later, I still consider it one of my favorite albums that she has ever created! The way that she combines her sounds of Electronica, Grunge, Pop and R&B, really flow together!



BACKGROUND: Last but not least, Goldlink hails from Washington D.C., where I have lived for all of my middle school and half of my high school years. His most notable song (2x Platinum) is Crew, featuring Brent Faiyaz and D.C. native Shy Glizzy (aka Young Jefe) from his album At What Cost.

SONGS/ALBUMS TO RECOMMEND: Hearing At What Cost, really made me miss my second home, Washington D.C. His album comes with a different flavor and style with influence from D.C., which contains music their original kind of music called Go-Go, which is a mixture of funk, rhythm and blues, and very drum-driven. It was highly noticed and popular in the 1970s by the well-known and one and only, Chuck Brown or also known as “The Godfather of Go-Go.”

All in all, these eight artists and music in general are still a prominent part of my life. When I’m feeling down or upset, I listen to music. When I’m feeling lonely, happy or just want to dance, these artists perfectly reflect my mood.

Happy listening!


Sources: Arimé, Genius, Wikipedia, Reform the Funk.